Top 25 Pocket Knives that are Indispensable: #24 Emerson CQC-7

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In June, we took a survey to learn which pocket knives our readers believe should never be discontinued. Respondents were asked to name as many or as few pocket knife models as they wanted, and no brands or blades were off-limits. 404 respondents named a total of 268 models and the average respondent named 4.1 pocket knives. 15 out of 404 respondents said the Emerson CQC-7 should never be discontinued.

For anyone interested in the history of tactical knives, the Emerson CQC-7 is required reading. The story of the CQC-7 began in 1994, when Les de Asis, founder of Benchmade, approached Ernest Emerson with the idea of making a production version of his CQC-6 custom knife. Some tweaks were made to the design, and the result was the CQC-7, whose influence on tactical knife design has been far-reaching and long-lasting. But its user base went far beyond those interested in self-defense. The knife’s unadorned, no-nonsense aesthetic, stout build, and uniquely American swagger made it a tool for a lifetime. In 1999, Emerson started making the CQC-7 at his own production facility in Los Angeles, California.

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You can’t talk about an Emerson knife without mentioning the Emerson Wave. For as much as it is associated with the knife now, the first CQC-7s predate the feature. It was developed by Emerson as a way to catch an opponent’s blade in close quarters combat, but it functioned even better deploying the knife as you draw it from your pocket – and it also works in an unofficial capacity as a bottle opener. Today, the hook-like protrusion is as representative of Emerson as the SpyderHole is of Spyderco. In 2015, Emerson was granted a trademark for the Wave.

Like a lot of flagship knives, the CQC-7 has its share of variants and offshoots. Users can choose between a drop point or a tanto blade shape, opt for serrations, and pick from several different colors of G-10. The Mini CQC-7 takes just under half an inch of blade off the original, while the Super CQC-7 adds as much. You can even find CQC-7s without the Wave if you’d prefer, and 2015 saw the release of a flipper variant. For anyone looking for Emerson CQC style at a budget-friendly price, Kershaw released a series of Emerson collaborations in a range of different sizes.

Visit KnifeNews tomorrow to find out which model is #23 on our list of the Top 25 Pocket Knives that are Indispensable.

Knife featured in image: Emerson CQC-7

#25 Microtech Ultratech 14/404
#24 Emerson CQC-7 15/404
#23 Victorinox Cadet 18/404
#22 Benchmade Adamas 20/404
#21 Zero Tolerance 0562 21/404
#20 Cold Steel Ti-Lite 24/404
#19 Opinel No. 8 25/404 
#18 Zero Tolerance 0350 28/404
#17 Cold Steel Voyager 30/404
#16 Case Trapper 41/404
#15 Ontario RAT Model 1 43/404
#14 Benchmade Mini Griptilian 53/404
#13 Spyderco Manix 2 54/404
#12 CRKT M16 57/404
#11 Kershaw Skyline 58/404
#10 Kershaw Blur 62/404
#09 Cold Steel Recon 1 63/404
#08 Spyderco Endura 4 70/404
#07 Chris Reeve Knives Large Sebenza 21 75/404
#06 Kershaw Leek 76/404
#05 Benchmade 940 78/404
#04 Spyderco Delica 4 79/404
#03 Benchmade Griptilian 81/404
#02 Buck 110 Folding Hunter 90/404
#01 Spyderco Paramilitary 2 94/404