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The James Brand ‘Ellis’ Review: Pocket Knife, Scissors in an Elegant EDC

There are many great, small pocket tools. James Brand's The Ellis makes a pocket knife with scissors luxe.

James Brand The Ellis Scissors Review(Photo/Sean McCoy)
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A pocket knife with scissors is a very simple tool. Blade, handle, scissors — they all fold into a neat pocketable package.

And from Victorinox on down the line, many brands make them. Starting at about $25, you can get yourself a nice little pocket tool that will do many tasks well. From those with can openers or files to scissors and beyond, the line quickly blurs when you get into the world of pocket-size multitools.

James Brand The Ellis Scissors Review
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

But there is still room in this crowded market for The James Brand “The Ellis Scissors,” because it’s simply very well-executed.

In short: The Ellis is a simple but beautifully built multitool. It has a simple nail-nick drop-point blade, very effective scissors, and “All-Things scraper.” Combined, it’s a small, useful tool that fits great in a pocket and feels good in the hand. But it carries a heavy price.

James Brand ‘The Ellis’ Scissors Review

The Ellis is one of the most popular pocket knives from The James Brand — and for good reason. Its simple design is timeless and effective. And with the addition of scissors, it’s even better. And if you wonder why, well, I’ll get to that shortly.

James Brand The Ellis Scissors Review
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

But first, The Ellis comes out of the box and feels rock solid in the hand. From the get-go, this knife has a sturdy, well-made feeling. That largely comes from the nice G-10 handle scales screwed tightly to the Sandvik 12C27 liner and blade. The 0.47 inches of liner, blade, and handle scales combined feel dense and capable.

Opening the 2.6-inch blade, you enjoy a solid stop at the midpoint, then a solid thunk when the blade opens fully to its slipjoint locking point. Of course, this knife does not lock 100% — it is a slipjoint, after all — but it stays solidly open as one would expect from this style of knife.

The scissors similarly open with a nail nick and snap into place with authority. Once open, they operate smoothly with pressure from your thumb.

Now, to the “Why scissors when you already have a knife?” question. Sometimes, scissors really work better, even small ones. For example, on the day this sample knife arrived, I had to unbox a bike. Unboxing required me to cut about 20 very heavy-duty, tightly closed zip ties. Using a knife would have been doable, but somewhat dangerous. And I would have almost certainly damaged the bike with a knife blade.

Using scissors here, or in many other circumstances, is just much, much easier. And when this is primarily an office and around-town knife (it is), these are the jobs where scissors excel.

James Brand The Ellis Scissors Review
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

And these are very good, effective, small scissors. For cutting cords and small items like zip ties, they’re great.

Luxury Slipjoint Tool: Who Should Buy

The Ellis by The James Brand is a very nice, small pocket knife. But it comes with a hefty price tag of $120. That is a lot of money for a simple slipjoint knife with serviceable but not great steel.

For context, the Victorinox Classic SD Alox, with a very similar blade and scissors, plus an additional nail file, costs just $32.

Is it as nice? Arguably not. But it will do all the jobs of The Ellis and is made in Switzerland instead of China, where The James Brand does its manufacturing.

James Brand The Ellis pocket clip
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

So, what’s the verdict on The Ellis? Who should spend the extra cash on a James Brand?

Well, if you appreciate the fine finish and details the brand has built a reputation on, The Ellis is a beautifully executed pocket knife. It’s a bit of a hard sell for me at the price, but for those who are looking for a tending, quality pocket knife to carry in EDC situations, The Ellis is a nice product that should serve the user well.

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