The fall of Emerson Knives

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Aug 16, 2014
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I bought 3 Emerson’s years ago and they stayed in the drawer because they couldn’t compare to the other knives I was buying. But then I got over carrying pocket jewelry and babying my knives. Now I carry my cqc-15 frequently. They are excellent users. All my pretty expensive framelocks sit in the drawer unused.
 

John_0917

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Apr 15, 2014
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When I got my first one (all 3 are now gone) I bought into the “154CM at 57 for toughness”...then I started using it and seeing how badly the blade was ground (and soft), and then the Kershaw models came out.

No joke, edge retention on the Kershaw 8Cr14MoV is significantly better than EKI 154CM, geometry and build quality (in China) is too...pathetic.
 
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Ernie used to be on here. Maybe he will see this thread, and chime in. Would love to hear his comments.
 

Velitrius

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I had an Emerson CQC7 and a Benchmade CQC7... the BM 970 SpecWar I believe.

The Benchmade was superior in quality in every aspect. I wish I had it back, really.

Had it been ground on the "correct" side, (or both sides, even) I might still own it.

I enjoyed the ergos, the flipper disc, and the indestructible tanto tip. Aside from my nitpicking, the design was really pretty cool.

It just took Benchmade to execute it right.

But Emerson isn't going anywhere. Their cult following is simply too huge. Like Strider.
 
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Mar 27, 2014
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Emerson fans and Strider fans usually travel in the same circles.

I think Ernie has some great designs just the execution isn't there. ZT makes a better Emerson than Ernie does.

The justifications for soft steel, lose fit and finish and lock issues are also get silly. "You can sharpen it on the long bones of your enemies", "won't get jammed up when you're waist deep in gore" or "the lock has to be customized to your liking".

The production line is too pricey for what it is and too many rehashed designs. The customs are way out of pace with other companies. I saw an Emerson Custom priced the same as a Custom Division Shiro but looked like it was made in the first two rounds of forged in fire.
 
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Nov 13, 2013
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Super steel Steve has done some “destruction” test on the Emerson and they have been impressive.

IMO the price on the Emerson is too high, but that is good for the company of the brand is strong enough for them to charge these prices ;)

but unless you pick up a bad knife (it happened to me twice), I think the Emerson are far superior to the Kershaw and to the 0640.
The 0620/0630 may be a different story and the only ZT I would like to still have is one of these in m390
I have been stupid to sold my 0630
 
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Dec 15, 2013
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I live in Las Vegas where the USN gathering Is held each year. I been to three gatherings and I can tell you because “this” forum doesn’t have a lot of support, fans, appreciation, etc for Emerson, does not meant it is a disappearing brand. I saw crazy prices for Emerson knives at the gathering and at the pirates cove. Highly sought after and in most cases a very good investment for the sellers.
I don’t own any Emerson knives myself.
 
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Jul 11, 2007
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Which other brand has it’s own forum of crazed followers? USN is pretty unique. I prefer these forums but I’ll say I’m a huge Emerson fan since 2009. I currently have 32 production Emerson knives. I agree f and f sucks I’m not brain washed but you don’t buy Emerson for f and f. It’s for the design, the man is good plain and simple.

collab with Kai didn’t dilute rather was the gateway for folks to buy a production Emerson.

Finally i agree the Emerson four, here has been relatively much slower than 5 years ago.
 
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Dec 4, 2019
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It's no secret that the fit and finish of Emerson knives is absolute mediocre.

And there you have it. Inferior quality that is surpassed by foreign competition. Current sales are dependent open the hype of years past. J-U-N-K. If Ernie is reads this, he knows where to find me to give me my money back. His knife still sits in my desk drawer, but only because there's no river close enough to throw it into.
 

Korean Hog

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Mar 12, 2017
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Damn....I had a post all typed up to defend Emerson knives outright...BUT I'm a bit torn...
I looked through some of the Emersons for sale and a lot of them were right around $250, give or take about $30.
I thought to myself, for like $50 more bucks I could get another SOCOM Elite.
Half way to a Sebenza and just shy of most Microtechs is a tough one for me.
It sucks because I actually really like Emerson knives, I mean I really do, I think they're great!
It's just that at that price point, other knives take my attention away.....
I'd either like more bang for my buck or lower prices to buy Emerson knives more regularly.

With that said, when put to real use, there's something about an Emerson blade that is just so well balanced
when you're installing air condtioners, running conduit, or just plain ole doing dirty work.
I don't need a razor sharp blade, just a working edge, and the Emersons keep that working edge, but the toughness
keeps the edge from getting blown out and the steel is soft enough that I can get that working edge back
easily on some bullcrap folding diamond rod and it'll hold it long enough to finish the job.

If I'm being honest, Emerson knives definitely has a place in my "arsenal" and I will likely buy another at some point.
They don't have a die hard fan with me, but for sure a repeat customer.
 
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IMO the “poor” f and f Is part of what I like in the Emerson knives.
That makes them different with a different focus.

my only concern is the inconsistency of the quality of the lock that to be more or less sticky and more or less late on the blade tang
On my experience it seems to have improved during the last 2 years, but I need to get one or two more knives to check that.

IMO they are ~25% overpriced
But when you look at CRK they may also be considered overpriced.
For me this kind of knives shall be considered not based on material.

the f and f on my ZT Emerson are way better than in my real EKI but for some reason I prefer my EKI
The material are not premium but the g10 is better, the handle it thicker, the size of the pivot and of the blade stop is larger....
 

DPC

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Dec 28, 2013
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I'm still attracted to Emersons, they're practical tactical. Maybe it's a generational thing, but not all Emersons are mall ninja (methinks). Sometimes you just want to cut crap, not carry jewelry. That + the cutting tool being cool is a bonus.

Emerson clearly states they make users, users and weapons. I understand the fit and finish doesnt matter (as long as it doesnt fail), steel doesnt matter (that much), the chisel edge doesnt matter etc... The way I use and treat knives I find that really appealing. My only gripe is the use of a framelock, instead of a backlock or something tougher. I personally feel spoiled with all the perfect knives I purchase, with perfect fit and finish, perfect grinds, perfect everything. Emerson is good enough and that makes the knives users. Other perfect knives stay untouched out of fear of damaging them, Emersons are already born imperfect so I dont care to use them with care.


The only real divide and problem I see with Emerson knives is their price point, when all other brands have stepped up in materials and fit and finish. We've gotten used to much better quality for the price, but again, I never understood people complaining about the price point of any product. Its your individual job as a consumer to get what you want for the price you want. Nobody forces you to buy expensive knives, and nobody forces you to buy retail through normal channels. If you want something, work for it and find ways to get it, complaining in hopes of something changing wont get you anywhere (and I dont see Emerson lowering their prices, ever).

The shapes and design is where they shine in my oppinion, they're good weapons. Many people forget this as well. Its popularity as a brand maybe diludes this important fact, hence why people feel they get hosed when getting one.
 

jux t

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Jan 10, 2018
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I’ve had 4 Emersons and was not impressed. I don’t care how tough all the materials are if the lockup is questionable.

A knife designed and marketed for hard use and combat should not have questionable lockup.
 
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Jul 11, 2007
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For those that never owned an Emerson, and are cautious about the cost (don't blame you). I'd suggest looking at the Kershaw collabs, it looks like they are even cheaper now-- Amazon sells these (Amazon is actual seller) all for under 40 bucks shipped, they even have a D2 blade version. Once you handle one and give it some use, some may finally "get it". I will say that 1. these China made collabs' f and f are actually better than the production Emersons, and also 2. yes the man himself is a bit of hypocrite, he has strong opinions about having things US made but will outsource to KAI China. Regardless, for the brand, I think it's probably the the, the best business decision he's ever made. There is no brand dilution, but rather creating a gateway to his pricy production models. Just look at the raving reviews on the Kershaw website, there is definitely something there on the designs. And I wonder how many went on saved up and bought a production Emerson?


While traffic here may be down, and I saw recently even on USN is not as active, I think his knives keep selling great. There was a collector club email that went out for a new design the "Elvia" that went out at 2 PM ET last Wednesday, and was sold out in 3 hours. Not sure how many he made, but there is always a line of people waiting for these things.
 
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jstn

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Jun 27, 2012
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I hate liner locks, especially Titanium ones that wear out. Emerson has great designs and the steel is fine. I do like the ZT Emerson framelocks.
 

Quiet

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I have so much I want to say right now as a reformed Emerson fanboy, but I'll just say this: Ernest Emerson's towering arrogance and condescension in his posts on this forum have largely led to him losing a lot of fans. I count myself as one of those who turned his back. At some point, he started to believe his own hype from his tribe over on the Green Forum, and seemingly doesn't like it that no one here is going to bow down and call him "Sir Ernest" or some other bozo nonsense like that. He has a subforum here and yet can't even be bothered to purchase a membership for his account. On top of that, Emerson knives are mediocre. I still have several that I DO like for one reason or another, but I would never say they were ever a good deal, or worth what he charges.
 

Chefget

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Nov 2, 1998
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After having handled hundreds of Emerson's at GTG's, knife shows, friends houses, etc I am firmly in the 'don't get it' camp.

Nothing against either the man or the legend, but the knives kinda fall short of the quality expected.

Never bought into the Jeep thing either though...
 
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Feb 18, 2000
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I always hated the black g10,slotted pivot screw and those philips screws i could never get past it....
 
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Sep 25, 2011
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I have so much I want to say right now as a reformed Emerson fanboy, but I'll just say this: Ernest Emerson's towering arrogance and condescension in his posts on this forum have largely led to him losing a lot of fans. I count myself as one of those who turned his back. At some point, he started to believe his own hype from his tribe over on the Green Forum, and seemingly doesn't like it that no one here is going to bow down and call him "Sir Ernest" or some other bozo nonsense like that. He has a subforum here and yet can't even be bothered to purchase a membership for his account. On top of that, Emerson knives are mediocre. I still have several that I DO like for one reason or another, but I would never say they were ever a good deal, or worth what he charges.

Bold that I completely agree with you on the level of interaction we've seen from him. A moderated forum should be for dialog and problem solving, not to just hock the latest model or podcast.
 
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Sep 3, 2012
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There are so many other options out there that I don't think I would ever pay for a real Emerson. Although I haven't held or tried one, the reviews and talk have repeatedly shown way too much slop and too many problems at that price point for me to feel good about rolling the dice and buying one. I can get better build quality, better locks, and better steel for a lot less money from other companies. I might be tempted to buy an Emerson for around $150 at most. When the Kershaw models work better for very nearly 1/10 the price there is a problem with your pricing model. There are even options like the RAT-1 that seems like it would come close in performance for such a good price.

These knives seem to be marketed as folding fighting knives. There are a lot of reasons why that's a bad idea, but I guess it attracts a certain kind of customer.

The man himself may be rather opinionated and imperfect, but he's still much more likable than a certain "former ranger" that we are familiar with.
 
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