The slightly leaf-shaped blade of the Bear Swipe IV folding knife calls to mind other leaf-shaped blades from ancient history and literature. I like the look of the blade form, and it also makes it easier to get the best angle on certain types of cuts.
The assisted-opening, modified-drop-point, saber-grind blade of this Bear-OPS-made knife is 3.25 inches long, razor-sharp and easy to resharpen. It is made of 14C28N Swedish Sandvik steel. The scales of the black and green G10 handle are easy to grip, with a texture that is evocative of unpolished canvas Micarta.
The knife has become one of my top-three-all-time-favorite folding knives. With a price of $99.99 at the time of this writing, the Bear Swipe IV represents an excellent value. The fact that the knife is American-made makes it much more desirable.
Bear and Sons Cutlery produces a great line of American made knives at reasonable prices. I have previously tested their Bear OPS Rancor II Pattern 400 and their Bear Edge Model 61125. I liked each of those knives a lot. So when I received a press release about the Bear OPS Bear Swipe IV assisted opening folder, I asked Bear and Sons if they could provide me with a sample for testing and evaluation. They were kind enough to agree. The next day, FedEx delivered a package to my front porch.
nside the shipping box, I found a 7.38 x 1.25 x 0.94 inch package box made of paper board. The package box contained the knife inside of a black satin bag with red drawstrings. The bag looks nice, but I am unlikely to ever use it again. Since my tastes tend to favor function over form, I would recommend dropping the bag and reducing the price of the knife by an amount corresponding to the cost of the bag.
The blade looks a little like the blade of an ancient Greek xiphos short sword, although the knife blade is single-edged while the xiphos blade was double-edged. The blade shape also calls to mind the Elvish blade “Sting” carried by Bilbo and Frodo Baggins in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The prettiest words on the product box are, “Made in USA”. I was less enthused about the words “Handle with care!” and “Products are sharp.” It is not Bear and Sons’ fault that these types of warnings are necessary, but they do make me sad. I wonder what type of person buys a knife expecting it not to be sharp.
The knife comes equipped both with a flipper and with dual thumb studs. The assisted opening feature works so well with the flipper that I did not spend much time testing the thumb studs. I did verify that the thumb studs work and that they work well, but that was the extent of my testing with the thumb studs. The flipper was so much more fun to use. The authoritative click of the blade snapping into place when it is deployed is one of the simple pleasures of life. It is kind of like popping bubble wrap, or driving a pickup truck on a pleasant day with your arm resting on the sill of the open window.
The assisted opening mechanism does present some resistance when the knife is being closed, of course. That resistance is light enough that it does not present any sort of problem.
The blade of the Bear Swipe IV is saber ground. For general use, I like saber grind blades best. In my opinion, they provide the best balance of strength and cutting performance. So that gave me one more reason to like the Bear Swipe IV.
Jimping on the back of the blade near the handle provides better control of the blade during more delicate cuts. I did find the jimping to be effective in everyday use.
The heavy steel liner and the associated liner lock make the design sturdy, and provide a pleasant heft. The liner is surrounded by a strong and comfortable G10 handle. G10 is a high-pressure fiberglass/epoxy composite. It is strong, moisture and chemical resistant, and provides a comfortable, durable, and easily gripped surface.
There is a sturdy pocket clip on the handle. A 0.63 inch lanyard slot allows for the installation of a much more substantial lanyard than is possible using the minuscule lanyard holes included in many other knife designs.
I carried the knife daily for a month and a half, and used it for many of the boring tasks of everyday life, such as the following:
- Opening the packaging on a replacement swell latch for our outside wood boiler.
- Opening the packaging on a trigger pull weight gauge.
Opening the shipping box on an order of ammo.
- Cutting a rag in half so that my wife, “Kari” and I could both have a piece of rag as we stained the south wall of our log home.
- Prying open the USB port cover on a set of earbuds so that I could recharge the buds.
- Cutting vent tubing for the installation of a dryer at my sister-in-law’s new home.
- Cutting packing tape as I prepared objects for moving from my sister-in-law’s old home to her new home.
- Opening boxes.
Prying nails from the dislodged back of a damaged bookshelf so that I could nail them into a new location that would better secure the back.
- Opening the packaging holding a new battery so that I could install the battery in the key fob for our truck.
- Removing the foil seal from a jug of motor oil while changing the oil in the truck.
- Removing jammed paper from a copy machine.
- Stripping wire insulation while replacing the plugs on a couple of damaged extension cords.
- Cutting a piece of yarn to secure the angle adjustment rod of a reading stand for my desk.
- Kari borrowed the knife to break down some boxes so that she could get them in her car and bring them in for recycling.
- Nudging bat guano off a window ledge after removing a window air conditioning unit.
- Cutting the tails off of cable ties being used to attach glow sticks to my grandson’s bike prior to a night-time “glow ride”.
- Cutting open a bag of sausages during a picnic lunch at the zoo with my grandchildren (note: I had washed the blade after using the knife on the bat guano).
- Cutting open bags of salt for the water softener.
- Cutting open packages of steak to be put on the grill.
- Stripping insulation from the end of a damaged coax cable so that I could reattach our television to the antenna.
- Using the back of the blade to pry the lid off of a can of stain, so that I could stain the fresh wood in a section of our log home that I had repaired.
- We have a couple of aprons hanging in the corner where we keep our paper shredder. The tie on one of the aprons got caught in the teeth of the shredder. I used the knife to cut the remnants of the apron tie out of the teeth of the shredder.
- We left some protein bars near the edge of the counter in the kitchen, and the dog ate them. Then he got sick. I used the knife to cut a rag into two pieces for cleaning up the floor.
- Cutting open a new package of writing pads for taking notes about the gear I am reviewing.
- Prying corroded batteries from a microcassette recorder and cleaning the battery poles.
- Cutting a long twist tie down to a more convenient length.
- Cutting open the monthly dose of heartworm medicine for our dog.
The Bear Swipe IV excelled at all of these tasks and more (although I must admit that I missed the pliers on my Leatherman Skeletool while I was removing the nails from the bookshelf).
Tasks like prying out nails or cutting apron ties from the teeth of a paper shredder can be hard on the edge of a knife. One of the things I like best about the 14C28N steel of the Bear Swipe blade is that it is surprisingly easy to re-sharpen, even though it has a Rockwell hardness of 60. A short session with an AccuSharp Diamond PRO 2 Step knife sharpener was sufficient to restore the blade to shaving sharpness.
This Swedish-made Sandvik 14C28N steel is similar to the Japanese-made AUS8. It consists of 84.44% iron, 14% chromium, 0.62% carbon, 0.6% manganese, 0.2% silicon, 0.11% nitrogen, 0.025% phosphorus, and 0.01% sulfur. It is not the very most expensive knife steel around. But in my opinion, it gives better performance for everyday use than most of the more expensive blade steels that I have tested. The most expensive steels are generally so difficult to re-sharpen that I find them less practical for everyday use.
Bear and Son Cutlery
Bear and Son Cutlery is located at 1111 Bear Blvd. S.W., Jacksonville, Alabama, 36265. Their entire operation is centered at their factory there. Among other aspects of knifemaking, this operation includes building their own blanking dies, heat treating blades, grinding, and finishing knives. It is nice to have an American company that has not outsourced their manufacturing operations overseas.
The factory was originally the Parker Edwards knife factory, a subsidiary of W.R. Case and Sons. In 1991 Ken Griffey and two partners purchased the facility when Parker went out of business. Although the company went through some subsequent changes of ownership, Mr. Griffey still serves as President of the company today.
The Bear OPS Bear Swipe IV folding knife provides a sharp, easily sharpened, and easily deployed blade in a rugged and easily gripped handle. The $99.99 price tag is extremely competitive for an American-made knife. If you are looking for a nice, assisted-opening knife, this one is worthy of consideration.
Bear and Sons Cutlery was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their Bear OPS Bear Swipe IV folding knife for testing and evaluation. I tried not to let their kindness influence the objectivity of my review, and I believe that I have succeeded. I did not receive any other financial or other inducement to mention any vendor, product, or service in this article.