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Bear & Son 19849

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,280
Bear & Son
« on: February 09, 2008, 03:11:10 PM »
We had a pleasant visit with the people from Bear & Son Cutlery at the Shot Show. They were here all the way from Jacksonville Alabama to show off their surprisingly extensive line of sharp stuff. Fixed blades, folders, multi-blades, multitools, shears; these folks do it all, and everything is still quality made in the U.S. of A.

Being the the tool nuts that we are, we zoomed in on the Bear Jaws series of multitools. There are no new variations of the Bear Jaws for 2008, but it was interesting to see and compare the entire line all in one place.


Bear Jaws 155L and Mini Bear Jaws 153


Super Bear Jaws 156L

In addition to the standard 4" Bear Jaws 155L, there is also a 2-1/2" Mini Bear Jaws, along with an industrial grade 4-1/2" Super Bear Jaws. For cutting chores there are two options; a Gardener 157GT model and a Sportsman 157SM model, both based around a powerful set of shears. Electrical workers get the most unique tool in the Bear Jaws inventory, the Electrician 155EL.



If you've never handled a Bear multitool before, the first thing you'll notice is its heavy duty construction. The handle material is noticable thicker than any of its competitors. Blades and pliers are big and strong too. There is a weight penalty to be paid for this added strength of course, but its worth it in most cases.


Bear Jaws Electrician 155EL

Back in 1995 the Bear Jaws tool was named by Blade Magazine as the most innovative new tool on the market, due to its then-unique method of folding which allowed all the blades to be accessed without unfolding the pliers. In 1999 Victorinox purchased the company, and in doing so gained access to the Bear Jaws patents, allowing the SwissTool and later the Spirit to be equipped with outside-opening blades. In 2004 Ken Griffey, one of the original owners, purchased the company back from Victorinox and renamed it Bear & Son Cutlery. Since then the focus has been on introducing new fixed blade and folding knives, many of them featuring Damascus steel. The selection of multitools produced by Bear has remained relatively static for some time now, but we hope to see continued innovation from them in the future.


Sportsman 157SM and Gardener 157GT







In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
In Memoriam No Life Club Posts: 4,788 I miss Benner
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2008, 03:13:49 PM »
The Electrician looks perticularly interesting. I think I will have to take a better look at this company. I think because they are a smaller no name brand it kinda flew under the radar.

Anyone own one?

S
No Life Club Posts: 4,542 Hello...is this thing on?
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2008, 03:18:35 PM »
I agree with Hawk that electrician tool looks like a very nice tool. Some of the blades/tools look a bit like cheap knockoff ones, but how did they feel in the hand?

Life is like a sandwich...the older it gets the crustier it becomes!
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,280
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2008, 03:41:18 PM »
I agree with Hawk that electrician tool looks like a very nice tool. Some of the blades/tools look a bit like cheap knockoff ones, but how did they feel in the hand?

The Bear tools give off an aura of strength and quality contruction. No question about it, these tools are solid! However, their designs are a bit dated. They were designed to compete with the Leatherman tools of the late 1990's. There are no fancy thumbhole knife blades or titanium scales. The lock release mechanism is particularly old fashioned.

The blades themselves are somewhat crude, but again are of good quality. Far and away better than the cheap Chinese junk!! I usually judge blade quality at a glance by looking at the phillips screwdriver. (Ever notice how the Chinese cannot seem to produce a decent phillips?) The phillips on a Bear tool is big and strong, with crisp form on the driver head.


In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 4,542 Hello...is this thing on?
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2008, 03:46:13 PM »
Well thats good news! That philips driver does looks pretty darn good. Yeah the blades/tools don't look very refined and it was mainly this image that had me worried about them. I know the actual pliers are really well built and strong.

Life is like a sandwich...the older it gets the crustier it becomes!
No Life Club Posts: 1,455 4x4 since '74
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2008, 06:41:13 PM »
The Bear tools give off an aura of strength and quality contruction. No question about it, these tools are solid! ....

I must agree with you, Bob, based on the Cresent ToolzAll Pro.  It was made by Bear.   

The lanyard hole blade is strange, though.   If you open the lanyard blade and thread a split ring or paracord through the hole, there is no room to open the flat screwdriver blades which are adjacent.

I prefer the Leatherman SuperTool and PST lanyard attachment arrangement, which is outside the handle.




Retired engineer, author.

A man with one multitool always knows exactly which to use. A man with many multitools is never quite sure. - parnass
No Life Club Posts: 3,726
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2008, 08:57:37 AM »
What's the price range on Bears? They look like a nice Mid-quality tool for those who don't want to pay extra just for Brand Name status.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,280
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2008, 03:06:37 PM »
What's the price range on Bears? They look like a nice Mid-quality tool for those who don't want to pay extra just for Brand Name status.

Prices on Bear tools are generally a bit less that their Leatherman equivalents. The challange can be trying to find one for sale. I've never seen one at a store, only at internet retail sites.

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 3,998 Improvise.
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2008, 09:39:13 PM »
The challange can be trying to find one for sale. I've never seen one at a store, only at internet retail sites.

Same here...The electricians tool looks like a nice odd tool to have.

And why is there a nail clipper on the tool second from the left?  For perspective? ??? :D

[
Hero Member Posts: 751
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2008, 09:40:46 PM »
I was wondering about that myself.  It appears to be part of the tool but maybe one of the guys can fill us in first-hand.
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,280
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2008, 10:51:13 PM »
I was wondering about that myself.  It appears to be part of the tool but maybe one of the guys can fill us in first-hand.

The nail clipper & multitool is actually a Bear Jaws model 157LN (Locking, Nailclipper) An ordinary fingernail clipper is attached to the tool by means of a slot cut in one handle. The rivet from the clipper goes through the slot, and the clipper's spring pressure keeps it from falling off. A little bent piece of steel retains the "tail" of the clipper.

The 157LN first appeared a few years ago. (I don't know exactly when) It seems like an idea with possibilities, but then again...... ::)




In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
No Life Club Posts: 3,998 Improvise.
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2008, 11:13:50 PM »
 :o
That's the weirdest multi tool function I've ever seen.

How does it fit in a sheath? :pok:

[
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,280
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2008, 11:19:13 PM »
:o
That's the weirdest multi tool function I've ever seen.

How does it fit in a sheath? :pok:

Awkwardly. :D

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Hero Member Posts: 751
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2008, 03:37:58 AM »
     Anyone know a good source of the newer designed models?  Just hoping someone here may have some idea.
In Memoriam No Life Club Posts: 4,788 I miss Benner
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2008, 02:02:14 AM »
That clipper model goes to show how sometimes the designers can go way off base and just start to add stuff they think people want. It also looks like the thing was added to an original tool. Look how the cut out for the mounting goes through the company name. ::)

S
Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,280
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2008, 02:31:44 AM »
That clipper model goes to show how sometimes the designers can go way off base and just start to add stuff they think people want. It also looks like the thing was added to an original tool. Look how the cut out for the mounting goes through the company name. ::)

It does seem like somewhat of an afterthought don't it? :-\



In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Global Tuffy Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 28,102 Just Awesome! And a Slayer of Polar Bear!
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #16 on: February 12, 2008, 05:53:59 PM »
That tool is the definition of after thought.  :D  They couldn't have made them look more stuck on if they tried.

I'm back!!
Full Member Posts: 209
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2008, 11:56:47 PM »
Is there a significant advantage to this particular design of outside opening tools?    Is SAK's design exactly the same?

No Life Club Posts: 1,895
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2008, 12:26:39 AM »
Is there a significant advantage to this particular design of outside opening tools?    Is SAK's design exactly the same?

Not particularly.

The Victorinox design is significantly different than Bear's and much better in my opinion. It is much more "snappier" and more orderly and has a much better lock interface. The plier pivot ramps function and are designed different for the respective tools also, I would do a nice picture comparison but my Bear Jaws is in storage. May be time to get a locking model and check it out. :)

I think the Bear tools may be stronger to failure in regards to handle torque since their handles are a one piece stamp, as opposed to the three piece system used on the Spirit. But then I am fairly certain the individual tool would break before the handles failed.

Hmm.

Does the SwissTool share the same three-piece handle design as the Spirit?
Full Member Posts: 209
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #19 on: February 13, 2008, 01:08:47 AM »
I'm glad to hear that SAK did their homework and didn't just directly transfer the Bear's design over to their tools.  That would have been a tad disappointing.  Great piece of history to know about the purchasing of the companies, the buying back, etc.

Does something about the SAK Spirit require a 3-piece design - is there an advantage of the 3-piece over the one piece?  What was SAK's thinking on that?  Maybe just simpler or cheaper to manufacture with little or no strength disadvantage because, like you say, the individual tool is the weak link, not the frame.?

Admin Team Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 23,280
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #20 on: February 13, 2008, 01:21:39 AM »
Yup, the SwissTool handle is three-piece construction as well. (Actually both it and the Spirit handles are four-piece construction, if you count both side panels, the finger backspring panel, and the plier pivot bracket)

I can see why the finger backspring panel is a seperate piece; it probably needs to be made from thicker spring-grade steel. But why make the side panels two seperate pieces?  :think:   

In order to be certain of having the right tool for every job.........one must first acquire a lot of tools
Hero Member Posts: 879
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2008, 12:56:24 AM »
 :drool: I really like the look of these Bears.  From the UK I would guess Ebay USA is the best place to get them.

T
Hero Member Posts: 618
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2008, 03:17:04 AM »
I've used Bears/Toolzalls for several years and despite their admittedly dated and somewhat eccentric designs, they inspire trust with their robustness. I think their handles are the most comfortable in the business-rounded and they fit my hand very well and the tool access is great (though Bear often puts the nail nicks in unusable places). I used the Electrician on sound jobs and it was great. The lanyard attachment is a joke (it can't close with the lanyard attached) and the Phillips screwdriver is odd at first, but I believe it was designed to mate with a Bear accessory drive kit (which no dealer I've been to has ever carried). Oddly, the Toolzall re-brands seem a bit better fit and quality than the standard Bears. Perhaps Crescent kept an eye on the tolerances, perhaps it may just be my own tools. Why Bear isn't a bigger player is beyond me...
Turd Bucket No Life Club Posts: 2,633
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #23 on: May 18, 2008, 04:36:22 AM »
I have seen their tools at sears, sportsmans warehouse. and industial supply. sears is about everywhere and ther are quit a few sportsmans warehouse around. you may find something there.
Full Member Posts: 126
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2008, 06:08:38 AM »
The only downside to the early Bears were they were non-locking.
Combine that with the fact they were outside opening and you have to learn to say "ouch"

I used them a lot and learned to be very wary. 
No Life Club Posts: 1,070
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #25 on: June 13, 2008, 07:47:41 AM »
Ken is indeed a great guy. He's been helping me with my Electrician's Bear Jaws issues. If Bear did a little to update their designs, I think they could truly have a place in the market. That said, the Electrician's tool is really impressive, and the only full size multi on the market to offer strippers. Why more people don't know about it is beyond me.

Fan of the Leatherman mini-bit driver, dedicated slotted drivers, and the Victorinox backspring philips. But not combo blades.
Hero Member Posts: 751
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #26 on: June 13, 2008, 11:25:00 PM »
     The main reason is that alot of times electricians need to work with live wires and with the design of these tools like they are it could result in a very unpleasant little jolt.  That being said one should turn off the power before attempting to service electrical wires. 
No Life Club Posts: 1,070
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2008, 12:13:02 AM »
As one who does a fair share of theatrical electrical work, I can say that no sane electrician, that is to say, anyone who does electrical work regularly, would be working on live circuits without the proper tools. If you go to Home Depot, the vast majority of the high quality Klein tools they sell in the electrical tool department are NOT meant for use on live circuits. There is a small selection of tools specifically designed and insulated to be used with live circuits, and even these must still be used with care. Whenever it is possible, we try to avoid working on live circuits.

Fan of the Leatherman mini-bit driver, dedicated slotted drivers, and the Victorinox backspring philips. But not combo blades.
No Life Club Posts: 2,436 Rule #9 - Never go anywhere without a knife.
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #28 on: September 19, 2008, 06:36:49 AM »
Anyone own one?

I'm looking at a 156L multitool real hard - appears they can be customized / modified somewhat with Torx screws holding them together.

Bear & Son multitool catalog


Why do I carry a 45 ?
Because they don't make a 46 !
No Life Club Posts: 1,758
Re: Bear & Son
« Reply #29 on: September 19, 2008, 06:56:45 AM »
Anyone own one?

I'm looking at a 156L multitool real hard - appears they can be customized / modified somewhat with Torx screws holding them together.

Bear & Son multitool catalog


I dont have a 156L yet.  But I do have a 155L both the locking and non locking versions. Also a mini bear. All seem to be easy to take apart. Should be fairly easy to do some customizing.

Dennis

 

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