Durwood Hollis with mule deer

Thin Is In


Two new liner lock hunters from Bear Cutlery demonstrate that a hunting knife doesn’t have to be big and bulky to function well in the field.

Bear and Sons Cutlery sidelocks
The new Sidelock Hunter folders from Bear and Son Cutlery combine a functional blade shape, with extremely thin and lightweight handle scales. Both models feature an inner-frame blade locking mechanism; one-hand opening, non-slip camouflage handle coating and an attachment clip.
Image: Durwood Hollis.

Recently, I received a telephone call from a friend who was having difficulty packing for an upcoming hunting trip. Apparently, he didn’t know what to take and what to leave behind and he wanted help making critical decisions. Since I was the guy who spent nearly a month in Africa with nothing more than a toothbrush and a change of underwear, he felt confident that I could help him sort things out.

Arriving at his home, I couldn’t believe the piles of hunting gear strewn all over the place, He had a plethora of clothing laid out for an extended expedition and enough assorted hunting gear to populate Cabelas’s fall catalog. When we finally boil it all down to a few essentials, his anxiety was finally put to rest. Interestingly, upon his return he told me that, “I didn’t even use half the stuff we packed.”

His problem was rather commonplace. Most of us carry more gear in the field than we really need. When you add up shooting sticks, rangefinder, GPS unit, cell phone with public/private property overlay, wind indicator, binocular, extra ammo, rifle sling and everything else, it can amount to a lot extra weight. Couple that with whatever extra poundage we put on around our collective waistlines and you’ll realize that “thin is in.”

Durwood Hollis with mule deer
Author Hollis used a Sidelock Hunter during a weeklong Wyoming mule deer hunt that produced this fine buck. Image Durwood Hollis

When it comes to thinning things out a bit, the new Sidelock Hunters from Bear & Son Cutlery are one way to lose a little extra weight. There are two models in this series, one with (Model 9112G) and one without (Model 9112) a guthook blade feature. High-carbon (0.60-0.75%) stainless steel (actually 440A stainless) is used in the manufacture of the blades in this series. This particular blade steel is widely used in the cutlery industry and offers excellent corrosion-resistance, and solid edge retention.

The blade shape found in both knives is a highly modified clip-pattern that somewhat resembles a trailing-point. A thin point and a sweeping belly, which offers both precise cutting for field dressing and trophy work, as well as excellent skinning ability, characterize these blades. The addition of an integral guthook on one model (Model 9112G), adds even more functionality for those who like this feature.

Blades are a manageable 2-7/8” in length, taper-ground, with an oval opening hole for ease of manipulation. A simple inner-frame locking mechanism secures the blade in the open position. Opening and closing the blade on either knife model is a one-hand operation that is easily mastered.

Knife handles are a pair of T6 aircraft aluminum scales, mounted so they form the knife frame, which is completely open for easy cleaning. Each handle scale features a slip-resistant camouflage coating and a slender attachment clip mounted on one side. The entire knife package weighs in at just 3.3-ounces.

Absent a carrying sheath, I slipped one of these new knives in my pocket and carried it throughout the entirety of a weeklong Wyoming mule deer hunt. Candidly, the knife was so thin and light I almost forgot about it. The attachment clip held the knife securely in my pocket and even after sliding up a down some rugged terrain, the knife stayed in place without a worry. Used for typical field care chores, the rather unusual blade shape was actually quite advantageous. This was especially true when field dressing, skinning and performing trophy work on head skin capes.

Priced affordably at less than $100 each and carrying a lifetime warranty, either of these new knife models are serious bargains. Combining functionality with an attractive price point and proudly sporting the “Made in the USA” label, these two new offerings from Bear & Son Cutlery are the ultimate in a thin, light and versatile hunting knife design.–Durwood Hollis

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