A pair of eyes glowed brightly in the darkness of the woods beyond the reach of my headlamp. I was not concerned. The woods surrounding our home are filled with a host of furry creatures, most of them benign. A stroll around our property can resemble the meadow scene from Disney’s Bambi. Birds flit through the branches, and rabbits and squirrels leisurely hop off into the undergrowth. So it is not at all unusual to see eyes glowing in the darkness when I take the dog for a walk on a winter’s evening.
Then the eyes started moving toward me. That was definitely unusual. It had never happened before. Usually the eyes eventually just disappear as the various furry creatures turned their heads and move away into the undergrowth. I felt a touch of concern as the word “rabies” skittered across the back of my mind.
I was holding the dog’s leash was in my left hand. I reached across my body with my right arm. There was a Bear Edge Model 61125 folding knife clipped inside my left front pants pocket. I pulled out the knife and swept my index finger over the flipper. The blade spun around the pivot point and locked firmly into place with an authoritative click. It was the first time that I can ever remember deploying a blade for possible defensive use. I took a measure of comfort from knowing that if this situation became a matter of tooth and claw, I had one claw that was longer and sharper than the others.
The glowing eyes then disappeared. The unknown creature, its curiosity evidently satisfied about the dog and man passing through its domain, had turned and moved away into the woods.
I recently received a press release about the new Bear Edge 61125. Bear Edge is a brand under Bear & Son Cutlery. I had previously reviewed another knife from Bear & Son, the Bear OPS Rancor II Pattern 400. I liked that knife a lot, so I decided that the 61125 was worth a second look. I asked Bear & Son if they could provide a sample for testing and evaluation. They were kind enough to agree.
The Bear Edge 61125 is a folding flipper knife with a 3.25 inch hollow ground blade made of 440 stainless steel and a matte grey stainless steel handle with a frame lock. It has a manufacturer-suggested retail price of $69.99, but I was able to find it online for under $50.
During the course of my testing, I found the knife to be razor sharp, attractive, easy to grip, and to open well. It ultimately ended up being one of my top two or three favorite folding knives. I highly recommend it.
Less than a week after I requested it, the knife arrived via USPS First-Class mail. The package box was approximately 4.75 x 1.63 x 0.88 inches. It was a simple, paperboard box containing the knife wrapped in bubble wrap. The box provided a good balance of function, information, and economy.
One of the first things I noticed on the outside of the box was the words, “Built in the U.S.A.” This phrase does not necessarily mean the same thing as the words, “Made in the U.S.A.” A product that is labeled “Made in the U.S.A.” must meet certain standards outlined by the Federal Trade Commission. It means that “all or virtually all” of the parts of the product originate in the U.S. The phrase “Built in the U.S.A.” is more ambiguous. It may mean that the product is assembled in the U.S.A. from foreign made parts. In the case of the 61125, it means that the blade is made in the U.S.A., but some of the other components of the knife are imported and assembled here.
A sticker on the box includes the words, “Handle with Care. Products are Sharp.” I have complained many times before about the litigious society that makes such warnings necessary. I think that anyone who is oblivious enough not to know that knives are sharp likely won’t be able to read the warning either.
As I opened the box, I found that the knife has dual thumb studs and a flipper tab. The hollow ground blade came out of the box shaving sharp, although it was not the very smoothest possible shave. The stainless steel handle provided excellent strength and rigidity while allowing the handle to be a little thinner than many. I found both the closed and open appearance of the knife to be quite attractive. The pocket clip is quite sturdy, as is the lanyard hole at the base of the handle.
One challenge that manifested itself early in testing was that the blade occasionally failed to deploy fully when using the flipper tab. When a breaking-in period was not sufficient to resolve this problem, I tried lubricating the pivot point with sewing machine oil. This helped for about a week or so, but then deployment began to become a little inconsistent again. I eventually loosened the nut on the pivot point 1/8th turn. This seemed to permanently forestall any further deployment failures.
I was afraid that the stainless steel handle might prove a little slippery during use, but this was not the case. The scales on the handle provided an excellent grip surface and an attractive appearance. They also accentuated the vaguely fish-like appearance of the silver-gray knife when it was closed. Based on aesthetics and corrosion-resistance, this would make an excellent tackle box knife.
During the course of my testing, I was able to use the knife in a host of different ways. I used it to open packages and to cut paracord. I used it to open the seal on a bottle of Ibuprofen. I used it to dig wax from around a candle wick that was too short to light. I used it to cut rags into an appropriate size for applying Old English scratch cover over water stains on the interior logs of our home. I used it to cut summer sausage for a bedtime snack. And as I mentioned above, I drew it to defend myself against the threats of the night. In all of these tasks and more, I found it to perform flawlessly.
I also found that it made an excellent dinner knife. My wife and I were eating in a Chinese buffet. I took a serving of General Tso’s chicken. The pieces of chicken were much too large to put in my mouth, and too difficult to cut with a fork. The buffet did not supply knives among its flatware. I pressed the 61125 into service, and it did an excellent job.
440C Stainless Steel
As I mentioned, the blade of the 61125 is made of 440C stainless steel. 440C is a martensitic stainless steel, so it is harder than most stainless steels, but slightly less corrosion resistant.
440C is composed of approximately 78% iron, 18% chromium, 1% carbon, 1% manganese, 1% silicon, 0.75% molybdenum, 0.04% phosphorus, and 0.03% sulfur. It has a Rockwell hardness of 58 to 60 after heat treating.
440C is currently a mid-range steel, in price. It used to be a higher-end steel, but the plethora of more exotic modern steels have nudged 440C down the price scale. It boasts good edge retention because of its hardness, but may be somewhat more difficult to hone for the same reason.
Often certain manufacturers will seem to specially skilled in bringing out the full potential of specific materials. For example, Buck seems to be able to bring out the best from 420HC stainless in a way that other manufacturers cannot match. Bob Dozier has a reputation for unrivaled skill with D2. Based on my limited experience, I suspect that Silver Stag can give Bob Dozier a run for his money with D2. Bear & Son may not be magicians with 440C, but they seem to do a good solid job of exploiting the potential of the metal.
I really like the Bear Edge Model 61125. I like the shape of the blade, and the way the knife looks when it is folded. I like the way the handle fits my hand. I like the way the blade deploys with the flipper. I like the hollow ground blade. I like the way it fits in my pocket. I like that it is available online for under $50. I just like it.
If you buy one, I recommend that you take the time to fine tune deployment with the flipper, if necessary. A very slight loosening of the pivot screw can greatly enhance the consistency of full deployment.
This knife is very close to being one of my dream knives. I would love to see a version with a stainless steel frame-lock like it currently has on the one side of the handle, but with canvas Micarta on the other side. I would keep the blade the same basic shape, but would go with a saber grind rather than a hollow grind to make the edge just a little more sturdy. And I would go with a D2 rather than a 440C blade to make it a little less brittle under freezing conditions. The color of the handle would be olive rather than sliver-gray, and the blade would have a matte finish. But those things are purely matters of taste, and that knife would not be available for under $50 online.
Although the 61125 is not quite my dream knife, it is a great knife at a great price. I highly recommend it.
Bear & Son Cutlery was kind enough to provide me with a sample of their Bear Edge Model 61125 for testing and evaluation. I tried not to let their kindness influence my objectivity, and believe that I have succeeded. I make passing reference to Bear OPS and Silver Stag in this article. They have provided me with products for review in the past. I did not receive any other financial or other inducements to mention any other vendors, products, or services in this article.