The Emerson CQC-7: A Dedicated Duty Knife


The Emerson CQC-7: A Dedicated Duty Knife

The Emerson CQC-7 is a legend. It’s the direct descendant of the CQC-6, a knife designed for SEAL Team 6. While obtaining a CQC-6 is rather tricky, the CQC-7 is a production knife. Mark Owen (a DEVGRU SEAL who was on the Bin Laden raid) carried one, as have a generation of servicemen. I carried one for years as a Marine, and regrettably gave it to another Marine when I left the service. I couldn’t live without one and promptly found an Emerson CQC-7BW.

When reviewing the Emerson CQC-7, it’s important to remember what the knife is designed for. It has many features which may be disliked by many knife guys. This knife wasn’t designed for them, though… this knife was created for the warfighter. The SEAL, the Ranger, the infantryman, so on and so forth. If you view it in this context, the knife’s features make a lot more sense.

If you consider it as a standard EDC knife, it might not be a popular choice. I’ll be reviewing it from an infantryman’s perspective and will detail why it might not be the best knife for an Average Joe’s tasks.

Inside the CQC-7

The Emerson CQC-7 is a folding knife that sports a 3.3-inch blade and an overall length of 8.8 inches. The knife has a .125 inch thick blade and weighs 4 ounces. The tip of the blade is tanto style, and the blade uses a chisel grind. The knife has G-10 epoxy grips that are aggressively textured. The blade is made from 154CM.


This particular model features the wave design. This wave feature was a happy accident design-wise. The wave allows you to open the knife by merely pulling it from your pocket. This allows for one-handed operation of your folding knife. It takes practice to utilize correctly, and it can be lightning-fast.

The CQC-7 Blade

The Tanto tip is made for stabbing. Tanto tips are powerful, and this one is no different. It can penetrate right through most materials, including web gear, heavy military uniforms, and more. Remember this is a tactical knife, and its role could be a secondary or tertiary weapon.

The CQC-7 design lacks any serious belly and presents a flat razor’s edge for cutting. As I mentioned before, this edge is a chisel grind meaning one side of the blade is sharpened and one is not. The purpose of this is twofold.

First, it makes sharpening the knife more straightforward and quicker. In the field and on deployment, my time was often limited between trying to clean weapons, eat, and take care of my gear. Being able to keep my knife sharp with minimal tools and time was quite nice.

The second reason is that it makes the edge more robust and less likely to break, and it gets a better edge.

The downside is that it won’t cut as smoothly and with as much control as a V grind. However, I was never doing fine cutting as a Marine, so I didn’t notice.

The use of 154Cm steel is also smart. It allows the blade to be corrosion resistant as well as durable. It’s not difficult to sharpen, and it holds an edge well. There are better steels, and many say that at Emerson’s price it should have better steel. However, 154Cm has yet to let me down.

The CQC-7 Handle

Everyone should love the CQC-7 handle. Its geometry does tend more towards stabbing than slicing and cutting. It’s mostly straight, with a few grooves to accommodate the fingers. The grip is aggressively textured and comfortable. From experience with wet hands, sweaty hands, or even hands covered in the CLP from my machine gun, the CQC-7 is easy to grip.

The CQC-7 has a titanium lock, and it’s lightweight and strong. It’s also very corrosion-resistant. The locking system has never failed me. Sometimes, mostly when using the wave feature, the lock can lock up too tight and make it difficult to close. A minor issue, but one any user should know about.

Final Thoughts

The CQC-7 is a great duty knife. For the price, many people will want a more refined knife; maybe one made with S35V steel, a V grind, and a smoother grip. Due to popular demand I’m adding the price. Emerson’s MSRP on the knife is 205.95. For perspective that’s almost as much as Brownell’s Polymer 80, 80% lower Glock frame and slide deals. I can see the argument, but the CQC series are the only knives of their kind. They offer something unique that fits the needs of soldiers, Marines, cops, and more.

The CQC-7 is the granddaddy of them all and is still one of my favorite knives.

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