After successful internal testing and positive feedback from some hardcore fans, Spyderco is preparing to roll out a Manix 2 Lightweight and a Native 5 Lightweight in Maxamet super steel. Yesterday, Spyderco announced that the Maxamet Manix 2 will be available by the end of the month, and the Maxamet Native 5 by the end of the year.
Maxamet is made by Carpenter Technology, a company best known among steel snobs for its CTS-XHP, which made appearances on the Spyderco Techno, Slysz Bowie, and Chaparral among others. Maxamet’s distinguishing metallurgical characteristic is the high carbon content (2.15%) and the inclusion of 10% Tungsten. In an alloy, Tungsten contributes to the harden-ability, and with this much Tungsten it’s no surprise that Spyderco hardened Maxamet up to 67-68 RC. Few steels can approach this level of hardness while remaining usable in cutlery applications.
This significant increase in hardness means that Maxamet will be a very hard-wearing steel with off the charts edge retention. But, it’s not easy to work with, and few knife makers have been able to rise to the challenge of machining, grinding, and sharpening it. Until Spyderco’s announcement, the Zero Tolerance ZT0888MAX was the only production knife made with Maxamet steel, and only 250 units were ever produced. The superior edge retention also doesn’t come without drawbacks. Maxamet is not stainless and requires proper maintenance to prevent rust and corrosion.
The Mule Team Project is an ongoing Spyderco initiative which allows fans to purchase a simple, naked fixed blade made from different exotic alloys for testing and review. The positive feedback from Mule Team mainstays probably had something to do with Maxamet’s quick move to production models, but Spyderco has also been testing it in-house for some time. “We also did extensive scientific testing on Maxamet’s performance, edge retention, and toughness and found that it easily rivaled the very best steels we’ve ever used,” they say.
Spyderco’s opinion of the alloy is so favorable the company rushed to release the Maxamet Mule ahead of schedule. Although it is officially MT24 (Mule Team 24), it leapfrogged the MT23 to get it into users’ hands faster.
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Alongside the Maxamet models, Spyderco also announced a new “Zome” edition of the Delica 4 (shown below) and Endura 4. Zome is a traditional Japanese dyeing technique, and the Seki-City facility has adapted this process for the Delica and Endura production processes. Dyes are hand-brushed on to the FRN scales, meaning that each Zome knife will be unlike any other.
The Zome models are already available for purchase at Spyderco’s HQ store, and will be available from other retailers shortly. MSRP for the Zome Delica 4 and Endura 4 is $109.95 and $114.95, respectively. No price has been announced for either the Maxamet Manix 2 or Native 5. It will be interesting to see what sort of a premium these new versions will command. If you are interested in trying out Maxamet but can’t wait for the Manix or Native, the MT24 is still available for purchase.
Knife featured in image: Spyderco Mule