REX 121 Super Steel Knife Project Gets a Kickstart

Knifemaker Gary Creely has Kickstarted the Mako EDC, a fixed blade made from exotic CPM REX 121 super steel. The Mako will kick off a string of crowd-sourced knives made from superior steels.

For steel enthusiasts, the main draw on the Mako is its 2.6-inch CPM REX 121 blade. There are a lot of hard steels in the world but, according to Creely, REX 121 takes it to another level. “[It] is in the low 40s Rockwell hardness even when annealed (before it’s hardened), and after heat treatment, it is close to 70 HRC,” he tells us (the Rockwell C hardness scale tops out at 70). The steel is described as Crucible’s answer to Maxamet. While they are very similar in chemical composition, REX 121 contains 1% more carbon and 3% more vanadium.

The practical result of this type of hardness is unparalleled edge retention. Knives made from REX 121 will significantly outlast even other high-performance steels like M4 and S35VN. It doesn’t have the highest impact resistance and can chip if abused, but Creely believes that massive edge holding is more useful than ultimate toughness in small knives we carry every day. “A steel like this one is best suited in smaller bladed knives. If Rex 121 finds its way onto a larger blade the chances of it getting misused dramatically increases.”

A downside of REX 121 is that it’s so hard that it can actually damage common sharpening abrasives. “The long and short of it is that you need to use diamond abrasives to sharpen this kind of steel,” Creely notes. “If you bust out your favorite Japanese waterstone there’s a good chance that the steel could cut your waterstone more than your waterstone could cut the steel.” He does believe that REX 121 can be sharpened without specialized tools, and is teaming up with a dealer friend to offer Spyderco Sharpmakers outfitted with optional diamond rods to maintain the Mako.

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Creely surpassed the funding goal for the Mako EDC soon after it posted and is already sizing up more crowd-funded projects. “I am quite certain this will not be my last project, I have an 8-inch chef’s knife in LC200N in mind, a neck knife, and probably several more Makos in different steels.” He wants to play around with S125V too. “What [my projects] will all have in common is they will be using high-end steels.”

Now that the Kickstarter project has proven itself, Creely is taking preorders for the Mako directly from his website.

Knife featured in image: Creely Blades Mako EDC