Mule Team, CTS XHP
What is a Mule?
In the English language the term mule has multiple definitions: There’s the obvious equine reference being the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. It can be a coin minted from two dies by mistake and the auto industry refers to their test vehicles as a mules. Spyderco also calls knife models designed and built for testing and evaluation Mules. When a group of these are brought together they make a team of mules, thus the name of this knife series: The Mule Team. Knife and steel-devotees love trying out new blade steels. Spyderco leads the industry in offering, testing and manufacturing knives using new and exotic blade steels. Taking that idea a step up, why not offer a series (team) of blades using different, exotic and freshly unveiled steels? In doing this steel-obsessed knife knuts can try, test and use something normally not offered to the industry.
What is the Spyderco Mule Team?
The Mule team project was created as a simple, inexpensive venue for “steel junkies” to have an opportunity to test different blade steels themselves. Each run will have a different interesting steel. Each run will have the same pattern, a fixed blade with a full tang. Each run will have the same thickness, grind, edge and will be heat treated to the optimal hardness for that steel. The blade is leaf-shaped with a sharpened and finished PlainEdge blade, but with an unfinished handles providing some a do-it-yourself opportunity. The unfinished handle has a series of holes for attaching a custom handle or for wrapping in cord. No handle, scales or sheath are provided. This not only saves you funds, but gives you the opportunity to make (or have made) custom handles and sheaths.
How many and how often will they be released?
Spyderco’s plan is to release several variations per year using the same fixed blade pattern produced with different exotic steels. Each steel offering is limited to approximately 600 pieces and engraved indicating the steel used. Variations are priced accordingly with the only cost variable being the steel itself.
Mule Team16 is made with CTS XHP powdered steel produced exclusively by Carpenter Steel Corporation of Reading, Pennsylvania. CTS XHP is air hardened, high carbon, high chromium, corrosion resistant blade steel. It exhibits exceptional hardness similar to that found in tool steels such as D2, but also offers corrosion resistance on par with high chromium stainless steels like 440C. The powdered steel manufacturing process renders the steel’s ingredients and its carbides with a more consistent grain size. When grains are similar sized, the result is a more homogenized steel structure. For the person cutting with the blade this translates into higher-performing knife steel that has exceptional wear and corrosion resistance and long lasting edge retention. CTS XHP contains hard vanadium carbides further augmenting its hardness level to produce a keenly sharp cutting edge and surface finish. Even exposed to moisture, petroleum products and organic materials it exhibits exceptional corrosion resistance.