Ernest Emerson needs no introduction. He’s widely regarded as the father of the modern “tactical folder.” And there’s no more iconic tactical folder than the Emerson CQC-7. It was the genesis of the tactical knife industry and has remained a major influence in tactical knife design.
The CQC-7 was designed for one purpose—as a close-quarters combat weapon. The CQC-7 is based on Emerson’s custom CQC-6, which was developed in the mid-1980s to meet the requirements of U.S. Navy SEALs from a West Coast Team. They required a durable, corrosion-resistant folder that was designed for easy cleaning in the field and capable of use as a weapon should the need arise. Although never officially issued, the CQC-6 rapidly became something of a status symbol in the SOF community.
The CQC-7 was originally licensed by Emerson to Benchmade Knives. When the license expired, Emerson began producing the CQC-7 in his own factory. It has been Emerson Knives’ best-selling knife for nearly two decades. An Emerson CQC-7 that was carried by a DEVGRU operator on Operation Neptune Spear (the mission to kill or capture Osama bin Laden) sold for $34,500 at a charity auction.
A number of variants of the CQC-7 have been made by Emerson Knives over the years. The CQC-7BW Flipper is the latest model in the CQC-7 line. It takes the outstanding CQC-7 to an even higher level.
Although most of the specs of the CQC-7 remain unchanged, the CQC-7BW Flipper is available with a CPM S35VN stainless steel blade and features a GTC 440C stainless steel caged ball-bearing washer pivot system and flipper opening technology. The GTC ball-bearing system provides exceptionally smooth, fast deployment.
The CQC-7BW Flipper offers three options for opening. In addition to the patented Emerson Wave Feature and the thumb disk, the large easy-to-engage flipper provides you with one more deployment method, making the CQC-7BW one of the most deployable folders, even in a high-stress, gross-motor-skills environment.
The flipper serves as a guard to prevent your hand from slipping forward onto the blade, and prevents the blade from closing on your fingers in the unlikely event that the lock is inadvertently disengaged.
The Emerson Wave Feature allows the knife to be automatically opened as it is drawn from the pocket for lightning-fast deployment by simply catching the Wave on the edge of the pocket. The Wave also serves as a thumb ramp.
The CQC-7BW Flipper has an overall length of 8.0 inches, a 3.3-inch chisel-ground Tanto-style blade, and weighs 5.0 ounces. The blade is 0.125-inch thick. The knife has a reasonably thick titanium liner lock and black G-10 handle scales. Other features include a lanyard hole, pocket clip, and an open-backed design that simplifies the task of removing debris.
The Americanized Tanto blade of the CQC-7BW Flipper has an inherently strong tip that’s ideal for penetration. The blade is hardened to 57-59 RC. It’s available with either a plain or partially serrated edge and either a black or stonewash finish.
The Emerson one-side-only edge grind minimizes drag when used for cutting purposes. The edge is also easier to maintain in the field. You just have to hone the one edge and then remove the burr on the other side. The knife comes very sharp from the factory.
The CQC-7BW Flipper is currently the only Emerson knife to be offered with a CPM S35VN stainless blade. S35VN is a tougher version of the popular CPM S30V, due to the addition of Nobelium. Although an outstanding knife steel, the simpler CPM 154CM cannot match the toughness and wear resistance of S35VN. Although it costs a bit more, CPM S35VN provides the best combination of toughness, wear resistance, and corrosion resistance.
The locking liner is made of aerospace-grade 6AL-4V titanium. The non-locking liner is made of a 300-series (Austenitic) stainless steel. It functions only as a frame stiffener and has minimal mechanical function.
The CQC-7BW provided for evaluation had a crisp and secure lockup with no blade play whatsoever. Emerson Knives utilizes an oversized pivot pin and a large heat-treated stop pin for additional strength.
With some liner locks, it’s possible to accidentally release the lock if the knife is gripped tightly. This didn’t occur with the CQC-7BW Flipper, even when I had a white-knuckle grip on it.
The CQC-7BW Flipper is equipped with a removable blackened stainless steel pocket clip. The knife comes drilled and tapped for right-hand tip-up carry only. Emerson Knives offers an optional drill and tap for left-hand carry service that allows changing the clip over to the other side for left-hand carry.
Emerson knives are built for function and simplicity, and have no torx or other special screws. The pivot screw is a slotted flat-head screw. The handle screws are Phillips screws. The workmanship on the sample CQC-7BW is absolutely first rate.
The ergonomics of the CQC-7BW Flipper are pure Emerson—which is to say outstanding. The contours of the handle perfectly fit my hand. The knife is well balanced and feels great in my hand with both forward and reverse grips.
Emerson Knives offers a fully functional training knife version of the CQC-7BW. The CQC7-T trainers feature a dull steel blade and “Safety Blue” handles and are currently not available with a flipper.
The CQC-7BW Flipper is a great update to Emerson Knives’ classic flagship design. The CQC-7BW Flipper with CPM S35VN blade has a suggested retail price of $259.95. The CPM 154CM version is $239.95. Add $5 for partial serrations. All Emerson knives are made in the USA and come with a limited lifetime warranty.