Emerson Knives

Emerson CQC7 and CQC8 showing their wear from use, as they should.

I remember growing up watching my grandfather pull out his Case pocket knife regularly to do any myriad of tasks. I remember getting my first pocket knife and carrying it with me everywhere I was allowed and some places I wasn’t. A knife in your pocket just becomes part of your routine, just like carrying a wallet or your car keys. Fast forward to joining the military and getting to my first command, I was introduced to Emerson knives. Half my platoon seemed to carry them, all well worn and treated like prized possessions. Of course wanting to emulate my mentors I purchased my first Emerson knife about eight years ago and haven’t looked back. I have been issued, carried and used knives from just about every quality manufacturer out there, each one making its way into my pocket for a short time only to be replaced by an Emerson again.

Known as one of the elite hard-use knives on the market, Ernest Emerson started Emerson knives in 1979 and since the company has grown to its current state. Offering a large variety of different size and style folding and fixed blade knives, Emerson’s style shows their intent for their knives to be used with their black handles and basic finish options. While Ernest still makes full custom knives, the company focuses on their factory offerings. Emerson also runs a training center for self defense both with knives and without. Another thing emerson is known for is their patented “wave” feature, which is a hook on top of the blade allowing for one handed opening when drawing from a pocket or pouch. All their factory offerings feature G10 epoxy handles, 154cm steel blades and Titanium locks. Finishes offered are black and satin blades with most models being offered in serrated and non serrated versions. Recent developments has led Emerson to do a Multi-tool as well called the EDC, adding to their line and offering another great option to the market owned by Leatherman, SOG and Gerber.

I have owned at least six different emerson knives in the last eight years, sadly losing a couple over time. Currently I’m running a CQC7 and CQC8 with black blades on a regular rotation depending what i’m doing. The CQC7 is a medium sized tanto folding knife and the smallest of my Emersons but seems to be the one I tend to carry the most. Their slim profile allows for very comfortable daily carry. This is a big thing for me as many “hard use” knives on today’s market seem to be built so if you attached a chain to them you could use them as a boat anchor. This is not the case with Emersons, even their larger models are slim and fairly light making daily carry painless. I cannot say enough good things about their customer service, always being treated amazingly well. I will never say a company is the ONLY way to go but an Emerson Knife will be a regular companion of mine for the foreseeable future. New “high speed” knives come to the market regularly touting feature or options that nobody even knew they needed. The true test is to put out a product that lasts and built for a very demanding end user. Emerson has been and will continue to be used by the worlds elite military and law enforcement units for that reason.

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About Joe

Joe currently serves active duty with 10 years in Special Operations with deployments to Iraq, Afghan and Pacific Theaters. His qualifications include Sniper, Breacher, Post Certified Pistol instructor, MACTAC Instructor, Range Officer, and Master Training Specialist. Joe has two years as a military small arms instructor teaching marksmanship and tactics. He actively works with southern California local SWAT units as a consultant and also shoots competitive tactical long range competitions when he has time off of work. In addition, Joe is deeply involved with the tactical long range industry actively consulting with many industry leaders.

12 thoughts on “Emerson Knives

  1. I’m a big fan of the Emerson’s myself. Been carrying a Super Commander in their custom Kydex sheath for years now and it’s held up amazingly well with all the abuse I’ve thrown at it. The chisel grind on the blade lends itself easily to sharpening too, and I have an easier time getting a good edge on an Emerson than most other knives with traditional edge profiles. With practice, you can put an astonishingly sharp edge on one, on par with what they come with when new. Emerson says they build their knives to be maintained in the field, and I can definitely say they excel in this regard. I’ve been thinking of buying a CQC8 as I feel the blades on the Commander series are really designed to be used as a dedicated fighting knife, rather than every day use type of blade. I own a lot of makes and styles of knife, but the one I always reach for when I have a heavy job to do is the Emerson.

    • Having, at one point, owned 67 Emerson Customs at the same time, I can say that the opposite is true of the CQC 8 and the Commander. I found the Commander to be the more utility oriented of the two. With that said, The CQC 8 “Banana” is by far my favorite of all the Emerson stuff. While I don’t carry the Emersons as much these days, they are still one of my top recommended blades, especially the CQC 8.

  2. Having both a Commander and a CQC 8, I’d agree with Darryl that the Commander is the more utilitarian one (and I think the CQC 15 is even better at that job).

    I carry the Emerson Karambit as my “get off me” knife on one side and a CQC 8 as my “will do most anything a folder can do” knife on the other side.

  3. My first Emerson was a CQC-7, made by Benchmade. Haven’t looked back since. Had an Emerson on all three deployments to the Middle East. Pleasantly found out that Emerson knives are optional issue for the Kuwait’s PSD for the royal family. Went into their uniform shop and saw them on display there. Bought a BT CQC-7 while I was there. Wherever I go, an Emerson knife goes with me.

    • I used to be of the opinion that a folder “has to have a wave” for serious use. I was built a program at my old P.D. and we were issued P-SARK’s and I carried one in both front pockets. The Wave was a big part of that because for L/E use we looked at all usage being with a single hand deployment.
      Now, after many years of very hard training, I have found the Wave is not a 100% option. You need to train, and understand it won’t always work. These days not working in uniform and being a fat old retired Former Action Guy (FAG), I carry a Strider SMF daily in my right front pocket and use a two handed opening technique and carry a Strider DB fixed blade on a rip cord on my left side for single hand rapid deployment. One of the many “living in Texas” benefits is that I can carry a small fixed blade daily. I use the SMF for utility and the DB for everything else. If I was just carrying a folder as a primary defensive tool, it would likely be a waved Emerson for single hand deployment.

      • I like what yor carrying. SMF is a favorite of mine. I usually carry a Strider custom or a Duane Dwyer custom on my strong side and an Emerson on the week side easy to acces with a ice pick grip. Two great American made knives. Both can hold a great edge on the blade. Just keep up on a little maintenance and sharpen the blades with a crock stick and you’ll always have a razor sharp edge.
        Great blade steel.

  4. Like Darryl says, the “wave” is not 100%. If you find find yourself on your back, or in any other position where you don’t have enough room for the necessary arm movement, you are forced to open the knife manually; also, sometimes the opening disk on the blade gets caught on the edge of the pocket and you end up pulling out a partially opened knife (it’s often easily resolved by a small flick of the wrist) but that doesn’t happen with those knives who have a hole instead of a disk (like the Karambit and the CQC10).

    The “wave” is not a necessity for a “serious use” folder but it is a really good enhancement and I prefer having it than not. That said, I practice regularly drawing the knives using the wave and one-handed manually (it’s part of my drawing and dry firing practice).

    Just to be clear, I’m not a knife expert and I’ve never had a job that required me to go in harms way. I’m just a regular guy who likes knives (and guns) and have trained quite a bit in their use for self defense.

  5. I have 2 Emerson’s and love them both, but using the wave in a pair of jeans will shred the tops of your pockets rapidly. A strong pocket clip and that super gritty/grippy G10 handle just seems to tear them up extremely fast. They are great with anything with a reinforced pocket though.

  6. Emerson, Spiderco, Kershaw and Strider are all on my short list for EDC knives.

    A knife in the pocket is worth it’s weight in gold when in the field. A good knife in the pocket is worth 10x that when the goings get tough. I stopped carrying cheap knives a long time ago because they wouldn’t hold an edge or they would break or whatever reason.

    I compare it to a Hi-Point vs an Glock.. What would you rather have when you need it most? They may both work, and they may both get the job done, but which one makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside knowing that it’s going to work, almost no matter what…

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