In the knife world, there's bad steel and good steel. Obviously, the latter has better features such as durability, corrosion resistance, sharpness, to name but a few. Before you buy a new knife or make one, you need to take your time to ensure it's made of good steel.
In today's guide, we'll focus on the Maxamet steel to help you decide if it's the perfect steel for you. We'll look into its chemical composition, key properties, and how it compares to other steels. As a bonus, we'll also offer you our picks for some of the best knives made from this steel.
What Is Maxamet Steel?
Maxamet, also referred to as Micro-Melt Maxamet, is an extremely hard and high-speed powder designed for knife blades. Knives made from this luxury-level steel deliver fantastic edge retention and superior resistance to wear. It is a unique steel type. The steel also offers high toughness degree, rare in many hard steels, making them highly susceptible to brittleness and chipping.
So, who makes Maxamet steel? The alloy is made by the US-based (Philadelphia, to be precise) Carpenter Technology Corporation. For starters, this company is synonymous with the production of high-performance steel not just in the US but across the globe.
Maxamet Steel Composition
The steel has a unique chemical composition in that it contains high amounts of Tungsten and carbon. The following table gives you a clear outline of the complete composition of this steel.
As you can easily see from this table, Tungsten takes the highest percentage. This is key in helping significantly boost the Maxamet's hardness and make your knife more efficient during cutting.
A lot of carbon has also been used to increase the steel's hardness and build resistance to wear and corrosion.
Cobalt offers a variety of benefits such as corrosion and wear resistance, and strength in high-temperature conditions
Vanadium appears in what's considered quite high in industry standards and significantly increases the steel's strength.
Sulfur enhances the steel's machinability.
Manganese gives the steel a higher level of hardness, enabling it to easily take and hold an edge.
The high Chromium content enhances wear and corrosion resistance while enabling the steel to hold up to high temperatures. However, the fact that the Chromium is less than 10% means that this steel is NOT stainless.
Maxamet Steel Key Properties
One key thing about Maxamet that propels it to popularity is its insane hardness and unsurpassed edge retention. It also delivers a fair degree of toughness. But it sacrifices the corrosion resistance since it's not stainless steel.
Here are the key properties you should expect from a blade made with this US steel:
Maxamet steel has a hardness of 70HRC, as indicated in this datasheet from the manufacturer. This means it's an extremely huge hard steel. And this can be attributed to its high levels of Tungsten, carbon, and vanadium mix. Mind you, this is one of the hardest steels known today for commercial knives.
This one is correlated with hardness; the high the hardness of steel, the better its edge retention. With its super-hardness, Maxamet offers you unparalleled edge holding capabilities. Once you sharpen it, it stays that way for a pretty long time, making it suitable for situations where you don't want to keep honing your knife.
Extremely hard steel also scores exceptionally well in matters of wear resistance. Micro-Maxamet steel blades won't easily degrade with regular tear and wear. With proper care and maintenance, your Maxamet knife can last for generations.
Maxamet steel corrosion resistance
Probably one of the questions you're asking yourself right now is, "Does Maxamet steel rust?" As we mentioned in its composition section, this steel has low chromium levels, which means it's not stainless. This simply means it has poor corrosion and rusting resistance. However, with proper care, you can keep your knife rust free and extend its performance and lifespan.
The hardness factor is inversely proportional to the toughness of the steel. So, if you get steel with superior edge retention and wear resistance, it's likely to be more brittle and will chip easily. But is Maxamet brittle? Surprisingly, it's not. The Maxamet toughness is quite high, and you can use it for tough tasks like chopping without any chipping issues.
Machinability defines how easy steel is to work with. And luckily for Maxamet, the use of sulfur in its composition increases its machinability.
Ease of sharpening
Is Maxamet hard to sharpen? It really is. One major problem you'll face when using super-hard steel like Maxamet is that it's a hell of a task to sharpen when it gets dull. But with the sharpening systems getting better every day, you can still get a way around it. But be ready to spend more time sharpening your Maxamet blade than you'd take to sharpen soft steel.
Maxamet Steel Vs Other Steels
As you already know, the competition is tough when it comes to steels for blades. One steel always outsmarts the other in specific properties or in most of them. As for our steel, the Maxamet, one thing we can assure you is that it has unbeatable edge retention and makes other steels fade in comparison.
Let's how the hard steel compares to other steels out there.
Maxamet steel vs S110V
The Crucible's Crucible is considered the greatest rival of Maxamet steel. It exhibits similar properties to Maxamet, including excellent hardness, wear resistance, and super edge retention. Unfortunately, the steel is quite expensive, and most manufacturers complain about its poor machinability. Sharpening S110V can also be a problem (read our review on the CPM S110V Steel here).
Maxamet steel vs S30V
When put on an edge retention scale, a big difference emerges between these two steels, with the S30V leaning to the lower side. But S30V gets better than Maxamet with its excellent corrosion resistance. The two steels also have the same toughness.
Maxamet Steel vs M4
If you want steel that offers you the same level of toughness and chipping resistance as Maxamet, you can't go wrong with M4. This steel can't beat Maxamet in terms of edge retention. But it has better corrosion resistance.
Maxamet steel vs M390
The hardness and edge retention of M390 steel is inferior compared to that of Maxamet. However, M390 is tougher, easier to sharpen, and more corrosion resistant.
How good is Maxamet steel?
Maxamet steel is absolutely a good steel for knives. If you're looking for extremely hard steel that won't wear easily and delivers excellent edge retention, Maxamet is your guy. As we have seen from the above discussion, this steel is extremely hard. And it boasts unbeatable edge retention capabilities compared to other steels.
Maxamet is simply the honey badger of the steel world.
One of the issues you might be worried about when using a Maxamet knife is the difficulties in sharpening. However, this isn't a hard task as you might think, especially when you put into consideration the better sharpening systems available. Just prepare yourself to spend more time sharpening your knife.
The issue of corrosion, too, might hold you back from getting a Maxamet knife. But if you practice good care like keeping your knife clean and dry at all times, you can easily keep it from rust and corrosion. Wiping your knife clean and dry isn't a hard job, right?
You should also keep in mind that a Maxamet knife doesn't fall in the budget-friendly range. It's considered luxury-grade steel and can be pretty rare. But the good thing is you know you're getting value for money when you invest in this steel. You're buying a knife that holds up its edge exceptionally and lasts long enough to be handed over to generations.
Best Maxamet Steel Knives:
As we promised you, we searched the market for some of the highest-rated Maxamet steel knives for you. The following are our TOP 3 choices:
1. Spyderco Native 5 Signature Folder Knife
One of the top-rated Maxamet steel knives is the Spyderco's Native 5 folder knife, a darling for the savvy tactical knife users for quite a long time. This knife comes as the 5th generation (latest model) in Native line of knives and is proudly designed in the USA.
The folder has an overall length of 6.95 inches. It offers you a Maxamet blade measuring 2.95 inch with supreme cutting power, especially on fibrous materials. The blade features a non-reflective Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coating, making it a true tactical cutting tool.
With the included index finger choil, you'll enjoy a forward-positioned grip that grants you enhanced control when doing detailed cutting tasks.
A highly evolved back lock mechanism comes with this knife and will securely lock the blade in position. The lock works closely with the 0.50-inch diameter hole on the blade to promote ambidextrous opening and closing of your knife.
The fiberglass reinforced nylon handle comes optimized with bi-directional texturing pattern to give you maximum grip security. The handle also features 4 sets of threaded stainless steel for mounting the hourglass pocket clip for easy and versatile carry.
2. Spyderco Para Military 2 Signature Maxamet Folding Knife
Also proudly made by the USA's Spyderco, this is another highly rated Maxamet folding knife at a reasonable price. This knife comes from redesigning the company's iconic military knife model into a more compact and pocket-friendly package.
The knife features the same high-performance full flat-ground style blade but lengthened its tip and introduced additional surface jimping to both the spine and finger choil.
Spyderco enhances this knife with an addition of their patented Compression Lock, which delivers a high-strength, a user-friendly locking mechanism to keep the blade securely open during use.
Like the previous Spyderco, this model also supports ambidextrous, one-handed opening. It features a G-10 handle that has been narrowed at the end to offer you a more comfortable and secure grip.
A versatile 4-position pocket clip comes with this folding knife to offer you a comfortable way to carry your knife. You'll also get the blade round hole and large lined lanyard tube, which offers additional carrying options to suit your preferences.
3. Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight Signature Folding Knife
The Manix 2 is a knife ready for everything! Weighing approximately 3 ounces, this knife features a broad Maxamet blade with exceptional cutting power, unmatched edge retention, and extreme hardness/longevity.
The blade comes ground with flat bevels that run from the spine all the way to the cutting edge to help reduce drag during cutting and keep the overall weight low. You'll also easily spot a 0.55-inch diameter hole along the blade, facilitating one-handed opening with either hand.
It comes with an incredibly lightweight fiberglass-reinforced co-polymer handle. Keep in mind that this handle material is tough, heat and chemical resistant, and pretty versatile—making the knife suitable for use in varying conditions.
The Manix 2 blade is supported by a high-strength ball bearing lock system that securely holds the blade in an open position, assuring you of your own safety. This lock system also ensures the blade stays secure in a closed position when not in use.
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Now that we have covered all the crucial info you need to know about Maxamet steel, we hope you'll have an easy time deciding whether it's good knife steel for you. Extreme hardness and superior edge retention are the key aspects of this steel that rank it high above the competing steel grades. The key drawbacks include poor corrosion resistance, sharpening issues, and high cost. But these aren't much of a problem as you can easily fix them as we have discussed in this guide.
Ultimately, deciding whether to get a Maxamet steel knife will depen on your financial muscle and personal preferences.