EDC For CCW From Wilson Combat: Rapid Response XL

Image courtesy Wilson Combat

Unlike most EDC knives which are great for box-cutting and, well, okay for CCW backup, Wilson Combat knives are designed from the ground up to stand in harm’s way with Wilson’s combat-tuned handguns and long guns. This is their latest offering, the $289 Rapid Response XL.

Wilson’s knife designs tend to come from the finest designers and manufacturers like Les George and David Broadwell. I’m still looking for the designer of the Rapid Response XL, but it looks like a winner for those who can afford it. That does not include me.

Image courtesy Wilson CombatBut it buys the real deal: a titanium frame with Cocobolo scales and a 3.5″ Elmax blade. Elmax is a mechanically-alloyed powdered stainless steel which is melted together in a vacuum forge, and it reportedly has unheard-of toughness and corrosion resistance.

The Rapid Response XL’s Elmax blade is hardened to HRC 59-60, which is a point or two harder than other tactical knives. It’s a big, thick blade, and even with the Ti frame it makes the Rapid Response XL a heavyweight at nearly 5 ounces.

I don’t have the cash or the looks to court a supermodel like this, but like a wet kitten I wouldn’t turn one away if I found her on my doorstep.



  1. William Burke says:

    Wow. That sure is nice, eh? Outta my league, too, by a far piece. But just spectacularly lovely, just the sort of knife I fall head over heels for – and I can’t afford to buy it a cup of coffee.

    First I’ve heard of Elmax. Could you put together an article on it sometime? If you do, would you give a heads-up over at TTAG, as I don’t hang out here on a regular basis?

    I bought a Benchmade Nimravus when they first came out. For a little while, they were available in M2 steel, which is what I bought. Pretty special steel, HRC 60-62, I seem to remember. I think they went to 154CM pretty quickly, because I think M2 is no longer made. Not a huge 154CM fan, as I’ve always had a bit of a problem getting a really nice edge on it….

    1. Chris Dumm says:

      Elmax is out of my league too. Even a sliver of S30V makes a knife cost $75 or more, and S30V isn’t even the ne plus ultra of supersteels. Guessing from its price, the secret ‘powdered’ ingredient of Elmax is probably unicorn horn.

    2. Nathan says:

      Elmax can be great, but I’m hesitant to get knives with it because there have been an unusually high number of improperly heat-treated Elmax knives. If you want to hear an in-depth summary of the process, Elliot Williamson of Ferrum Forge has some videos on his youtube channel describing the process. Overall, Wilson Combat is my favorite of the gun makers that also make knives. They focus on the knife itself, rather than throwing something together with shotty construction and selling their name

      1. William Burke says:

        Thanks, Nathan. Is there Elmax in my future? Probably not anytime soon.

        1. Nathan says:

          I do have a Kershaw Speedform that has Elmax and plan on testing it. This will determine if I will buy any of the new ZTs coming out

  2. LK says:

    Elmax is also used in Zero Tolerance’s 5xx series. I owned a 560 briefly, I found the blade to be too thick to really take advantage of the high wear resisitance (at least for cutting cardboard, which is what I mainly do wifh my knives), as the thickness made it bind up in the material it was cutting. That’s my experience with Elmax. It did hold a pretty good edge for the month or so I had it though.

    Steel make up is this (taken from knifesteelchart app):

    C: 1.70; V: 3.00; Cr: 18.00; Mo: 1.00; Mn: 0.30; P: ?; S: ?; Si: 0.80;

    For comparision: S30V:
    C: 1.45-1.46; W: 0.10-0.40; V: 4.00; Cr: 14.00; Mo: 2.00; Mn: 0.50; N: 0.10; P: 0.03; S: 0.03; Si: 0.50;

  3. LK says:

    Chris, I recommend keeping an eye on Spyderco’sp Mule Team project, I picked up Elmax, M390, Cru-wear and one other steel (blanking on it currently) each for around $70, I usually just wrap the handle in paracord and call it good. Cheap way to get to play with spendy steels 🙂

    Edit: just checked and it looks like they haven’t put one out in a year or so, my bad.

  4. Charlie Johnson says:

    Not completely sure, but that looks like a Darrel Ralph design to me. Personally, I’ve owned very few frame or liner locks that I was really happy with, enough so that I wouldn’t spend big bucks on a high end example, given the chance. That said, a big flipper/guard does make me feel better about them. Still, I’d look at something like an Andrew Demko custom Triad lock first.

    1. William Burke says:

      Have you actually experienced a failure of a liner or frame lock, or is there anecdotal evidence that would lead you to have such concern?

      Never experienced such a failure, personally.

  5. MW says:

    It’s a shame such a potentially nice knife is made useless by the lack of a tip up carry option.

    1. William Burke says:

      Personally, I have never understood the importance of tip-up carry, and I daily carry 4 knives – 3 folders of various sizes and roles, and a neck knife.

      Since I lost my Twitch II – which I actually found – I haven’t found a suitable replacement. I’m breaking down and buying another Twitch II next week.

      I’d be interested in someone telling me about why tip-up carry is such a better option than tip-down. Thanks in advance.

      1. MarcusAurelius says:

        I personally like tip up because on most of my knives carrying them that way allows me to put the knuckle of my middle finger on the pocket clip, index finger down in the pocket on the knife, thumb on the scale/frame of the knife and when I pull it out of my pocket my finger is right on the flipper. With tip down I have to let the knife pivot between my thumb and index finger before getting it oriented properly in my hand.

        It seems to me that it might help reduce the amount of time before I can get the knife open and in a stable grip. Granted I’ve never had to use a knife defensively nor timed how long it takes to get the blade deployed and grip adjusted in various scenarios, but it does make me feel a bit better about the whole thing.

        Also, in the front pocket of a pair of jeans, tip up presses the back of the folded blade up against the back of the pocket, helping it stay closed. I had an old CRKT that could only be carried tip down and the blade would try and open in my pocket sometimes.

        Actually, having typed all of that, the opening in my pocket was the main reason I decided I wanted to get a knife I could move clip on in the first place.

        1. William Burke says:

          Come to think of it, I’ve had a tip-down (Benchmade) come open a couple times in the pocket, also. Thankfully, no harm done.

  6. Joe Bob says:

    Nice looking knife. I have a zero tolerance elmax blade. Seems to be very hard steel and very hard to sharpen. I’ve always been a tip down kinda guy. That wilson blade just speaks to me for some reason. Kinda spendy though.

  7. NavyRetGold says:

    That is one freaking awesome blade. If I had $289 that I wanted to throw down on a high end blade, this might fill the bill. If I owned a Wilson Combat pistol, there is no doubt I would buy one. I don’t give a crap whether it’s tip up or down, it’s just a matter of training with it enough so that when you draw it it, you instinctively deploy it. I don’t currently own a knife with Elmax, but everything I have read about it was highly complimentary.

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EDC For CCW From Wilson Combat: Rapid Response XL

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