Friday, June 4, 2010

Cold Steel Mini AK-47 and the Triad Lock. My Thoughts

Shown here is the new Mini AK-47 Triad lock by Cold Steel. I've posted it in progressive steps as it evolved to what it is today. As of this edit today, July 3rd, 2015 I still carry this kinfe and can say it has been used very hard. There have been a few times when I had to clean out the lock of gunk and even mud because these little knives truly are the 'Glocks' of the knife world if you are into hand guns and they put up with the muck and needing no lube and being abused about hand in hand together. While I still find myself at times frustrated by this handle as it is a bit awkward in versatility for grips, but you can't deny the workability if that is an acceptable new term, and reliability of this little gem in the knife world. Its a bit of a weird handle for a traditional guy but what a knife. It really has held up and to this day its one of few I own I simply do not hesitate to use. It just takes it and asks for more.  I did modify it as stated. If you start from the bottom in the pictures scrolling up you can follow this mini AK from before it was touched to after my tweaking it to my liking by navigating past the other photos. In the top two pictures you see the final after tweaking it to my satisfaction.

I read about the Triad lock when it first came out after Andrew Demko created it and I'm sure like a lot of people I just kind of skimmed not really getting it because I didn't really appreciate it on paper. It wasn't until I actually bought my first American Lawman and Mini Lawman folders that I really found out just how good it was. In short the lock is pretty awesome for a number of reasons with the main reason being that it just holds up under the worst abuses! The Triad lock bar is protected against some forces by the use of a stop pin making it both stronger and more reliable at the same time! Most of the blunt force trauma will be absorbed by the pin and transferred to the overall system of the handle allowing the lock to do what it is supposed to do remaining immune to most forces that could dislodge conventional locks.  These high abuse type uses produce forces that the user would rely solely on the rocker arm and blade to absorb in other designs. Its not that they can't do that for a time, most can but the lock will wear faster having to absorb both positive and negative forces all the time and this is what leads to that pesky blade play developing over time from rounding corners and indenting metal.. The Triad creates a situation where the lock rocker arm gets a lot of help from that precisely placed hardened stop pin but to add to this the Triad lock adds one of the attributes of the liner lock in that the lock rocker arm is self adjusting for wear that does occur. The difference this makes in life expectancy is going to be huge making a system that is geared for durability long life and reliability over time as the lock continually adjusts itself from wear. The force difference between what we term hard uses which can wear a good knife over a long span of time, vs abusive uses which can flat out ruin it, sometimes immediately may not be appreciated until you actually experience trashing a good knife by pushing it just a little too far. I know that feeling well as I've had some fine knives I really liked that got tweaked a time or two. That is why I'm a firm believer in a beater upper knife.

 Here is a picture I saw on one of the forums. It shows a Cold Steel American Lawman (bottom) set up for the Triad lock compared to the Spyderco Manix (top) in this shot which is a conventional 'beefy' mid lock folder. Compared to some others I've examined the Manix is exemplary as it is shown here.. I believe that is a full size Manix if I'm not mistaken but it could be the Mini version. Either way the lock up going to compare about like this to the Triad lock on most folders. This is the difference between philosophies per say of the 'old school vs new school' way of doing a mid lock back folder. As you know there are lock backs that are 'back locks' like the Buck 110. And others like these Spyderco and other models with mid lock depress levers or rocker arms/lock bars and then there are still others like the Al Mar folders that are 'front lock' type lever set ups for release of the lock. Each one has it's own school of thought for how they are done to be correct.The Triad set up is geared toward updating and rearranging a few things for the mid locking type design and it could be argued that the Rajah I and perhaps a few other larger folders by Cold Steel are more front lock than mid lock in design. Either way even a novice can see quite clearly the advantages of the Triad lock and why they instill so much confidence and security. Not that the Spyderco doesn't do that to some degree as that is a fine knife and done right. Both of these are beefy folders more geared for heavier uses. I just think the Triad lock raised the bar considerably here though. Note that even the  pivot barrel is bigger on the Lawman than the Spyderco. Note that the spring on the Spyderco is quite beefy by comparison to Cold Steel though but again that plays into what works best for locks set up such that the system is old school design relying solely on the rocker arm to support the blade. Anyway, this is the difference visually of what I've been seeing. Now you see what I've been saying and I wanted my readers to see what I see when I look inside and why the Triad lock excites me so. Even if somehow the American Lawman lock bar was slightly depressed down in use the lock would still engage the blade deeper or at least as deep as the Manix does at full seating of the lock! Guys that's simply amazing!   Click any picture to enlarge to full size.

Above is the American Lawman bottom, Spyderco Manix top
This is a full size Spyderco Manix here that I rebuilt slabs on years ago. Used for reference only. I don't do the rebuilds  of this nature any longer. 

This is a shot of the typical lock up of a Case Blackhorn hunter folding knife and a Spyderco Blue Rescue

Above is a Spyderco 83mm Manix showing the lock up on this great folder
Above is one more shot of yet another Cold Steel American Lawman which the lock shows up well on.

Of course like any lock back, the user still needs to maintain the mechanisms and be sure its clean and obstruction free in the lock notch in the blade. All knives need maintained and folding knives with or without locks are certainly no exception, particularly those pushed to the limits of their abilities frequently. Below is another good video link on some maintenance showing how to take the Recon 1 Triad Lock knife apart and fix a rattle if you have one that does that. It is also a pretty good shot of the massive lock up of the Recon 1 and what it looks like inside. I should emphasize here that where he lists the screw sizes is not accurate. The torx sizes on all my knives by Cold Steel seem to be T10 for pivot screws so that part is correct, but the rear screws and pocket clip screws on all mine are all T6 torx size and not T8 as the author of this video states. Its worth review just to be aware of the the basics though. Speaking of the basics, if you want my own tips I suggest if you take your knives apart that each time have a towel below you on a clean surface. These small screws tend to walk off so the towel slows that down. Have the right tools. Don't use hex on torx and viceaversa. Look at the screws used in the construction as 'location specific' as this is always the best policy with modern and/or old style folders either production or custom made. Put things back just where they were in the same way they were installed. In other words if its a pin note which side was down and which up before you remove it. Mark the end you see with a Sharpie dot or something. Note how things are oriented and installed before removing a piece. Snap a digital pic of it before you remove anything and double check to be sure its as it was if this helps. These knives can sometimes not work as well once put back together if you mix things up so its just a general good rule of thumb to adopt this location specific policy as routine to prevent problems down the road. Oh and as mentioned,  if you have the rattle in your folder the easy fix should you get one that does this is also found here.

 If you want the best balance of strength and reliability in a folder that locks open the Triad lock is one of the better choices in my opinion. Heck I don't know how anyone can help but feel that way once they actually handle and use one of these things! These knives just instill a sense of confidence and security, and as it appears to me they offer hefty amounts of both! I have grown to just love the TWACK of the lock rocker arm hammering down on my first Lawman when opening the blade I gotta tell ya!  In fact once the blade is locked up and opened on one of these folders it is truly about as close as you can get to a fixed blade in a folder that I have found at any point in the over 50 years I've been walking this planet! Oh,  for the record I have no attachment or loyalty to any one company in the knife industry. I do not work for any of the companies at this time but I have worked closely with some in the past. Cold Steel is not one of them though. I do not work for or have any ties to Cold Steel other than the fact that I occasionally have bought their knives. I do openly admit more interest in Cold Steel since they teamed with Andrew Demko though and my feelings are that Andrew is among the top five premier knife makers and designers in the world at this time. 

This lock deserved some kind of recognition at the awards at Blade show this year but I'm sure it was overlooked as many of Cold Steels knives are when they come up with new knives. Often they've been ignored even when they are great. This is what happens to the black sheep in any industry typically. It certainly would not surprise me that perhaps the greatest lock invention of our time will go largely ignored at the show because it is Cold Steel behind it. If Emerson or one of the 'favored sons' of the industry had come up with this you can bet you'd have been reading about this great new lock on the cover of every magazine and in numerous threads in every forum in the world repeatedly as headline news long before Blade, but because its Cold Steel and Lynn Thompson that came up with it its only appreciated by those that actually count, the customers.

It really is a shame such a blatant bias exists on some of the forums and in magazines as well as shows because Andy Demko deserves praise for this lock design and lots of it! I mean we are talking about folding knives that can be relied upon in extreme situations here! Imagine literally hammering into the locked open handle with something like a short stout log and knowing the lock will take it. Have trouble imagining that? See here and come back after.  This is simply a knife fit for a warrior spirit. It shows that you can easily force the blade into a tree or mortar joint in a wall as easily as Andrew did using a hammer to put a hole in a 2x4! Imagine then using the locked open body of the folder as a leg up standing on the spine area close to the lock and blade to help you see over the top or climb a tree! That could be a handy item to have in a pinch depending on circumstances. I'm sorry but your hard use Emerson or Strider is simply outclassed here as this set up by Cold Steel redefines hard use to a whole new standard of excellence!  Oh and please know I am not suggesting you try this stuff and go out there and hurt yourself. I'm just saying this is the difference I see between the Triad Lock and other lock types because some of the larger models of the Triad lock folders offered by Cold Steel would actually take this treatment and walk through it without a hitch unimpressed by the abuse. Don't believe it!? You will once you study this lock. I keep half waiting to see a video on youtube of someone pounding some of these in a telephone pole and then climbing the pole using the knives but I won't hold my breath. :-) If you want a true 'abuse rated' folding knife that you'll actually use without hesitation I'd say look no further than one of the Triad lockers by Cold Steel like the Recon 1 or American Lawman folders. Or if you are really a gamer for big knives the Espada XL is a lot of knife but the Espada comes in three sizes. Judging by this even the small one would suffice! Still doubt you could literally stand on one of these locked open folders?

You wouldn't dare try that with one of your other locking folders though, no matter who made it!. By the way, I did actually clamp one my Lawman folders up and locked it up to stand on it. Had to flip my work table with the wooden vices in it upside down to do it but I did and that knife held all 190 pounds of me just lightly bouncing on it up close toward the thumb stud standing over the pivot and the lock and I still use the knife because it is readily apparent it didn't even phase it! No blade play, nothin! Even more impressive, I'd already beat the snot out of the thing in several other ways before I even did the clamp and stand test!

 Watch this video of Andrew testing a Cold Steel AK-47. This is just horrible abuse of a knife and it took it asking for more. Try that with your other locking type folder and tell me that AK-47 didn't put in an award winning performance! If anyone truly interested in a hard use folding knife can watch this and shrug it off you have to wonder whether they are really being honest with themselves! Or this new one of him beating the crap out of a G10 5.5" Espada (Large model).

What we see, as evidenced in the videos and actual user feedback is some very good improvements over the standard everyday lock back and the results of testing done as shown on these videos on youtube and by Cold Steel showing just how well it does in spine whacks, over strikes, and free weight hang tests are very much accurate for what you can expect from yours should you snag one for yourself. I realize a lot of folks see no benefit or reason to spine whack or tap the spine of their locking folding knives but keep in mind, particularly in knives sold to you as hard use knives, or as self defense/combat knives, that a tap or even a whack to the spine of the blade during uses like this when its locked open is a real world event that can and does happen. Besides this, if you are buying it with the intent of using it for close quarters combat or other hard uses you owe it to yourself to know that the knife can take what you plan to dish out to it. Some seem to think the over strike is nonsense. Forgive me but if in a tussle and you pull your knife out and someone grabs your wrist slamming it down on something trying to make you drop your weapon an over strike is a real possibility. Even if it is your finger that hits something first wedged between the handle and whatever your hand is slammed against its still technically an over strike whether you got hit on the fingers at the same time or not! It can happen even if the odds are slim. End of story!

In the same line of thought the spine whack where the spine part of the blade is slammed into something is an equal possibility. Regardless of how ridiculous it may seem to some to test the over strike issue it doesn't really matter to the Triad lock one way or the other. Seems to me that the only people that whine about the over strike are the guys either making knives for combat and self defense purposes that can't handle this particular type of blunt force shock to the lock or the guys carrying one they thought walked on water only now they realize they were sold hype when they tried this test and their knife failed it miserably! The truth is that even the guys that don't agree with the over strike don't want to carry a knife they know would likely fail the test and that gnaws at them!  The Triad lock walked through both spine whacks and over strikes with no problem at all as you can see clearly in the videos. I'm betting that your own knives using this wonderful lock mechanism would waltz right through these tests also. Now please know that in any production product there are lemons. I'm not suggesting you can't get a bad one from Cold Steel as we all know that can happen from any of the companies we buy from. These are mass produced after all so we have to be realistic. What I do suggest is that when you get one that is spot on the money for how its supposed to be, which is likely,  you will see exactly what I'm talking about! I'm also happy to report that so far with all I've purchased of these new Triad locking models from Cold Steel I've had no issues with any to date and have been impressed with one lock up being as rock solid as the next and so on.

The lock advertised as 'hard use' or abuse rated should not be a liability in the event you use it hard and if it is then you are fooling yourself thinking you are doing yourself any favors by relying solely on hype and bull shit to sell you the knife you carry. Looking good is one thing but no matter how good a locking folding knife looks it has to work first and foremost. If the lock doesn't work right I don't have any more use for it than I do an adjustable wrench that will no longer turn a nut and that doesn't matter if it was a $20 knife or a $1000 one! The Triad lock is immune to most shocks that would ruin another folder lock and even many of the so called hard use knives you may dearly love and care for that cost a lot more than one of these models by Cold Steel. Love, brand loyalty or friend status has nothing to do with reality and much as I love some of my other knives and the companies that make them I can't deny the knives I own by them have locks and other issues that fall way short of living up to the hype used to sell them in a lot of cases. In fact some of the claims are laughable because anyone that knows anything about knives and locks will see right through that hype and know its all over rated nonsense promoted simply to sell something. The fact is forces that can defeat the lock of these other much loved models I own have little if any affect on the Triad lock whether those forces be of positive or of negative pressures as I said earlier. Love and brand loyalty have nothing to do with facts and if you can follow the facts where they lead you not letting your own personal bias interfere with what you see then you cannot deny what we have here is something really great in Andrew Demko's Triad Lock!  It doesn't even matter if the forces are lateral and compressive type pressures from twisting torque type forces like those seen in the human hand during extreme white knuckle uses or if they are static load tests done with free hanging weights or machines when it comes to a Triad lock! These are sometimes forces that would break or severely deform a standard lock back or other lock type I've tested like a liner lock and the Triad will hold up to more stress and strain than anything in its class that I've seen or tested. The truth is there is no comparison when we get right down to the brass tacks! I don't believe I own any other locking folders except other Triad Locks that could survive even a small fraction of the abuse that AK-47 absorbed at the hands of Andrew Demko in the link above and I mean that sincerely. Perhaps the only other folder I've ever owned that would even begin to stand up to this abuse is the Extreme Ratio Fulcrum II and it was a hell of a lot more money than one of these folders by Cold Steel! 

I've used a baton on the blade of the Triad lock knives by Cold Steel and never once seen it change the nature of the lock up. While I'm one to agree its absolutely ridiculous to baton a folder I was curious as to just how much one of these folders could take. Apparently others were just as curious. Watch this.  I was shocked believe me because the Rajah 1 and my new Recon 1 both waltzed right through a club forcing the blades through logs to split them up and did so a number of times each.  I cannot say the same for other type locks I've tested the same way over the time I've been involved in this industry and even some much beefier looking than some of the smaller Cold Steel knives. Generally speaking if you want to ruin a folding knife fast taking a baton to it is a good way to do it. (see here at what can happen when doing this to other lock types.
 I've thrown my Triad lock knives repeatedly, even from a distance sticking them in wood, I've spine whacked them, hit them with overstrikes, and flat out chopped with them until any lesser knife would have been so chewed to hell you'd not even know it was the same knife and the knives like this one shown here just take it!  Here you want to watch this video also while here. Yeah its in French. You'll get the idea just watch and enjoy as Fred Perrin shows you some of the great things he discovered about the Triad lock by Andrew Demko. And it may look easy. That's years of practice there shining through trust me! Still, that's damn hard on a lock mechanism of any kind and I don't know how good your French is but Fred mentioned there that he does that a lot using those same knives! The knives are unchanged other than finish rubbed off!

Pretty impressive by itself really but when combined with the other things we now know I still say the Triad lock is the best lock for a folding knife ever made. Can it be broken? Yes sure it can. Any lock can break and  at least one of these Triad lock folders has broken but don't let it sway you from enjoying one of these wonderful locks just because you read about some isolated cases of one or two breaking after some type of abuse was done to it. These isolated cases happen with all brands and in the cases of the Triad lock the blade steel was to blame as the lock itself still functioned fine. The heat treat or a bad blade were the cause in the single case I've seen. I will stand by that statement that the Triad is the best lock ever created for folding knives until someone comes up with something better. Note I didn't say it was my favorite. I just feel when we look at locks and lock types we have to give the nod to the Triad for balanced helpings of reliability and strength. One or two isolated cases does not make a case for the lock or blade steel being weak but simply that a bad apple got out the door from having a flaw unseen. It happens.. In the mean time I wanted to prove to those reading that I walk the walk also. I love the Triad Lock so much that I ordered and bought a custom AD-10 which I call my "American Lawman Custom" shown beside one of my very abused production Lawman folders here, although in this picture the abuse had not yet begun. That knife looks a lot worse now than when this picture was taken. Actually they both look different than when this pic was taken.. Not only do I own the Andrew Demko custom shown but I use it and I have one other folder by Andy which is a very beefy frame lock I like about as well and I have another Triad lock model coming when he gets it done. You know those threads where people ask if you had to pick only one knife and nothing else could go with you which would you take? Well that gray carbon fiber beast shown here is the one that would be on my person in such an event! CPM154 blade steel nearly 1/4" thick! .100 ti liners and carbon fiber scales with a ti lock spring holder for the spacer in the rear and a ti lock spring in .055 thickness and Andrew's patented thumb plate opener all combine to make for one heavy duty monster of a folder! Listen. I've bought more custom knives in my life than I care to admit. Being a maker myself I have made a fair share of them also as shown here in my own blogger. That is the best one of all I've ever bought or owned from any maker on this planet including myself and I have more than a mere handful of knives here to compare it to, both custom and production! Quite simply for guys like me this lock is the lock I've always dreamed of from an early age. I'm so glad I'm not missing out on it when it finally hit the market because this is the lock we knife nuts have been waiting for all our lives!!! These locks are so great they scare me because you just take them for granted forgetting they are folding knives. In many ways I have grown used to the limits of the folder and have found in my mind that line where it is not a job for a folder or it is. That line is very vague with one of these folding knives with the Triad lock. It is very easy to go into that fixed blade zone crossing that line with these locks. To me that is perhaps the greatest danger and perhaps the one thing to always keep in the back of your mind using them. You won't get the tells that you are into fixed blade or hatchet territory you'll just get hurt. Awesome yes! Just be aware they still fold.

Seen below. Edit: 2016 I recently did another great mod on one of my mini AK 47 models. I am loving, and I mean absolutely loving my Kiradashi Mini AK 47  You can buy these blades at Japan Woodworker and they are a lockback of a traditional design when they arrive. The blade is rather awkward to handle and open and close, it is excellent blade steel in a rosewood handle but the lock mechanism does not hold up well. So in time if you use them they do start getting rather sloppy in the lock and handle. I removed it as I've done dozens now with other projects here on my blog. You can see those here if you use the menu to the right to find the Sep and Oct posts for 2010. There you can see other Kiradashi blades of the same type in various grinds that I built frame locks around. For what it is worth the people that bought these from me won't part with them! I tried to buy one of them back once because I was not wanting to make another and ended up just making one because they all said no way!! To me that is flattering but we all know its the dang blades! They are master craft works of art truly! Japan Woodworker used to offer them in V grind and right and left hand side grind only so you could go with a one side grind on the right left depending on your desire! It appears the left hand grind is not being offered any longer and I expect that when the right hand grinds sell out they will discontinue those also! They will probably only offer these V grind models which to be honest are only set up for working best in a lock back. The detent ball would be gliding over a pebble grain surface to do a frame lock FYI you need that smooth side for a nice smooth action. Back when I bought that hammer forged blade it was just over 30 dollars shipped! I see now they are 53 bucks and then you have to add shipping yet to that! Still not a bad blade though if you have the skill to do it.

You simply pop out the factory blade and the two washers on each side of the blade! You replace it with a blade from Japan Woodworker you replace the very thin Cold Steel Washers with .020 thick phosphorus bronze washers, one on each side of the thinner Japan Woodworker blade. This makes up the gap and fills it up perfectly so it comes right back up to the same as it was with the original blade and two washers per side. These very thin washers will no longer be needed. You can stash those with the blade for if you need them again later. Before stashing that blade though you trace it out on the hammer forged blade you freed up from the rosewood.
Then you simply cut it and grind it out after first drilling the pivot hole, smoothing the bore and fitting the pivot barrel. Then once fitted simply dril two more holes. One for the stop on the lock and one for prevention of stress risers at the contact of the lockbar/rockerarm to the blade.  Once fitted smooth and its good to go and like a vice!
See more on this hammer forged Japanese White Steel blade I did here: 64 RC Japanese White Steel From Japan Woodworker

Additional Info and comments on Patents
I've chopped down some big saplings with one of my Rajah I Triad lock knives and all I can say is get one for yourself while you still can! This Rajah I  by Cold Steel is truly a folding machete at the ready and although hard to believe I challenge anyone to prove me wrong in that statement! I've used my Rajah I now for about a year using it in place of a machete for light to medium duty chopping and brush clearing jobs to get stray branches out of reach of my vehicles when pulling around through my drive way. I've done this on so many occasions now that its just second nature to grab the Rajah over the other blades I have for the shear convenience of being able to carry it around with me in my pocket when I'm working on my property! I chopped a big ass Chinese Elm sapling down the other day and that was the biggest tree my Rajah I has handled so far! Normally I'd have hiked back to the shop or the house to grab a bigger tool for this tree but with my knee botherin' me lately I elected to at least get it started with the Rajah while I was there. It was about 9" in diameter if you measure with a tape going around the stump at the chopped off end. This means it was a tree about 3 to 3.125" across . It was over 20' tall easily. That knife still locks up as solidly as ever! What's more I did this chopping it down with a bare hand holding the knife and it was quite comfortable! This same knife has taken down several other branches and trees nearly as large during the time I've owned it. A years worth of yard and drive way brush and branch, (sometimes small sapling) clearing with any other folding knife would probably do it in pretty good, especially with the size of some of the ones this knife has taken on and cut down. All my Rajah I required after a year was a touch up to the edge and half turn tweak to bring the pivot barrel screw tension back to snuff so the slight blade play side to side went away, oh and the thumb plate screw tightened back down and its cleaned back up ready to knock down some more trees and shrubs for me!

Update March 22nd 2015. The above knife is amazing! At this writing for this update I have used this Rajah 1 By Cold Steel to chop so many trees and saplings, and other brush I take it for granted. It just performs. I have no other knife from any other maker or manufacturer in a folder that compares to it. While I find it a highly specialized knife and not for everyone, and while I realize it must be insane to use it the way I have used it, as a chopper primarily and for the number of years now that I have done so , it should have broken by now! At least one would think that when being used to all the other knives I've owned. However, as I said, it is amazing! This well used Rajah 1, dare I say, this well abused Rajah 1 remains unchanged in lock up or function and continues to defy me no mater what I make it chop down. 

I have one of the Rajah 1 models in my bug out bag ready to go with my other survival gear at the drop of a hat! I've bought three of them! Never thought I'd have any use for a knife this huge but honestly, its a classic in it's own right! Every knife nut should have one! :-) Living in tornado alley one gets used to having immediate essentials at the ready in the event you have to duck out quick to take cover. In this part of the country you never know what you will see once the shelter doors are opened after a big storm or tornado. Could be one day that my life will be swept away in a flash but I'll have at least one good big knife at the ready among other things when and if that happens. Much as my common sense tells me to still have a fixed blade in my bag, which I do by the way, a Kabar, I still never hesitate to grab the Rajah using it much the same way as I would any fixed blade. For all practical purposes that is how the knife seems to behave for me and further it appears unimpressed with the abuse I've dished out to it!

The lock up is superb on these Triad lock models by Cold Steel and believe me I've seen how well they are done inside on at least one of every one I own because I've had each model I own apart to look them over. Impressive contacts, deep seating parts, and nice beefy materials and pins are what you can expect to see and all in a knife any working man can afford. The materials and workmanship are top notch in these folders from what I have been able to tell. I've examined a lot of them intimate like. You look around my blogger here. Check out my work. Look at my forums and see what I have done in the past and what I do currently and ask yourself who is full of shit here?! So far to date I've personally seen and used four American Lawman models, two mini Lawman models, one mini AK47 and one full size AK which was later sold. I bought the Rajah 1 on clearance, and now own two Voyager Triad locks, a clip point medium and a tanto large. Then I bought as the last model purchased a Recon 1. I must say if you could pick between all these folders. Get the Recon 1! It will stand up to anything else you pit it against! It may fall behind in blade edge keeping but folks the difference between AUS8 and 154CM cutting 3/8" hemp rope in controlled pressure and weight test cutting trials is about twenty cuts more with the 154CM before you have to resharpen. Honestly, there could be drawbacks there if Cold Steel was to switch to say the 154CM steel or something similar because I don't think those steels are as tough as the one Cold Steel has chosen to use. For me the AUS8 sharpens right back up in about 5 seconds. I don't see it helping the model to go to a better edge keeping but less tough blade steel just for 20 or even 40 more cuts between touch ups to the edge. Those touch ups may not even be as easy as what is required of the AUS8 steel depending on what steel was used. Some of these high wear steels are difficult to sharpen at times. For most AUS8 responds well to any number of sharpening techniques. People like that. This steel doesn't have a lot of inconsistent issues or bad batches like others have had and overall it does not give a lot of problems to users for pitting or staining so how much better could one ask?  If the edge gets dulled down during the day as I use it being the knife nut I am I'm going to touch it back up to biting sharp before heading out in the morning for the next day just like always no matter what steel it is so what does it really matter what it is so long as I can get it biting sharp day to day with relative ease? I've never understood the steel snobs really.

Back to the knives. Others talk the talk claiming hard use when its all over-rated hype! Honestly I used to think Cold Steel promoted a lot of that hype but here lately with the advent of this new lock called the Triad they really proved to have a game changer! This Triad lock is some serious bar raising folks! Its just talk from the others when you compare your other favored knife to one of these bad boys by Cold Steel and you know in your heart it ain't anywhere near hard use at all when you compare it apples to apples to one of these Triad lockers! The Triad walks the walk. I honestly cannot tell you of another folding knife out there I would dare stab into a car hood or other hard material bare handed with my fingers and hand out there asking for tendon and nerve damage from a defeated lock, yet I've done just that with one of my Triad equipped American Lawman folders several times due to the extreme confidence it instills in the user. I have a ZT 0551  Hinderer model with the Elmax steel! Great knife! Super knife and it will do a lot and really please you know but it would die long before this Recon 1 and probably fall way short for how far it would go before blade play developed. Still you can't help but appreciate a fine tool when you see one either way and I certainly do that. What I see though is a knife I admire and one I'll actually use and to me the Cold Steels are just that. Real world users for real knife nuts that want to get down! 

I owned four of the American Lawman models before I was even looking at others because I find the size of this model is on the large end of the scale for knives I typically carry but it still fits with the blade length and foot print so I'd say the American Lawman to me is the most practical realistic model for me to choose from among the offerings from Cold Steel and its my favorite model of all of them.  In the end even as super impressive as all of those other models were I decided to focus on the more convenient sizes more realistic for everyday carry and see what they were about. When I bought this Mini AK-47 model I thought it would be about like the Mini Lawman, you know, nice but not one I would carry really or really even keep. For me the mini is too small and the full size Lawman bordering on too large. Love to see a mini Recon 1 down the road here as that may be the ticket item for me!  As it turned out I not only liked this Mini AK size knife but I decided it was the one that deserved some tweaking to personalize it for myself. I actually carry and use it quite a bit and I've found the damn thing works bigger than it's size may indicate possible. Part of the appeal for this sucker is the thumb plate opener though! I like snapping that open and closed and find it to be a joy to work now that I've made my own thumb plate to make that a bit easier to catch the pocket. For craftmanship it is about like all the others I've owned from Cold Steel since they went to the Triad. Flawless!  Inside the knife is as impressively built as any knife three or more times its size and to look at the contact of the lock inside you'd think it was something along the size and footprint of the full size Manix by Spyderco or the Ultimate Hunter model by Cold Steel. The hardware is not as thick is the only diff really. All the hardware on the smaller knives is less beefy but don't be fooled. This little Mini Lawman or Mini AK47 would still outperform many knives much beefier in build and price tag! 

The lock on this little knife is actually seated deeper than either of those other much bigger "old school" models and it would probably hold its own with both and then some in most abuse tests other than the weight hang where the size and thickness would limit its ability. It would not surprise me if the Cold Steel model even though smaller could outperform these bigger knives even in the weight hang.

Details of modification of my Mini AK47
The first thing I did right after receiving this knife in the mail was of course play with it. I've always liked this model and I know this thread is read a lot so I want to mention something new that I just noticed myself. I've owned and carried this mini AK for sometime and during the time I've owned it it has seen a lot of other knives come and go, including but not limited to many higher end models such as the Hinderer XM18. Well, I have a new XM18 now and the other day I happened for the first time to lay these two knives beside each other. What I found surprised me because I don't usually miss much. This mini AK47 is the small Hinder XM18 of lockbacks. Look at it close and I'm sure you will find some similarity also.

Anyway back to my story. My wife asked me to borrow it nearly immediately and I whipped it out off my pocket and handed it to her. As I stood there I proceeded to watch as my wife casually used it to cut a huge card board box down flat to the size she wanted it. Now I realize this sounds innocent enough but she did this in our yard by laying the box flat on the grass. Then she stabbed the knife through and cut a circle out nice and neat and a big long straight cut after that so she could fit the box around a sapling she had planted.

This was all in an effort to control weeds on her part you see? I got the knife back opened still with about half the black coating gone off the blade and a nice green shade on the blade after she had cut both the box and the dirt, grass, roots, rocks and whatever hapless worms may have been in the path as she ripped it through the box and the soil too from the box laying flat on the ground all broke apart. So what I did next was pretend the blade was a scratch and win lotto ticket and I went to town on it with another blade from my mini Bear Jaw multi tool blade. I scraped all that black coating right off the blade nice and easy that way just as quick as you could do this to about 40 or more scratch and win cards I suspect. The softer Mini Bear Jaw blade didn't scratch the AUS8 blade of the Cold Steel model at all. It only removed the black coating and left the bare blade just the way I wish Cold Steel would offer some of them.

Then I moved on to improve the Thumb Plate to make it work better by remaking me a new one. I found the original a little hard to make catch on my pockets so I figured I could set that up just a bit better for myself if I gave it some thought, a flare and a tweak or three in a new one of titanium. I took that factory Thumb Plate shown in the factory picture of a new model that I posted here along with those of my own digital pictures and I backed out the screw to remove it. I set that old plate aside and copied the mount pattern in .100 thickness 6Al-4V titanium but before shortening that new piece to fit once I cut it out I drilled the mount hole and recessed the screw and then grabbed my bending tools that I use for making my mini keyring ti pry bars and I used them to give it a slight tweak bend upward at the flared end that catches the pocket to point it north so to speak. Then I flared that out shaping it better on my 1x30 belt sander some giving it a nice taper and rubbed it smooth followed by bead blasting to finish it up.

I like the results of that and it works so well I showed it to Andrew to get his feedback. I think he liked it. The new Thumb Plate catches the pocket much more reliably than the original and I like the wider flared surface for thumb placement when using the knife in that grip. The next thing I did was something I debated about. I was not sure if I'd like it or not before starting but I figured why not try it out though so I began hand sanding the very aggressive texturing off the G10 scale to take that down some. I did this mostly because some on the forums were wondering how or even if that could be done neatly because apparently some had tried and found it difficult. I did this outside but I still wore a mask because that G10 dust is just nasty stuff and you don't want to breath it if you can avoid it.

Eventually it got to where I had to disassemble the knife to finish it and I ended up in the end bead blasting the scales after sanding it down to leave the texturing very similar to the same level that a Spyderco Persistence or Tenacious comes to you out of the factory. In other words there is still some texturing on the G10 but its tamed down quite a bit to be a little easier on pockets. At first it was starting to look glass smooth but what happened was the pours filled up with the dust and once bead blasted all those pours cleaned out nicely and you can really see the diff in the pics. The new texturing is much more to my liking now feel wise but I must admit making it look good for the pictures was a bit harder than I expected. Until I worked it over much more I had trouble appreciating the way it looked but did like the feel much better and the fact that there is enough texturing left for grip but not so much that its hard on pockets so, it slides in and out of the pocket nice and easy now and the best part is this made the use of the Thumb Plate much easier to do also.

After this I decided to tweak the knife further with a new custom titanium pocket clip. Once that was finished I bead blasted that and lastly I stripped the whole knife down to the bare parts and bead blasted the entire thing to give it the appearance you see here now. Once done and cleaned all up I find that I really like this model a lot. I carry it all the time now and find its my new go to knife for just about all I normally use a folder for. I'll tell you what at 2.7 ounces, down from 2.9 before sanding and tweaking and equipped with a super strong lock and being this fun to snap out to use thanks to that patented Thumb Plate its hard not to love it! You can snag one of these for around $50. That has to make it one of the best bang for the buck values on the market in my opinion. I mean think about that for a moment. You could buy three or even five or six of these things and not spend what one hyped up model from elsewhere will run you. 

Speaking of the patent.
I've read on other forums of some BS about the Cold Steel Thumb Plate and usually the people guilty of this post a video of one of the Cold Steel people opening a knife off the pocket followed by accusations of Cold Steel being guilty of theft. The patent office web site says in plain English that one cannot obtain a patent based on an idea. Get this straight before you contribute to these BS posts because the guys posting this nonsense don't know what they are talking about. The device is what is patented, not the idea. The process of opening the blade off the pocket for this device is not what is patented guys! And the process can be the same and it can even look the same when viewed or video taped but if the device used to do that operation is different whether it be, a quillion, a Thumb Plate a Wave or a zip tie through a Spyderco opening hole in a blade they are all legit and perfectly legal because each device is different! There is not one bit of IP theft with any of these different devices and anyone saying otherwise just doesn't know the facts. The only way it would be a patent infringement violation is if one not licensed to use a specific device someone patented started doing so using that exact same device and/or selling someone elses patented device for a profit. I've applied for patents, I looked up and discussed it with patent attorneys and I did this again when I received Emerson's permission to do Wave mods on production knives even though I never needed that blessing from Ernie in the first place to Wave someone's production folder blade. I simply asked out of common courtesy. He knew it too because he said so or something to that effect at one point in his reply to me. I still have that email too for the record.

So, get it straight before you take part in one of the BS threads saying Cold Steel is guilty of theft here. They are not guilty of theft and have a patent that is valid for that thumb plate. The patent for the thumb plate is just as valid as Emerson's Wave. Queen cutlery had a patent for a device that does the same thing the Wave, the Thumb Plate or a quillion does and that was in 1973, long before Emerson, long before Demko and well in advance of youtube. Guess what? If you can come up with yet another device to do this same thing as these others do you can get a patent too and use it just like these other guys can and you too can film it the same way as its being used to sell it. Let me cue you in on something. The idea of opening a folding knife blade off of a pocket or an opponents clothing in a combat or struggle is not a new one. Its called "kinetic opening' and its been around at least 125 years if not way longer thanks to the Quillion on many stiletto blades and perhaps more. Bram Frank along with Sal Glesser of Spyderco as well as other mixed martial arts specialists have incorporated this type of opening option in their knives that they designed for self defense training also. Look at the Gunting, and Lapu Lapu Corto knives.

Further,  in the early 80s I was one of several knife nuts I knew that were wrapping para cord tightly through Spyderco opening holes on their new folders that had just hit the market called "Clip It" and when they first came out we knife nuts were like wowed beyond expectations! We did this by looping the cord over and over in the Spyderco opening hole in the blades and securing it so it bulked up nicely on the spine and then melting the ends together to lock it up in place. This was on the first Spyderco Worker knives when they hit the market circa 1981. Guess why we did this!? Once all that cord was bunched up in bulk in the opening hole you could open them off the pocket and although we did this by taking the pocket clip off since it was tip down carry as I recall, the point is we could open the blade off the pocket quickly causing awe in front of our friends and I'm sure if we had access back then to video cameras and youtube you'd have seen video of us using our knives that way even in the early 80's and I bet they'd look much like the others you see today being demonstrated on youtube! Like I said, the process can look the same and even be the same. The device is what is patented and thats obviously the case or the patent office would not have issued later patents after the first one. The devices from one to the other are different. Therefore they are each legit. .

Here are some web site links I found of interest.

The Queen patent is much older even if it did expire after 14 years.
Then in looking at this link below one has to ask, if the process and the idea of opening a folding knife blade off the pocket was already patented as some wish to believe, how could Andrew Demko be given a patent for the Thumb Plate? Answer? He could not have been given one if the process or idea was what was patented. Truth is Emerson would never have gotten a patent either because the idea is not new as stated earlier. The device is what is patented not the idea so because that is the case anyone can receive a patent for a new device just like Ernie did after Queen and just like you could too if you can think of another design to do the same damn thing!. Thumb Plate Patent # 7,036,229 and link
There is no patent infringement and nothing being stolen here! Find something else to have a pissing match over. End of story! As for how the video was done by Cold Steel. I don't know how else one expects to see a device patented to open off the pocket demonstrated except by filming it being used that way do you? Again, that process of opening the folder off a pocket or someone else's clothing is not new at all. 
Wave Patent # 5,878,500 and link



Duke of Earl said...

Thanks, great article.

I like Cold Steel knives too.

Jennifer Martin said...

I usually go for outdoors survival trips like camping, trekking and hiking. I always take along with me the best survival knife from Cold Steel which is generally fixed blade. Without the cold steel knives, I can't dream to going into the woods.