Back to top



High-Speed Steel that works well between 62-66 Rc. First used in American Cutlery in kitchen knives and folders by Gerber Blades in the 1960s ...85 Carbon, 6.35 Tungsten, 5.0 Molybdenum, 4.0 Chromium, and 2.0 Vanadium.


M390 is one of the new "super steels". It is an ultra premium steel manufactured by Bohler-Uddeholm. It is a martenistic steel produced with third generation powder metallurgy. It offers extremely high wear resistance and corrosion resistance. Bohler is calling it a "micro-clean" steel, and it has a very fine grain size structure. It is very close in composition to CPM-20CV. Many are calling it the ultimate knife steel as it excels in so many of the important properties of knife steels. M390 can be polished to achieve a true mirror polish finish. Some have said that M390's corrosion resistance ranks just under H1. Carbon – 1.9%, Silicon – 0.7%, Manganese – 0.3%, Chromium – 20%, Molybdenum – 1%, Vanadium – 4%, Tungsten 0.6% with a typical Rockwell of 60-62 Rc.


A high speed steel, very hard to work but makes a great knife blade that is very difficult to sharpen. Very like M-2 except 1.3 Carbon and 4.0% Vanadium. When I first used this steel in the 1970s I hardened it to 64 Rc and was unable to finish grind it and it took forever to get an edge on it. With today?s ceramic belts I think it would be worth trying again.


Main Blade

The largest blade in a knife with two or more blades.


Main Gauche

Left hand dagger used with a rapier about 17th Century. Very fancy guard around the hand with long quillions.


Maize Knife

Knife with a large spey style blade.

Malay Archipelago

The thousands of islands found between Indo China and Australia.


Malay Pirates

In the previous centuries many of the peoples living in the Malay states were pirates and sailing through their waters was very dangerous.



Expressed as Mn. Increases toughness and hardenability.


Maple Burl handle on a California Bowie Knife

Maple Burl

See Woods Used for Handles

Maple Burl is probably the most commonly used wood for handle material today. The wood comes from a growth (burl) on the big leaf maple tree, Acer macrophyllum. It has dramatic figure with large eyes. For use as knife handles, the wood must be stabilized to prevent cracking. It is usually dyed as a part of the stabilizing process and is the most common wood used to get the bright colors - red, green, blue, etc.


Mark Side

The side of the blade with the Nail Mark that can be the obverse or the reverse side of the blade.


Mark, Common

The short crescent shaped groove commonly seen on pocket knife blades.


Mark, French

A Long Mark with short marks pressed into the steel at the bottom of the mark that look like the top of a castle wall.


Mark, Long

The long straight groove often seen on the main blade of stock knives


Marlin spike

A tool for working with rope. Often attached to the handles of sailors knives.



Japan's greatest swordmaker b. 1265 d.1358.


Matte Finish

A brushed or satin finish, term usually applied to all metal pocket knife handles.



Maxamet is a non-stainless powder steel from Carpenter (USA steel). It is capable of very high hardness, and it is one of the top choices for the best edge retention available. Some compare it to CPM-S110V in edge retention, but it is still up for debate. Just like S110V though, Maxamet is extremely difficult to sharpen. Maxamet is considered in the top supersteels and is highly sought after.
2.15% Carbon (C), 4.75% Chromium (Cr), 10% Cobalt (Co), 0.30% Manganese (Mn), 0.25% Silicon (Si), 0.07% Sulphur (S), 13.00% Tungsten (W), 6.00% Vanadium (V). 


Mediterranean Barlow

A barlow knife with a Mediterranean shape: the blade at the large end of a tapered serpentine handle. Must have the distinctive long Barlow bolsters.



Phenolic resin and layers of cloth or paper; makes very fine, strong and durable knife handles. Gets slightly tacky when wet, rather than slick. Originally a Westinghouse trademark. Now Norplex.



A version of the Lock Back where the lock release is near the middle of the handle instead of the butt. The earliest of these I have seen was made in about 1845 by the Joseph Rodgers Co in England, it was common in the late 1800s in the U.S. for large folding hunters. Many claim that Al Mar, a knife designer working in the 1970s, invented the mid-lock.


Modern Crown Pen handle shape

Equal end handle with square ends.


Modern Knives

Modern Knives are, of course, the knives that are popular and are made today. Modern knives have adapted to today's market and needs. Styles have changed away from the more natural materials to manmade materials with extreme durability and precision. Modern folding knives typically have a pocket clip and slip comfortably in the pocket. Modern fixed blades often forego the guard bolster in favor of a less expensive knife (but not always). Hard plastic and Kydex sheaths have become very popular for modern fixed blades. Modern handle materials include materials such as titanium, aircraft grade aluminum, carbon fiber, G-10, Micarta, Fiberglass Reinforced Nylon (FRN, sometimes GRN, is a very strong polymer nylon mixed with glass fiber), and thermoplastics. Some common examples of modern features on folding knives are flipper and thumbstud deployment systems, spring-assisted opening, and pocket clips.



Is used to increase hardness in tool steels. Expressed as Mo.


Moose (Texas Jack) Knife

Knife with a full sized blade at each end.

Moran, W

Well know bladesmith, made famous by Ken Warner, Bill Moran is one of the founders of the "American Bladesmith Society".


Morseth Knives

The firm started by Harry Morseth and continued after 1971 by A. G. Russell. Most famous for use of Laminated Steel and 3 piece stag handles.


Morseth, Harry

Pioneer knife maker, began selling knives in the 1920s.


Mortise Tang

A method of applying scales to a narrow tang. Used by Marble's and the Swedes in the early part of this Century and by D. E. Henry in handmade knives. Half the thickness of the tang is removed from the inner surface of each scale.


Mother of Pearl

The shell of the pearl oyster from the South Pacific, a popular knife handle material; expensive



Knife with two special, very slim skinning blades. Traditionally in Premium handle

Muskrat Trapper

A pocket knife usually about 4 inches closed and usually of serpentine shape with a blade at each end, most often both California Clip blades.