Mule Team 06 (CPM S35VN)
Crucible Steel in NY created CPM S30V as steel developed specifically to be used for knife blades. A first, and the knife industry appreciates such purpose built efforts.
Shortly after the introduction of CPM S30V, Chris Reeve (of Chris Reeve Knives) began working with Dick Barber, a metallurgist at Crucible Steel (at the time).
The goal was to create an even better version of the steel that had better machinability and finish. After several years of testing and development, the result was CPM S35VN. Chemically the same as S30V, but with the additional of Niobium (also referred to as Columbium).
High Chromium ferritic steels containing Niobium exhibit increased temperature stability and refined grain structure which is important when working hard steels used in items like jet and rocket engines, welding and knife blades. It increases a blade's strength and ability to take and retain sharpness.
Crucible worked with a few makers to test and refine the steel. Production began on CPM S35VN just before changes were made in the Crucible business model.
At this time, there is still question as to whether this fine steel will be in production. Spyderco was fortunate to be able to grab some while it was still available and this Mule Team model is the result of that opportunity.
CPM S35VN is exotic in its chemistry, even for powdered steels. This is an opportunity for some to be able to play with this new evolution to blade steel.
What is the Mule Team:
For those of you unfamiliar with our Mule Team Project, it is unique to Spyderco. In-house we call knife samples designed and built for testing and evaluation Mules. We know a healthy percentage of knife users are interested in different blade steels and their performance abilities. Running with that, we released an ongoing Mule Team Project. Several times per year we unveil the same single-piece fixed blade patterned knife in a different and exotic blade steel. This lets steel-obsessed knife knuts test, try and use something normally not offered to the industry. Product runs are limited to 600 ' 1000 pieces of each steel type depending on foundry requirements.
Mule Blades are leaf-shaped with a sharpened and finished PlainEdge blade but with an unfinished handle providing a do-it-yourself opportunity. The unfinished handle has a series of holes for attaching custom handle scales or for wrapping with para-cord. Each piece is sold without handle scales or a carry sheath focusing the project on the blade steel. This opens endless creative possibilities for the owner to design their own handle scale and carry options.