When it comes to the world of knives, steels are good or bad depending on how they excel in their designed tasks. Ideally, while knife shopping, be sure of what you want to do with your knife, and consequently, the desired attributes. And options might be more than you expect, making your budget the only constraint.
But where you need quality irrespective of the cost, a premium tool steel is the way to go. Micro-Melt Maxamet, or in short Maxamet, is a super tool steel from Philadelphia-based Carpenter Technology Corporation.
At A Glance
If you want luxury-level super knife steel that rarely needs any sharpening, then the excellent edge retention, toughness, and durability of the Maxamet steel is your best bet.
With a max hardness score of 70HRC, this high-speed powder knife steel is extremely hard. It has fantastic edge retention and super wears resistance. Surprisingly, unlike other hard steels, Maxamet is highly tough, implying an excellent resistance to chipping under high-impact cutting tasks.
Maxamet shares a common downside of all hard steels. You will need both times, a good sharpening tool, and tons of patience to give it a razor-sharp edge. Another con is the low corrosion resistance. Unlike stainless steel, tool steel types have low chromium composition, which doesn’t help much in anti-corrosion.
- Unbeatable edge retention
- Extremely hard
- Terrific wear resistance
- Unusual toughness compared to its hardness
- Razor-sharp edge right out of the box
- Hard to sharpen
- Poor corrosion resistance
Chromium, 4.75%: Definitely, Maxamet doesn’t qualify to be a stainless steel (chromium must be over 10%), and this low quantity of chromium does little to improve anti-corrosion. The chromium is for enhancing edge retention and tensile strength.
Carbon, 2.15%: Now you know why Maxamet is extra hard. Its carbon composition is more than double (about 1% carbon) that of other steels with good edge retention. The main reason carbon is kept in check is while it makes steel hard, it also increases brittleness. The carbon content in Maxamet gives it a hardness of 70HRC, guaranteeing excellent wear resistance and durability, and some resistance to corrosion.
Tungsten, 13%: This element enhances steel hardness while improving the cutting efficiency.
Cobalt, 10%: Cobalt makes steel remain strong even in high temperatures and enhances resistance to wear and corrosion.
Vanadium, 6%: This element is a hardness booster in steel, and you can guess Maxamet needs a lot of it. To illustrate, the 6% is 50 times the carbon content in 9Cr18MoV steel, mid-hard stainless steel.
Sulfur, 0.7%: Maxamet is super-hard steel and would be tough to the machine if not for this sulfur content.
Manganese, 0.3%: This is another hardness booster and improves the edge retaining ability.
Silicon, 0.25%: Silicon toughens and strengthens the steel.
Iron: Maxamet contains a sprinkle of iron to boost the strength further.
You might also interested in 9Cr18MoV Steel: Full Details and Review
Maxamet is super hard. It ranks high among the hardest knife steel types with a hardness range of 67-68 HRC; some knives get as high as 70HRC. Considering a good EDC knife has a hardness of 57-59 HRC, Maxamet hardness is the highest knives can go.
The extreme hardness results from high amounts of carbon, vanadium, and tungsten. This hardness results in top-notch wear resistance and edge retention.
Usually, hardness and toughness in steel have an inverse relationship. Hard steel is typically low in toughness. Apparently, hard steel types will have excellent wear resistance and edge retention but very brittle for impact cutting jobs.
But Maxamet seems not to have a brittleness problem. It’s extremely hard and unusually tough. You can worry less while chopping using a Maxamet knife as the edge won’t chip easily.
Terrific Edge Retention
Hard steels have excellent edge retention, and it gets to terrific levels with super-hard steels like Maxamet. Very few steels can stand up to Maxamet’s edge retention prowess. Once you sharpen it, the edge stays sharp for a very long time.
The great edge retention makes Maxamet steel ideal for military and outdoor knives. If you want knife steel with no daily or frequent re-sharpening needs, then Maxamet won’t disappoint.
Read also: How to sharpen a machete
Fantastic wear resistance
Wear resistance has a direct relation with hardness in steel. The harder the steel, the better it shrugs off wear and tear. And you can bet Maxamet does well in wear resistance. A Maxamet knife will last your lifetime and beyond, with little care to keep it rust-free.
Maxamet knife steel has good machinability and comes razor sharp right out of the box. Whereas hard steel can be challenging to work with, many brands will contain machinability-booster elements like sulfur to help with the issue.
Poor Corrosion Resistance
Poor tool steels’ anti-corrosion shouldn’t be surprising as they lack sufficient chromium and other anti-rust elements. It’s the kryptonite of this super steel. Be sure your Maxamet knife will rust fast if left wet and unattended for a while.
Certainly, Maxamet won’t do well in marine or high humidity environments. To ensure your blade stays in good shape, keep it clean and dry always.
Relatively Difficult to Sharpen
Super-hard steels eventually dull after extended usage. And the bad news is you will need more time and effort to get a sharp edge again than in softer steels. Luckily, specialized sharpening tools easily sharpen hard steel with less effort on your side. However, you’ll spend a few more minutes than you would with softer steel.
Read also: Best steel for knives
Maxamet Knife Steel Equivalents or Alternatives
Maxamet steel ranks top in hardness and toughness among super-steel types, with its exceptional edge retention having no match. Below is how it performs against other steel types.
Maxamet vs. S110V
S110V compares well in hardness, wear-resistance, and edge retention with Maxamet. Sharpening S110V is neither easy, and many manufacturers complain of its poor machinability. The cost and effort of working with S110V push its price higher than that of Maxamet. Comparatively, Maxamet has better machinability, is tougher, and cheaper.
Maxamet vs. S30V
Maxamet and S30V have different hardness ranges, and thus there is a massive gap in edge retention ability. Of course, Maxamet is way harder, and their edge retention gap ludicrous. However, S30V is more resistant to corrosion.
Maxamet vs. M390
Maxamet beats M390 hands down in hardness and edge retention. But M390 is less brittle and resists corrosion better. It’s also relatively easy to sharpen.
Maxamet vs. M4
These two steel types show similar resistance to chipping, but Maxamet keeps a sharp edge for longer. Meanwhile, M4 won’t rust as fast as Maxamet.
Is Maxamet Steel Good For Knives?
Absolutely. Maxamet knife steel is among the hardest in the industry, with unrivaled wear resistance and edge retention. It’s rare and pricey, but be sure it lasts a lifetime. Although it has poor anti-corrosion, a regular habit of wiping it clean and dry keeps it rust-free. Besides, you should develop this habit for all your blades.
Modern sharpening tools will help you sharpen this steel with less effort. You will only spend a few minutes more than you would with softer steels, but the edge serves you for a very long time. Thus, poor sharpenability is a minor annoyance compared to the performance of Maxamet knife steel.
Spyderco Native 5 Signature Folder Knife, Spyderco Para Military 2 Signature Maxamet Folding Knife, and Spyderco Manix 2 Lightweight Signature Folding Knife are among the most popular Maxamet steel knives.
Users’ Review on Amazon
More than 70% of users on Amazon give a 5-star rating to Maxamet steel blades. This is expected considering the outstanding qualities of this super-steel. As this steel is pricey, its target market comprises mainly blade enthusiasts, well seasoned, and good in identifying great knife steels. Edge retention, hardness, wear resistance, and toughness are among the highest positively rated Maxamet steel properties.
Conversely, blade enthusiasts usually push blade performance to the extremes, and a few have reported edge chipping and cracking under high-impact cutting tasks. Others are dissatisfied with the extra cost they project to buy a specialized sharpening tool for their Maxamet blade. Also, some users expressed concerns over the unimpressive finishes, cheap handle materials, and bad ergonomics of specific knife brands.
When it comes to super-steel types, performance overruns cost. They offer the most outstanding value for money, with an almost certain guarantee of lasting a lifetime. Maxamet knife steel is a super steel that scores highly in edge retention, durability, and toughness.
It’s a pricey investment, but you won’t be replacing it soon. With a bit of care to keep it rust-free and using a specialized tool for sharpening, Maxamet steel gives the best service in the industry.