Under review today is the Kershaw/Emergson CQC-8K Tactical Folder. It’s one of the most popular tactical folding knives, designed by custom knife maker Ernest Emerson himself.
Many years ago, I wrote for Knives Illustrated magazine, and for quite a few years I was their West Coast Field Editor. In my experience, what you see today in what is called Knives Illustrated isn’t really a staff-written cutlery magazine. Instead, it is designed to appear like a magazine, when it is nothing more than paid advertisements that look like articles but are not. Don’t be fooled. What you read there are paid advertisement “articles.”
If you don’t know who Ernest Emerson is, I’d suggest you Google his name. You’ll see that he is not only a custom knife designer and maker, but he’s the real deal. He is a well-known martial artist as well. Emerson talks the talk and walks the walk. I have, in the past, spent many hours talking with Emerson on the phone when I was reviewing some of his knives for articles. The man is genuine. And before I knew it, several hours passed when we talked on the phone. Back then, in the early 1990s, Emerson had just started mass producing his knives in a small factory he started in California. Emerson couldn’t begin to keep up with orders for his custom-made knives, and the only solution at that time was to start his own factory and train the personnel to produce his knives.
Emerson Knives- Factory Made and Carried on NASA Missions and by SEALS
I’ve compared the factory to some of his handmade knives. There is not any difference between them. The factory made knives are “that” good and at a lesser price, too. Ernie Emerson did a collaboration with one of the big name knife companies some years ago, and it was a hot seller. I owned several of them.
It should be noted that Emerson knives have gone to outer space on NASA missions. And, it is well-known that some of our U.S. Navy SEAL teams carry and use some of Emerson’s knives as well. If they are good enough for the SEALs, they are good enough for the rest of us.
Emerson is semi-retired from making handmade knives these days. The only way to get one is to attend a show he is at and hopefully win a chance at getting one of those knives. As an aside, Emerson was going to make one of his custom knives for me some years ago. I’m thinking he forgot me. Such is life.
Collaboration Between Kershaw Knives and Ernie Emerson
Emerson also had some of his knives produced overseas. However, they weren’t up to his high standards, and he discontinued those knives in very short order. Today, we are looking at the collaboration between Kershaw Knives and Ernie Emerson. Kershaw is producing more than a dozen different models that Emerson designed himself. This is a win-win for us all. If you’ve ever visited the Emerson website, more often than not, many of his knives are sold-out. However, Kershaw usually has all of the Emerson designed knives in stock and ready to go. Furthermore, to be sure, they are produced overseas, so once again save the hate mail and comments to me. It’s very simple, if you don’t want to purchase a knife made in China, Japan, or Taiwan, then don’t! And, if you are so against products manufactured overseas, then I’m assuming you never set foot in a Walmart, because most of their products are made overseas.
Kershaw Knives Factory Overseas
Kershaw Knives doesn’t just send a knife blueprint to any old factory overseas and ask them to produce. No! Far from it. They keep a watchful eye on all the knives they have manufactured overseas, so they are up to the Kershaw high standards we’ve known. And, it is a win-win for us all. Products manufactured overseas and imported to the USA are sold at lower prices than if the knives where made in the USA. That’s a good thing.
Kershaw/Emerson CQC-8K- Flat Grind
The Kershaw/Emerson CQC-8K under review today is one of the most popular designs from the mind of Ernest Emerson. First of all, the CQC-8K has a flat grind. The blade itself is only ground on one side, and there is a reason for this. Cost-cutting savings isn’t one of them. Some years ago, according to Emerson, a U.S. Navy SEAL team designed a device to gauge the cutting abilities of a knife, and they found that a knife with a “chisel” grind, where the blade is only ground on one side, cut much deeper than a knife that has grinds on both sides of the blade. Who’d a thunk it? So, when you pick-up a CQC-8K you’ll think that Kershaw forgot to grind the opposite side of the blade because it’s completely flat. The flat chisel grind produces an edge that is sharper than a blade that has a grind on both sides of the blade, and it is a much stronger edge, too. It’s also easier to sharpen as well.
Stainless Steel Tanto Style Blade with Wave Feature
With a 3.5-inch long blade made out of 8Cr14MoV stainless steel that has a black oxide coating, which helps protect the stainless steel blade from the elements, the CQC-8K is very tactical looking. The steel is a decent steel, too. I’ve never had any complaints about it, because it holds an edge a decent amount of time, doesn’t chip, and is easy to re-sharpen. The blade shape is that of a Tanto style, which I’ve always liked, too. It seems to penetrate deeper when stabbed into material. There is a thumb disk for opening the blade; however, I prefer to use the patented wave shape feature on the top rear of the blade. Emerson came up with this many years back. Some have copied it but were stopped in their tracks, as the design is patented. This little “wave” allows you to start opening the knife as you withdraw it from your pocket. By the time the knife is complete out of your pocket, the blade is fully opened and locked. Kershaw has an instructional video on this, on their website. Nothing is faster opening than a knife with the wave feature, nothing!
Liner Lock and Reversible Clip
The liner lock keeps the blade locked open to protect your fingers, and the blade comes razor-sharp out of the box. There is a reversible pocket clip so the knife can be carried in either front pocket. It only takes a few minutes to switch the clip from one side of the blade to the other. Also, it’s designed for tip-up carry in the pocket.
G-10 Textured Handle Material and “Just Right” Weight
The handle material is textured G-10, which was once only offered on custom knives. It is a little bit expensive to use, and it affords a great hold on the knife under any weather conditions. The liners are black stainless steel. Weight of the CQC-8K is 5.3 oz, so it’s not too heavy nor is it too light. It’s just right.
Plenty of Handle to Hold Onto
One thing you will notice with Emerson folders is that he designs his knives so there is plenty of handle to hold onto. I like that. Some folding knives just don’t give you enough handle to really grip. On the top front of the handle and bottom rear of the handle, you will find jimping or friction grooves that aid in a sure hold on the knife. The top of the Wave feature also has this feature. Lots of thought went into this design. It’s no wonder it is one of the hottest Emerson designs on the market.
I’ve carried this particular folding knife for more than a month now. It just grew on me for some reason, and during my testing I never once had to touch-up the edge on the blade though it was used for all manner of cutting chores on my small rural homestead. And, as regular readers are no doubt aware, one of the cutting tests I put all knives through is slicing through tough blackberry vines. This knife had no problems cleanly slicking through a vine with one swipe.
Retail – One Great Deal
This particular Emerson design is one great deal, as are all of the designs that Kershaw Knives is producing for Ernie Emerson. Full retail is only $59.99, and if you shop around a little bit you can often find this knife for under $30. Yes, you read that right. I am referring to a genuine Emerson-designed combat folder, produced by well-known Kershaw Knives. It’s a steal of a deal, if you ask me, even at full retail. Additionally, it makes a wonderful gift for a prepper, too. Check one out!