Bear Pair

Instant blade deployment with a flip or a flop
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Bear’s speed duo: The Automatic Folding Knife (top) and Kimura Butterfly (bottom).

I recently had the opportunity to examine two new Bear & Son knives. They’re of radically different styles, yet each — in its own way — triggered a wave of youthful nostalgia on my part (although in an upscale sorta way). Let me explain:

After high school I began hanging out with a couple of older guys who were martial arts enthusiasts. Somewhat lacking in the necessary determination and coordination, I wasn’t inclined to join in the fun.

Yet, in those heady days of Bruce Lee worship, it was absorbing to watch them flip nunchucks around. The learning curve of those things is pretty abrupt and I witnessed many injuries of varying degrees self-inflicted on the “flippee” from time to time.

Another item the crew was enamored with was from the Philippines and called the “butterfly” or Batangas knife. This struck me as a far more sensible option. Even though the blades the guys were continually speed-flipping back in the day weren’t great examples of the knifemaker’s art, the technique was impressive. The smarter guys practiced with a dull trainer model to avoid slicing themselves during the learning process, which to me seemed no less arduous than required with nunchucks.

This wave of nostalgia brings me to Bear’s Kimura Butterfly — a joint project between Bear and Bradley Cutlery. First off, in contrast to the butterfly knives of my youth, this is in no way an inexpensive martial arts knockoff of indeterminate Asian manufacture.

This eye-catching made-in-USA item features a 3-3/4" taper-ground spear blade of 154CM stainless, a stainless steel handle with G10 overlays and a closed length of 5-3/8" (open it’s 9").

Its defining feature is the “T-latch” which, when pushed open, separates and frees up both halves of the handle to enable the wrist-snapping, speed-opening technique that impressed me so many years ago. However, at my age, I’d slowly open it, cut what I needed to cut, and then carefully close it again! MSRP is $159.99

ll closed up! These are not gentleman’s pen knives but seriously hefty “folders.” The Automatic does have a clip to keep it from stressing your pocket.

An Auto Folder

A quantum leap beyond the stiletto-type pushbutton knives of Blackboard Jungle and West Side Story infamy, is Bear’s White Smooth Bone Handle Automatic Folding Knife (AC-550-WSB6). That’s a mouthful but the knife itself is a pretty straightforward and marvelously executed piece of work. Its two-tone (black and white) appearance would be eye-catching even without the 2.75" semi-Tanto blade of Sandvik 14C28N steel.

I’m certainly no expert in the unpleasant realities of combat with edged weapons, but the blade of Bear’s Auto seems to me to be light years ahead of those illicit black plastic-handled switchblades I recall my buddies bringing back from Tijuana. Those always struck me as a fairly one-dimensional tool that could easily double as a letter-opener (where most of them probably ended up).

The knife has a sliding safety and a button. Push it off, hit the button, and the hefty blade flops out and locks. You press the button to fold the blade back in, of course. Yes, it’s fast and simple.

But is it faster in a critical situation than an “assisted opening” folder or a thumb-stud on your basic lockback? Maybe, maybe not. Making blanket statements about such things is risky. Many folks who shoot autoloading pistols say they have a leg up on speed, yet I don’t think many of them could “out-time” a Jerry Miculek with a DA revolver.

Neither of these knives are as inexpensive as the blades of my youth but both are infinitely better made and more sensible.

Critical caveat: Whether engendered by state, county or municipal regulations, knife laws are a hodgepodge — particularly in regard to automatic and butterfly knives. This admonition will, of course, be old hat to Blue State AR owners. Regardless, make sure to acquaint yourself with whatever restrictions apply in your area prior to purchase.

https://www.bearandsoncutlery.com

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