Pat Cascio’s Product Review: BearOps Rancor Folder

BearOps is a division of Bear & Son Cutlery and is an up and coming cutlery business. BearOps is producing tactical-types of cutlery, whereas, Bear & Son, produces some more traditional cutlery.

When Tom Ables, who handles the PR from Bear, contacted me with a press release on the BearOps “Rancor” folder, I placed an order for one right away. The Rancor isn’t just a tactical folder; I also consider it a gentleman’s folder. Over the years, I’ve been accused of a lot of things but rarely has anyone, other than my own wife, called me a gentleman. Still, I had to have a Rancor for testing.

To be sure, “survival” doesn’t just mean living in the woods with a knife and a gun. No! Survival covers any number of situations one might encounter. Some survival is planned. Some is unexpected emergencies, such as something as simple as the power going out in your house for a few hours. Some people go into a complete panic when this happens. Sometimes, survival, might mean your car breaking down or a flat tire. Other types of survival might be getting lost in the backwoods on a hunting trip for several days. Still, many people simply don’t think about daily survival, which is just getting through the day. That can often be stressful, if you stop and think about it.

For me, on my small rural homestead, survival usually just means getting through an entire day with unexpected bills or the riding lawn mower breaking down, and it always does. One of my main everyday survival tools is a folding knife. Without it, I would be lost. I don’t know of a single day that goes by where I don’t find a use for a good knife in my pants pocket. UPS, FedEx, or the USPS bring me packages all of the time. Some are easy enough to rip open, and some require a good, sharp knife. Still, other packages, like large ammo orders, require a sharp knife to cut the Nylon banding as well as a multi-tool to rip out the staples also holding the box closed. Still, my most often used tool is a good knife of some sort. To be sure, my wife and oldest daughter also have their own knives, which are “some place”, and so they are always asking to use my knife. It’s handy. They know it’s right there in my right front pocket.

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The BearOps “Rancor” is the newest addition to their rugged sideliner folders. The particular model I tested is the MC-100-ALCF-S one-handed opening folder. The Rancor has dual thumb studs on the blade, for fast and easy opening of the blade. This is almost a “must” on a folder these days. We have a modified drop point blade that is 2 7/8-inches long and made out of high-tech CMP S30V stainless steel, which is one of the best high-tech stainless steels on the market. This steel holds an edge and isn’t all that hard to re-sharpen when the time comes. Rockwell hardness is 58-60, which is the norm for this type of stainless steel. We have a satin finish on the blade, and the blade rides on bronze phosphorus washers and has a very smooth ball bearing type opening. It’s very smooth.

The handle scales are aluminum with grip ridges, and the finish on the handle scales looks for all the world to be carbon fiber, but it’s not. It is a special coating that BearOps puts on the aluminum handle scales to make it appear to be carbon fiber; that’s nice, really nice! The handle itself is 4 3/8 inches long. I like enough handle to fit my hand, even on a folding knife. (Itty-bitty folders don’t appeal to me.) There is also a generous pocket/clothing clip that allows the Rancor to be carried tip down.

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The Rancor’s blade opened smoothly, using the thumb studs, right or left handed. I like that. Many lesser-made folding knives feel like they have sandpaper for a bearing surface and are very gritty feeling when you open them, and they are hard to open, too. The Rancor came shaving sharp out of the nice gift-type box it came in, and the knife was also in a nice presentation cloth bag inside the box, which is classy.

I’m not sure many folks would consider this a gentleman’s folder because of the size. Most Gent’s folders are smaller than the Rancor. However, I believe the carbon fiber look on the aluminum handle scales makes me want to call this folder a Gent’s folder for some reason. It is very classy looking. One wouldn’t feel embarrassed pulling this folder out of your pocket to clean your finger nails or open a package in the office. So, to my way of thinking, this is a Gent’s folder!

The sideliner lock was perfectly fitted and locked-up the blade tight every time I opened the blade. Many people think this is an easy accomplishment, but nothing could be further from the truth. It takes precise fitting to bring the liner into the exact match with the blade to give us a perfect lock-up. Bear Ops did their homework on this one. The Rancor only weighs 4.5 ounces, so it is light in your pocket. You don’t even know it’s there.

I carried the Rancor for several weeks in my pocket, using it every day for some kind of cutting chore around the house or the homestead. One of the cutting tests I like to do is cutting blackberry vines. In western Oregon, we are never at a loss for these things; they grow fast, even after being sprayed to kill ’em! If a knife, any knife, doesn’t have a sharp blade, it will slip off the vines, some of which are very thick, too. I didn’t know if the Rancor’s blade was long enough to cleanly slice through these tough vines with a single swipe. My fears were not founded. The 2 7/8-inch long blade easily cut through the vines. However, because the knife has a short overall length, those nasty thorns on the blackberry vines managed to reach out and get me a couple times. If you’ve never experienced blackberry vines, they are wicked, very wicked!

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I cut through poly rope as well as hemp rope with the Rancor with no problems. Opening cardboard boxes was a piece of cake, too. I did manage to “trim” the rosebushes in front of our front window, which is a chore my wife says she will “get to….”. (She hates when I trim the rosebushes because I trim them down quite a bit!) The Rancor was used around the kitchen for cutting chores. While I’d like to report it mastered all of those chores, the short blade sometimes required extra work cutting through fruits and veggies because they are big. The fruits and veggies are big in diameter, so it took a little more work to cleanly cut through those items.

If you’re like me, you use a knife several times per day, especially if you live out in the boonies, like I do. To my way of thinking, a good pocket knife makes my daily “survival” much easier. Believe me, it is survival to me. A good pocket knife makes my life easier. When I’m at my local gun shop that stocks quite a few knives, it seems like no one ever has a good sharp knife on hand to cut something, so I end up handing them my folder. Everyone really liked the classy look of the Rancor. They all thought the handle scales were actually carbon fiber, too.

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So, if you’re in the market for a new daily use “survival” knife, for some of your cutting needs and you want to have a nice “Gent’s” folder to use, take a close look at the Rancor. The full retail price is only $134.99, and that’s one deal, considering that they use CPM S30V high-tech stainless steel for the blade material. Don’t forget Bear’s respected lifetime warranty.

Just remember, not all “survival” consist of living off the land. To me, daily survival means just getting through the day without getting too frustrated by some minor daily chores I encounter, and a good folding knife makes my day go smoother.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio

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