First I will just say that I know this knife has been long-awaited by folks who have been around here longer than me. My expectations were high and I am impressed! I will give my first impressions and it would be great to hear other folks experiences with the Chief too and see their photos. I have really enjoyed the photos of the Chief that others have shared and will add some later.
Overall the build quality is excellent. Out of the box the blade has no play when locked up and dropped with a very minor jiggle when the lock was released with the knife held horizontally. I have not adjusted anything, but put a couple drops of oil into the pivot and it now drops freely when the lock is released. The action is good enough that it is easy to middle-finger flick open (this is not something that I do routinely, but It is something I check out).
The overall finish quality is excellent—if it were much nicer it would risk being too precious. As I mentioned the lockup is ‘Golden solid’ with no detectable blade play and the blade is very well centered (perfect to the naked eye). The grinds are all very nice—the primary and the edge bevel are both consistent on both sides.
If I’m persnickety, I will point out that as with many Spydercos that include a 50/50 choil and finger guard, the edge grind does not meet the plunge line perfectly. In this regard, my Shaman is slightly better and my Native Salt is slightly worse.
One other nitpick I noticed is a very sharp burr on the inside of the backspacer at the butt of the knife. Of course I was easily able to fix that. The G10 texture is quite grippy (may need sanding to not chew pockets) and the rectangular cross-section indexes well in the hand. Both the blockiness and texture contrast nicely with the Shaman’s smooth contours. I quite like both in hand.
The Chief is sleek and feels light and nimble for its size, while still feeling plenty beefy for me. The light weight for its size has encouraged me to leave the clip in the tip-up position and carry in my front right pocket. Other knives that I have in this size class (Spyderco Resilience, Byrd Cara Cara rescue, Ontario Rat 1) I carry tip-down in my right rear pocket. The Chief is pretty slim in pocket for a larger Spyderco, enough so that it feels good in the front pocket. The clip also feels good in various grips in the tip-up configuration.
I have not yet used it to cut anything of consequence, but it looks promising and the grind seems not too thick BTE. The edge is quite sharp, but not the sharpest Spyderco I’ve received. It does shave but not tree-top hair. I’m confident that we’ll have more conversations about the real world performance over time.
Appearance wise I think the Chief is simple and elegant in its sweeping lines. Even though I think it looks good, the long leaf blade looks quite stabby to my eye. Maybe this could be mitigated by colored G10?
In my haste to make this post, I am not including photos, but I think there are many great photos of the Chief around. I invite those of you who have a Chief to contribute your impressions to this thread!