Cold Steel AD-10 Folder, by Pat Cascio

If you’re the least bit familiar with many of Cold Steel’s knives then you are aware of the Tri-Ad locking mechanism – that is one of the strongest, if not “the” strongest folding knife lock to be had. Many folks aren’t familiar with the name behind the Tri-Ad Lock. It was designed by custom knife maker Andrew Demko – who is very well-known in the cutlery field. Today, we’re looking at one of his newest folder designs, the AD-10, and it is one massive folder.

I’m not ashamed to admit, I like big folding knives – not huge ones per se – but big folders – and I believe a blade between 3.5-inches in length and one up to 4-inches is about the perfect using size for me. I just believe folders of this size, can perform many of the tasks I put a knife to, on a daily basis. And, there are many states that forbid you from carrying a folding knife with a blade longer than 4-inches for some reason – stupid, that’s all I can say. Then again, there are many states that don’t allow a double-edge fixed blade knife, either – once again – stupid, is all I can say. Then we have states that don’t allow automatic folders, and states and locales that don’t allow assisted-opening folders or so-called “gravity” knifes.

My long-time friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel knives, is one dead-serious dude when it comes to cutlery. He designs many of his knives in-house himself. He also seeks out some custom knives that he can produce for his customers, at a fraction of the price they’d have to pay if they bought the same knife from a custom knife maker. Cold Steel does make a few changes from the custom versions of these collaborations, when producing the factory version That is a must, if he is going to get the price down. One example is, instead of using Titanium for a liner on a folder, he might use stainless steel. Bu this is no way affects the strength and durability of the knives he produces.

I’ve known Thompson since I first started writing about knives and guns – and that takes me back to around 1993 – when he sent me his Trail Master Bowie, and to this day, it is “the” Bowie knife that all others are compared to. Even many custom Bowies aren’t nearly as tough and sharp as the Trail Master Bowie is from Cold Steel. I’ve yet to hear about a Trail Master Bowie from Cold Steel failing – end of story. They are that rugged, tough and well made.

Cold Steel AD-10Today we’re looking at the new for 2019 Cold Steel AD-10, and the AD stands for the initials of designer Andrew Demko, one of his latest collaborations with Cold Steel. If you check out the web site, you will actually see Demko discussing the Cold Steel AD-10, as compared to his custom massive 4-Max folder, that it is drawn from. Needless to say, Demko is very impressed with the Cold Steel factory version, and the price point – compared to his custom version. To be sure, you are not simply paying for the materials in a custom knife, you are paying for the makers talent and time – and custom knife makers are artists as well, true artist, in every sense of the word – they work with steel, while others work with a paint brush and paint.

The Blade

The AD-10 has a blade that is slightly longer than 3.5-inches – about perfect if you ask me. And, the blade is wide and massive – this baby won’t break or fail you, and if by chance it did, Cold Steel has a lifetime warranty – that is rarely used by consumers because their knives are so well-made. The blade material is S35VN, one of the very hi-tech stainless steel blade materials, that takes a great edge, and holds it, and it won’t chip, either. And when time comes to re-sharpen the blade, it isn’t overly complicated, either. This is a very expensive steel to use and work with.

The knife weighs in at 6.9 ounces, but it feels lighter than that. It balances just perfectly in my hands. The Cold Steel AD-10blade is a drop point design, and one of the most useful types of blades for most chores if would be called upon to do. There are Aluminum liners, and the handle scales are 3D G-10, that are black or closer to charcoal in color – very attractive. The pocket clips – there are two provided – one for right pocket and one for left pocket carry, are wide and tough stainless steel.  No worries about this knife slipping out of your pocket – ever! The pins that Cold Steel used, as well as the bolts are stainless steel oversized, too – one tough folder here folks – only the best material were used. Needles to say, the famous Tri-Ad lock is used to lock the blade open. So there are no worries about it giving way and the blade closing on your fingers.

Lanyard Hole – An Explanation

In the butt end of the handle there is a nice, large lanyard hole, and a lot of folks don’t understand the importance of this. If you are working over water, it just makes good sense to attach a 550 paracord lanyard to your knife, and wrap it around your wrist and hand, when using the knife, so if it slips out of your hand, you won’t lose it to the depths of whatever water you’re working in.

On the top rear of the blade, as well as into the top-front of handle, you will find some deeply cut grooves, that allow for a great placement of your thumb when using the knife in the traditional fencing hold – just makes this knife stay in your hand all that much more. The Tri-Ad lock is mid-way on the top of the handle – and unlike some locking folders, that have the lock in the butt, there is no fear of you applying pressure to the Tri-Ad lock and releasing the blade from the locked-position. It is noteworthy that many folders with the lock in the butt of the handle have closed on fingers when applying too much pressure on the lock – not good!

Cold Steel AD-10A word about G-10 handle scales: At one time, not all that long ago, it was the domain of custom knife makers, because this material is very expensive to produce and hard to work with – it is almost bullet proof material. Over the years, more and more companies started producing G-10 and this has brought the cost down. Additionally, when G-10 first came on the market, it was available like the Ford Model T–in any color you wanted, so long as it was black. Today, it can be hand in any number of colors. I’m glad that Cold Steel and Andrew Demko are making great use of G-10 in many of their knives.

Some Practical Tests

My testing procedure, is always pretty boring when it comes to Cold Steel knives, they became the gold standard many years ago for super-sharp knives – and everyone else had to jump on the bandwagon or get left behind when it came to sharp factory knives, out of the box. I’m never at a loss for the very tough blackberry vines, that need trimming or cutting – and it takes a very sharp knife to cut them in one swipe – the AD-10 – and blackberry vines – no match – the AD-10 won every time. Cutting one inch hemp rope – and I’m not out of it – was a piece of cake – free-hanging one inch hemp was easily cut in half with one single swipe. Poly rope that is tough to cut, was just as easy to tear through – try that with many other knives and the blade slides off.

I used the AD-10 for cutting open the almost daily delivery of cardboard boxes from UPS, FedEx, and USPS, and they proved to challenge for this folder. I even used the knife in the kitchen, as did my wife for cutting meats and veggies, and I used it at the kitchen table as well – makes for one heck of a steak knife…LOL!

Quality Never Comes Cheap

As I’ve said all too often, quality never comes cheap. However, when you buy “cheap” products, they end up costing you a lot more than the original purchase price, because they will fail you. Cold Steel does NOT produce any “cheap” knives – only quality – no matter how they set the price. The AD-10 retails for $239.99 and it is a steal – it is every bit a custom knife as those offered by custom knife makers – it is well worth the price and if you shop around you can find it for a little bit less. However, be advised, this folder is in demand, and is currently, once again, out of stock on the Cold Steel web site So grab one when you see it – you won’t regret it – and it may just become you favorite folder.


    1. I’ve been happiest with Felco pruning shears. They are a bit pricey, but well worth the cost.
      We have had good success with Gingher fabric shears and Fiskars scissors.
      Yes, we do sharpen our own. For more detailed instructions, you may download my booklet, With Nature and With God at See pages 16-21. Free pdf download.
      We do disassemble the pruning shears for sharpening.

      1. I can echo the choice of Felco pruning shears. They are the hands down choice of professional gardeners and serious amateurs for good reason. Felco also make a good lopper.

        You may be shocked at the number of varieties that they sell and at their price, but in this case you get what you pay for.

  1. I have many Cold Steel knives and I’m dissapointed that they couldn’t bring the price point down on the AD-10 to something a little more reasonable. Like they’ve done with so many other products.

    1. Licensing fees and material costs are probably what drove the price on this particular knife. They simply don’t have a lot of price flexibility, with some knives.

  2. They do have knives that are good values. I personally think their Finn Hawk (fixed) and Finn Wolf (folder) are two of the best values I know. Plus, their summer sale is currently on. Search on “Lynn Thompson Special Projects” and you should get their URL which I cannot give here.

  3. I live in NYC, one of the most restrictive knife carrying areas in the country. The NYPD has taken to arresting folks for carrying knives on their belts. I am talking about construction workers with Leatherman knives, not folks walking around with Bowie knives! I carry a Buck-Lite folding knife in my pocket and in the chance I am stopped by the police I have a copy of NYC Admin Code 10-133 Section B in my wallet to prove my knife complies with local laws. Know your local carry laws.

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