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Thoughts on the AD15

Discussion in 'Cold Steel Knives' started by AshKramer, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. AshKramer

    AshKramer Gold Member Gold Member

    May 7, 2019
    Well, I got my third AD15 at last. This one is back from a warranty claim from Cold Steel. The first one had badly uneven edge grinds, the second one had the lock notch issue detailed here.

    This one is apparently from the new production run with the tang being subject to additional hardening.

    The edge grind is better than the first one but still not great. There’s a few mm of discrepancy in the grind line clearly visible below the thumb studs. Not a deal breaker because this isn’t a mid-tech or custom knife but it does seem that CS needs to take a closer look at their quality control on what’s meant to be a high profile knife for them. I've had similar issues recently from Hogue, so CS aren't the only ones to get this wrong on production knives. Pretty common I'd say.

    AD15 vs. AD10

    I got my first AD15 and my AD10 at about the same time. The AD10 felt like a better knife by far. It had the smoothest action I’ve ever felt on a Tri-Ad lock knife (in fact, it's about the smoothest action on any back lock I’ve owned). The blade grinds were great, there were no hot spots or unfinished areas anywhere on the knife. It looked and felt like it should have cost a lot more than it did.

    The AD15 on the other is an enigma. Putting aside the lock notch issue and the uneven grinds, it’s still by no means the best design or execution of the concept.

    YMMV but I don’t like:
    1. The fully exposed tang when the blade is closed. I get that it’s a design feature but drop it onto a hard surface on that section and you may do some damage that could affect the action.
    2. The sharp-ish edges all over the Scorpion Lock bar. That’s a sign of good machining but that’s exactly where the palm of the hand is going to exert pressure in use.
    3. The sharp edges on the blade jimping. Again, that’s precise machining but it’s not good for actually using the knife.
    4. The fact that the thumb stud has a sharp and uncomfortable edge right where my thumb pushes on it.
    5. The pocket-ripping rough-patterned G10. Secure? Yes. Comfortable? No.
    6. The way the Scorpion Lock will literally lock up the knife and prevent it from opening if you hold it wrong.

    Does it suck?

    Based on all that, you might think I hate this thing but the AD15 is still one hell of a knife, and it’s the one I’m keeping! The AD10 went to a new home a week or two back. This knife isn’t perfect, not even close, but few knives are.

    Despite the issues, it just seems to add up to more than the sum of its parts. It looks amazing, and you have to respect Andrew Demko’s bold and innovative design approach, along with Cold Steel’s willingness to put it out there.

    I feel like this knife takes a bit of work to get used to, but the more I get to grips with it (literally), the better it feels. The action is getting smoother by the hour.

    I’ll round off the G10 and maybe take some sandpaper to the stud, jimping, and the lock bar. I might add a deep carry clip and dye the scales black as well. But basically this knife is going to be carried and used.

    These days, the only other main knife I really carry regularly besides my Shiros is a Spyderco Tuff. So for the AD15 to get a place alongside those gems says a lot. There’s something about it that makes it quite special, and I’m damn glad I finally have it back :thumbsup:

    A little more attention to detail at the factory to get to the levels of my ex-AD10 and the AD15 would be bloody magic right out of the box.

  2. jlauffer

    jlauffer Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    I love mine, but a bit large for me to EDC. The CS Mod mentioned an upcoming variant in another thread...hoping it's a 3" version.
  3. AshKramer

    AshKramer Gold Member Gold Member

    May 7, 2019
    That would be cool! Call me crazy but I'd also like to see one the size of an XL Recon 1.
    nephron and willc like this.
  4. DocJD


    Jan 29, 2016
    :) You're crazy ! :p But so am I . XL size would be very cool . :cool::thumbsup::thumbsup:
    nephron likes this.
  5. Mick_1KRR


    May 1, 2016
    I have one of Demkos custom AD15's, im guessing it's just a much more refined version of what Cold Steel have put out. Every edge and surface is perfectly rounded off and contoured, no sharp spots, feels as refined as my sebenzas. Same with the AD10, i only have a Demko custom but i'm keen to see how the Cold Steel version is, i've heard nothing but good things for a good price. Fanboyism aside the custom AD10 is on a whole other level to any other knife i've ever owned, there's literally nothing I can pick on it as a flaw, the feel, action, grinds etc. everything is perfect.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  6. AshKramer

    AshKramer Gold Member Gold Member

    May 7, 2019
    I'd like to get my hands on a custom Demko, just to see how good they are. I've also heard nothing but good things, and if the AD10 I had is any indication of the potential, they're probably epic.
  7. kreole


    Jul 23, 2009
    I'm with you. There are a lot of little things with the knife that aren't my favorite, some the result of the lock, but in the end the whole package and lock itself overcomes all of it to be useful and fun to carry.

    The one thing I may change is the spring to something a bit less strong if I can find a suitable replacement. I have heard the spring on the customs isn't as strong. I don't want to cut the current one shorter and make it permanent. I suspect part of the tang issue is it takes a large amount of force to overcome the spring+detent, which means even if you aren't using your arm/wrist, it takes some good force to flick it, which the tang ends up absorbing.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
  8. unwisefool

    unwisefool Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    If you are near MD, you can take a look at my custom AD15
  9. AshKramer

    AshKramer Gold Member Gold Member

    May 7, 2019
    Thank you! Unfortunately, I'm way down in AZ. I really appreciate the offer though.

    Probably a good thing I don't get to see one. I already have a problem collecting certain expensive knives lol
    unwisefool likes this.
  10. Cold Steel Knives

    Cold Steel Knives Moderator Moderator

    Apr 16, 2013
    It's not.
    willc likes this.
  11. jlauffer

    jlauffer Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2016
    Damn...that was harsh:oops:
  12. AshKramer

    AshKramer Gold Member Gold Member

    May 7, 2019
    Could be a clip point blade shape? People have been grinding down their AD10s but I've never seen an AD15 blade mod.

    I'm still hoping for a bigger AD15. Probably never happen though.
  13. unwisefool

    unwisefool Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 22, 2007
    Is it a tanto? I asked Andrew for my AD15 to be a tanto but he wasn't making any of them in that blade shape.
  14. goldie


    Feb 18, 2000
    I got the AD10 & AD15 when they both 1st came out; I don't see any of these issues or problems. I also have a Midtech AD15 its a little smoother opening but they are both very close in every other way ...
  15. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    The unique handle/blade design of the AD15 appealed to me but I wasn't going to buy one because I hated the stock puke green handles.

    But then I happen see one Rit-dyed black offered for sale on the Exchange and bought it. There's still a slightly light green patina to the lockbar that I'm still not in love with but otherwise it makes an interesting companion to the Code 4 that I also own (which, yes, also has a green handle but that for whatever reason doesn't bother me as much as the stock version of the AD15 does).

    It's a bit too big to carry as an EDC and the grip texture could eventually damage your pants pocket if you did, but I view the AD15 as a camp knife that I would not be carrying very frequently if at all. So, those are non-issues to me. The sharp edges and exposed tang are design features that what makes the knife don't bother me either and I've never had any problems opening the knife.

    Between the AD15 and Code 4, the Code 4 is the one I'd carry but for heavy use, I'd turn to the AD15 instead, even though my Code 4 comes w/a CTS-XHP blade which is arguably better than the S35VN that comes w/the AD15; later versions of the Code 4 also come only w/a S35VN blade and blade steel would be a wash in that case.

    Bought the AD15 to replace a Recon 1 in my small collection of Cold Steel blades and it will remain in the collection unless/until I find something better made by Cold Steel to fill that niche. I did consider the AD10 but its more conventional design and wider blade/handle didn't appeal to me as much as did/does the AD15.
    Dadpool likes this.
  16. Cold Steel Knives

    Cold Steel Knives Moderator Moderator

    Apr 16, 2013
    The lock bars are now a dark dark grey rather than the lighter silver-grey. Check the pictures above from Ash.
    unwisefool likes this.
  17. insta9ves


    Apr 3, 2007
    Now that you mentioned it... I always wonder why recent pictures of AD15 has much darker lockbar that also has stone-washed look compared to the bronze-gray-ish lockbar of the earlier versions. I thought it's just issue with the lightning or instagram filtering.
    kreole likes this.
  18. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    Do you think Cold Steel would swap the lock bars for me for a price?
  19. Cold Steel Knives

    Cold Steel Knives Moderator Moderator

    Apr 16, 2013
    Negative, sorry!
  20. sgt1372

    sgt1372 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Oct 16, 2018
    Well, the I could buy a new one, swap out the scales and sell the remainder. Not that important to me (yet) but guess that's the only option if I want to go full Ninja w/the AD15. LOL!
    DocJD likes this.

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