One to Watch: James Brand Chapter Knife
Tony Sculimbrene 07.30.14
The James Brand Chapter is catnip for a shill site. It is new. It photographs well.
And there aren’t any pesky details on the website to worry about when doing a blurb write up. There are no dimensions on the site, no blade steel listed. So the James Brand Chapter Knife looks like it was designed for the bazillions of shill sites, but here’s the thing: after doing some digging and calling The James Brand (because I am not content with writing a quick semi humorous blurb), I found out that Ryan, the guy behind the brand, has a good idea of what he is doing. This is not the Gerber 39 (another knife the shill sites loved, but turns out to be an $80 knife with 420 HC steel).
The James Brand Chapter knife is the third tool released by the company, and the first to really go after the market. It’s a very elegant looking, titanium framelock with S30V blade steel. The overall blade length is right in the Dragonfly sweet spot of 2.33 inches. The clip has two stand-offs because Ryan is concerned with putting too many bends on a thin piece of hardened steel. The knife deploys with a single vibrant green (toxic green?) thumb stud.
There are a few options–a plain edge blade and a partially serrated version. There are mix and match blades and handles, some with coating and some without. The price is $275.
Aside from looking beautiful and simple, Ryan’s mission with the James Brand and the Chapter knife in particular is to re-examine all of the parts of a knife and to make something that both knife knuts and non-knife knuts can appreciate. Coming from the snowboard industry and located in Oregon, Ryan has a lot of outdoor experience, but he came to knife making with a fresh perspective. Despite living in the hotbed of knife design (both Gerber and Kershaw are located in Oregon), Ryan had never built a knife. But he knew what he wanted and needed in a blade and knew the folks that had the machining skills to bring his design to life with splendid fit and finish.
Ryan is quick to admit that the design draws a lot on the CRK Sebenza, but he wanted to make a knife even friendlier to folks that don’t have a dozen folders at home. To do that he rounded the handles and shrunk the blade to something that I have found is perfect for EDC use. You won’t scare someone with a 2.33 inch blade, but you can get a lot of work done. The clip is also re-imagined.
The Chapter Knife’s clip looks like a money clip more than it does the clip for a 5 inch tactical knife. The choice of a utility drop point blade is the final touch in making this knife an excellent, high-end EDC option.
The look is there, for sure. The materials are there. The real question is how the whole thing came together. If the fit and finish is as good as it can be, the Chapter Knife could be an excellent high end EDC knife that can appeal to a wide variety of folks. And, based on my conversation with Ryan, it is just the start of what the James Brand has planned.