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.
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.|
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.
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! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDDQGmW2Hrg Or this new one of him beating the crap out of a G10 5.5" Espada (Large model). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afFVaZiXIUU&feature=related
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! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1JyaTXdA1I
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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. .