Vanadium is added to chromium cutlery steels to increase the hardness of the steel and to give a longer-lasting, better cutting edge.
Some of the highest quality knife steels are produced from sintered powder which is heat treated to give high wear and corrosion resistant martensitc stainless steel. An example is CPM S30V which is produced by Crucible Industries. Its chemistry promotes the formation and even distribution of vanadium carbides, which are harder and more effective at cutting than chromium carbides. These vanadium carbides give the steel a very refined grain, further improving the sharpness and toughness. Its composition is as follows: Carbon 1.45%, Chromium 14.00%, Vanadium 4.00%, Molybdenum 2.00%. CPM S30V is considered a premium grade knife steel and is largely used in higher-end production and custom knives. Buck Knives calls it "the absolute best blade steel available". Joe Talmadge claims it might be the ultimate high-end all-around stainless steel, due to high performance coupled with easier machinability and sharpenability than the other steels in this class