Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Bad-Ass in Black; the Meyerco Darrel Ralph Maxx-Q folder
I've recently had a chance to play with some Meyerco designs, some newer ones, and some which have been out for awhile. The Darrel Ralph designed Maxx Q series is a good looking series of knives made by Meyerco and based on certain features of Darrel's mid-tech and custom knives. I was pleased to see that these knives have a very high quality look. When I opened the box my Maxx Q was mailed in, my first thought was that it looked very much like the DDR Gun Hammer which I reviewed recently.
My knife is fitted with a blade based upon Ralph's Radian Recurve blade design. It's a very unique looking modified tanto with serious curvature, and a combo edge with some very toothy serrations starting near the heel of the blade's sharpened edge. You can choose a bead blasted gray blade, or the black ti nitrate like the one I acquired.
I think the most surprising thing about these knives is the budget-oriented price point. MSRP is somewhere in the $70-$80 USD range, though of course the actual price on most discount web shops is going to be more in the $35.00 USD range.
I'm impressed by the CNC machined handles, which have a feel closer to that of custom shop knives. Instead of totally flat slabs, Meyerco made the Maxx-Q handles more comfortable by giving them a more rounded, three dimensional feel. I have to agree with Meyerco's statement about the handles providing "superior grip in all positions". The G10 has a nice texture that sort of grips you back.
These knives are all configured for tip-down carry in the pocket, which is sort of confusing to me. With a knife like this with an extended flipper mechanism, it makes more sense to me, personally, that the knife be carried tip-up in the pocket, with the blade's spine resting against your pocket seam. This way, in the unlikely event that the assisted blade were to be engaged, it would be stopped by the rear seam of your pants pocket, whereas if that somehow happened in the as-is tip down configuration, the blade has more room to open and cause injury. I'm assuming this is why the knife is manufactured to stay closed so well, you'll read about that in a moment.
On some of Ralph's customs, and his new HTM Brand mid-tech knives, holes are tapped for clip placement on both ends for the ability to personalize the carry clip better to your liking. Of course, with the Meyerco Maxx Q series, we're talking about knives that sell for under $50.00 USD (actual price), and even a process as seemingly small as tapping additional carry clip holes costs money, money that increases with every feature added to the knife's engineering and manufacture. That being said, the single-position clip is not a bad thing, and I certainly don't knock Meyerco for the decision, after all it's not totally standard that inexpensive factory-made knives sport a multi-position clip. You're more likely to find both-end carry clips on knives like Ralph's (and other makers') high end customs, and Darrel's superb HTM mid tech knives like the HTM Gun Hammer that I reviewed recently. The Maxx Q's other features more than make up for a single position clip, in other words, this is not a feature that will deter most of us from buying a knife like this. My favorite aspect I think, is the machined handle and its highly textured grip. I also love the general mean look of Darrel's Radian Recurve blades, and black coatings (in this case black ti-nitrate) always increases a knife's "cool factor" for me.
At a glance:
*CNC machined G-10 handle provides superior grip in all positions
*Thick front tip for penetration of tough materials
*Recurve mid-blade section accelerates cutting force for smooth, fast cuts
*Fast, smooth assisted opening
*Blade Material: 8CR13 stainless
*Blade Length: 3 1/4"
*Overall Length: 7 7/8"
*Handle Length: 4 1/2"
*Handle Material: G-10
*Locking Mechanism: Liner Lock
*Tip-Down Pocket Clip
*Limited Forever Warranty
*Made in China
The assist mechanism contained within the Maxx-Q's handle is based on Darrel Ralph's own patented assist mechanism, a spring which stretches under the tension of the blade closing into the handle. Also like many of Darrel Ralph's custom pieces, there's a textured flipper attached to the blade tang which sticks out of the backside of the knife. It takes a really good push with the index finger to get the blade going, and then BAM! the knife is open and locked solidly with a fairly standard locking liner. The ball bearing detent that keeps the blade in the handle is very effective. When closing the knife, you hear an audible click as the ball bearing in the liner meets with its detent in the blade's pivot area. This is definitely a knife that will stay closed until you want it open. Some people who've reviewed the knife on various retail websites have complained that it's too hard to open. Wah! Big deal, I'd rather have an assisted knife that stays closed until I want it open, than have one that just takes a tiny tap to throw the blade into action. If you have weak little fingers, stay away from the Maxx Q. Seriously though, it's NOT hard to open, it just takes a bit of getting used to.
As far as the generously sized recurved blade goes, these guys are made of 8CR13, a variant of a series of Chinese steels used by tons of knife factories who do some manufacturing overseas. In my experience it'll hold an edge in a similar manner to 440C or a similar steel, and resharpening should be fairly quick & easy. I always remind people to get a good little ceramic or diamond rod sharpener and give your blade a light touchup every few weeks. I rarely have to fully resharpen my knives because I'm diligent about regular edge maintenance. You basically have to find something that works for you. I like Lansky's and also Gatco's ceramic "dogbone" style sharpeners. Lansky makes one of these for "Spyderco style" serrations, but I've found it to be good on all manner of knife and pocket tool. These are inexpensive and widely available.
Overall, I'm actually rather impressed with Meyerco's translation of a Darrel Ralph design. For one thing, it's easy to churn out assisted openers in a foreign factory, but difficult to do it right. Meyerco succeeds with the Maxx Q knives on many levels. Primarily the fact that they managed to mass produce a complex assisted opening mechanism that works consistently well. I'm also impressed by the little extra touch of the more contoured G10 handles and the blade coating, features that are usually seen on more expensive knives.
There are even a couple variations of the Maxx-Q series which sport Brent Beshara's revolutionary BESH Wedge® blade configuration for outstanding tip strength. These look extra cool, I think I'm going to have to order the BESH tanto version for myself next!
I know lots of guys who love knives, but they're not quite as passionate as I am, they're not willing to spend more than $75 or $100 on a knife, but they want something really cool that performs well. Meyerco's Darrel Ralph-inspired Maxx Q would be a good place for such guys to start when looking for a reasonably priced folder with some better features. In fact, with the average "actual" price of these knives under $50, these would make a great gift for pretty much anybody who has expressed interest in a cool hi-tech folder, but doesn't need a full-on custom folder made with exotic materials. Pretty impressive overall!
Check out DarrelRalph.com for more info on Darrel's superbly crafted customs, and his new HTM line of mid-tech folders.
Knifecenter.com carries most of Meyerco's Maxx Q knives, along with other Meyerco products.