Knife Review: Kizer Drop Bear

The New Kizer Drop Bear Is An Excellent EDC, And The Clutch Lock Is A Worthy New Addition To The World Of Axis Lock Knives

In the ever-growing world of EDC knives, finding ways to stand out is difficult. So many brands, so many steels, so much of everything. And even in that crowded field, the new Drop Bear from Kizer finds ways to catch the eye.

Boasting a high-quality blade, simple handle, and innovative lock, the Drop Bear is the kind of knife you’ll want to use every day … more so, it’s the type of blade you’ll go out of your way to use. 

Getting The Drop On The Drop Bear

The Drop Bear in both of its colorways: Gunsteel on top and Black, with the bright purple thumb stud, below.

First that name. For those wondering it originates from a beast of Australian folklore that–as the legend goes–drops from trees to attack humans. Pleasant.

However, Kizer’s Drop Bear (MSRP $158) allure isn’t its reference to free-falling arboreal bruins. Instead, it’s Kizer’s twist to Benchmade’s Axis™ lock configuration.

Called a Clutch Lock by the China-based company, the mechanism provides a dead-tight lockup. I put this through the wringer, but we’ll get to that in a moment. And while few locking mechanisms have ever sold a knife, this adds enough of a spin to the traditional drop point to make it stand out.

So, let’s talk a little bit about the Drop Bear’s Clutch Lock.

Clutch Player

The clutch lock seen after removing one of the scales. The lock can be adjusted, and scales replaced, in less than two minutes.

As the fidgety type, I have to confess up front I love this knife. Right off that should give some indication of what the Clutch Lock brings to the table.

Where Kizer gets it correct is by not improving an already proven system, with the blade unlocking similar to most other Axis-type locks. For those unfamiliar, a pair of buttons situated on either side of the knife–in this case behind the pivot–are retracted, thus releasing the blade. As mentioned, it’s an ideal lock for those of us who fidget.

However, Kizer has improved the system by tinkering with the pair of Gemini springs hidden beneath the scales. The rub here, their tension is adjustable. This is a big deal.

This concept is not entirely foreign to those bold enough to have skunk worked spring tension for years. Many times the results were less than optimal, which is why Kizer’s setup is desirable. Basically, you won’t make the Drop Bear a victim of shoddy kitchen-table knifesmithing.

The tension adjustment itself is simple, even for the mechanically challenged. The frame has five holes on each side in which the spring is loosened or tightened. If you want a faster open and tighter lockup, crank it up to the holes closest to the blade. Desire a looser action, dial it down.

Interestingly, and probably grasped by the mathematically inclined in the audience, the five holes on each side don’t add up to five settings. Instead, it’s 5X5 settings for a total of 25. Boy, if you can’t find what you’re looking for in that range, then nearly any knife is likely to leave you cold.

Bear Necessities 

The Drop Bear is a sleek, nimble knife as seen from above.

Novel as the Drop Bear’s Clutch Lock is, it wouldn’t add up to a pile of scrap if Kizer didn’t finish the job with all the parts to make a solid knife. Overall, they make it worth the price of admission.

With a quality EDC knife in mind, Kiser outfitted the Drop Bear with a blade a shade under 3-inches long–legal in most jurisdictions. The 154CM stainless steel, again becoming popular in this role, offers a Rockwell hardness of 58-61 HRC.

Topping off this end of the knife, Kizer applies a flat grind to help create the edge. Good choice, because it comes out of the box frighteningly sharp. Outfitted with moderately sized thumb studs with plenty of clearance, this attribute is quickly deployed.

In the hand, the knife feels light–listed as 3.7 ounces–but not light as air. This is a good middle ground for this class of knife, where it feels substantial in your hand yet won’t tear the rivets out of your jean’s hip pockets.

Much of the weight savings come from an attractive skeletonized frame, under the aluminum handle scale. With an ergonomic swell toward the middle of the handle, the Drop Bear offers purchase and plenty of control.

As for aesthetics, the knife comes in two colorways. The first style is a gun steel blade with a satin finish and black thumb stud. The second has a black blade with an eye-catching purple thumb stud.

Finally, a tip-up clip keeps the knife at hand and riding deep in the pocket.

Testing The Drop Bear

The Drop Bear was a joy to test and cuts most types of material with ease.

It’s an EDC so I wasn’t going to try and chop through the vines slowly overtaking the corner of my backyard fence. I used it around the house for a few days. 

It cut through plastic and tape like there was nothing there at all. It’s a perfect letter opener. The Drop Bear easily handles the daily tasks you’ll see every day. Taking it a step further, I used it as my only knife when prepping dinner for my wife and I.

First was the romaine lettuce, which the knife handled with ease. Whether holding the Drop Bear in the pinch grip like a chef’s knife or by using the jimping and pressing down with my thumb from the top down, the knife dispatched the lettuce easily.

Up next was the tomatoes, and it was the best experience I’ve had with a flat-edge knife cutting tomatoes. They were Campari tomatoes, so smaller and more delicate than beefsteak or Roma tomatoes, and the Drop Bear went through the flesh easily. This was best done in a pinch grip and got incredibly thin slices of tomato for the salad.

Celery is stiff and crunchy, and it was no problem for the Drop Bear. The chicken breast was easy too. I preferred cutting the chicken by utilizing the jimping, and the knife bit down easily and sliced through the meat without a hiccup.

My single favorite cutting task was the bell pepper. I chose to cut the pepper through the skin side as that is traditionally more difficult than cutting through the interior flesh. I have never cut through a bell pepper easier than I did with the Drop Bear. It left me thinking that this could reasonably replace a paring knife.

However, the Drop Bear did meet its match against a large carrot. The knife did not enjoy fighting through the harder, denser flesh, forcing me to switch to a kitchen knife to finish the job.

Beyond the kitchen, the Drop Bear shined. It gets through cardboard boxes like nothing. The corrugated cardboard can be the test upon which many knives fail, but the Drop Bear didn’t even blink. 

Additionally, I tested it on some brand new ⅜-inch polypropylene cord. I figured that the cord would provide some sort of fight for the Drop Bear. Instead, it was a first-round knockout as the blade smoothly sliced through the rope, leaving a clean cut with little in terms of frayed strands.

As for the action, I preferred the knife a little looser and set it at the second position. And the lock, I put the strength of the lock through the ringer. I did everything I could to break it. I bent it backward, sideways, every which way I could to flex the knife. The lock held firm and never budged.

Final Cut

Overall, the Drop Bear makes the cut for me. 

The knife has enough mechanical allure to make it intriguing while remaining practical. For tinkers and fidgeters, this is a big plus. For those less inclined to get wowed by engineering wizardry, Kizer’s creation still shows sharp.

The Drop Bear is more than ready to tackle most EDC jobs, though you might not want to push it too far out of its comfort zone. What knife isn’t that true for? But for the price, it seems Kizer has hit the mythological sweet spot for this class of knife.

Knife Specs

MSRP: $158

Blade Material: 154CM stainless

Blade Length: 2.97 inches

Blade Style: Drop Point

Full Length: 7.15 inches

Handle Material: Aluminum

Handle Length: 4.17 inches

Opening Mechanism: Thumb Stud

Lock: Clutch Lock

Pocket Clip: Tip-Up

Weight: 3.7 ounces

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Your math is incorrect on the number of tensions. There are a lot of duplicates. The correct math is 5 + 4 +3 + 2 + 1 which equals 15 different tension levels.

    For the first hole on side a, there are 5 places we can place the spring on side b. For the second hole one side a, there are 4 different holes to place the spring to get a different tension levels. The last hole on side b duplicates a tension setting from the first hole on side a. each time we advance on side a, there will be one more hole on side b that duplicates the tension setting.

    • If you only use a single side, there are an additional 5 tension levels which would bring the total to 20.

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