How good is Elmax steel for knives?
Planning to buy a new Elmax steel knife but getting curious about how this steel performs compared to other steel grades? If yes, follow this guide.
We have done lots of research into Elmax. We scanned through knife steel forums, blogs, and YouTube channels run by Elmax knife steel nerds and gathered helpful information ranging from how this tough this steel is, its corrosion and wear resistance, ability to keep a cutting edge, equivalent steels, and so much more.
By the time you're done reading our Elmax steel review below, you'll have decided whether this is a good steel for you or you should look for a different steel.
What is Elmax steel?
Elmax is a 3rd generation powder stainless steel produced by Bohler-Uddeholm. It features high chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium content, which give it high corrosion and wear resistance. It is classified as super steel with great blade properties like excellent ultra-durability edge retention, high wear and corrosion resistance, and great toughness.
The steel features a super fine grain structure, and the manufacturer refers to it as super-clean steel. It's no wonder that Elmax is used to produce the standard US Navy Seals standard issue knife.
However, keep in mind that this steel grade is quite expensive, and you'll have to dig deeper into your pocket for an Elmax knife.
Is Elmax stainless? Elmax is stainless steel because it contains 18% Chromium in its composition, which is more than the 12% threshold needed to make a steel stainless. Despite being stainless, Elmax tends to exhibit behaviors that make it more of carbon steel.
Elmax steel composition
Elmax comprises high carbon levels (1.70%), which gives it excellent wear and corrosion resistance. With more than 1% Carbon volume, this steel can't be classified as low and mid-range steel grades, qualifying it as high-end steel.
Discover other elements used to make this steel in the following complete steel composition:
Elmax steel properties
Elmax steel hardness
Elmax features a typical Rockwell hardness of 61-62 RC, resulting in stronger, more durable, and highly wear-resistant knife blades.
Believe it or not, Elmax is one of the toughest steel out there today. This steel is more than 50% tougher than the most popular knife blade steels. For this reason, Elmax steel kitchen knives, hunting knives, and any other types of knives made from it don't get easily damaged. They can handle tasks like light batoning without giving in to lateral forces or chipping at the edges.
However, some knife user complains that their Elmax knives show signs of microchipping. This mostly happens when you put your knife through the hell of abuse. Since you only know that this is tough steel, there's really no need to take it through such extreme abuse just to test how tough it goes. Just trust it will handle tough tasks when you throw them its way.
Elmax edge retention
Elmax is super steel that holds an edge quite well. As we have just stated above, it spots a high hardness of more than 60HRC. Plus, it has a high carbide volume of more than 20%. These aspects act as its secret to keeping a super-sharp edge that doesn't easily roll or deform with continued use.
Elmax corrosion resistance
Elmax is also loved for its excellent corrosion resistance. As you have already seen in the composition table above, it contains 18% chromium. This is such a high chromium content, and it takes its overall rust and corrosion resistance to a whole new level.
Is Elmax hard to sharpen? Elmax is quite easy to sharpen despite its high carbon content. This is where the steel becomes unique as most of the high carbon steel alloys out there tend to give you a worse sharpening experience. As most of the knife users and knife makers agree, sharpening Elmax is butter compared to steels like S110V and M4.
Elmax steel equivalent
The closest steel to Elmax is M390 steel, another super steel produced by the Bohler-Uddeholm. We regard this knife as an Elmax equivalent because it offers the same attributes as the super steel, with only slight differences in sharpenability. Elmax can strike a good balance between hardness and high sharpenability, unlike in M390 steel.
Elmax steel vs other steels
Now that we have discovered the Elmax steel equivalent, you might be wondering how this premium steel compares to other popular blade steels out there.
Here's our quick comparison of Elmax vs other steels.
Elmax steel vs S30V
Elmax is also pretty close to S30V. Both share the same level of performance in these areas: toughness, corrosion resistance, and sharpenability. The only area where the two steels part ways is that Elmax offers far better edge retention than S30V.
Elmax steel vs D2
Elmax has excellent corrosion resistance, and this means it solves the biggest problem associated with the D2. Other than this, D2 is a great steel and tends to take a finer edge than Elmax. It also tends to keep the edge for a bit longer.
Elmax steel vs VG10
Though both Elmax and VG10 are good steels, the former performs better and performs better in all areas. It offers greater toughness, higher wear resistance, better edge retention, and corrosion resistance, making it a better choice than VG10. The only part where Vg10 beats Elmax is that it's cost-effective, making it suitable for budget-minded knife users.
Elmax steel vs CPM 3V
If you want the ultimate toughness, then go for 3V as it has greater toughness than Elmax. But there's a price to pay for the unparalleled toughness, which is low corrosion toughness. Elmax also beats 3V with higher edge retention.
Elmax steel vs S90V
You get a similar edge holding capability from these two steels. But for toughness, corrosion resistance, and easier sharpening, Elmax takes the crown.
Elmax steel vs S35VN
These two steels are pretty close, and both are classified as premium quality grades. If you're looking at an Elmax and S35VN knife and wondering which one to buy, we suggest that you get any of the two knives that you personally prefer because both will offer you very close performance.
Elmax vs Maxamet
Elmax offers better toughness, corrosion resistance, and sharpness than high-end Maxamet steel. But Maxamet is known for delivering tremendous edge retention and will hold its edge way better than its Elmax counterpart.
Elmax vs Cruwear
The main difference between these two is that Elmax is stainless while Cruwear is non-stainless. Both steels tend to perform similarly in terms of edge retention. But Elmax offers better corrosion resistance, and Cruwear offers higher toughness than Elmax.
Elmax vs 204p
The American made STC 204P offer greater edge retention and corrosion resistance than Elmax. The Elmax outperforms the 204p with high toughness and sharpenability.
Elmax vs 20cv
Whether you go with Elmax or 20CV, you'll still have your knife in premium steel. That said, Elmax is tougher but slightly less corrosion resistant than 20CV (probably due to high chromium in 20cv). They have similar edge retention, though.
Is Elmax good blade steel?
Elmax is pretty good blade steel. It's not just good knife steel; it's the best all-around blade steel you can get today. This super steel is tough, hard, wear and corrosion resistant, and easy to sharpen. With the steel yielding all these great qualities for the knife blade, it has become a favorite for various knives, including Elmax steel fixed blade knives, EDC/pocket knives, hunting knives, and kitchen/chef knives.
The only downside is that this is steel is quite expensive. But hey, it's not all the time you get super steel like Elmax offering you all the qualities you need in a blade. So, the price tag is totally worth it for the Elmax knives.
Best Elmax steel knives
1. Enzo Trapper 115 Fixed Blade Elmax
This is a well-built knife that carries on the legacy of Enzo in producing knives made of high-quality materials to ensure they serve you for long. The fixed blade Elmax knife has an overall length of 8.875 inches and features a 4.5-inch long blade, and is ideal for bushcrafting or hunting activities.
The knife is made of Elmax steel, which offers excellent resistance to corrosion and wear. It's also tough and offers high compressive strength and excellent dimensional stability, making it suitable for various cutting jobs.
You'll love that this knife comes super sharp out of box and holds its edge for longer periods. It's easy to sharpen when it gets dull and lets you achieve a razor-sharp edge in no time.
With its attractive green micarta handle, this knife feels really good in your hands, and you can use it for long hours without getting hot spots on your hands. The ergonomic handle also perfectly fits different hand sizes.
The knife comes accompanied by a genuine leather sheath, which feels strong and nicely accommodates your knife for safe carry and easy access.
Overall, Enzo Trapper 115 is a great fixed knife with super steel plus excellent craftsmanship. The fit and finish are good, and its grind is even. The knife will meet all your needs for a highly reliable bushcrafting or hunting knife.
2. Bark River Adventurer II
This knife is favored by hunters for its compact and featherlight design, making it incredibly easy to carry. The top-rated fixed blade knife comes with a brown leather sheath that attaches to your belt to make it even easier and safer to carry this knife with you to any place.
We love that this knife comes with a 3.5-inch long blade, which is a great size for small to medium-sized game hunting. Since it's Elmax, this blade has excellent edge retention and offers high wear and corrosion resistance. It comes with a satin finish, which is usually reserved for high-end knives.
The full-tang knife design increases the much-needed strength and sturdiness through the handle when doing heavy cutting tasks like that revolve around hunting.
The black micarta handle that comes with this knife is highly ergonomic and offers you an extremely secure grip in any way you hold it. The handle also features a choil where you place your thumb for lateral hold when doing tasks like skinning, cutting through hide, and so on.
As compact as this knife seems, you'll still easily have a four-finger hold on it when doing most cutting tasks. The grooves you see on the top of the knife spine will help you easily locate the blade in your hand and also comes in handy for scrapping fire steel.
The lanyard on the handle allows you to include a Paracord for knife carry, ensuring you don't accidentally drop your knife and lose it.
3. Moorhaus 7" Elmax Supersteel Chef Knife
Elmax steel also finds its way in kitchen knives due to its excellent corrosion and wear resistance. Not to forget, it takes a fine edge and holds it for quite long. Isn't this all that you want in a good knife for your kitchen or restaurant?
The 7-inch knife comes with a full flat grind—one of the most versatile grinds that significantly reduces friction during cutting, making it ideal for slicing jobs. The blade itself comes sharp out of the box and ready to function. It will keep its edge for really long and will also sharpen easily in case it gets sharp.
The handmade knife also boasts a full tang construction which helps boost its strength and give you the ability to easily cut through various items in your kitchen.
Wood is a common material for kitchen knife handles, and this Moorhaus features a walnut wood handle. This not only gives the chef knife a classic look but also feels ergonomic and comfortable in your hands.
There you have it! Our complete Elmax steel review has covered everything you need to know about steel, including its composition, key properties of Elmax steel blade, equivalent steels to Elmax, and how it compares to other steels out there. With all this information at your disposal, we, hopefully, have made your decision easy about getting an Elmax steel knife.