- Parent Company: Emerson Knives Inc.
- Headquarters: Torrance, California, USA
- Product Focus: EDC, High-End Tactical
- Target Markets: Mid-Range ($50-$150), Premium ($150-$250)
- Production Facilities: USA
Emerson knives was founded in 1996 by Ernest and Mary Emerson. Before starting his company, Ernest was already known as a custom knife designer, knife-maker, martial artist and expert on blades of all kinds. The Emersons’ business plan was simple: to design and produce top-quality folding knives for both the US military and knife collectors alike. The company is based in Torrance, California, where Emerson had a been a longtime custom knife-maker, creating specialized designs for the collector’s market. With Emerson Knives, he hoped to begin creating knives on a larger scale than had been possible with his previous companies.
Emerson’s transition from custom-made designs to mass-produced knives has proved successful, and the company is well-regarded both among Emerson’s old custom-knife fan base and newer customers of his mass-produced designs. Although the company produces a few fixed-blade knives, such as the well-known Police Utility Knife (PUK), folding knives were and remain Emerson’s primary product.
Today, Emerson is best-known in the folding knives market for producing “hard use” tactical knives using the classic Walker linerlock mechanism. Emerson knives are distinguished most of all by their combination of high-quality materials and Ernest Emerson’s unique designs, drawing on his background as an artisan producer of custom blades. Emerson has introduced a number of innovative design elements in many of their recent knives.
These include a so-called “Wave” mechanism that causes the knife to open via a special catch as it is removed from a sheath or pocket; Emerson was able to secure a patent for this unique device in 1999. The company is also highly regarded due to its experimentation with high-end materials in its knife design. Typically, Emerson blades are produced using 154CM steel, although the company has also utilized CPM S30V steel and carbide-edged titanium. Liner materials include fiberglass scales and stainless steel. In general, Emerson knives are renowned for their quality and high production values. Despite Emerson’s reputation as an innovator in knife design, his knives are considered to be tried and tested and reliable in real-world situations. The company focuses on the military and police markets, although its blades are also popular with everyday knife users and collectors who appreciate Emerson’s style.
A number of Emerson Knives’ models have become well-known among tactical knife enthusiasts, collectors and among military and police knife-users. The SPECWAR model was the first knife produced by Emerson after his move into the mass-produced market, and was a folding version of an earlier model from his custom production days.
The CQC line, and particularly the CQC-6 model (often referred to as the Viper 6), are considered some of the most significant tactical folding knives and are credited with popularizing the concept. “CQC” stands for “close-quarters combat,” and the CQC-6, one of Emerson’s earlier custom designs, was chosen for use by the US Navy SEALs. These knives feature a tanto-style blade and linerlock, and the earlier custom designs are made with a variety of unique materials not found in later versions.
The CQC-7, a later, modified version of the CQC-6, was one of Emerson’s first successful mass-produced models and replicated the features of the original custom design in a more affordable format. Interestingly, the CQC-7 was first mass produced by Benchmade after a contract was signed with Benchmade owner Les DeAsis who was eager to bring the custom knife to market. Since that contract ended Emerson now produces the knife in-house. This design became better known outside the tactical knife market recently, when a CQC-7 that was carried on the mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden was sold at auction for charity.
Overall, Emerson knives are renowned for their quality, unique design features and genuine, field-tested usefulness for military and police applications. Ernest Emerson remains one of the world’s top designers and producers of tactical knives and is considered a pioneer of the folding tactical knife. His knives will remain a good investment for law enforcement, military and collectors for many years to come.
From the Emerson line we recommend the following:
Emerson Mini CQC-7
The Emerson Mini CQC-7 was born in response to the overwhelming demand from customers who wanted a smaller version of the most popular CQC-7 knife. The Mini CQC-7 has most all of the original CQC-7’s features and qualities and also introduces the “wave opening feature” for super fast deployment. The blade on the Mini QCQ-7 is only 2.9 inches making it legal in most all areas. It comes in both tanto and drop point blade variations and sports a black G-10 handle with a titanium frame. A really nice knife that has won the hearts of the Special Forces worldwide.
Here’s a video review from our friends at BladeHQ: