The Demko FreeReign is one impressive fixed blade. Many of you are probably familiar with Andrew Demko from his work with Cold Steel, particularly his Tri-Ad and Scorpion locks. While working with Cold Steel, Andrew and his brother John still managed to put out a good number of custom knives and tomahawks on their own over the years.

In 2021, after the acquisition of Cold Steel by GSM Outdoors, Andrew and John decided to go their own way and started Demko Knives. In addition to custom in-house blades, they’re also doing production knives such as the AD20.5 Shark Lock folder and the new FreeReign fixed blade. Take a look at the sidebar for more on the AD20.5, but keep reading to hear more about this impressive fixed blade.

The Demko FreeReign comes with a patent-pending sheath that can be easily taken down for cleaning.


If you’re familiar with Andrew’s designs, then you’ll catch the lines of the folding AD15 in the blade and the handle of the FreeReign. It’s a proven design, and those ergonomics translate well to a fixed blade. The FreeReign is scaled up with a 5-inch blade and a good-sized 4.8-inch handle.

“The FreeReign is a big enough knife for serious camp work, but not so big as to be cumbersome to carry.”

The blade is a drop point with a high, flat grind. It’s made of a hefty 0.187-inch-thick piece of AUS10A Japanese stainless steel. AUS10A is made by Aichi Steel and is similar in composition to 440C stainless. It offers a good balance of toughness, corrosion resistance, and hardness that’s well suited to a camp knife. The FreeReign is full-tang design with a portion of the tang exposed for use as a hammering or striking surface. Jimping along the spine consists of three grooves intended for better control of the blade while doing detail or precision work.

The drop-point Demko FreeReign comes in dark gray or blue options.

The handle of the FreeReign is of injection-molded rubber. It’s firm, but has enough texture between the material itself and the basket-weave pattern on the sides of the handle to give a very positive grip, even in cold or wet conditions. The handle is plenty big for my large glove-sized hand to use comfortably with or without a work glove on.  A brass-lined lanyard hole is present at the butt of the knife and sized to easily accommodate paracord.

The sheath on the FreeReign is patent pending and has some unique features. It’s made from molded plastic with a nylon belt loop and retention strap. Where it gets interesting is that it completely dissembles for cleaning. This is a nice touch if you need to clean mud or blood out of your sheath after using the blade in a camp or hunting situation, or even if you just want to dry it out after a bout of rafting or wet weather.

While it does have the aforementioned retention strap that goes around the handle, I’m not sure you even need it. The FreeReign locks into the scabbard tightly and isn’t likely to pop out by accident. It takes some thumb pressure on the scabbard to push away as you pop the knife handle free.

The spine of the FreeReign has 3 comfortable thumb grooves for improved control during push cuts.

The FreeReign is available with blue or dark gray handles and sheaths with the drop-point design. As I write this, I see that a tanto version just dropped with an Olive Drab handle and sheath as well. MSRP on the FreeReign is $149.99.


While the lines of the FreeReign are fairly standard stuff, the execution and details are what make the FreeReign stand out from the crowd. The handle is really comfortable. It’s well designed to lock your hand in place when needed but still allows for a variety of grips depending on the task at hand. The hooked pommel lets you choke back on your grip to give you a little extra leverage for chopping.

The rubber handle with its basket-weave texture does a really nice job of giving you a solid grip when it’s wet and cold out. At the same time, it didn’t cause any hot spots during extended use.

“…the execution and details are what make the FreeReign stand out from the crowd.”

The FreeReign is a big enough knife for serious camp work, but not so big as to be cumbersome to carry. It rides comfortably on the belt, and the slots and holes in the sheath would make it easy to attach to your pack or armor carrier as well. At 3/16-inch thick, we’re creeping up on sharpened pry-bar territory, but that thing it’s not. The flat grind with its secondary bevel are fine enough that the FreeReign still works well for even detailed knife work. It’s not a Scandi carving knife, but it isn’t meant to be. It’ll handle all of the little camp chores and still has enough beef and strength to hack and chop as well.

With rugged AUS10A steel, a rubberized handle, and a modular takedown sheath, the FreeReign is well suited to use around water or in hostile environments.

I ran it through a bunch of my basic camp tasks such as notching, making fuzz sticks, chopping branches, and batoning kindling. Fuzz sticks were the only area where I fell a little short, but honestly my fuzz sticks are never that great. With that said, it does the job well enough to feather them out for tinder purposes.

If you need to hammer, the exposed tang gives you a good striking surface. The hooked pommel keeps your fingers clear from whatever you’re hammering too. When it comes to batoning, the FreeReign is a beast. The high, flat grind with full thickness spine acted as a wedge and would zip through the wood I broke down for my fire pit. I know batoning isn’t for everyone, but done with prudence and reasonably sized hunks of wood, it works just fine. There were no signs of edge deformation of any sort during use, even after batoning.


If you need a rugged camp knife, the FreeReign needs to be on your list. It’s tough, comfortable to use, and it’s obvious that a lot of thought and experience has gone into the design. I hadn’t used AUS10A before, but based upon my experiences with the FreeReign and the AD20.5 Shark Lock folder, I’m adding it to my “will-use-again” list. The sheath is an integral part of the FreeReign package and perfectly complements the knife itself in form and function. If you somehow haven’t used a Demko design before now, then the FreeReign is a great place to start. KI

The FreeReign features a 5-inch, drop-point blade of Japanese AUS10A stainless steel.

The rubber handle with its basket-weave pattern is very comfortable and secure in the hand.

The FreeReign comes in a bright blue, which is easy to see in the woods, or a dark gray if you prefer a more subdued look.

With an overall length of just under 10 inches, the FreeReign is a good balance between being big enough for hard use and small enough to comfortably carry.

At a touch over 7 ounces, the FreeReign is solid in the hand without weighing you down when you’re on the trail.

The Demko FreeReign has clean grind lines and a sharpening choil for easy maintenance.

The full-tang design of the FreeReign allows for an exposed pommel for hammering or impact use.

Despite its thick blade, the FreeReign has a good edge that was capable of finer work.

The FreeReign came sharp enough to easily slice through 1-inch hemp rope.

Cutting notches for tent stakes or trap components was easy with the FreeReign.

The bright blue handle stood out nicely when the author set the FreeReign down in the woods.

The AUS10A edge held up well during testing, even cutting through layers of hemp rope.

The Demko plowed through 2- to 3-inch branches, quickly and easily making kindling for the author’s fire pit.

The edge of the FreeReign showed no signs of dulling or deformation even after batoning hard, dried firewood.

The 3/16-inch-thick bade ensures that the FreeReign can put up with hard use and keep on going.

The FreeReign worked well for light-to-mid-range chopping chores.


Most folks are probably familiar with the Demko name from the folders and lock designs that he’s worked on with Cold Steel. With that kind of background, it should be no surprise that one of his first products in his own line of knives was a folder, the AD20.5 Shark Lock to be precise. The Shark Lock is a spine-mounted lock that engages and disengages via a sliding tab just behind the pivot. As you’d expect from a Demko design, there is absolutely no blade play or wiggle of any kind when the knife is locked open.

The AD20.5 uses a 3-inch blade of AUS10A stainless steel and comes in both a clip point and what Andrew calls a Shark Foot Sheepsfoot design. The blade has a high, flat grind and is equipped with a set of dual thumb studs as well as an oblong hole for opening. Handles are of gray Grivory, and it comes with a well-designed pocket clip set up for right hand, tip-up carry. A left-hand clip is available as well if that’s your preference. Aside from the right-hand pocket clip, the AD20.5 is a truly ambidextrous knife. The spine-mounted lock is easy to disengage with either hand, and the opening slot and thumb studs are dominant-hand neutral.

The 4.5-inch-long handles gives plenty of room for a comfortable grip, and the handle contours and textured grip scales lock the knife securely in hand during use. At only 0.39 inch thick, the knife carries flat and unobtrusively in your pocket, and with a weight of around 3.5 ounces, you forget you’re carrying it until you need it.

Demko Knives offers other versions of the AD20.5 with higher-end steel and handle options, but even if you get a basic one there is a lot of support for the design with myriad handle and back spacer options available either from Demko Knives or other third-party makers. You can very easily customize this knife and make it uniquely yours.

I replaced my regular EDC rotation with the clip point AD20.5 and used it for around two months at work, around the house, and out and about. I used it for all my typical cutting chores, such as packages, cord, opening a ton of boxes over Christmas, as well as some rough work in the garage workshop and the yard. I also broke down that ton of boxes for recycling after the holidays. Edge retention has been excellent with the AUS10A.

Am I going to replace all of my EDC knives with the Shark Lock? Well, no, because I like all kinds of knives. But could I? Absolutely. The AD20.5 did everything I needed it to and then some. It’s easy to use, comfortable in hand, carries well in the pocket, is rugged beyond reason for its size, and it cuts like demon.


Model: Demko FreeReign
Type: Fixed blade
Blade Length: 5 inches
Cutting Edge: 4.625 inches
Handle Length: 4.875 inches
Overall Length: 9.875 inches
Blade Material: Japanese AUS10A stainless steel
Blade Thickness: 0.187 inch
Blade Style: Drop point
Blade Grind: Flat
Blade Finish: Satin
Handle Material: Injection-molded rubber
Sheath Material: Molded plastic
Weight: 7.2 ounces
Weight with Sheath: 11 ounces
Designer: Andrew Demko
Origin: Taiwan
MSRP: $149.99


Model: Demko AD20.5 Shark Lock
Type: Folding knife
Blade Length: 3 inches
Closed Length: 4.5 inches
Overall Length: 7.375 inches
Blade Material: Japanese AUS10A stainless steel
Blade Thickness: 0.125 inch
Blade Style: Shark Foot Sheepsfoot or clip point
Blade Grind: Flat
Blade Finish: Stonewash
Handle Material: Gray Grivory
Handle Thickness: 0.39 inch
Liner Material: Stainless steel
Locking Mechanism: Shark lock
Pivot Assembly: Bearings
Pocket Clip: Stainless steel (tip-up, right side)
Weight: 3.53 ounces
Designer: Andrew Demko
Origin: Taiwan
MSRP: $149.99

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