Is Maxamet Steel Good For Knives?

Peter Stec
July 24, 2021
Maxamet Steel

Maxamet steel is one of the most popular options for steel while choosing a knife for yourself. It has brilliant edge retention, it’s great against corrosion, and lots of other benefits too. Let’s take a deep dive into what exactly Maxamet steel is, what it’s made out of, how it compares against other steels in the market, and whether it’s the right option for you.

Apart from going into depth about the chemical composition and key features, we’ll also be talking about what are the best options for Maxamet steel knives in the market of varying price range and sizes. Hope this article gives you the clarity you were looking for!

What Is Maxamet Steel?

Also known as Micro-Melt Steel, Maxamet Steel is extremely hard and durable steel used for making knives. Blades made from this high-end steel provide brilliant edge retention and a high degree of protection from wear and tear. One thing you need to be careful about is that since this steel also offers a high degree of toughness, it makes the knives slightly more prone to being brittle and chipping.

Over 90% of the Maxamet steel made in the world is manufactured in the United States in the State of Philly. The entire production is handled by Carpenter Technology Corporation who is practically synonymous with high-performance steel in the US and also internationally.

Maxamet Steel Chemical Composition

One of the unique things about this steel is its composition — it’s made up of massive amounts of Tungsten and Carbon. The points below should give you a clear idea of the various metals that went into making this wonder-alloy.

  1. Carbon 2.15%: The use of carbon in making steel is very essential but it’s a significantly important factor in dictating the hardness of the steel. If it’s too much or too little it impacts the hardness.
  2. Chromium 4.75%: This metal in steel ranges from 2% to 20%; making Maxamet a low chromium alloy. Chromium adds corrosion resistance and strength to the steel.
  3. Silicon 0.25%: Adding just a little bit of silicon can go a long way in improving the quality of the alloy. Silicon adds durability and luster to the metal along with adding a protective layer on the steel which helps against rust formation and erosion.
  4. Manganese 0.30%: Manganese is another factor that adds hardness and strength to the alloy. Since this alloy has high levels of Carbon, Manganese is useful in neutralizing the reduction in hardness from Carbon.
  5. Sulphur 0.70%: While Sulphur neither adds strength or durability, it is one of the most important aspects to add malleability or machinability. By that, it means that the Sulphur eases the process of shaping the knife. This makes Maxamet very good steel to make bent blades and makes it easy to sharpen the blade.
  6. Tungsten 13%: This makes up for the highest percentage for one metal in this alloy blend and also one of the biggest contributors to the hardness that Maxamet Steel has and making this metal an excellent cutting tool.
  7. Vanadium 6%: Helpful in adding toughness to the metal. In the steel and knife industry, any number over 4% for Vanadium is a big one. So you can probably get that 6% is on the higher side compared to the other alloy blends in the market.
  8. Cobalt 10%: Cobalt makes the alloy very corrosion-proof and adds resistance towards wear and tear. 

Maxamet Steel Key Properties 

Let’s talk about some of the important properties of Maxamet Steel:

Edge Retention:

Edge retention of any knife is actually directly proportional to the magnitude of its Hardness. With a whopping 70HRC hardness, the Maxamet steel knives offer fantastic edge retaining capability. The need to sharpen is rare; just sharpen it once and it will go a long way before you need to bring out your sharpening stone again.

Corrosion resistance:

This particular aspect of steel has a lot to do with the Chromium content in the chemical composition of the steel. If you remember, we read that the Chromium content of Maxamet steel is on the lower side of the spectrum. Hence, this makes Maxamet steel prone to possible corrosion but this problem usually occurs in particularly Humid places. If you take care of your knife well, that is, clean after every use, use a knife holder, and timely sharpening, it will last you years easily. 

Toughness: 

When it comes to the toughness of the steel, its inversely proportional to its hardness. If the knife is said to be very hard and resistant to wear, it is likely that it is brittle. But in the case of Maxamet steel, you get the advantage of a very hard alloy along with it not being too brittle.

Machinability

Machinability is the property of a metal or alloy that defines how easy it is to work with. In this case, the chemical composition of the alloy allows you to shape the steel easily. The high sulfur content in the alloy makes it a very good option for manufacturers and users.

Wear Resistance

Hard alloys add the feature of reduced wear resistance. Micro-Melt Maxamet Steel is extremely hard and this makes sure that even with very regular use, the wear and tear are insignificant even with continuous use for months. It is recommended, however, to take care of the knives since they have the capability of lasting you an entire generation. 

Maxamet Steel Hardness 

Maxamet steel is really really hard. You ask how hard? It has a hardness of 70HRC and if you’ve been researching about the right steel for you’ll know that this is really high! This magnitude of hardness is a virtue of the various levels of the Tungsten, Vanadium, and Carbon blend. 

When steel is very hard, it signifies that it is very durable, wear-resistant, and maintains high edge retention. If you want to know a bit more about how exactly the HRC hardness of any steel is actually calculated and what it entirely means, have a look at this blog, you’ll get a deeper insight.

Maxamet Heat Treatment

The heat treatment of any steel is an important differentiator in the steek world. Let’s say there are two sheets of steel with the exact same composition of chemicals but if the way they were heated to make them differs, the end result can vary by a large margin. This is also one of the aspects that are often overlooked even by several knife and steel enthusiasts, so we just want to make sure that you get the complete picture.

Since Maxamet steel is one of the hardest types of steel used for knives, its process is particularly an important one. The heating princess takes place in two phases — quenching and tempering.

Quenching is the initial part of the heating process where the temperature is at soaring highs of over 1200 degrees celsius and this massive heat gives it the extraordinary hardness of 70HRC.

The tempering process is what takes place after the initial heating princess is completed; It is the cooling part of the process and the temperatures used for this range between 160-200 degrees celsius. This part of the steel-making process adds durability to the steel.

Is Maxamet Steel good for knives?

Since Maxamet steel has high hardness, excellent durability, and high machinability, it is a great choice of steel for making knives. While you won’t see as many kitchen knives and cleavers made from this steel, it’s a very popular choice for outdoor survival knives. 

Does Maxamet Steel rust?

Maxamet steel or Micro-melt Maxamet Steel has a unique composition that makes it hard and durable but it also comes at a slight cost; the low Chromium content in its composition does not make it stainless steel. That means that it has the capability of rusting under certain conditions. To avoid rusting you will just need to take some care of your knife, for example making sure to clean your knife with warm water and sponge, using a knife holder to reduce exposure to moisture, and timely sharpening to grind off any possible rust formation on the blade.

Best Maxamet Knives for the Money

Spyderco Native 5:

Spyderco Native 5

This is one of the best knives you can get since it is really high in quality and its design is also very sleek. The Spyderco Native 5 is an extremely hard blade and comes with a very sharp edge. The grey handle of the knife is made up of nylon fiberglass and comes with an iconic webbed and carved design that provides a solid grip and makes the knife not only beautiful to look at but also safe to use. The Native 5 comes with a back lock mechanism making it very comfortable to carry.

The Spyderco Native 5 is at the top of the list for performance and along with its dynamic utility grip, it is probably the best choice for your Maxamet Steel Knife.

Spyderco Sage 1 Folding Knife

Spyderco Sage 1 Folding Knife

Here’s another incredible knife by Spyderco. The Spyderco Safe Folding Knife is the kind of knife that will literally last you your entire life. Thanks to the micro-melt Maxamet Steel used in this Safe knife, it’s extremely reliable. If you’re a real knife enthusiast, you’ll know that the Sage 1 design has been in production for more than a decade now! This revised version with Maxamet Steel provides even better performance than its predecessors. 

With high carbide, reasonable toughness, and stellar wear resistance, this is the perfect knife to accompany you on all your adventures, even if it’s just daily use. 

With a 3 inch blade, cool gray textured G-10 handle, and fully flat grind, this is a knife that has the perfect geometry and builds that does justice to the Maxamet steel. 

Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight Signature Folding Utility Pocket Knife

Spyderco Para 3 Lightweight Pocket Knife

While Spyderco generally makes premium folding knives for outdoor adventure and survival purposes, this knife packs the same punch in performance while also being a little easy on the pocket. It’s also made from the incredible maxamet steel, but in a more lightweight build that might be more suitable for people looking for an everyday pocket knife that’s easy to carry around. 

It also has an easy-to-use lock and can be opened and closed with ease only with the use of one hand. 

Despite being a lightweight pocket knife, the blade still has a very decent thickness making it useful for plenty of applications. 

How Does Maxamet Steel Compare to Other Steels? 

It’s one thing to know that maxamet steel is high-quality and premium steel for knives. But how does it compare to its competitors? Should you go ahead with the maxamet steel or purchase a different kind of steel? If you can’t locate maxamet steel knives anywhere, then what is good alternative steel that will give you the same performance and result? 

We’ll answer all these questions in this section, comparing maxamet steel to three popular steels. 

Maxamet Steel vs S110V

PropertiesMaxamet SteelS110V
Edge Retention10/108/10
Ease of Sharpening2/105/10
Corrosion Resistance3/107/10
Toughness2/102/10
maxamet steel vs s110v

It’s clear to see that the S110V is quite similar to Maxamet steel, but cannot compete on the Edge Retention front. However, the S110V is much more corrosion resistant, making it less prone to rust. 

Maxamet Steel vs. S30V

PropertiesMaxamet SteelS30V
Edge Retention10/107/10
Ease of Sharpening2/105/10
Corrosion Resistance3/109/10
Toughness2/102/10
maxamet steel vs s30v

The S30V is similar to the S110V in the aspect that it cannot match up to Maxamet Steel’s Edge Retention. However, it has the advantage of more corrosion resistance. Both steels have the exact same toughness. 

Maxamet Steel vs. M390

PropertiesMaxamet SteelM390
Edge Retention10/108/10
Ease of Sharpening2/105/10
Corrosion Resistance3/108/10
Toughness2/106/10
maxamet steel vs m390

The M390 has better toughness and corrosion resistance than Maxamet Steel but doesn’t have the same edge retention property. If ease of sharpening is important to you, you might prefer the M390. 

Which Steel is a Close Equivalent to Maxamet Steel? 

After comparing Maxamet Steel to the S110V, S30V, and M390, it’s easy to conclude that the S110V is the closest equivalent to Maxamet Steel. This is because it is also very high-performance premium steel and will last as long as Maxamet will. In fact, some people favor the S110V over the Maxamet Steel because of its corrosion-resistant capabilities. However, nothing comes close to Maxamet Steel in terms of its edge retention. 

Conclusion

There’s a reason why Maxamet Steel is revered as one of the best premium steels in the market! Due to its high carbide composition, it’s extremely hard with decent toughness and can hold up to a variety of challenges. While you do have to take a bit more care of your Maxamet Steel knife to ensure it never gets corroded, we’re of the opinion that the performance is well worth the trouble that this takes. Let us know in the comments below which Maxamet knife is your favorite!

About The Author
Hey Knife Up gang! I'm Pete, and I'm just another man like you in a small rural town who loves the outdoors as much as the other million internet users that cruise sites like KnifeUp.com every day. The difference is that I like to share what I know and research what I don't totally know so that YOU can have all the info you need to feel confident and prepared for all things outdoors-related! And, for those who care, I have 42 years of wilderness canoeing and bushcraft experience in Northern Ontario and spend most of my Summers covered in mosquitos and fish slime, but hey, it's a lifestyle choice, eh?

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