Cold Steel 4-Max Is Here to Take On All Comers

The Cold Steel 4-Max has arrived with the first small production run on its way to dealers. Some have speculated that the long anticipated USA-made über-knife would be the strongest production folder ever made, and Cold Steel’s latest lock-test videos are putting that theory to the test.

Cold Steel 4-Max on its Way to Dealers

Coincident with the announcement that the 9.2oz folder had started shipping, Cold Steel began releasing 4-Max lock test comparison videos. They pit the knife against Italian brand Extrema Ratio’s RAO. The RAO includes a secondary safety mechanism, a bolt that screws into the handle in the path of the blade, which Extrema Ratio claims “effectively turns it into a fixed blade knife enabling great chopping performance with no risk of injury.” Cold Steel told us that “it seemed to be the overwhelming belief that the RAO’s secondary steel pin would make it stronger than the Tri-Ad lock.”

The impact and static weight hanging tests that Cold Steel performs are a lock strength challenge that the Tri-Ad lock has yet to fail. In part two of the video, the RAO – without its secondary lock – eventually warps enough to render the knife unusable, while the 4-Max appears unscathed. “The 4-MAX is the strongest folder we’ve ever produced. It’s a whole new level of strength,” says Cold Steel.

Knife manufacturers routinely test the strength of their locks as part of the research and development process, but few companies release the results to the public. One exception is Benchmade, which published several demonstrations of their AXIS lock, including a video of the 275 Adamas surviving 1,717 inch lbs of torque.

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Cold Steel also hasn’t shied away from producing testing videos. “We’ve been releasing lock strength testing footage for [over] 20 years proving exactly what our knives can do,” says a company representative. “Even way back in the day we were breaking our knives in vices and hanging weights from the handles.” These feats of strength were even performed live at knife shows and events across the country. People could see first hand just how much force Cold Steel’s locks could withstand.

“They Are About Transparency.”
In 2015, Cold Steel began testing other companies’ knives on videos posted to the company’s YouTube channel. “Everyone wanted to see side by side comparisons. They wanted to know how our competitors held up to those same tests,” Cold Steel says. The company maintains they provide revealing data that wouldn’t otherwise be available to the public. “These new comparison tests aren’t about bragging, they are all about transparency,” says Cold Steel. “We’ve always been very proud of what we do and we’ve never shied away from that .. but that confidence comes from genuine test results,” they say. “Opinions are opinions, but performance is a fact,” 4-Max designer and Tri-Ad Lock inventor Andrew Demko told us.

Cold Steel President Lynn Thompson believes that tests like these are long overdue in the knife industry. “Today, it’s almost impossible to turn on your TV or listen to the radio without encountering comparative advertisements,” he says. According to Thompson, in a marketplace as crowded as knives there is consumer demand for these kinds of side-by-side comparisons. They also have the added benefit of increasing public knowledge of materials, technologies and manufacturing processes. “Our fans and our customers are smarter and better informed than ever before, and we as an industry must acknowledge that,” he told us.

“Competition is Nothing to be Feared”
Fans of Cold Steel won’t be surprised by the company’s competitive nature. “If a competitor’s knife out-performs mine I will acknowledge that, go back to the drawing board and then come back stronger,” Lynn Thompson said in a letter on Cold Steel’s website. “After all, competition is nothing to be feared as long as you are willing to evolve!”

Knife featured in image: Cold Steel 4-Max