In the knife industry a “mule” is a sample knife used for performance testing. Spyderco’s Mule Team Series takes this concept a step further by offering the same fixed-blade knife pattern in many different steel variations. This ongoing project allows steel-obsessed knife enthusiasts a unique opportunity to test and evaluate different blade materials using the same identical design platform. Mule Team blades are furnished without handles or sheaths and are also popular “kit” blades for aspiring knifemakers and hobbyists.
Spyderco’s twenty-sixth Mule Team installment features Carpenter® Technology Corporation's PMA11, a particle metallurgy version of A11 tool steel. Also known as AISI A11, K294 (Böhler-Uddeholm), and CPM® 10V (Crucible®), PMA11 is an extremely wear-resistant tool steel that is capable of achieving a high working hardness. One of the world's premier steel choices for highly wear-resistant industrial tooling, in its CPM 10V form it is also one of the favorite steels of renowned custom knifemaker and Spyderco collaborator Phil Wilson.
PMA11's alloy composition is as follows: Carbon: 2.45%, Manganese: 0.50%, Silicon: 0.90%, Chromium: 5.30%, Molybdenum: 1.30%, Vanadium: 9.50%, Sulfur 0.08%. Its large volume of hard vanadium carbides provides substantially better wear-resistance than typical high-carbon, high-chromium die steels such as D2 and D7. In knife blades, this translates to outstanding Edge retention and good toughness, especially in shorter knives. These properties are maximized through the particle metallurgy process, which greatly reduces alloy segregation and ensures a homogenous microstructure. Please note, however, that PMA11 is a tool steel and must be maintained properly to safeguard it against corrosion.