The Emerson CQC-8 is a quintessential Emerson design. It was made popular as a custom piece long before the production model came out. Various military forces use it, including the British SAS. The CQC-8 is a fighting knife that just happens to be a good EDC knife.
Ernest Emerson started Emerson knives in 1979, and since then, the company has grown to become known as a producer of one of the elite hard-use knives on the market. Offering a large variety of different sizes and styles of both folding and fixed-blade knives, Emerson’s style reflects their intent to have their knives used—most of their knives come with simple, black handles and basic finish options. While Ernest still makes fully custom knives, the company focuses on their factory offerings. Emerson also runs a training center for self-defense, both with knives and without.
Emerson knives are known for their patented “wave” feature, a hook on top of the blade that allows for one-handed opening when drawing from a pocket or pouch. All their factory offerings feature G10 epoxy handles, 154cm steel blades, and titanium locks. Finishes offered include black and satin blades, and most models are available in serrated and non-serrated versions.
I personally own several Emerson knives—a CQC7, Commander, and a CQC8—all purchased based on their reputation. I’ve also owned several other brands of knives, and to me, the one thing that sets Emerson apart from them is the fact that I’m never afraid to beat these knives up and use them hard. When I pick an Emerson knife up to use, I have no doubt that it will perform—regardless of situation or environment. If you’re on the fence as to whether you should drop the cash on one, read my article titled, What Makes Emerson Knives So Great, and you’ll have your answer.
The Emerson CQC-8 model has long been considered one of the best combat designs ever produced. I agree. The ergonomics and blade design have merged in this knife to form the perfect union. Perfectly balanced in both a forward and reverse grip, the CQC-8 is a battle-hardened veteran that you want at your side. Now, with the Emerson “wave-shaped feature,” the CQC-8 has evolved to meet the demands of those who need a knife that will protect and serve anytime, anyplace. Although Emerson may be best known for their CQC6 folder, the CQC8 possesses an excellent pedigree; Ernie Emerson himself developed it with input from Chris Carracci, a former Navy SEAL.
The original batch of CQC8s made their debut in 1994, and the very first ones were presented to the former members of Dick Marcinko’s SEAL team for their ‘reunion’ tour of Vietnam in 1994-95. These versions remain some of the rarest and most desired knives Ernie ever made. The next version was similar, but with the slick black T coating, and flatter, hand-shaped handles. These were followed by satin-bladed knives, all chisel ground, with flat-black, machined G-10 handles. In recent years, he’s added bolsters to some, double ground some, and has begun making a production version of the knife.
According to Ernie, back in the ’90s, he made a very few knives with gut hooks on them as special orders for active duty SEALs. These were personal knife orders, though, not issued knives. He has repeatedly stated that the production knives have been issued to members of the SAS as well, but that is unconfirmed.