I was more than a little anxious to get to the new Bear OPS "Bold Action" automatic folder for SurvivalBlog. For those who may not be aware of who Bear & Son Cutlery are, they have been around since 1991 and have a very extensive line of knives and tools for everyday tasks, as well as for survival, hunting and for collectors. Be sure to log onto their site to see their complete line-up. However, for this article, we're only looking at their new division of Bear OPS. The stated goal of Bear OPS is to produce the "best knives made in the USA." Only USA manufactured parts, material, and a dedicated workforce work in this division. They only use premium 154 CM or CPM-S30V steel for these blades and they do their own heat-treat, water-jet and CNC grinding to finish their blades. You also get a Limited Lifetime Warranty on all Bear OPS knives and tools.
My long-time friend, Tom Ables, is handling the outside public relations and marketing for Bear & Son Cutlery. When he told me about the new Bold Action tactical folders from the Bear OPS division, I was more than a little excited to get my hands on a sample or two. Tom Ables spent about 30 years doing the marketing for another major cutlery player, and he knows cutlery inside and out. Now, the new Bold Action automatic folders are only available for those who live in enlightened states that allow automatic folders, or those in the military or law enforcement. However, don't despair, Bear OPS has a good number of other folders that will take care of your needs if you can't legally own an automatic folder.
I received two Bold Action folders for this article, one is the AC-110-B4-T - that has a Tanto-style blade, and the other is the AC-1-B4-T that has a modified drop-style point - probably one of the most useful blade styles ever. Either blade style comes in a 3-inch length, and is made from premium CPM-S30V stainless steel, and is .115-inches thick. The blades are heat-treated to a Rockwell hardness of Rc58-60 - not too hard and not too soft - they will hold an edge a good long time, and will be easier to re-sharpen compared to blades having a higher Rockwell hardness. You can also get either Bold Action with a bead-blasted blade or a black Ti coating .Mine came with the latter. The handle material is G-10, which is super-tough, with grip edges for a secure hold. You can also opt to have good-looking Cocobolo wood. Closed length is 4-1/8" and it weighs 6 ounces. There is a pocket/clothing clip for tip-down carry.
Now, as for the button for the automatic opening on the Bold Action. The button is slightly recessed into the handle - the button is of a good size, too. Several automatic folders I've tested over the years, that have opened in my pocket because the button got bumped and it usually resulted in the open blade "stabbing" me in the leg, or a cut to my hand when I reached in my pocket. Some automatic folders now have an additional safety that locks the button so the blade can't accidentally deploy while in your pocket. The Bold Action does away with any added safety by simply recessing the open button a little bit into the handle scales - nice job, Bear!
I couldn't find any flaws in the blade or the handle scales on either sample, they were done up right in my opinion. I prefer a slightly longer blade on a folder for self-defense purposes, however the 3-inch blade on the Bold Action is plenty long enough for Every Day Carry (EDC) purposes. To be sure, a pocket knife will probably be used 99% of the time for everyday cutting chores, so the 3-inch blade isn't any sort of a handicap in my book. The blades opened with authority and locked in place solidly - I can't say that for all the auto opening knives I've tested of the years - so had way too much side-to-side play when opened. This is not the case with the Bear OPS Bold Action folders.
There is also a nice lanyard hole in the butt on the Bold Action folders, and the liners appear to be stainless steel. To open the Bold Action, simple depress the button and the blade flies open and locks in place. To close the blade, use the same button - press in on it, and you can then close the blade, and it honestly does lock in place solidly! What can be simpler? Both the Tanto and Drop Point blades felt good in my hand - not too big and not too small. I like enough handle to hold onto in a folder or fixed blade knife, and even though the blades on these knives are only 3-inches long, there was more than enough handle to hold onto.
I used the Tanto blade more in my testing than the drop point blade - I'm just partial to Tanto-style blades for some reason - nothing I can put my hand on, but I like Tanto blades a bit more than drop point - even though it has been proven that drop point blades are more useful for more tasks. Go figure. Almost daily, UPS or FedEx brings me a package or two, and I reach for whatever folding knife I have in my pockets to cut the boxes open. I also used the Bold Action folders for chores around the kitchen, and I honestly do a lot of cooking in our house, and the Bold Action handled all my kitchen chores from slicing tomatoes to cutting cucumbers and meat. I also spent some time cutting poly rope - now if you've ever tried cutting poly rope, you know that a lot of knife blades will simply slip right off this slick rope - no problem for the CPM-S30V blades on the Bold Action. I also tested some wet hemp rope - again, wet rope is very difficult to cut - ask any sailor - and I had no problems with the Bold Action samples.
The Bold Action AC-110-B4-T retails for $230, a good chunk of change. But this is one rugged little automatic folder, that would make a welcome addition as an EDC folder. And, I like the idea of Made In The USA and the Limited Lifetime Warranty. I was pretty impressed with the Bold Action samples. And, I'm going to request some more knives from Bear & Son Cutlery to test for SurvivalBlog readers. They really do have quite an extensive line-up of knives and tools, including Damascus blades, filleting knives, double-edge fighting knives, Bowie hunters, multi-type tools, and multi-blade knives. They also make butterfly knives and a host of other tools - too many to list here. Be sure to check out the Bear & Son Cutlery web site and the Bear OPS web page for a look at all they have to offer. I'm betting good money you'll find quite a few knives and tools you'll want to add to your survival needs or just for collecting. I'm looking forward to testing more of their products. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio