The James Brand: Elko

A small little beast of a knife.

I love carrying Benchmade’s Proper series of knives, and I think they are among the best knives you can daily carry, but there are times when you want something smaller. Something lighter, just to have, just in case. But you don’t want that something to be crap.

That’s where the Elko from James Brand comes into play. It is a fantastically small, incredibly light, and yet versatile knife to carry. And dare I say, it challenges the Proper as an everyday carry blade for the office.

The Cutting Part

Let’s face facts: I drive from my comfortable home to my comfortable office, and then do the reverse. That’s my life most days. So my needs for a knife are pretty low, and the requirements for that knife are also low. Mostly I need something that has a sharp bit, that can destroy and Amazon box, or open the odd electronics box.

I don’t need something to help me survive, just something which would make life a little easier. Maybe trim a loose thread from my shirt. The Elko has a 1.74” blade made from Sandvik 12C27 steel. That’s a good steel, probably better than you need for a knife this small.

The cutting edge is tiny, like there’s no one who is going to be scared if you pull out this blade, small. And that’s ok, because it means I can use it at the office without worry, and generally get the job done. But, it is large enough, and the shape of the blade gives you plenty of room to work with.

Having said all that, I have used this knife a ton to open packages, release barbies from the cardboard contraptions they come in, and much more. And, surprisingly, the knife has not once been stifled by the blade size.

And to that end, the steel itself has proven to be very durable and able to retain an edge for a surprising amount of time. Overall the blade itself in fantastic for the uses you find yourself using such a tiny blade for.

The only thing that held this blade back in actual use, is the small nature of the handle. The blade can do a lot, but if you can’t securely hold the knife to apply more force, you will limit what you want to do with the blade. Or, to put it more simply: you can cut through all the tape you want on boxes, but you are not going to want to cut cardboard boxes down to size this this, as your fingers will hurt rather quickly.

The Prying Bit

At the tail of the knife is a little wedge of steel with a hole. This is made to slip a lanyard through, attach the knife to a keyring, or to use as a pry bar or flat tip screw driver. And it works really well. Half the time I wonder if you are better off carrying a knife, or one of those fancy titanium pry bars that Reddit users love to carry. Because a lot of the time I actually need to apply leverage to open something, rather than needing to slice something. As anything with a decent corner will tear through tape if push comes to shove.

So the nice thing about this knife is that it has this little pry bit at the back, which also works as a standard-ish sized screwdriver. It is really nicely done, and I am a big fan of it.

The Carry Factor

This is where this little knife is just bonkers good. It is so small, about the height of a Zippo, with none of the width. It also weighs nothing in the Micarta handle selection, allowing it completely disappear in your pocket — and I mean completely. It clocks in at 1.3oz. Insanity.

More than that it feels really good in your hand, as micarta always seems to do. It masks itself well, it slips in any pocket, and is never in the way. This is easily the best knife to carry if carry is your primary concern. And perhaps it should be, as we spend more time carrying our knives than we do using them.


I really love this little knife, and given the robust amount of options for it, I can see a lot of people wanting them. When I bought it, $75 felt very overpriced for what I was getting. However, after using it for some time now, I can confidently say that it is worth it. I’ve owned three James Brand knives now, and this is the first one I will be keeping.

It is fantastic. When I travel, and someone with me is checking a bag, I slip this knife in that bag. It is small enough to never be an issue, will never threaten someone, and offers a ton of tools for me when I get to where I am going.

Highly recommended.

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