Mule Team, PMA11
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 Team 26 features Carpenter Technology’s Micro-Melt A11 Tool Steel, a particle metallurgy version of A11 tool steel. Also known as AISI A11, K294 (Böhler-Uddeholm), and Crucible CPM 10V, 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.