I met Brian at a Bark River Knives Grind-In in 2015. He was showing off some pretty sweet fixed blades. I tried buying one from him, but sadly it was already spoken for. We kept in touch over the next 6 months and when I saw he was making a Ti folder he had my full attention. I received the blade in February 2016, this review was written 3 weeks after opening the box.
This will be the majority of the review. I’ll break it down into 4 sections:
- Scales, fit and finish
1. Scales, fit and finish
Right off the bat, I’ll just say this…. It’s damn pretty! The finish on the scales looks hammered, acid etched and then stonewashed. There are no rough spots, no burrs and no tool marks. Brian did a great job on this finish… The clip is hand sculpted out of a solid piece of Ti and very stiff. It has become a bit less stiff over time, but I would still have preferred a slightly springier clip. Those of you who love the tight clips will love this one.
DAAAAAAAAAMN! This thing feels amazing. It’s perfect for the size of my hands and is great in every grip I tried. I was afraid the sculpting on the handle would give some rough spots, but it’s perfect everywhere. Using it to break down boxes, cut food, and cut zip ties was effortless.
The only nitpicky thing I could think of, is some chamfering on the inside of the handle scales where my index finger hits the frame when flipping the knife.
This is where thing get complicated. When I unboxed it, the knife would only pushbutton, opening it with the lightswitch method would flick the blade open halfway. Brian did rush the knife to me (as requested by me) and it did have some dust and grime from the shop in it. After using it in the Bark River shop for a few weeks, there was plenty of crap in the knife to take it apart and clean it. Cleaning it and putting it back together was a breeze and the blade centered perfectly over and over again. I cleaned the action and lubed the blade with pure silicone grease. It plays nice with teflon washers, it’s cheap and works well with almost any knife I’ve tried it with so far. It now flies open when push buttoning, but light switching it still won’t work. Not a big problem for me, but worth noting. When Brian switches to bearings, this will surely be a non-issue.
Ti Framelocks… Never have I loved and hated a lock like this and over the past years, we’ve only seem more of them. I don’t like the lock on any Sebenza I’ve used (any pressure on the lockbar would completely prohibit me from opening it), ZT has gotten it right a few times, but messed up on other occasions, Reate has nailed it every time, so has Lionsteel. Brian’s knife is on par with the best of them. The carbidized lock face has a solid 60% lock up after it broke in and so far hasn’t traveled over further. There is no dedicated overtravel stop, but the pocket clip acts as one, making the knife look cleaner imo. Also, it has zero lock stick, something a lot of makers mess up, much to my annoyance.
Brian has always nailed his blade grinds. I have never seen one with a flaw. This one features a nice 3/4 height grind on a 0.125 inch thick piece of CPM S35VN. It’s nice and thin behind the edge, which was very sharp and I would definitely rank this knife in the top of the class when it comes to grinds. It’s nice to have a Ti framelock that isn’t overbuilt and actually cuts insanely well.
After 3 weeks of use, I only had to strop the knife once to get it back to shaving sharp condition, although a full sharpening session will be following soon (a knife is never truly yours until you sharpen it, right?)
The rest of the blade has a uniform acid wash and tumbled finish along with a rounded spine, which I absolutely love.
This is Brian’s first folder design and I dare to guess he hasn’t made more than 10 so far. It’s a “tactical” folder that looks amazing has great fit and finish, and cuts extremely well. many seasoned makers can learn something from him. This knife, starting at 500$ for the base model, it’s a steal!