Throughout the history of mankind, a sharp knife has been a necessary survival tool. Since the earliest man sharpened a fragment of rock into a crude blade, the knife has been arguably man’s greatest invention (aside from capturing fire, or maybe soap). So when the time came for me to select a knife I would bet my life on, I contacted The Loadout Room’s resident knife expert Scott Witner. In the past year Scott has reviewed over two dozen styles/brands of knives, he is what I consider a true outdoorsman and knife aficionado.

A few months ago I became involved with the Civil Air Patrol and began training to help assist in search and rescue operations here in Alaska. When I first began reading over the standard operation procedures and required aircrew survival equipment I saw the words “Knife, folding 6” and started to think about what brand/style of knife I wanted. The knife needed to be high quality, and durable for the unlikely event I ever was involved in an aircraft crash. I wanted to know without a doubt that the knife I selected wouldn’t fail me in my greatest hour of need.

When I sent the message about a possible knife selection to Scott, within minutes and without a second thought he suggested I look at the Emerson Knives CQC-15. Ernest Emerson’s knives have been featured on the Loadout Room several times before. They have lived up to the hype, and the price tag each time they have been reviewed. I ended up selecting the Mini CQC-15 because it was slightly smaller than the full-sized knife, and would stow more easily inside a survival vest pocket. Let’s take a look at the available options and specifications of the Emerson Knives Mini CQC-15.

Emerson Knives Mini CQC-15
CQC-15 Mini

Emerson CQC 15 Mini Specifications:

  • Style of Knife: Folding knife
  • Blade Style: Hybrid tanto/recurve design
  • Blade Length: 3.5″
  • Blade Thickness: .125″
  • Blade Material: 154 CM
  • Blade Hardness: 57-59 RC
  • Overall Length: 7.9″
  • Handle Material: Black G-10 epoxy/glass laminate
  • Available Finish: Black or Stone washed satin
  • Weight: 3.8 ounces
  • MSRP: $199.95 (Available with serrated edge for $5.00 extra)
  • Unique Features: Patented Emerson Wave opening mechanism


  • Daily carry
  • Survival bag
  • Any outdoors use


  • Well built
  • Superior materials
  • Easy opening
  • Proven track record of quality
  • American made

Cons: Price

Overall Impressions:

This knife seems to be built better than any other folding knife I have used in the last few years. It comes from the factory with an edge on it that I am certain I could shave with, it’s ridiculously sharp. After a few weeks of opening and closing (as well as showing it off to friends and family) the knife seems easier to open. Each time I pull the Emerson Knives Mini CQC-15 out I get some “ewww” and “ahh’s” when people check the edge on the blade (it really is insanely sharp).

Using the thumb stud, the knife swings open quickly and locks into the fully open position with a pronounced CLICK. Once locked in the fully open position, the blade shows no signs of closing unintentionally. The .125″ wide blade also has zero detectable lateral play in any of the opening or cutting tests I performed. The stainless steel liner lock system is stiff, which is beneficial (in my opinion). You are 100% aware you intend to close the blade, due to its design and tension.

Emerson Knives Mini CQC-15
Chisel grind on the CQC-15 Mini

The Emerson Knives Mini CQC-15 features G10 epoxy/glass panels which I have had other brands of knives but these were different. The Panels on the Emerson have a slightly more aggressive texture to them. When firmly grasping the knife you notice the panels bite more into your hand, you get the impression this knife will not be sliding around during use. You would think this feature would make it uncomfortable, this is not the case, it’s just noticeably more firm.

The handle also features a hole drilled in the end for the lanyard loop option. This isn’t a feature I personally plan on using but it’s a nice standard feature Emerson includes on all their knives. You can also remove the G10 panels from the handle using a cross point and flat head type screwdriver. This allows the user to properly clean and lubricate the knife to extend its longevity. Remember knives are tools and need maintenance just like any other piece of equipment.

Emerson Knives Mini CQC-15
Lanyard hole, standard on all Emerson Knives

The CQC-15 Mini  is a hybrid between; the CQC-7 and the Commander. I had looked at both of these knives separately in a local knife shop before I knew about the CQC-15 series. I liked the grip/handle of the Commander, but disliked the blade.  On the CQC-7 I liked the blade, but wanted the tip of the blade to be at a different angle.

When I heard the CQC-15 Mini was a hybrid of the two designs I was cautiously optimistic. Once the knife arrived I was surprised at how well they blended the two designs without sacrificing quality or aesthetics. I’m aware that a knife is a tool, but sometimes I would like my tools to have some swagger.

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The blade on the knife features what is commonly referred to as a chisel grind. It’s a single-edged style of blade similar to what is used on the Russian AK47 bayonet, or a wood chisel. It’s a design that has been used for many years in many different industries and allows for easier blade sharpening and maintenance while in the field.

Emerson Knives Mini CQC-15
CQC-15 Mini fits nicely in my emergency vest pocket

As shown in the above image, the CQC-15 Mini fits perfectly in the pocket of my aircrew survival vest. The side clip secures the knife to the pouch and holds it in place even after vigorous shaking. I plan on running the CQC-15 Mini through several tests in the coming weeks where the temperatures here in Alaska are expected to hover around 0*F.

If you are looking for a great knife you can count on for many years, look at the Emerson line. Whether it’s CQC-15 Mini, or one of the other models we have reviewed, you can’t go wrong with an Emerson. I’m not the first or last person to trust my life to an Emerson Knife, they are expensive, but ask yourself what your life is worth? I plan on getting another CQC-15 as my daily carry knife.

Emerson knives can be purchased directly from the manufacturer at or at amazon. Thanks for stopping by The Loadout Room. If you have any questions or comments about this article, please be sure to contact us using the Comms Check. Or comment below and I will do my best to get back to you.