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Why do some love it and some not so much?

I'll give you my best analysis of what I've come to understand about it over the years.

The first and most obvious thing people would mention when they saw a CQC-7 for the first time was, “Wow, that's different.” Well, it's well known that most people are resistant to change. Change upsets the apple cart. It's not the way things are done, it's not what I've always been taught, it's not the knife my grandpa or my dad used, it's just not right! Well, you know what? I've got it. That's just human nature, but it's not my nature. I may have been doing something “my way” for a hundred years and if someone comes along and shows me a better way, I'm on it. I've never had a hesitation about changing horses in midstream. 

For example, when it comes to guns, pistols specifically, I was a 1911 guy. I loved the gun – everything about it, the history, the looks, the mechanics, and the reliability of a good 1911 pistol. That was… until I picked up my first Glock, Way back in the mid-1980's. I now know that love at first sight really does exist. It felt like that gun, that Glock was made just for me. I still love the 1911, but my go-to gun for all things concealed, self-defense, shooting, everything under the sun is the Glock.

Here's another example. As I look back on my personal training history, I guess I was quite an athlete. I was awrestler. I was a boxer, a kick boxer, a JKD fighter, and I spent over 30 years pursuing those and various other martial arts and I was convinced that I had the full package. That was… until I got my ass handed to me by a Gracie Jujitsu Brown Belt who was just about half my size. This was a couple years even before the first UFC fight, and I've been a “Gracie guy” ever since. In fact, I now own a Gracie Academy Gym, and it is, I say with great pride, Royce Gracie's home training center on the West Coast. 

Here's another example, I was always a Mai Tai and Margarita guy, and I love those fruity tropical drinks. That was… until I tasted my first good bourbon. But once again, that's another story for another campfire. But you can go to for more on that.

So you see, I don't mind change. If something's better, then it's better. I'm not challenged by it. It doesn't intimidate or shake me. It refreshes me, and you might call it a reset. I'm always up for a challenge and I'm always excited to learn something new. If you knew how many times I said to myself, “Man, I wish I knew about this 10 years ago,” you'd think I was a real knuckle-dragging numbskull.

I guess some people just couldn't get over the fact that the CQC-7 wasn't another copy of the Buck 110 folder. And by the way, I carried a Buck 110 for quite a number of years, and I still have a fond place for it in my heart.

That new-fangled lock!

It was a liner lock, and although there was one other company (only one) that made liner lock knives at that time, there were still a great number of knife users that had never seen a liner lock and had no idea about it and how it worked. 

I adopted the liner lock for a number of reasons. 

One, when pressure or force is applied to the edge when cutting is transferred against and to a fixed stop pin and not the lock. 

Number two, you could open it with one hand, an absolute necessity for the customers I was building them for. 

Three, you could use titanium for the lock and spring so the knife could be used in a marine environment without the worry about corrosion attacking hidden steel springs or internal parts.

Four, the action, or motion of the liner lock is transverse to the travel of the blade. That's a force and mechanical geometry thing. Trust me, it's a good thing. 

Five, the liner lock allows for a “see-through” construction design. This allows you to quickly rinse, shake, or clear out any debris that might have gotten into the inside of the handle which would foul or interfere with the lock/blade interface. 

Six, although no lock is infallible, if engineered and constructed correctly, it is a sturdy, dependable lock. 

Seven, the geometry of the liner lock forms a three-point mechanical system, a triangle – one of the strongest mechanical structures in engineering. The three points, vertices of the triangle lock components are the pivot, the stop pin, and the lock engagement point. And the closer to an equilateral triangle you make it, the better it is, as opposed to the two-point system of the common lock back being only the pivot and the lock/blade interface where, if force is applied it is transferred directly against the face of the lock.

Some people just didn't like that “new-fangled lock.” Like I've said – I've got it – some people don't like change.

Here are some of the critiques we had to deal with when the CQC-7 was first introduced.

Is it a chisel or a knife?

The CQC-7 had a chisel-ground blade, and that was a huge thing to some. “Emerson is too lazy to grind both sides of the knife.” Wrong, my friend. Among other things, the chisel grind gives you a much greater cross-sectional mass. And if you've ever really used tools hard, obviously you'll know why that is an important factor. I was raised on a dairy farm, and I worked as a lumberjack and later a Gandy dancer on the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad and I now own a cattle ranch. So, I personally know about hard work and hard use tools. Remember, I’ve always said I make Estwing hammers with sharp edges. Let me give you the origin of that description. In a conversation I had one time with a very well known “tactical knifemaker” he told me, “Ernie I want to make the Rolex of Tactical knives.” I simply replied, “Sir, I want to make the Estwing hammer of Tactical knives.” I have my Grandfathers Estwing hammers, they are almost 125 years old, and I still use them every day. That “Tactical knifemaker” is still around. H e doesn’t make very many Tactical knives anymore, just pretty knives. I still make them every day of the year. One of my old SEAL buddies, Chris Caracci once told me, “Ernie, Words state intentions. Actions prove intentions.” That stuck with me.

And then there’s this. The people that use my knives may need to depend on them in a life-threatening situation. That’s a heavy responsibility and I cannot let them down.

“When I hold up a piece of cardboard and tried to cut it down the middle, it veers off to one side!!” Well, first off, I didn't build the CQC-7 to cut straight lines in cardboard. I built it to perform in the most extreme and dangerous environments and situations on earth, and it does so very well. I've used chisel ground blades for everyday use for over 30 years, and they've done everything I would ever have used any other knife for, and they've done it well. And I’ve probably done a lot more things I shouldn't have used that chisel ground knife for and certainly could not have used another knife to do. And remember, I've got a ranch with livestock, and I use my knives harder than most people ever will on a regular, daily basis.

And of course, this one. “I can't sharpen it. I don't know how to sharpen that one-sided edge he puts on those knives,” or this “Someone forgot to sharpen the other side. Now I'll have to take it to a knife sharpening service to get it fixed.” Well, all I can respond to those statements is this, quit trying to put a square peg into a round hole. The CQC-7 is the square peg and your preconceived way a knife “should” be is the round hole. Yours isn't right, and mine isn't wrong, they're just different. I used that edge for a reason, which I've already discussed. I made it simple. Don't try to complicate it.

The CQC-7 It’s getting personal.

Some people applaud success, others begrudge success. Again, that's just human nature. If someone wins the lottery, I congratulate them – good for them. I'm not angry or envious because I didn't win. (I don’t play, by the way). If someone invents a better mousetrap and makes a million dollars, good for him. I want to go and study him, his process, his methods so I can see how I might improve what I'm doing. I've never been a “that should have been me” type of guy. I'm all about competition and may the better man win. If I lose, I'll just have to train harder and try harder next time. If you really give your all in any endeavor and still get beaten – you didn't really lose, you just didn't win. You learn more about yourself when you lose than when you win, and that's how you learn where you need to improve. With me, I guess that's just a result of an entire lifetime of athletic competition. 

I was once told that the tallest poppy in the field is the first one to be cut down.

Some people are just jealous. They're probably jealous of a lot of things in their lives. How can someone be jealous of a knife? Because someone else stepped out of the box and they didn't have the self-confidence or wherewithal to do so themselves. Again, with “those” types of personalities, “I'm better than him,” “I make better knives than him,” “the Navy SEALs should be using my knife instead of his,” those were all just flimsy masks for the jealousy of someone else's success or notoriety.

 And this is funny, every time I get an article or cover on a magazine, I get a lot of congratulatory emails and comments, but I have to tell you, I also get the hate mail, still to this day. To them all I can say is this, if you want to be remembered, then do something worth remembering.

And finally, I am well aware of this. Some people just do not like me. Some say I have an abrasive personality; I know I am default aggressive. That might just be the Irish in me. I have strong opinions and strong convictions. I do not abide bad or cowardly behavior and if I find out someone is bullying someone or trying to harm someone, I'm going to step in. I know I'm a long way from being perfect, but if I ever hear someone falsely accuse me of something I have not done (like copying someone else’s design) or falsely accuse anyone else, for that matter, I call them out, loud and clear and not on the internet or behind their backs but standing right in front of them looking them straight in the eyes. And I have done that more than several times in the knife community. They were all bad people who were pretending to be good. And over time, I've been proven right every time that I stepped up. In fact, one of them even ended up committing suicide. Go figure. But I accept the consequences of my behavior, good, bad, or indifferent. And as a result of those poor wounded souls that I have exposed the truth about, they've tried to spread a lot of bad gossip about me. I am okay with that because when cornered or alone, they will never say anything to my face. And that, once again, just exposes their greatest weakness.

So, in this regard, some people did not really dislike this Emerson CQC-7, they just disliked me. They just couldn't say it to my face. So, they just bagged on the Emerson knife. Once again, that's just human nature. 

And here's a little bit of human nature observation you can put to good use, remember if you accuse a liar of lying, they are always the ones most offended. And if people knew they had to accept and suffer the consequences of their bad behavior, there would be a lot less bad behavior. Or as Mike Tyson said, “Social media made y'all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.”

Or as Mike Tyson said, “Social media made y'all way too comfortable with disrespecting people and not getting punched in the face for it.”

So, in spite of the success of the CQC-7, there are a number of reasons why people didn't like the Emerson design, but fortunately a whole lot more really liked it, literally tens of thousands who did. In the next installment, you’ll get to read the reasons why so many people love that knife, and it's going to be in their own words.



  • Tom O says:

    I’ve been carrying my 2003 CQC-7 for 20 years in a maritime environment. It is a rock solid tool. I love it and mistreat it. My bullnose folding karambit has got it by a year. Emerson knives are great value and keep performing for years.

  • anthony clark says:

    I got my first CqC7 back in 1999 and have had several gave óne to my son and one to my brother and then gave a second one to my brother because he lost the first one I had given him . And gave one to my grandson on his 18th. Birthday.I currently have 2 jungle CQC 7s and my very favorite oof my vast knife collection my Emerson X.H.D. CqC7 and I have Al Mars, Microtechs and to many more different brands to name them all. My Jungle 2018 EOGK CQC7 rides in an original Emerson kydex rapid deployment sheath I picked up a few years ago on eBay.And my X.H.D
    CqC7 rides on other side ofy belt in a Canvas tactical sheath. And then in my pocket with a pocket clip a Cold Steel Engage w/ a tanto blade. The Cold Steel is my e.d.c. cutting knife.and my 2 Emerson CqC7s are my e.d.c. strictly weapons

  • Tim Craft says:

    Thanks for the history series. Inspired me to touch up my 2008 CGB-7B this morning, and start carrying it again. I’ve got an annoying thing going on with my right hand that has a cord built up across the palm, which causes the pinkie finger to bend in 5–35 degrees. Causes some loss of strength, and a little pain when grasping something with a poorly designed handle. Fortunately your handle shapes work well for me, so I can grasp the knife securely. Now the only concern is poking my eye out when brushing my teeth…..

  • Jon D. Kelley says:

    The CQC-7 is my favourite – I have a fixed that rides behind my left kidney, going everywhere I go. It is everything it needs to be, and nothing it doesn’t need to be. What more can one ask of a blade?

    I just wish I hadn’t lost my left-handed Benchmade years ago, probably in one of a rash of moves I had for a period (wasn’t it Poor Richard who said “Two removes equals one fire?” I’d hate to list everything I’ve lost in shifting gear over the years…)

    And like you, I’m always open to a better way to do things. This is why I have studied aikido, judo, krav maga, jeet kune do, kung fu, Defendu, and even boxed for the Air Force for a while (still have a left hook like a Mack truck – I tend to punch well above my weight, and I weigh 260#.) Show me a better still way to defend myself and others, and I’ll do it!

    (Although I will argue the idea of Glocks supplanting the M1911 – the ergonomics of my G23 just don’t fit me as well as my M1991A1…)

    When i design something that breaks, that’s not a failure (unless someone got hurt.) That’s an opportunity to learn something new – what did I do wrong, and how do I not do it again? Your chisel grind? Brilliant idea for a hard-use knife – simplifies sharpening! Nothing needs fixing there. The liner lock? I have difficulty trusting any other locking mechanism anymore (Benchmade’s Axis lock is a close second, but I’ll still default to a liner lock.)

    Now, if we left-handers weren’t so uncommon (1:9, or 11% – enough to be a notable sub-population, but not so much as to make left-handed options more than “special order items,” bugger it… And most bullpup longarms are right out… Ah, well – encounter. Adapt. Overcome. For many, a motto. For the left-handed, a way of life.)

  • Craig Fochtman says:

    Ernie Emerson make the best folders period. I discovered Emerson when i was given one as a gift by Seal Team 3 in Iraq. Now I own a bunch. As I have matured I have developed some preferences. I don’t like clip point blades as the tip is too dainty for me, I like spear point. I don’t like tanto blades because I mess up sharpening the blade where it transitions to the chisel point. I can water stone & leather strap a wicked sharp blade. But I don’t have the patience or dexterity for the double edges on the tanto. It’s just me.

  • Roger Haemker says:

    I love your knifes. Also I just learned through this read that you as well as I once worked for the CNW RR. Keep up your standard of knife making and we will keep buying them. Great article.

  • Michael Durig says:

    I bought my Benchmade Emerson from London Bridge Trading company in Virginia Beach, VA sometime durig 1996. One of my guitar students worked there and suggested it telling me the SEAL Teams carried them. I was a Navy bandsman at the time and that was good enough for me. It has been my EDC ever since. I’ve since purchased LaGriffes for my wife, daughter and myself. I have many other knives, but I still go back to that old knife daily. As a professional musician, I always valued training and learning new and different things. I was an NRA Pistol instructor, received a scholarship from Mrs. Cooper to the 250 Pistol class offered by Gunsite Academy, LLC., and have studied SinaTursiaWali since 2016. I’m a peace-loving and non-violent until it’s time not to be peace-loving and non-violent. Thanks for being part of my history.

  • Curtis Prejean says:

    Very true in all aspects. Humans are the worst of the animals on the planet… they have the capacity to lie- cheat- spread rumor – and hurt others for sport. Obviously not every human is “bad” but over time one must clearly identify those rare humans who are trustworthy.
    I have a lot of Emerson knives – love them all.. but have also reached a decision to use fixed blades as my go to knife – and recommend fixed blades to my female friends- less
    To think about in a SHTF scenario

  • William Ruisinger says:

    While I’ve never met you in person, I’ve purchased MANY knives from you (or ones that you’ve built) and have yet to be let down. I’ve watched your videos, purchased your books (and the whiskey!) and I have nothing but respect for you and what you’ve built. Keep up the good work. I can only imagine we can look forward to some Emerson Beef (or jerky) coming soon!

    And remember the old architecture statement: “Form follows Function” Would you trust your life to a pretty knife?

    Take care,

  • Andrew Steirman says:

    Thanks for the straight talk on hard use. It’s refreshing in today’s world. I’ve been carrying a CQC-7A since 2001. Hasn’t let me down yet. Just a regular guy working in the trades and edc.

    • delis says:

      Well Mr.Emerson has been sucessful building knives read deal knife user want to you in the real world.

      His track record with SPEC OP Community says a lot.

      Think Mr. Emerson has those who trash him because they are jelious of his success in business.

      To them I say Tought Tacos.😢

  • John Scott says:

    I own quite a few of your knives and usually carry a A100 or CQC-7 on a daily basis. I’ve also purchased many other knives from high end makers thinking they might become my everyday carry. Love them all, but each morning an Emerson is what I clip to my pocket , they’re just so much more substantial than anything else I own.

  • Robert Lanktree says:

    I don’t need a knife I have to adjust my use of and my sharpening of. It’s an edge with two edges. I don’t need that, I don’t need to have my sharpening complicated when I usually only have to sharpen the one edge I use, as with a drop point. I have never been drawn to very the idea of the tanto design, I don’t like the way it looks nor the way it will need to be sharpened. It became popular almost to the point (no pun intended) of being a fad. I am not prone to bandwagons nor things on them that I have no attraction to. And….it’s not a resistance to change. I like Emersons, I want a CQC-7stud and will have one soon. I am in awe of my Super Karambit, a change of style for me and proof I’m not resistant to change at all. I just can’t stand Tanto’s.

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