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Picked up my first Bear & Sons pocket knife, a #354 1/2 Little Trapper in Yellow Delrin & CV blades, (3" closed). My local Ace Hardware franchise has semi-annual 20% off everything sales, and each time I try to pick up a good knife to "keep it local" so to speak. Last time I snagged a Case #6233 Pen Knife, but even with the discount the hardware store's prices are still too high compared to online for Case, so this time I opted for this B & S because with the discount it only cost $22, (selling for around $30 on Ebay currently). I also looked at a B & S small stockman w/ simulated bone handles, but that one was really gritty when opening, so I chose this one instead.

Now, what did I get? Well, as a US-made knife I was expecting a little more frankly, but I plan on this being a "user", so it should fill that role adequately. Fit & finish are average IMHO, with the only obvious flaw being the spring on the master blade being a little low when closed, (see photos). Everything else seems fine; tight sharp blades, not gritty when opening, decent half stop, no blade rub, and relatively well fitted handles, (no significant gaps at bolsters & well hafted, but not perfect like on Case knives). Not exactly thrilled with the shade of yellow on the handles either, but it isn't much different than others I have seen.

I did some research and there are quite a few negative opinions out there about B & S in general, especially concerning fit & finish. I read one post from a supposed "ex employee" who said that the only knives they check quality on closely are knives that they take to shows, but that regular production knives are often substandard. That same type of comment seems to be more frequent that good reviews, so obviously they have had some issues.

I only have this one example to compare, at the price I paid and the fact that it is US-made, I am comfortable owning it. I usually don't buy non-stainless knives, but decided to give this one a try despite the CV steel used in the blades, (already applied Frog Lube, so not too worried). I like the size, I like the hollow grind on the blades, and other than that slight spring gap I can find little to complain about. I admit that I have imported Rough Rider knives with better F & F, but that is a different story for another thread, so I am happy to have it.

So, what has your experience been with Bear & Sons? Please feel free to comment and add photos if you have them.

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This is one of the things I love about speaking with them in person.  Ken Griffey and his family feel this connection with USA made and their community all the way down to their souls.  If they could get the consistency of fit and finish down pat, without going to all machines as some have done, I think they would be an unstoppable force in USA Made. 

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