I find knives extremely useful across different activities. They are cutting, prying and punching tools. They are also weapons, not just as last resort but sometimes they are the only weapon that can work (heck, I was lucky I had my knife with me few years ago, I had to use it to save my buddy’s life while entering a house on a capture op – but more on that on SOFREP soon).

Through the years I’ve carried fixed 4+” knives, but in the last couple of years I’ve been testing sub 4″ folders with a lot of success. I’ve tried several and I settled on these two: the Zero Tolerance 0350 and the Emerson CQC-7.

The Zero Tolerance 0350

Tactical Folding Knives | Sub 4"

  • Steel: S30V stainless-steel with Plain Edge & Tungsten DLC Black coating
  • Handle: Textured G-10
  • Liners: Stainless steel
  • Blade: 3 1/4 in.
  • Overall: 7 5/8 in. Weight: 6.2 oz.

I love Zero Tolerance knives. Designed by Kershaw and Strider these knives are workhorses. The 0350 is a small version of the 0300. It is sturdy and even though its blade is a little over 3″ it has served me well both as a tool and as a defensive weapon.

The knife handle is a grippy G10 and the jimping is awesome. Once you grab this knife it will not slide or otherwise come off your hand. The handle shape is really ergonomic and feels great.

Tactical Folding Knives | Sub 4"

I personally don’t like partially serrated blades on small knives. They are not as useful as in a bigger (4″ and more) blade. I find the smaller knives very useful for precise cutting and shaving work, like on wires, etc and the serrations are not placed in the best location. The ZT is great for cutting and slicing. The big belly on the blade and the weight of the knife makes sure you cut stuff is less tries.

The assisted opening, via a flipper, is incredibly useful for quick deployment. The thumb-studs are not for opening the knife, like most Striders those are used for stopping the blade after opening. The knife opens lighting fast, a good thing to have on a defensive situation.

Overall the ZT 0350 is a great knife for pretty much everything.

The Emerson CQC-7

Tactical Folding Knives | Sub 4"

  • Steel: 154 CM with Black DLC coating
  • Handle: Textured G-10
  • Liners: Aerospace grade Titanium
  • Blade: 3.3 in.
  • Overall: 8.0 in. Weight 4.3 oz.

Now, this is a classic tactical folder. A direct descendant of the famous Emerson SpectWar CQC-6, this knife is one of Emerson’s more sought out models. Emerson makes tough, sharp and tactically focused folders. Some of the best SOF worldwide use his knives. The CQC-7 was recommended to me by Brandon Webb, SOFREP Editor, and a bunch of other SOF guys. I’ve been carrying it and using it on the field for a while.

The knife has a chisel-ground blade (only one side is ground) and like most Emersons, only one side has been sharpened. The blade is extremely sharp. The tanto shape blade is great for punching, slicing and making holes, not so good for precision cutting. It makes this an extremely effective weapon, with a blade that is thick and durable. The knife, however, is lighter than the 0350, the lines are Titanium, a good feature.

This particular model (CQC-7BW) comes with the “Wave Feature”, the little wave-like stopper at the end of the blade. This handy feature allows the knife to be opened while being deployed out of the pocket. Unlike the ZT 0350, the Emerson is not assisted opening, however the Wave Feature makes this irrelevant.

Tactical Folding Knives | Sub 4"

The G10 handles are grippier than those on the 0350. The shape of the handle is ergonomic and once you grip this knife it will not move from your hand. The jimping on the wave feature is great. It allows your thumb to naturally rest there.