I have been looking for a knife that would fit someplace between my little CRKT EDC blade and the big Buck 692 Vanguard that I use for working up smallwood for my stove. It’s a mil-spec classic Goldilocks problem… the 2 1/4″CRKT is too small, and the Buck is too large to want to tote along some of the time.
I need to say that I have never owned a midsized folding knife [like the Buck 110 and its descendents and imitators]. Prior to the advent of the side/pocket clip I had always carried multi bladed knives like a Stockman, an old-style Boy Scout knife, or a Swiss Army style. They are great for whittling, small chores and general messing about, but they are not much for bushcraft. Then I moved on to single blade, clip-on knives for my EDC needs and belt-hung multi-tools for utility. Neither of these are great for bushcraft/woods-craft either.
When I saw the reviews by Tony Sculimbrene over on Everyday Commentary and the Xaviers on More Than Just Surviving for the Emerson/Kershaw CQC-6K, I was fairly certain that I had found my perfect solution. They recommended it as a truly great deal without breaking the bank. While their tastes and budgets can frequently run to products far above my pay grade, I have found their reviews to be fair and impartial, and right on the money with my own opinions when I have had a chance to see products they have reviewed firsthand.
I took their suggestions that this knife was an excellent value for the price and picked one up over on Amazon for about $30. I may have more to say, in more detail, about it later, but for right now I just want to give my early impressions of the knife and I would certainly suggest you to read the fully detailed reviews on the two sites I linked above.
I can start by simply saying that this is a wickedly good-looking knife. The blade has a great shape. The incredibly sharp point swoops gracefully into a dead flat cutting section for the rear two thirds of the blade. This means that the front two thirds of the knife will slice easily into material, while the rear two thirds allow for vigorous force to be applied. I love the decision that Emerson/Kershaw made in using the G-10 material only on one side of the knife. The scale gives a nice grip where a right-handed person’s fingers wrap around the handle and the soft glow of the stonewashed steel on the clip side is a pleasure to behold. It’s also nice to be able to see the clean lines of the locking mechanism. The locking mechanism itself secures the blade open with not even the slightest sense of wiggle, but it allows the blade to be freed and then closed with no effort at all. When you look down on the closed blade it is perfectly centered within the frame.
The knife fits in your hand quite naturally. The gimping cuts run across both the top of the handle and the back of the blade and align perfectly. They are rugged enough to allow firm thumb pressure, but have been rounded down sufficiently to not feel too rough or harsh enough to cause hotspots on the ball of your thumb. The finger choil is set back into the curvature of the handle and not right behind the blade. It’s almost impossible to imagine your finger slipping forward under the blade even under force.
The CQC features Emerson’s “Wave” deployment assist “hook” on the back of the blade, and utilizes a small disk screwed to the top of the blade in place of the thumb boss that gets used on most knives. I am a bit ambivalent on both of these features. I have used old school pocketknives for so long that I am completely in the habit, and am completely comfortable, with using two hands to open the blades. I am not a “tactical” kind of guy. At 65 I still have never found myself in a position of needing to flip out a knife, blade already open, and to commence to some kind of crazy Shaolin/ninja/kung fu BS. As a result, I find myself a little concerned that the vaunted “Wave assisted deployment” feature will just result in me pulling the knife out of my pocket only to have it flick open on its own accord, either slitting my jeans, cutting my leg open or slashing my belt and causing me to inadvertently drop trou. This may take some getting used to, and might be something that gets addressed when I get around to second opinions.
Here you can see my three knives lined up showing the relative sizes, and the weight and thickness of the blades. It also lets you see the thumb deployment disk on top of the CQC blade. Since I cannot see myself using the thumb disc on a very frequent basis I will probably remove the screw and set it aside. [E/K sent an extra set of slightly longer screws that will allow you to move the pocket clip to the scale side of the knife. I have seen in some of the comments that some folks either misplaced these or failed to notice them in the packaging, and then were complaining that the existing screws were too short to move the clip. I got mine! … Anyway, I’ll just toss the disc into that little baggy in case I change my mind]. My major reason for removing the disk is that it prevents nearly 5/8 of an inch of the blade from sliding through a stick of wood. This is nearly 25% of the length of the 3 1/4 inch blade. Since batoning sticks to work up firewood is one of the major chores that I envision using the knife for, that’s a substantial reduction in its utility.
That’s pretty much all I have to say. I like this knife and I think that it will fit into my kit well. If I am planning on being out for extended periods of time, I will of course take along the Buck 692. It’s much heavier duty, but I think that the CQC-6K it’s going to suit me quite well for those in between times. Absolutely everything in its fit and finish, including the fact that it was razor-sharp out of the package, belies the fact that the knife only cost $30. Elegant appearance, ergonomic form, efficient utility, high quality materials, and great execution… the CQC-6K seems to have it all.
Now in conclusion: Some of you clever readers might have noticed that in the top photo there is a second knife shown already open. The first unit that I received, the one shown open, did not close with any sense of detent. There was no snap, or click. No “chunk”, or thump. The knife blade simply revolved smoothly back into the handle… and drifted open just as smoothly. NOT SAFE! I asked both Tony and the Xaviers if they had experienced this and if it was just a standard feature on the CQC. They were both kind enough to get back to me almost immediately, and assured me that the knife was supposed to snap closed with a certain sense of actual closure. I contacted KIA and they got back to me almost immediately as well, confirming that this must be a defect or a poor adjustment. KIA said that they would be happy to replace the knife, but I elected to return it through Amazon since the wait time was considerably less. The new knife does indeed close with a smooth snap, so we can add in solid support from the manufacturer and vendor to the CQC’s attributes.