Anytime I run across a USA-made tactical folding knife with unique features at a reasonable price it grabs my attention and makes me want to get the word out about it! Such is the case with the Bear Ops Rancor IX Tactical Folding Knife. Located in Jacksonville, Alabama, Bear and Son Cutlery is a self-contained factory that produces its knife line completely in house, from start to finish.

Bear and Son offers a wide range of knives across five product lines. These include the original Bear and Son’s line of sporting/outdoor knives, Bear Edge, which features a mix of imported and USA-made general-purpose and mixed-use blades. Bear OPS is the USA-made tactical line of knives suitable for civilians, law enforcement and fire/EMS. Along with sharpening tools and kitchen utensils, the Bear and Son range of products offers something for everyone.

About the Bear Ops Rancor IX

Despite the extensive lineup of Bear and Son, this is my first review of a product from them. The Rancor IX I received a sample of is slide-lock folding knife with a black plain edge. Its blade is made from D2 tool steel, a versatile high-carbon, high-chromium steel. According to the Hudson Tool Steel Corporation, D2 Tool Steel offers a notable combination of wear resistance and toughness, making it highly versatile. While there are steels with better toughness or wear resistance, D2 remains effective due to its balanced properties and availability in various forms. However, as Piping Mart notes, D2 tool steel isn’t classified as stainless steel. The high levels of chromium make D2 more corrosion-resistant but it is not entirely rust-proof. With its powder-coated blade the Rancor IX should prove fairly rust-resistant and stain less than pure carbon steel.


Blade style: Drop point
Blade composition:
D2 tool steel
Manual opening via blade flipper and thumb stud
Black DuPont Zytel with open top/bottom/rear to keep lint from being trapped
Pocket clip:
Reversible stainless steel, marked Bear Ops
Lanyard hole:
1.8 ounces
Closed length:
3.62 inches
Blade length:
2.25 inches
Overall length:
6 inches
MSRP of $89.99, Great Smoky Mountain Knife Works $60.99

Using the Rancor IX Folding Knife

The Rancor IX is a manually operated knife that can be opened with one hand. It does not have a spring mechanism to assist with blade deployment. Instead, it features a traditional ambidextrous thumb stud on the blade for initiating the opening process. This style of thumb stud isn’t commonly seen in knives these days. The blade opens to a 45-degree angle with careful maneuvering. To securely lock the blade in the open position requires a flick of the wrist.

Another method of opening the blade, which I personally prefer for this type of knife, is to use the finger “flipper” located on top of the knife when the blade is closed. Pushing downward on the flipper also opens the blade to a 45-degree angle but with a bit less risk of being cut. Again, a flick of the wrist will securely lock the blade open. The finger flipper, which is actually the lower part of the blade, opens to form a guard for your index finger, providing protection during use. The top edges of the handles are ridged to prevent sliding and maintain a firm grips.

The Rancor IX features a very nice dual sliding lock system to close the blade. I found the easiest way to close it when the blade is locked back is to hold the blade vertically, with the end of the knife resting against your palm and the tip pointing upward. Ensure your fingers are away from the blade entry slot. Then, using your strong hand’s thumb and index finger, pull down on the ambidextrous closing levers. The blade will swing down toward the closing slot. By pulling the levers up and down during this process, the blade will close without needing assistance from the opposite hand, though you can use the opposite hand to finish the process if needed.

Daily Folding Knife Carry

The Rancor IX’s light weight makes it a great pocket carry knife. And the and open top, bottom and end prevent trapped pocket lint as well as make cleaning easy. Its plain drop point blade makes quick work of most cutting chores and is a snap to sharpen. The three opening options — thumb stud, finger flipper and pulling the blade open with the weak hand — give the user a myriad of operational choices. The one-hand closing option afforded by the sliding lock comes in handy as well.

Bear and Son provides a full lifetime warranty of their products to the original purchaser. Products that are misused, abused or rusted are not covered.

Bear and Son Cutlery: