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Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery. 8654

Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« on: May 31, 2014, 02:59:29 PM »
Of all my multi-tools, those of the Bear & Son brand are a bit special. Special in that they were a challenge for me to collect, which boosted my interest in these tools, at least from a Canadian perspective. What I also like about them is their general build and heftiness. I hear a lot of people talk about polished Victorinox SwissTools and Spirits, and how beautiful they are. I consider the Bear & Son to be in the same field with their polished stainless steel exteriors. They may not be as well constructed as the Victorinox, but they are brutally simple and durable multi-tools that have that sexy polished exterior. These guys are built and feel like a tank. I like that honesty in character that these tools reflect. And for those who find history interesting, Bear was sold to Victorinox, and I feel, the result was the SwissTool line. The company was bought once again in 2004 and became Bear & Son. For a better historical perspective on this interesting company...

http://gnelson.hubpages.com/hub/Bear-Son-Cutlery-An-American-Company


Now of course, I won't be talking about their knives, as I do not own a single copy. However, I will show what I have in terms of Bear & Son, including some related products, mostly that of Crescent tools and their ToolZall line.

Bear multi-tools are an old design. The first model, the Bear MGC Bear Jaws came out back in 1996. The locking lever versions came out in 2001. There hasn't been an update on this timeless collection since, that I am aware of at least. The Bear lineup is also interesting in that there are 3 tool sizes, which I will say are large, medium, and small. Also interspersed into these size variants, are some interesting dedicated tools that you just don't see often, especially those aimed at bird hunting, and their venerable electricians models.

Bear & Son Cutlery is currently located in Jacksonville Alabama, USA, and they are proud of that fact. From what I have read on their official web site, they are a manufacturers that does everything in house.

Enough of the background, and time for the collection photos and stuff. :)

When I first started collecting Bear multi-tools (I found out about them here on these forums), I was puzzled about these hard to get collector tins from both Victorinox and Bear. It was only later that I found out that Victorinox owned Bear for a few years...then it made sense. I have 2 of these boxes. I know there are more versions out there. These type of sets usually contain a Mini Bear Jaw, and something from the Victorinox catalog.





Bear's smallest multi-tool is the Mini Bear jaws. This 2 1/2" long tool is a miniature of their larger tools, which gives it instant cuteness. There are only 4 folding tools, but for its size, it is feature rich. It also comes in stainless steel, or, as far as I know, 4 painted colours. There is a black, green, blue, and red version. For the collector, these can be hard to get in like new condition as the paint does wear off, chip, and scratch easily. I see from Bear's official web site, they are only selling the stainless steel version...so I can hazard to state that the painted Mini Bear Jaws are probably now discontinued.


12 Functions :
- 2 in 1 Pliers
- Wire Cutters
- Electrical Crimper
- Standard Scale
- Metric Scale
- 2 in 1 File
- Bottle Opener
- Small Phillips Screwdriver
- Small Standard Screwdriver
- Clip Point Blade

Thus, their small tool comprises the ever cute Mini Bear Jaws. Their medium multi-tool which is 4" long closed, are called Bear Jaws.

Here is an example of the Bear Jaws. Note the sexy polished stainless. I may add those stainless steel handles are thick and build very rugged. Note that this is the older locking version that is now discontinued as they only currently sell the lever style locking versions of their tools.




18 Functions :
- 2 in 1 Pliers
- Wire Cutters
- Electrical Crimper
- Standard Scale
- Metric Scale
- Serrated Sheepsfoot Blade
- 3 in 1 File
- Bottle Opener
- Can Opener
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Standard Medium Screwdriver
- Standard Large Screwdriver

Another version is the Bear Jaws Sportsman. With this version, you replace one of the blades found in the Bear Jaws, with a saw. Now long discontinued.





As previously mentioned, the locking versions came out in 2001, and consequently, you can only buy the locking versions today. Here is an example of the locking version. With Bear & Son, identifying the older and locking versions couldn't be easier. The newer locking tools have 2 levers that stick out and are easy to see. I must say, the older tools did feature locking mechanisms, but they were the same as those featured on Leathermans original SuperTool. You need to pull out another tool to disengage the locking metal tab. Not as convenient as the locking levers. Likewise, like the old SuperTool, if you by accident, pull out all the tools, it became very difficult if not impossible to unlock the metal tab. In fact, if you ever see an old tool with a bent metal tab, you can figure someone somewhere did just that and was forced to apply a flat screwdriver and ended up bending the locking tab. I have seen that a few times.

Anyways, here we have the newer and more convenient locking lever Bear Jaws.



You can see the locking levers in the following photo, pivoted out with the other tools. To unlock, simply press down on the lever, and it disengages the metal locking tab. A lot more convenient, but they do stick out from the tool. This can cause some catching on things when sheathing your tool away, depending on what orientation you are trying to stow it away. Note that the tool set is exactly the same as the above older Bear Jaws with the addition of the unlocking levers.



In the same medium size family is one of Bear's somewhat unique offering in the multi-tool world. Meet the Bear Jaws Electrician.



The Bear Jaws Electricion features a wire stripper/cutter head. Not many multi-tools feature this. The Bear Electrician is particularly nice.



Now stepping into their largest tools which all are 4 1/2" closed, the Super Bear Jaws lives up to this family's expectations. This is a heavyweight and heavy duty multi-tools. My example has the locking levers.




18 Functions :
- 2 in 1 Pliers
- Wire Cutters
- Electrical Crimper
- Standard Scale
- Metric Scale
- Serrated Sheepsfoot Blade
- 3 in 1 File
- Bottle Opener
- Can Opener
- Phillips Screwdriver
- Standard Medium Screwdriver
- Standard Large Screwdriver

Included with this large tool are a few very interesting models. Bear & Son also produce some very beautiful shear style multi-tools. I will say, these are a very beautiful and classy design.

Meet the Super Bear Jaws Bird shears. This bird hunter specific tool features a few specialized tools.




7 Functions :
- Cutting Shears
- Standard Scale
- Metric Scale
- Serrated Sheepsfoot Blade
- Fowl Hook
- Standard Medium Screwdriver
- Drop Point Blade

And if that wasn't enough specialization for you, they also made a Gardner version called The Super Bear Jaws Gardner.




7 Functions :
- Cutting Shears
- Standard Scale
- Metric Scale
- Serrated Sheepsfoot Blade
- Weeder
- Standard Medium Screwdriver
- Drop Point Blade

And that would be the end of our story here, as Bear & Son only currently produce 6 different multi-tools. However, it appears that Bear also produced many of Crescent's ToolZall line as well. There are also a few models that appear (if not made by), to be based on Bear's designs.

For example, there is the Remington Sportsman Series Birder. This version replaces the flat driver of the Bear with a shotgun choke tool for 12 and 20 gauge. Also, the shears also feature a bone notch that would make clipping wings a lot easier.







Now, Crescent's ToolZall line of multi-tools are mostly Bear produced.

Here is a ToolZall Pro, which means its a 4" Bear Jaws in size.







Here we have an anomaly. A tool based on the Electrician, but does not appear to be produced by Bear.





However, here is one that is made by Bear.





Here is a ToolZall Pro XL. This is Super Bear Jaws in size (4 1/2").





Another ToolZall Pro.





Here is a weird one. An older Crescent ToolZall which is a PST clone. Either Leatherman had a hand in this, or they didn't, which might explain why Crescent partnered with Bear later on. I am only guessing here.







Here are a few Bear & Son sheaths. The older design featured green lettering. Newer sheath is on the right, and not as nice looking as the older versions. The sheath on the far left came with a Bear Bit kit, and features a secondary pocket to stow the bit kit in.



And the bonus shot, that of my Bear & Son collection drawer.


« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 03:18:36 PM by Chako »

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Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 9,745 You're amongst friends.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2014, 03:26:08 PM »
I once owned one of their medium-sized multipliers, but since it was not locking I sold it. I had always wanted a locking version. One thing that I liked about it and that really stands out is their awesome Phillips driver - that thing is solid as a brick!

Thanks for refreshing my memory on the history of these tools. Bear & Sons is a tool that I admire a lot but don't think of everyday. I still want that locking model but it's just never been a priority.

Nice write-up, as usual, Dan :tu:

SAW
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2014, 03:52:25 PM »
Keeping the memory alive. :D

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No Life Club Posts: 4,822 Apparently it is possible to have too many tools;)
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2014, 04:03:05 PM »
Another great photo description     Thanks Chako   :tu:

I like the Bear Jaws Multis - solid, no-nonsense MTs that had outside opening components before most others ( I think I've read that Victorinox bought the company mainly to get the patents for outside opening tools)

I think Bear & Son also made MTs for Craftsman (eg 45201, 45521 which were relabelled Bear Jaws ) which are not that rare, and also for Nicholson, but these latter seem hard to find and may have been mostly sold in Europe.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2014, 04:09:11 PM by gregozedobe »

babola: "Enjoy your tools and don't be afraid to air your opinion and feelings here, but do it in courteous and respectable way toward others, of course."
No Life Club Posts: 1,601 4x4 since '74
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2014, 05:06:59 PM »
Great collection, Chako!

The non-locking Crescent ToolZall has always been a favorite.  It is more rugged than the Leatherman PST and has worked reliably.

I wanted to get more Bear multitools, but was put off by mention of quality control problems and the protruding lock levers.


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: 2,019
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2014, 07:39:19 PM »
Another great photo description     Thanks Chako   :tu:
+1

I have a pair or two of the Mini Bear Jaws.  I had high hopes for them as a small pliers to complement a SAK, but the plier heads on both were so loose that they were quickly retired from that duty in favor of a P4.
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2014, 04:22:15 PM »
It is always interesting to see that Bear never generates much interest here.  :D

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No Life Club Posts: 4,788
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2014, 01:00:33 AM »
Somne interesting "special interest" toosl there.
Thanks for showing them.
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #8 on: June 02, 2014, 01:09:35 AM »
You are welcome.  :)

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Full Member Posts: 229
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #9 on: June 02, 2014, 06:57:15 AM »
chako, loved these photos.   :drool:

 i live about fifteen or twenty miles from jacksonville, alabama.  it's in the same county with me, in fact.  i have some friends who have worked at bear and sons, and the tool i have edc'd the longest is a pair of mini bear jaws one of those guys gave me about ten years ago--best mini-tool i have ever touched, i lost it for a year once and ordered a new one, and it was not the same.  found the old one in an obvious place and rejoiced!   another fellow heard i did little projects with wood from time to time, like inlays and stuff, and brought me a pail full of old slices of various knife-handle wood and some bone he found while poking around in a shed near their older factory (he claimed legally, i think he was on a cleaning crew or something and they had moved awhile back, so it was 'trash.'  i will always accept trash with ebony bits in it).

i have a pair of the bird shears i am tentatively converting to a paint tool.  it's going....well.  i'll show it off soon if it goes....better.  i also have the super bear jaws, which i use sometimes, but the locking levers kind of freak me out.


i like their damascus too, it is simple but nice.
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #10 on: June 02, 2014, 12:32:12 PM »
 :tu:

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No Life Club Posts: 1,775
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2014, 09:32:09 PM »
Well, that is called a Thread :hatsoff: ... said by SAK sworn believer :D
Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 6,375
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2014, 03:20:15 AM »
Dan, B&S also produced non-locking Bear Jaws variants under the Hard Hat, CAT, and several other brands, not to mention that unobtanium Painter's Tool and that LL Bean rainbow TiNi Mini Bear Jaw.  I thought you ended up with a couple examples of the Hard Hat models from that website you'd shared with me. :think:
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2014, 03:49:29 AM »
Are you sure it was me?  :think:

Oh yeah, it was me. I had forgotten about them. I tried but they wouldn't sell to Canadians if I do recall correctly.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2014, 03:51:16 AM by Chako »

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Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 6,375
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2014, 04:47:48 AM »
Are you sure it was me?  :think:

Oh yeah, it was me. I had forgotten about them. I tried but they wouldn't sell to Canadians if I do recall correctly.

That's not groovy of the website. :/  If they still have anything you want, just let me know.  Surely they'd not have any qualms about selling to a Carolinean. ::)
No Life Club Posts: 1,601 4x4 since '74
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2014, 04:06:14 PM »
Are the tools (e.g., knives, screwdrivers, file) on the larger Super Bear Jaws longer than the tools on the 4 inch Bear Jaws models? 

I cannot be sure by looking at the photos.

Thanks!

Retired engineer, author.

A man with one multitool always knows exactly which to use. A man with many multitools is never quite sure. - parnass
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2014, 12:07:47 AM »
No, both feature the same length tools. The larger model gives you longer handles and bigger pliers.

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Absolutely No Life Club Posts: 5,380
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2014, 12:32:39 AM »
Ya know, I've had my Bear Jaws for a couple years now and never noticed it was part of Swiss Army knives even though it says it right on the box.  :facepalm:
Thanks for sharing all, nice pics.  :tu: 
I had a ss version plain ole bear jaws , traded it off on here back in the 00's. Red one is a keeper.












:like:    :MTO:
No Life Club Posts: 4,822 Apparently it is possible to have too many tools;)
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2014, 01:06:43 AM »

I had a ss version plain ole bear jaws , traded it off on here back in the 00's. Red one is a keeper.

I think the coloured regular size (ie not mini) BJs might be rare, so definitely a keeper  :tu:

babola: "Enjoy your tools and don't be afraid to air your opinion and feelings here, but do it in courteous and respectable way toward others, of course."
No Life Club Posts: 1,601 4x4 since '74
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2014, 04:08:19 AM »
No, both feature the same length tools. The larger model gives you longer handles and bigger pliers.

Thanks.   I have been so impressed with the 4 inch Crescent ToolZall that I want to try the larger Super Bear Jaws.

Retired engineer, author.

A man with one multitool always knows exactly which to use. A man with many multitools is never quite sure. - parnass
Hero Member Posts: 860 Wanted: SpydeWrench
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2014, 03:16:42 PM »
Chako
Many thanks for putting together this thread and all the other threads that cover your vast collection.

Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2014, 01:04:45 AM »
You are welcome.  :salute:

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Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,854 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2014, 03:20:45 PM »
It is always interesting to see that Bear never generates much interest here.  :D

I have met and spoken with the Griffeys (the Big Bear, Mama Bear and the Little Bear) and they seem almost completely uninterested in their own tools.  I get the feeling that if Crescent, Craftsman, Hard Hat and a few others weren't buying them in bulk, Bear would have done away with them long ago.

I can understand why too- many moving parts, much more assembly time, and price point that absolutely has to be under $100, while knives can have three or less moving parts and can easily fetch prices over $100.  Sometimes it amazes me that anyone still makes multitools, especially in the US where labor is not cheap.

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Turd Bucket No Life Club Posts: 2,633
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2014, 03:25:44 PM »
Unfortunately Def is right.
I thought the saw on the super bear jaws was longer than the saw on the normal bear jaws.
Head Turd Polisher Administrator Just Bananas Posts: 61,854 Optimum instrumentum est inter aures
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2014, 03:33:24 PM »
Unfortunately Def is right.

When it comes to unfortunate things, Def is right too often.

The worst part about all of it is, if the folks at Bear put any effort into their tools they could stand toe to toe with Leatherman, especially since Bear actually used to make components for Leatherman.

Def

Leave the dents as they are- let your belongings show their scars as proudly as you do yours.
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 21,057 Bored

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Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #25 on: December 10, 2014, 03:36:40 PM »
Word on the street is that their current knives are not much better either.

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Al : "Women!"

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No Life Club Posts: 1,601 4x4 since '74
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2014, 05:50:27 AM »
This Blue Point multitool looks like it might have been made by Bear & Son Cutlery and the ebay seller claims it was made in USA.  It has a corkscrew which I've not seen before on other Bear & Son tools.


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: 4,822 Apparently it is possible to have too many tools;)
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2014, 08:26:33 AM »
This Blue Point multitool looks like it might have been made by Bear & Son Cutlery and the ebay seller claims it was made in USA.  It has a corkscrew which I've not seen before on other Bear & Son tools.
I think I have seen this particular tool (with corkscrew) for sale with various brands on it (including "Schrade Tough").  While seeming reasonably robust in hand it doesn't seem to be quite the quality of genuine Bear Jaws MTs.  I'm sure if it was really made in the USA that fact would be featured prominently somewhere on the tool.

babola: "Enjoy your tools and don't be afraid to air your opinion and feelings here, but do it in courteous and respectable way toward others, of course."
Full Member Posts: 148
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2014, 05:53:47 PM »
This Blue Point multitool looks like it might have been made by Bear & Son Cutlery and the ebay seller claims it was made in USA.  It has a corkscrew which I've not seen before on other Bear & Son tools.

(Image removed from quote.)

It looks a lot like a Bahco multi tool, which afaik, was made in China, but is reputed to be decent.
Absolute Zombie Club Posts: 20,337 Armed with camera and not afraid to use it.
Re: Lets look at Bear & Son Cutlery.
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2014, 09:07:00 PM »
I have several of that style, and they are all above average quality wise.

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