Stainless steel is a popular choice of metal for many applications, and two of the most common types are 420 and 301 stainless steel. You might be wondering why you should choose one over the other, when both offer unique benefits and drawbacks. But that doesn't mean you have to settle for second-best – there's an option out there that will provide the best possible outcome for your project or application.

In this article, we'll take a look at the differences between 420 and 301 stainless steel to help you make an informed decision about which type is right for you. By understanding the composition, mechanical properties and cost of each grade, you can find the perfect stainless steel solution that meets all your needs.

Overview of Stainless Steel Grades

Overview of Stainless Steel Grades

You've heard of stainless steel, but do you know the different grades available to you and how they compare? Stainless steel can come in a range of grades, each with its own unique properties.

The two most common types are 420 and 301 stainless steel. Grade 420 is a martensitic stainless steel that offers good corrosion resistance as well as strength and hardness. It has excellent toughness at low temperatures, making it ideal for cold weather applications.

Grade 301 is an austenitic stainless steel that offers superior corrosion resistance compared to grade 420. Its alloy composition makes it harder than other grades, but also more prone to stress-corrosion cracking when exposed to chlorine solutions or acids.

Both types are great materials for certain projects, so understanding their differences will help you decide which one would be best suited for your needs.

Chemical Composition

Comparing the chemical compositions of 420 and 301 stainless steels, we see that 420 contains 12-14% chromium while 301 contains 16-18%. Thus, 420 has a slightly lower chromium content than 301.

When it comes to finding the right stainless steel for your needs, understanding the chemical composition is vital. Here are some key points to remember when considering stainless steel grades:

  • Both 420 and 301 contain iron, chromium, nickel, and carbon as primary elements.
  • The difference between them lies in their respective ratios of these elements.
  • 420 has a lower amount of chromium than 301.
  • The type of application will determine which grade is better suited for the job.

By taking into account both the chemical composition and purpose of use, you can make an informed decision about which grade of stainless steel is best for your project!

Mechanical Properties

When it comes to mechanical properties, two important materials for comparison are stainless steel 420 and 301.

Both have excellent tensile strength, hardness, and corrosion resistance.

It's important to understand how these materials compare in order to make the best decision for your application.

Tensile Strength

You're looking for a sturdy and reliable material, and the tensile strength of 420 and 301 can give you an idea of just how strong they are.

Both stainless steels have impressive tensile strengths; however, 420 has a higher tensile strength than 301 stainless steel.

At room temperature, the tensile strength of 420 is about 889 MPa while that of 301 is around 621 MPa.

With such impressive values, both materials are capable of providing excellent structural integrity in any application where they're used.

You can rest assured that whichever stainless steel you choose - be it 420 or 301 – your product will benefit from its superior durability and reliability.


When it comes to hardness, 420 and 301 stainless steels have impressive ratings that make them great choices for your project. Let's take a closer look at how they compare:

  • The Rockwell C Hardness of 420 stainless steel is 48-51 HRC, making it a very hard material.
  • The Rockwell C Hardness of 301 stainless steel is 37-43 HRC, making it slightly softer than 420 stainless steel.

Both are considered excellent materials when it comes to resistance to wear and tear, but 420 stainless steel offers better overall durability when exposed to extreme conditions or heavy use.

When deciding which type of stainless steel is best for your project, consider the hardness level and how much wear and tear the material will endure in its lifetime. Depending on your needs, either one could be an excellent choice for you!

Corrosion Resistance

You'll be pleased to know that both 420 and 301 stainless steels have excellent corrosion resistance, so you can rest assured your project won't rust away like a dinosaur in the Jurassic era.

Both alloys offer great protection against oxidation and general corrosion, making them suitable choices for outdoor applications.

The main difference between the two is that 420 contains more chromium than 301, which improves its ability to resist corrosion when exposed to salt water and acids.

In fact, 420 stainless steel can withstand even harsh marine environments without corroding or rusting - something other materials can't match!

So no matter what type of application you're looking for, either alloy will provide great protection against any corrosive elements.

Cost Comparison

Comparing the cost of 420 and 301 can help you determine which is the better option. The difference in cost between these two grades of stainless steel often comes down to the availability of each type. By understanding what's available and where it's available, you can weigh up which grade best meets your needs.

  • Availability:
    • Grade 420: Widely available in most locations, making it a good value for money.
    • Grade 301: More difficult to find, meaning that it may be more expensive.
  • Price Range:
    • Grade 420: Generally cheaper than grade 301 due to its wide availability.
    • Grade 301: Higher price range due to its scarcity and limited availability.
  • Quality Factors:
    • Grade 420: Lower quality than grade 301 but still offers excellent corrosion resistance at an affordable price point.
    • Grade 301: Higher quality than grade 420 but not always easily found or affordable for everyone's budget.

By taking into account all of these factors when comparing stainless steel grades, you'll be able to make a well-informed decision about which one is best for your project or application. Whether it's cost effectiveness or superior quality that matters most, understanding the differences between these grades can help you choose wisely!

Applications for 420 and 301 Stainless Steel

Applications for 420 and 301 Stainless Steel

Now that you've seen the cost comparison between stainless steel 420 and 301, let's take a look at their applications.

Both types of stainless steel can be used in a variety of applications, but each type has its own unique set of properties.

Stainless steel 420 is often used for cutlery, surgical instruments, and industrial blades due to its excellent corrosion resistance and toughness.

Meanwhile, stainless steel 301 is typically used for food processing equipment, kitchen appliances, automotive trim components, and architectural applications due to its good formability.

You can see how both types are suited for different tasks depending on their properties.

Advantages of 420 Stainless Steel

You may be wondering what makes 420 stainless steel an ideal choice for many applications. One advantage of this type of steel is its heat treatability; it can be hardened and tempered to achieve a wide range of desired properties.

Additionally, it's relatively low cost compared to other types of stainless steel, making it an attractive choice for the budget-conscious. In short, 420 stainless steel offers superior heat treatability and cost-effectiveness.

Heat Treatability

Looking at heat treatability, you've got to decide which one works best for your needs. Generally speaking, 420 stainless steel is more resistant to thermal fatigue and cracking than 301 stainless steel when exposed to high temperatures. It's also much easier to harden as it's less likely to suffer from overheating or warping.

Here are three key points that may help with your decision:

  1. 420 stainless steel has a higher thermal conductivity compared to 301 stainless steel; this allows for faster heating and cooling of the metal material.
  2. 420 stainless steel resists oxidation better than 301 if heated above 500 degrees Celsius; this makes it ideal for applications that require frequent exposure to extreme temperatures such as jet engines or furnace components.
  3. The alloying elements in 420 stainless steel provide strength and wear resistance at elevated temperatures up to 1300°F (704°C).

When considering heat treatability, both alloys have their strengths and weaknesses so it'll come down to what you specifically want out of the material - whether you need strength, corrosion resistance, or something else entirely!

In any case, understanding these two different types of stainless steels will help make an informed decision on which is better suited for your project needs!

Low Cost

Comparing the costs of these two metals, 420 stainless steel is often a more budget-friendly option, so you can save some money without sacrificing quality. Although 301 stainless steel is more expensive than its counterpart, it's worth considering if you want superior corrosion resistance and strength.

With its lower cost, 420 stainless steel helps you get the job done without breaking the bank. You don't have to worry about going over budget or compromising on quality—you can find an affordable solution that meets your needs. By choosing this metal, you can feel confident knowing that you're getting the best bang for your buck while still enjoying a reliable product.

Advantages of 301 Stainless Steel

Advantages of 301 Stainless Steels

Discover the distinct advantages of 301 stainless steel and why it may be the perfect choice for your project! With a unique combination of corrosion resistance, formability, strength, and weldability, there's no wonder why 301 stainless steel is one of the most popular materials used in many industries.

Here are just three of the key advantages that make it stand out:

  1. Exceptionally resistant to both chemicals and heat
  2. Can be easily formed into shapes needed
  3. High tensile strength—up to 1500MPa

By choosing 301 stainless steel for your project, you can rest assured that you've made an excellent decision. Its unique properties provide superior protection from exposure to harsh environmental elements, and its durability guarantees long-term performance. Plus, with its easy maintenance requirements and low cost compared to other materials on the market, you can enjoy quality results without breaking the bank.

Disadvantages of 420 and 301 Stainless Steel

Know the key drawbacks of both 420 and 301 stainless steel so you can make an informed decision about which material is best for your project.

420 stainless steel has a higher carbon content than 301, which makes it more prone to corrosion. This means that while it's stronger and harder than 304 grade steel, it's not as resistant to rusting or staining as 301.

Moreover, although 420 is easier to machine than other types of stainless steel, its low ductility could cause high tool wear when machining this material.

On the other hand, one downside of using 301 stainless steel is that it's not as hard as 420. This means that although it's more corrosion-resistant, it may be less durable in certain applications where strength and hardness are important factors.

Additionally, while 303 grade stainless steel has slightly better machinability characteristics than 410 grade steel does, its overall machinability is still considerably lower than that of 304 grade stainless steel. Therefore, if you're looking for a material with superior machinability characteristics, then 301 might not be your best option.


When it comes to stainless steel, you have to weigh the pros and cons of each type. 420 stainless steel is stronger and more corrosion-resistant than 301, but it's also more expensive.

On the other hand, 301 offers a lower cost and still provides great strength and durability. It's like deciding between a classic sports car or brand new luxury sedan: both will get you where you need to go in style, just with different qualities.

In either case, you'll be driving in comfort and confidence knowing your ride is reliable for the long haul.