Manufactured by Bear & Sons (Bear MGC), the Bear Jaws 155 was introduced in 1996 and was the first “PST” styled multitool to offer external opening blades. Legend has it that Victorinox acquired Bear MGC for this patent, and developed the idea to later produce the Swisstool. Whilst there are definite similarities, the Bear clearly isn’t quite as refined as the Victorinox offerings, but has a certain “honesty” that endears me to it greatly.
In 2001, a variant of the Bear Jaws 155 was added featuring locking blades, the 155L and an electricians’ version incorporating wire-strippers instead of regular pliers was added soon afterwards, the 155EL.
The 155 range share two main characteristics, namely the feeling of solidity they give in the hand, and the lack of any “frills” offered. They are no-nonsense tools with handles constructed of heavy, solid steel, and substantial, useable components within.
Comparison with Leatherman’s PST shows a less well refined tool that gives the user a lot more confidence in strength. The hollow handles show you that there’s nothing hidden of sneaky going on, just chunky steel!
The Phillips driver is on a par with the best drivers I’ve seen like the Leatherman Core and Supertool 300.
The clip point blade on the Bear Jaws is one of my favourites, reminiscent of the early PST models’ “sabre” shape. Due to the fact that it externally opens, it is practical and much better positioned for use as with all external opening blades.
The locking mechanism found on the “L” variants of all Bear Jaws models are quite unique. They are reliably functional, but the release mechanism is unlike any other tool or knife I have encountered! Lying amongst the tools in the handles is a “lock release bar” clearly labelled “depress here to unlock components”, which at worst makes the tool a little uncomfortable to use, and at best is way over the top!
Despite the “awkward” lock release bars however, I really do like, and use the Bear Jaws 155 models a fair bit. Living in the UK, the non-locking base model 155 is a legal EDC option, unlike many of the leading multitools on the market today. In fact, as I type this I’m struggling to think of another tool with non-locking, external opening, sub 3″ blades, which makes me like it even more. Cool.