Three types of nano-multilayer coatings, CrSiN, CrAlN and CrMoN, with different Si, Al and Mo contents were deposited on M42 substrates using a closed field unbalanced magnetron sputter ion plating (CFUMSIP) technique. Systematic characterization on the chemical composition, microstructure, hardness and wear properties of these multilayer coatings has been investigated using GDOES, low angle XRD, SEM, TEM, nanoindentation and wear tests. Experimental results revealed that all these three types of Cr, XN ternary coatings (X=Al, Si and Mo) are nano-multilayer structured. The CrAlN multilayer coatings showed the highest hardness and oxidation resistance among these three multilayer coatings. The CrMoN multilayer coatings exhibited the lowest friction coefficient although no appreciable improvements in wear resistance were observed as compared with the optimized CrN coatings.