When considering a blade to carry on your person, one of the first things you need to decide is what you need that tool for. Knives are generally broken down into two main categories: fixed blades and folding knives. A fixed blade offers a strong tool that is very fast into action, and it is great for personal defense and heavy cutting tasks. However, it’s not always the easiest to carry. By contrast, a traditional folding knife makes for a more-compact and easy-to-carry-and-conceal option. But, because it has moving parts, it might make for a less-sturdy package that is slower to deploy.
The choice for the right tool for your needs might not have an obvious answer. It sure would be nice if you could take advantage of the strengths of both a traditional folder’s ease of carry and a fixed blade’s speed to deploy. And that’s exactly what an automatic folding knife is designed to accomplish!
Under the Hood
Bear & Son Cutlery decided to pursue this automatic “best of both worlds” knife design with their more modern tactical-style Bear OPS “Bold Action” line of knives. Of this lineup, their 500 model family immediately caught my eye.
At first glance, you would think you are looking at a traditional (and very sleek looking) folding knife. Upon further inspection, you’ll notice a couple of details that make all the difference. On the show side of the frame, there are two additions you won’t find on any frame or liner lock knife; a button and a switch. This is the heart of the Bold Action knives.
With a simple press of that button, the blade springs open lightning fast! This deploys the blade much faster than the average user’s manual manipulation of a traditional blade. This small button press bridges the gap between the speedy deployment of a fixed blade and the slower, more precision-oriented task of opening a traditional folder. All the while, you get to carry around a pocket-friendly blade that is less cumbersome than your average smartphone.
Don’t let that fast-moving blade scare you, though. Just like your favorite 1911, there is a safety lever on the frame that manually blocks the movement of the firing button. This allows you to not only lock the blade in the closed position, but also locks the blade in the open position and keeps you from inadvertently closing the blade.
All About the Blade
An automatic knife is all well and good in theory, but it makes little difference if the core knife design is not up to snuff. This is not an issue for the Bear OPS 500-series automatics! Coming in a variety of color options and blade lengths, I opted to focus on the AC-500-B4-B.
This variation features a mid-size profile, well suited to both smaller and larger hands without being cumbersome or difficult to manipulate, respectively. The recurve tanto blade profile is a personal favorite of mine, meshing superb cutting action and utility. The forward tip edge has a reinforced bevel for more strength in heavier cutting and piercing tasks. The main bevel is double hollow ground for an edge that can slice, and it is in a recurve profile.
The recurve means that instead of the cutting edge profile being straight or curving away from the blade spine, the edge instead curves towards the spine, making an “arc” in the profile. In practical terms, this gives the edge transition (the hard angle from the tip to the recurve section) a more aggressive edge for cutting, and gives you a capturing edge.
Think if you were to have to cut a length of rope a dozen times. This recurve acts as a “hook” that grabs and self-centers the rope into the optimal cutting position, making for faster processing. The upper edge has a swedge grind for a dagger-like profile that will allow you to pierce materials much easier. The blade has a thumb ramp with jimping for some extra control in finer cutting tasks.
Details Are Key
Moving towards the frame, this black and green variation features a two-tone bolstered look for a classic tactical-style vibe. The frame scales are machined from tough G10 and given a subtle peel-ply texture. This means the surface is grippy without being overly aggressive to the touch. The profile has an angular finger groove for some extra grip during rough cutting, making sure you hand stays where it is supposed to.
The pocket clip is a deep carry profile so the knife sits very low in your pocket with very little visible above the pocket line. The clip can even be configured for right- or left-handed carry, so you southpaws are in luck! A slot at the butt end allows you to fit a lanyard, making the knife easy to retrieve if slipped into your pocket.
Ready for Duty
Proudly made right here in the USA, every Bear & Son Cutlery knife is warrantied for life and will serve you well. Their lineup is widespread, so it’s easy to find the right knife to fit your needs. Made from quality steels and composite materials with a stunning aesthetic, few American-made blades can check off as many boxes as a Bear OPS blade while staying competitively priced and warrantied for life.
Rest assured, no matter which Bear OPS model you are considering, you will be getting a quality blade that is ready to tackle your next adventure.
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