The Meyerco Maxx Q gives the average knife user the ability to enjoy many of the distinctive features of a Darrel Ralph custom at a very affordable price.
Today’s knife community is filled with some incredibly talented people. Some are skilled craftsmen, others are gifted designers, and still others are true inventors who push the mechanical limits of knife innovation. However, very few knifemakers excel in all three of these areas. One of those few is Darrel Ralph.
Ralph came to knifemaking from a career as an applications engineer and CNC programmer specializing in manufacturing analysis and troubleshooting. In other words, he knew how to make things and make them better. Using that background as a foundation, he added a distinctive design flair and an obsession with technical and mechanical perfection. Initially, the result was some of the most elegant, meticulously crafted custom knives the industry has ever seen. Later, his work expanded to include impressive mid-tech knives inspired by his handmade designs. And most recently he has extended his personal brand of innovation to raise the bar when it comes to the quality of commercially manufactured knives, including his latest Meyerco design, the Maxx Q.
The Maxx Q was inspired by Ralph’s incredibly popular “Gunhammer” custom designs. Starting with the concept of the index-finger “flipper,” Ralph re-designed it based on the look and function of a “bobbed” pistol hammer, like that found on the iconic Colt Commander. This innovation not only created a fresh new look for the flipper, it also yielded a flipper that was extremely positive and provided exceptional leverage for one-handed openings. The Gunhammer was an instant hit among the collectors and end users fortunate enough to score one of Ralph’s custom pieces, so the logical next step was to expand its availability with a production version.
In 2008, Ralph joined Meyerco as both a designer of individual products and a technical consultant for their entire line. The Maxx Q project represented a perfect opportunity for him to explore both of those capacities and in the process achieve a quantum leap in the quality of the Meyerco brand.
Darrel Ralph’s handle design combines 3-D machined contours with a non-slip texture for an outstanding grip.
The Maxx Q is a faithful translation of the style and overall profile of Ralph’s custom Gunhammer folder. It features a 3.5-inch 8CR13 stainless steel blade ground in what is best described as a “recurve tanto” shape. This dramatic blade shape combines a dropped point, a slightly rounded tanto-style tip, and a recurved primary edge bevel. It includes an ambidextrous thumb stud that also functions as the blade’s stop pin. Available with either a plain or partially serrated edge, the Maxx Q’s blade can also be had in either a matte bead-blast finish or a low-profile black TICN coating.
The handle of the Maxx Q is built on a foundation of stainless steel liners capped with G-10 scales. But unlike the traditional flat, diamond-textured G-10 used by most manufacturers, the Maxx Q’s scales feature another Darrel Ralph innovation: a distinctive 3-D machined texturing that combines ergonomic contours with a surface texture. This combination fills the hand much better than a flat-scaled handle, while still providing a well-textured surface for a secure grip.
Nestled within the Maxx Q’s handle are its liner lock and an assisted-opening mechanism also designed and engineered by Ralph. Combined with the Gunhammer flipper, these elements allow the blade of the Maxx Q to be quickly and positively deployed with only one hand and to lock securely once open. A stainless steel pocket clip completes the package, providing the capability for right-side, tip-down carry.
The author found that simultaneously pulling on the Maxx Q’s flipper and pushing the thumb stud produced a very positive opening that maintained maximum control of the knife.
To get familiar with the Maxx Q, I started by getting a feel for the assisted-opening mechanism and the Gunhammer flipper. I must admit that I’m normally not a huge fan of flippers for tactical knives because they require you to compromise your grip somewhat to activate the flipper with your index finger. However, the positive index and excellent leverage offered by the Maxx Q’s Gunhammer made it very easy to operate. Only a slight movement was required to move the blade about 25 degrees, where the assisted-opening mechanism took over and snapped the blade open fully.
The blade was also easy to deploy using the ambidextrous thumb stud, though like all flipper-equipped knives, care had to be taken not to impede the opening by allowing the flipper to hit your index finger. With a little practice, I found a “sweet spot” on the handle that allowed me to hook the flipper with my index finger and drive the stud with my thumb to get the best of both worlds. Whichever method you prefer, getting the Maxx Q open and ready for action is a snap.
Comfortable with the mechanics of opening the knife, I next clipped it in my pocket to see how well it would draw. Since it carries tip-down only, the drawstroke of the Maxx Q requires some subtle manipulation once it clears the pocket to get it into position for an opening. After a bit of experimentation, I found that grasping the top of the handle with a pinch grip of my thumb and forefinger enabled me to draw the knife from the pocket and smoothly pivot it into a standard grip in one fluid motion. At the end of that motion, my index finger was well positioned to access the flipper and quickly initiate an opening. With minimal practice, I was able to integrate all the components of draw and opening into a smooth, fast flow. For fans of skill-based inertial openings, I also gave those a try with the Maxx Q. As with most assisted openers, the bias of the spring in the closed position did its job well, making inertial openings more difficult than a non-assisted liner lock, but easier than a typical lock-back folder. Nevertheless, with proper skill and practice, getting the Maxx Q into action at max speed was no problem.
The momentum of the Maxx Q’s beefy blade ensured that the liner lock seated properly with every high-speed opening. However, the true test of a liner lock is its ability to engage reliably when opened at ow velocity. A few deliberately slow openings confirmed that the Maxx Q passed this test with flying colors, and some moderate spine-whack tests established that once the blade was locked, it was determined to stay that way.
Making the Cut
The Maxx Q is available with a plain or partially serrated edge, both of which cut with a vengeance.
To evaluate its performance on everyday cutting chores, I took the Maxx Q out to the garage and put it to work on some of my standard test materials. These included cord and rope of various sizes and materials, corrugated cardboard boxes, carpeting, and a few chunks of seasoned wood. I found that the stylish blade shape of the Maxx Q was also incredibly functional. Its hollow-ground primary edge bevels and recurved edge profile created an excellent “bite” when pressure cutting using the full length of the edge. Like a hawkbill, the recurved edge gathered the material and increased the cutting pressure as the blade was drawn through the material. Both the plain edged and serrated blades cut cleanly and aggressively.
The rounded tip of the Maxx Q’s blade is flat ground, but still provides a good, sharp edge. Its belly worked well for cutting tasks that required accurate control of the point and generally cut better than most Americanized tanto patterns I’ve used.
The final phase of my testing was to evaluate the Maxx Q’s qualities as a personal defense tool. A foam mannequin torso provided a perfect target for thrusting tests and revealed that the knife’s stout, well-centered point penetrates extremely well—even through heavy clothing. I also noted that the Gunhammer flipper serves as a reassuring guard and the combination of 3-D contours and texturing on the G-10 handle scales provided an exceptional grip and control of the knife.
Ballistic cutting performance was tested on a cloth-covered foam “arm.” The
protruding flipper made indexing the heel of the blade a bit more challenging than usual, but with a little practice I adjusted and found that the Maxx Q was capable of some truly impressive cuts. Cuts using only the tip of the blade were, like any other blade with pronounced “belly,” predictably shallow. Snap cutting, which involves using a snapping motion of the wrist and cutting with the tip of the blade at full extension, produced better results, but were very distance dependent.
Pressure cutting revealed the full potential of the recurved portion of the edge, which bites with increasing force up to the point where the edge transitions to the blade point. With a proper starting index, it bites very deeply and produces extremely impressive cuts. Combined with proper targeting, these would be definite fight stoppers.
Maxx Q Impressions
The fit, finish, and function of the Maxx Q were all very impressive. As a singular product, it is an extremely capable tactical folder that boasts some unique and highly desirable features. As a statement of the Meyerco line, it also clearly reflects the potential of Darrel Ralph’s influence on their product line and sets a new standard for Meyerco’s quality and performance. Best of all, with a suggested retail price of only $69.99 ($79.99 for the black blade), it is a great bargain in today’s price-conscious economy.
The Meyerco Maxx Q gives the average knife user the ability to enjoy many…
by R. Lee Ermey / May 3, 2010