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Emerson quality control?

Jan 6, 2001
Last summer I purchased several Emerson factory-produced knives from a reliable source on eBay. Two with bead-blasted finish, one with black finish. The top of the blade (spine) on the black knife is quite rough, like the edge of a pane of glass after it has been scored and broken off. The spines on the other two knives are perfectly smooth. When I sent an email to Emerson Knives questioning this disparity, I was advised by Ernest Emerson that these knives are "made to be used" and I shouldn't look for faults with a loupe - in fact, he advised, "...95% of our knives leave the factory as you describe....occasionally we find a fault and touch it up with a belt sander...". Of course this is only a cosmetic problem that doesn't affect the integrity or usefulness of the knife, but I was quite surprised that such a large defect (the spine really looks like a broken shard of glass) would get by their quality control checks.

As a knife knewbie my question is this: on a factory knife (and I don't expect perfection), are such obvious defects acceptable? As a learning process (at least that's what I tell my wife!), I have been buying various factory knives and if this "hit or miss" quality is the norm, I might as well spend the extra money and only buy custom knives direct from their makers so that I have some recourse when I am not entirely satisfied with the quality of the knife. (BTW, the quality of all the CRKT knives I have purchased is superb!)
just thought i would put in my two cents here i donot own an emerson but have been saving for a commander almost have the 170.00 needed but i have read a lot of posts on quality in the last few months over on the emerson page there is a lot to read i have always bought kershaw and microtech with no problems i really don't want to shell out big bucks for a commander and not like it i think i would be pretty ticked off is i was told that 95 percent of knives comming from the factory were not perfect i would expect a few having problems something is going on with these big name knife makers benchmade has been getting beat up a lot lately i don't know what to buy anymore without having the knife in my hand to checkout first some of them are not cheap with crkt and kershaw comming out with good looking stuff i might stick with them

I am just a worthless liar....... I am just an Imbecile ...... I will only complicate you ..... Trust in me and fall as well .... I will find a center in you ... I will chew it up and leave .. I will work to elevate you just enough to bring you down
I have purchased two knives from Emerson, and I sold them recently. There are several big name makers that are currently selling lousy stuff, especially for the money. With many products nowadays, you are buying the name. The best knives I own, as far as quality, fit and finish, are the CRK&T CKF, and the Outdoor Edge Magna. With these two companies you are buying a quality product for a realistic price, not popular name at an outrageous price. If you are paying $200 or more for a knife, you had better look into the product and the company that makes it. Many people buy an expensive knife because of a good warranty, only to find out that the warranty isn't as good as they thought. A lot of companies/makers have the attitude that their product is perfect, and anything that happens to the knife is your fault, or that a flaw is of no importance.
I own a Commander and I would'nt be caught without one. This is my second one. I recently purchased a Mach 1 and was not impressed.

Yes, Emmerson's are a little rough but I haven't heard anything as bad as what you are describing, and Emmerson should'nt have told you what he did. IMHOP. I do believe that they are the worst finished knives of the higher end knives out there and I do make it a point to buy them only after I have held one.

If you bought yours from a supplier, not Emmerson, tell them your complaint and they will probably take it back and send you a better one.

The Mach 1 had the same problem that my Commander had, a pivot pin that lossens. All you need to do is put some lock tite or super glue on the screw and adjust the blade to your liking and it will fix it. I don't think that any knife should have this problem but the Emmersons do and I happen to like the Commander so I deal with it. The problems that you are talking about are unacceptable. If you dealt with one of the many reputable dealers listed here on the site you should have no problem with an exchange or refund. The Commander sells for anywhere from $158 to $169 depending who you buy it from.

To be fair, perhaps Ernest confused his percentages and actually MEANT to say that 95% of the knives that leave their factory DON'T have obvious faults such as the one I described. I'm just trying to get a handle on how much quality control I should expect from a mass produced knife from a "name" maker. When I look at the superb quality of the CRK&T knives I have purchased at such reasonable prices, I start to wonder.....

Every Emerson I have owned had quality control problems.
Blades that wobbled when locked open, blades that rubbed the liners, thumb dics that continually worked loose, pivot pins that need constant adjustment, screws that look worn after a few hours, etc. This is on every single Emerson I have owned, and these problems are quite common and certainly not isolated. If you would like to hear more about Emerson quality, read the Emerson forum found on this site.

Why do I take the time to reply to posts about Emerson quality control? Because some of the designs are wonderful, but the implemenation is abysmal, and I would like to see it improved. However, this is not likely, because Emerson fans think these issues are not problems at all, and they just keep buying Emerson Knives instead of insisting on either a much much lower price or vastly improved quality control.

I'm not trying to insult anyone here, or step on any toes, but the quality is bad as can be verified from several posts saying the exact same thing, and it's not the norm, especially in "hard use" high end knives.

Just my .02 ...


[This message has been edited by mikemck (edited 01-28-2001).]
Mikemck hit the nail on the head so hard it went through the board. Have sold every Emerson I bought. Everytime I think the wave is cool, I get suckered into buying another one. Am tired of blades scraping the liners when new, liner lock moving all the way over to the right, continual loosening of screws on the entire knife, not to mention their screwy grind. Older Emersons are better, but the last couple of years the "hard use knife" has become flimsy with terrible QC. Buy a Microtech SOCOM Elite and never look back.

Chief’s Cutlery Authorized Microtech Dealer
Your all correct the QC is very bad. I've handeled all of mine before purchase and that is the only way I would buy one. I don't have any faith in Emmerson's QC either.

With him getting the NASA and Navy contracts he probably will not change anything now, he thinks QC is right on target.
I'll have to agree as well that QC lacks bigtime at EKI, a fact that in a way pisses me off.
I like the styles, and ideas they offer, but how can I justify spending 150 bucks on a knife that has 70 dollar quality?
A cqc7 I recently purchased for 90 dollars lost the color on the screws- 2 weeks after purchase, pivot screw loosens- daily, and of course after only one month the lock is as far right as it can go. (no blade looseness yet but I expect it and day). So much for "hard use" I've barely cut anything tougher than my own finger nails with the thing. More like a 35 dollar knife.
I even looked the knife over before purchase and found it satisfactory, just seems to wear out damn quick!
I love the Emerson designs, but I doubt I'll buy another

Not a dissatisfied customer, just a dissapointed one.

I just finally save up and brought my commander. The dealer made a mistake and send two of them to me, which both I examined (to pick a better one ) and I haven't found any of them bad. How ever, I did find some roughtness at the corners of the handle. But I love all the rest of it so much, I don't even think that tiny little bit of roughtness to be a problem. I thik a little light sandpaper work would smooth it out.
I definitly feel for you though ! I know what you mean by expecting more like perfection for that much money. But I wouldn't give up on it just because you happened to get the worst ones out of the batch you know what I mean. Send it back and get a new one or something...
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Chief:
liner lock moving all the way over to the right,

Excuse me - and now at last I may sound stupid - but why's that dangerous? Or is it?
I mean it still locks the balde - doesn't it?

I have no experience with Emersons, but I thought I would provide positive feedback on the makers I have bought from.

Kershaw, Spyderco, Buck, and Victorinox all seem to have excellent quality control. I have owned several of each and have yet to be disappointed. My Kershaws are every bit as good, in materials and workmanship, as many of the customs I have handled. (And I do not mean that as a slight toward the custom makers!)

--Bob Q
I myself have never experienced a lock problem with my Emersons, but I do remember the 1st production CQC-7B I bought had a loose stop pin, however, loctite fixed that. I recently looked at several Mach 1's with chromium nitrite finish and the edges were not sharp at all. I ended up purchasing a Commander which I've carried now for several weeks but I did notice that the stop pin is at a slight angle. It doesn't affect the action and so far the blade locks properly, but I would like to see thicker liners on the Commander and I'd like to see a coating on the screws that would last. It seems to wear off easily. With all these problems I'm hearing about Emerson knives, I can understand why people would be reluctant to pay $200 plus for a defective knife.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by tuhkis:
Excuse me - and now at last I may sound stupid - but why's that dangerous? Or is it?
I mean it still locks the balde - doesn't it?

In regards to the liner lock moving all the way to the right side:
The problem is that one of two things will probably happen.
Either the liner will slide up between the other liner & the scale, or it will become stuck and you won't be able to close it.
So, either it will close when you don't want it to, or it won't close when do you want it to.
At any rate, it is unacceptable for even a cheaply made knife, and it is all too common for Emerson knives.

Has anyone written Emerson Knives regarding their quality or lack thereof? If so, what was their response regarding faulty locks, stop pins, loose screws, etc....
CRKT knives are awsome, particularly for the price.

I was thinking of buying an Emerson Commander, but I'll wait until they get their QC issues under control.
Thanks Mikemck for helping out. Not only do I second your thoughts but it is a sign of the knife wearing out. If a "hard use knife" has a liner lock that is wearing out in one month, how much longer do you think it will last?
Buy a Custom Joel Chamblin, I have bought knives twice as expensive as the Maverick, and none have even come close to the quality.

I also owned a commander and if I buy factory I would much rather go with Microtech or Benchmade.
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by mikemck:

So, either it will close when you don't want it to, or it won't close when do you want it to.
Now I understand. Thanks.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by mikemck:
Every Emerson I have owned had quality control problems.

If you would like to hear more about Emerson quality, read the Emerson forum found on this site.

Yes, however, every Emerson I owned had none of the serious defects you spoke of. They do exist, I don't think people are lying.

I do, however, tend to think that people get "vocal" when they feel they have been "taken." There is alot of people you will find who are simply happy with their Emersons in that Forum as well. I'm one of them.

There are many on Bladeforums who own them and are happy with them and they simply do not frequent that Forum to yap about them, Pro or Con. Agreed? You can bet one thing though, if someone really gets a turd, it will end up over there in an immediate bitching festival.

As for all of the issues you discussed, I do agree that Emerson needs to boost the attention to detail in QC. EKI can do better and they should do better. Let's just hope they see that and give it a needed boost. Personally, I don't think they have a whole lot to "correct." They just need to tighten up the attention to detail and bite the bullet and scrap the rare bird that fails.

There is a current push [by "The Usual Suspects"
] to take the Commander back to the 1998 First Production Run as it was a much tougher knife and I don't think you will find anyone that will argue that point.

The one thing that I really cannot stand to see is the constant complaints about the black screws, the finish wearing off. Personally on a using knife, I could care less.

"You are no more armed because you are wearing a pistol than you are a musician because you own a guitar." ~Jeff Cooper
And the same goes for a knife...
And, I'm a Usual Suspect.