Jack Wolf Knives Does High-End Versions of Enduring Slipjoint Patterns

Benjamin Belkin, founder of high-end slipjoint brand Jack Wolf Knives, is celebrating Halloween in style with the imminent release of the Vampire Jack, the latest embodiment of Jack Wolf’s specific vision for high-end traditional patterns made from the ground up for modern knife enthusiasts.

Belkin is part of a generation of designers who created their own cutlery brands after years as dyed-in-wool knife nuts. Growing up, Belkin was fascinated by the Swiss Army knife carried by his grandfather (the Jack Wolf Knives namesake). But it was in 2014, when Belkin first got hold of a Great Eastern Cutlery piece, that his obsession graduated to the next level. “It all just clicked – I thought to myself, ‘This is a pocket knife!'” Belkin recalls. He then plugged into the burgeoning online knife world and hasn’t looked back since. “I always loved the community aspect of knives. Once I looked under the rug I was hooked. I finally found what resonated with me emotionally.”

Belkin was inspired by high-end custom slipjoints for the high hollow grind on his knives [Image Credit: Josh Houda

It’s that enthusiast response to knives that informs everything about Jack Wolf label. “That’s the lens I see this project through: not as a knife maker, but as a knife collector,” Belkin tells us. “I know what enthusiasts want.” Describing himself as a designer, not a maker, Belkin’s focus has been on updating classic traditional knife patterns for users already in love with historical cutlery as well people who only know modern, locking, one-handed folders. But Belkin’s love of slipjoints doesn’t stem from nostalgia; rather, he believes these enduring slipjoints are simply steel at the top of the pile when it comes to true EDC design. “The cruelest test is the test of time,” he explains. “So many of these patterns have withstood that test. They’ve stuck around and that’s because they work.”

The Vampire Jack is based on the Coffin Jack, a pattern defined by a symmetrical handle with raised points on the both the spine and channel sides halfway through its length. This profile forms the core of Belkin’s Vampire Jack, and he lavished a lot of care on the spear point blade too. “Typically the finest custom slipjoints have thicker stock with a high hollow grind that gets very thin behind the edge,” he says. He carried that forward on the Jack Wolf products. “I carry a knife because I want an exceptional cutting tool. So I thought, why not put the sliciest possible edge geometry on that thing?”

Jack Wolf knives come in an aluminum tube with custom artwork for the specific pattern; the art here is by Sean Tiffany [Image credit: Josh Houda]

Belkin’s slipjoint focus means he is intimately aware of the differences between this genre and what is broadly termed the ‘modern folder.’ “Lots of people say you can’t fidget with a slipjoint – and I respectfully disagree!” Belkin advocates the ritual of retrieving a slipjoint from its pocket sheath, opening it, and hearing the sound of the blade snapping into place. “It slows down the process. Taking out the pocket slip, appreciating the leather, using two hands to open the knife. It’s all more deliberate and enjoyable.” He also views the lack of a pocket clip as a distinct advantage for true everyday carry knives. “When I carry a knife with a pocket clip, especially in shorts, I feel like I’m basically giving up that pocket to hold the knife.”

The Vampire Jack is available now right here. Going forward, Belkin envisions a release process in which patterns are returned to, but with differences each time. “When I do come back around to a model, something is going to change. I want each batch to be unique.” He’s also exploring modern folder concepts, but even as Jack Wolf grows he wants to maintain the connection to the community that helped start his brand in the first place. “I’m a knife guy, so I get it. I’m open to feedback 24/7. If somebody needs something, they’re going to be able to get a hold of me.”

Knife in Featured Image: Jack Wolf Knives Vampire Jack

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