Overbuilt Andrew Demko Folder Takes Strength to the Extreme

Andrew Demko, the Head of R&D at Cold Steel and the man behind the Tri-Ad and Scorpion Locks, is well known for making tough-as-nails knives. He pushed production design to the limit with the Cold Steel 4-Max, and recently, in his custom work, he may have produced his strongest folding knife ever. Drawn up for a customer who needed to feed his addiction to tank-like knives, the new Demko 3.5Max reimagines what “overbuilt” means in a folding Tri-Ad Lock knife design.

“He’s always asking for the toughest, most capable, end-of-the-world kind of thing,” Demko says of the repeat customer. “He wanted something even stronger than a [custom] 4Max but didn’t want a huge long blade.” Demko decided to create a hybrid knife, one with a shorter 3.5-inch blade but beefed up in every other way.

When Demko torture tests his knives, the blade is the first part to give out. “You’re always limited by the actual strength of your blade material,” he says. He usually opts for .19-inch blade stock on folding knives, but for the 3.5Max he cranked it up to a whopping 0.27 inches – the same thickness as his BladeSport fixed blade choppers. For steel Demko chose 3V, a semi-stainless steel that maximizes toughness. In a prolonged blade grinding session, he took the edge to nearly a zero bevel to squeeze every last bit of cutting performance out of the 3.5Max.

The next stress point Demko addressed was the stop pin and hardware. A full-size, quarter-inch stop pin complements extremely stout titanium liners which come in at 0.1 inches – thicker than the blade stock on a Delica. “Everything got bigger in diameter or thicker,” Demko explains.

Though the main objective was to create a beast, Demko wanted to ensure it was a beast that could still be a viable tool. “What we ended up with is as thick a folding knife as you can get that is still functional.” The near-zero grind cuts quite well at the edge, and the extreme thickness helps with certain heavy tasks. “That thick blade is going to snag more than a Paramilitary. However, in swinging or chopping, a blade with that heft will cut well.”

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Demko plans on adding the 3.5Max to his custom knife repertoire, although for future versions he’ll scale things back a bit. Though nothing has been confirmed, he says a toned-down 3.5Max could see a Cold Steel production life someday. But Demko did reveal that a Cold Steel 4-Max with cool gray G-10 scales is planned for 2018. He also continues to work on other innovative locking mechanisms.

The price for a 3.5Max built to these levels is about $1100. As for Demko’s 3.5Max customer, we’re told he’s on the list for another knife. “He’s already told me ‘If you can think of another bigger, stronger knife, put me down for one.’”

Knife featured in image: Demko Knives 3.5Max