If you are a fan of cars you are probably familar with the latest hypercar from Bugatti--the Chiron. It is all of the things you'd expect from a Bugatti: fast, expensive, impeccably made. But you might not know that the Chiron and the Ford F-150 weight about the same. To be precise, the Chiron weighs more than an entry level F-150. The Chiron, like its predecessor the Veyron, is a very heavy car. At 4,400 pounds, the Chiron is a beast. To achieve its record breaking speed, the Chiron pours on the power with an impressive 1,100 hp engine. It is an agile beast, but a beast nonetheless.
And so too with the AD-15. It has all of the design chops of an experimental knife design, but it is a Demko through and through, possessing a truly massive frame and blade. The slicing ability and finesse of the knife are achieved not through light materials and thin blade stock, but from a sheer tour de force of design excellence.
The AD-15 is not the most practical knife in the world. It won't ride well in your pocket, play nicely with other gear, or be discrete. But as a thought experiment in knife making or as a challenge of Demko's craftsmanship, it is a powerful statement.
There is no product page for the AD-15. It is something of an experimental blade put out by Andrew Demko. The AD-15 costs a lot of money. How much? I don't know. Depending on materials you can find them for around $850 to $1500. Availability is extremely limited. But you are not reading this because you expect this knife to be a good value or a $50 knife. This is the first written review. Here is a video review by TeraFanatic.
Here is my review sample (provided by XMachiavelli):
Twitter Review Summary: Pure awesomeness in knife form.
Everything here is simply wickedly cool. On paper, there is no folder I can think of that is as unusual and still high-functioning as the AD-15. Many of the weird designs out there are more like stunts--"how far can I take this and still have it ostensible be a knife"--than actual working blades, but the AD-15 is a blade capable of real work. The knife's size is too much for me personally, but many folks carry knives this beefy and I can see why. Personally when I need a massive blade I feel more comfortable switching to a fixed blade, but if you are a folder guy through and through this is a reasonable choice. And that is what makes the AD-15's design so cool: its experimental and reasonable at the same time. Note that even though my personal preference is for something smaller, I am not so blinded by preference that I can't see the ingenuity of Demko's battle axe of a knife.
As you would expect, the performance ratios are way off here. Blade to handle is: .78 with the cavaet that it is not really the handle you are comparing the blade to, but the length of the knife when closed as the handle ends before the blade does in the closed position. The blade to weight is: .57, which, frankly, is horrendous. But just remember, you aren't buying an AD-15 as a practical thing, so who cares about the performance ratios? As I have said before--the ratios are a starting point not a conclusion and here you get a lot aside from an efficient use of space and weight.
Fit and Finish: 2
This is the first Demko I have handled and I can say with certainty that I was blown away. Every single surface has been lavished with attention--chamfers and contours abound. This is a knife that exudes craftsmanship. For example there is a stop for the blade pin that has been chamfered. The stop itself is probably unnecessary, but having one makes the blade more solid. Then to finish the stop as Demko did indicates his willingness to go one step further. Its a perfect summation of how this blade was actually constructed--strength and refinement throughout.
You'd think with such a complex handle that the end result would be uncomfortable in the hand. I was very worried about this. But after a month or so of carry and use I was pleasantly surprised to learn that thanks to a careful design and superior finishing, Andrew Demko coaxed a good and workable handle out of all of these skinny bits. Even with a tight grip, things never chew into your hand. This is a great knife in the hand, much to my surprise.
There is no way around it--knives this bit are unpleasant to carry. In slacks this thing was ridiculous. In shorts it was silly. In jeans it was merely uninsulting. This is not the AG Russell Light'n Bug. But you get a ton of capacity here that a lighter knife wouldn't have and it is still probably better in the pocket than a similarly sized fixed blade (though not by a wide margin). Design is a push and pull. And here, the knife is pulling on your pants with all its might. Its official a pocket boat anchor. And no, this is not personal preference. There are many knives with 3.5 inch blades that carry well. See e.g. Spyderco Paramilitary 2. Even my Jarosz M75, which runs the same materials and is only .25 inches shorter on the blade, carries vastly better. This is the downside of making a big beefy folder.
I was told (after I asked) that this was 20CV one of Demko's go to steels. You know I love this steel. It is one of my very favorites right now, functioning as an easier-to-sharpen M390. Nothing bad here at all.
Blade Shape: 2
For all of the experimental stuff on this knife, the blade shape isn't. In fact, it couldn't get more traditional. With a classic drop point that even Bob Loveless would recognize, the AD-15's blade shape is a bit of a respite from the rest of the avant garde knife.
Demko's grinds aren't exotic. They lack the complexity of some of the more ornate customs out there, but don't take a lack of flair as a sign of a lack of skill. The main grind is gorgeous, the swedge is stunning. The "hidden" choil works nicely and the cutting edge terminates nicely. I also love leaving the grind as a very coarse looking (but perfectly smooth to the touch) grinder satin. Like with Jesse Jarosz, the perfection of the grind is an aesthetic all its own.
Deployment Method: 2
Don't think for a second that this knife is a fidget toy in disguise. Thanks to heavy pressure on the rear tang of the knife through the entire opening arc, the blade deploys slowly. But what it lacks in ADHD-friendly opening, it makes up for in smoothness. So many knives these days (god I feel old just writing that) run bearings that people mistake as smooth. These knives are loose, not smooth. And the AD-15 shows you the difference. I love this deployment. Its wonderful.
Retention Method: 2
For all of the funkalicious parts on the AD-15, the clip is perfectly, totally normal. And it is all the better for it.
It functions very similar to the Spyderco spoon clip and that is a compliment. I would note that the clip is extra springy, a bit surprising for something this stout, but I never once thought it was too loose. Excellent and conventional. Not everything needs to be a reinvention of the wheel.
Demko calls this lock a Scorpion Lock. It is, to my knowledge, unique in its design and function. It is, however, part of a larger family of lock designs that include the Crawford/Russell Strap Lock and the Hawk and Hawk Strong Lock System. The idea is that a flexible piece of steel rides on the spine of the handle and then engages the handle in a way that inhibits blade movement. This design seems extremely strong to me. I am not sure how necessary the lock of the lock is, but when engaged I can't imagine the blade closing under any circumstances that a person could reasonably encounter.
Once you get used to the Scorpion Lock, it works exceptionally well. This is not a knife you will pop open, in part because of how the lock works, but the entire thing engages and disengages with ease and smoothness.
Overall Score: 18 out of 20
The AD-15 is a marvelous blade. It is huge, beefy, original and well made--traits that work on both knives and hamburgers (mmmm....hamburger). I am really pleased with everything about the AD-15. It is an amazing knife and proof that Demko is an amazing knifemaker. For all of Cold Steel's silliness in their videos, the hiring of Andrew Demko proves to me that all the show is tongue in cheek and that behind that fun-loving, blow-stuff-up facade is a company that really knows and understands what makes a knife great.
The AD-15 is not the most practical blade in the world for EDC use and it is probably too complex to make into a profitable production knife, but God was it awesome to handle. If you like big knives, if you like innovation, or you just want a kick ass custom, you owe it to yourself to go track one down. They are rare and pricey, but they are damn good.
Nothing out there is even close to being like the AD-15. Its too cool to be grouped with other knives.