Better. Stronger. Tougher.
That was the goal for the Bear & Son team when they set out to create their new division, Bear OPS. The line — the name of which is an abbreviation of Operational Precision for Superior Tactical Knives — was more than a decade in the making.
BETTER THAN THE BEST
In mid-2000, Bear & Son began the process of designing, creating prototypes, testing blades and handle materials, and tweaking the tactical knives according test feedback to ensure that the final product was even better than the self-proclaimed “best knives in the U.S.A.” the company has manufactured since 1991.
The Bear OPS line was designed with military and law enforcement officers in mind. Perhaps the greatest testament to Bear OPS’ fulfillment of this purpose is the approval one early prototype received from soldiers deployed abroad.
“I had some friends that had been deployed in the Middle East and many of them were unhappy with the standard-issue knife,” says Matt Griffey, vice president of Bear & Son. “Once they returned to the U.S., I showed them the drawings/prototypes. One of them carried a prototype on his second tour in Afghanistan. He would send me emails about the feedback he received from solders in his unit, and they all wanted one.”
COMPARISONS AND COMPANIONS
Whereas the typical Bear & Son blade is made from 440 stainless steel, the Bear OPS tactical knives feature exotic steels including 154-CM, CPM-S30V, 1095 and 14C28N. The handles, too, undergo a specialized process.
“Our biggest difference is how we treat the handle material after it has been cut out,” Griffey explains. “Instead of installing the handle right after cutting, we send it to our hafting department for a detailed sanding. This allows us to remove any and all sharp edges that were made during the cutting process and really makes assembling the knives much easier. We are also able to use more delicate handle materials like cocobolo.”
The latest addition to the Bear OPS line is the Undead series of knives, which capitalizes on the enthusiasm for zombies that has recently swept the nation. These tactical knives are twin sisters of the original Bear OPS knives, with one key difference: Their handles feature the Reaper Z coating, which lends a striking green-and-black pattern with images of zombies and biohazard symbols, making these knives particularly unique and fearsome-looking.
Griffey’s personal favorite Bear OPS knife is the Stiletto/UD-MC-300, which is one of the models with an Undead doppelganger.
“This new lighter version utilizes T6 aircraft aluminum handles instead of the original G10 handles found on the MC-300-B4-S,” Griffey says. “Using the T6 aluminum handles decreases the overall weight by 5 ounces and gives the knife a nice slender look. You barely realize that you have a knife in your pocket. When we began putting together the Undead series, I wanted to make sure this knife was included.”
With so much time, effort and innovation poured into Bear OPS and the Undead series, these tactical knives are sure to be invaluable for collectors and those in combat alike.
For more details on the Bear OPS line, take a look at the October 2013 issue of Knives Illustrated.
— Story by Bethany Miller