Following closely on the heels of the Bear Jaws 155 tool came the larger Super Bear Jaws. For the most part it is simply a scaled up version of the original, utilizing the same "reversed" handle concept and heavy duty construction. With handles that are "inside out" from the Leatherman design, advantages such as outside opening blades and improved handle comfort should have given the Super Bear Jaws a leg up on its closest competitor the Leatherman Super Tool. Why it wasn't more popular has more to do with insufficient marketing effort than design shortcomings.
early style sheath
pivot bolsters: old versus new
156 compared to 156L
Crescent ToolZall Pro XL
Nicholson MultiMax Pro XL
Super Tool compared to Super Bear Jaws
Blades on Bear are shorter
- Jaws on the model 156 are massive, larger perhaps than any other plier multitool.
- Profile is blunt nose, with large gripping serrations
- A large wire cutter area is provided. (No hard wire notch is included)
- A wire crimper is located on the opposite side of the pliers
- Handles are sheet metal bent into a channel shape. The sheet metal itself is noticeably thicker than any other similar multitool. Pivot screws are torx drive.
- Because the handles are "inside out" from the original Leatherman design, they are far more comfortable to use when gripping tightly with the pliers.
- SUPER BEAR JAWS is stamped into both handles. One side of the tool is stamped with an inch scale, the other side in metric.
- Finish is a high polish stainless all over.
- Also see also Variations below.
- Clip point knife blade, with plain edge. Measures 2-1/2" long (65mm)
- Small flathead screwdriver
- Heavy cast phillips screwdriver
- Three-sided file blade, featuring single cut and double cut serrations
- Can opener
- Medium flathead screwdriver
- Large flathead screwdriver
- Lanyard ring
- Blades did not lock on the original 156 model. Only later, with the introduction of the 156L model in 2001, were locking blades featured.
- On the 156L model, all blades lock open using the same locking method as first seen on the Leatherman Super Tool.
- Lock release is accomplished by pressing on the small lever included in each handle (see picture below)
- Originally came with thin nylon sheath with velcro closure. Belt loop allowed vertical carry only.
- Later came with heavier nylon sheath, with leather on flap and belt loop. Vertical or horizontal carry.
- An often-overlooked advantage of Bear multitools is the ease at which the implements can be changed to suit the user. Spare components can be obtained directly from the manufacturer.
- Length open = 7" (178mm)
- Length closed = 4-1/2" (114mm)
- Width closed = 1-1/4" (33mm)
- Thickness = 3/4" (18mm)
- Weight = 9 oz (254g)
- Some evolution in Super Bear Jaws production occured over the years. The profile of the plier head was changed somewhat, as were the cutouts in the handles. Also altered were the pivot bolsters, which originally used a U-shaped strap of metal around the outside of the pivot (welded into place and polished) later going to an easier-to-manufacture U-shaped strap of metal inside the pivot (held in place by the pivot screws) See picture below
- In 2001 the 156L model was introduced featuring locking blades and lock release levers in each handle. See picture below
- The Super Bear Jaws multitool was also packaged and sold under a number of other brand names. These included the Cooper ToolZall Pro XL (model TZ3V), the Nicholson MultiMax Pro XL (model NMP15V) and Moore Maker. Other than different logos stamped on the handles these tools were all the same.
- Introduced in the late 1990's, shortly after the original Bear Jaws tool came out in 1996. The locking blade version was introduced in 2001. Made in the USA.
- For a few years after Bear MGC was purchased by Victorinox, boxes bore the inscription a division of Swiss Army Brands, Inc. No other changes are evident. See top photo on this page for example
- As introduced in the late 90's, the Super Bear Jaws was clearly intended to compete head to head with the Leatherman Super Tool. Both were big tools, 4-1/2" long when folded, and both featured heavy duty construction. The Super Tool came out first, which gave it a head start, but Bear's reversed handle layout had a lot going for it. Greater hand comfort, being able to access blades without unfolding the entire tool, and user-replaceable implements to name just a few. Disadvantages of the Bear were its non-locking blades (at the time) and shorter blades (The 4-1/2" 156 models use the same knife blade and file that are found in the 4" 155 model). Ultimately however it was Leatherman's overwhelming market presence that doomed the Bear tools to the back shelf of history.