What is a knife? At its most basic, a sharpened piece of steel with a handle. More commonly though, a knife is a tool, allowing you to complete tasks and sometimes help you out of a jam. I have been carrying the CQC-15 Mini now for over 6 months, and it has become one of my favorite knives, residing in my right hand pocket almost without fail. In this time I’ve used it at work, opening countless boxes, cutting strapping, and breaking cardboard down to easy to carry sizes. I’ve also used it to cut kindling, open bottles, make lunch, and other more domestic duties, like splinters!
Let’s take a look at the knife its self; with an open length of 7.9″, and a blade length of 3.5″, it’s a nice size for everyday carry. The blade is crafted from 154CM steel, an American made, stain resistant, high carbon metal. Carbon does increase the risk of rust, but the ti-nitride coatings effectively put a stop to that problem.
The liners, which add strength to the G-10 slabs, are stainless steel, and titanium on the lock side to increase wear resistance and save a little weight. Machine screws hold the whole package together, and I for one appreciate the fact that the screws are not some hard to find Torx, but rather Phillips and one slotted screw at the pivot. The G-10 slabs will not rot, swell, warp, or shrink, and provide great purchase on bare hands even when wet. The pocket clip rides high on the handle, setting the knife down into the pocket, mostly out of view until needed.
One feature that gets a lot of looks, and the question “Is that a bottle opener?”, it the distinct Wave design on the spine of the blade, forming the end of the thumb ramp. Originally designed as a blade catch to stop an oncoming blade, Emerson discovered that it could also act as a catch to deploy the blade from the users pocket, making it possible to open the knife faster than any automatic knife available, without any fussy mechanical issues that can plague an auto. It takes some practice, but one you get the hang of it, it is amazingly easy, and going back to any other one handed knife feel slow and clumsy. Plus, the sound of blade snapping into lock gets attention, fast.
The 154CM steel is tempered to a 57-59 RC, which while not as hard as some, is also not too hard to sharpen in a reasonable amount of time. I found that the knife took a great edge using nothing more than a DMT diamond rod I had laying around. A few quick strokes on the chisel ground blade, and another few on the back side to clean of the burr, and we were back in business. Emerson knives all have a chisel grind, making them less prone to chipping and easy to sharpen in the field. The blade also has a slight recurve, which is nice when bearing down on heavy cutting tasks, as it helps to pull the blade into the object being cut. The tanto tip is great for detail work, but not to everyone’s liking. I personally didn’t care for it at first, but have grown to really like it, as it makes cutting at the tip fast and easy.
Emerson Knives claims that they design their knives to work in the harshest conditions possible, everyday, without fail. That doesn’t mean they won’t need some TLC now and then, and they also want the knife to be easy to service without complicated tools or reassembly duties which is where the lack of tiny Torx screws really shines. Try finding a T-6 driver bit at your local hardware store. Probably not going to happen.
All in all, I have used and abused this knife, and am please to say that I think it holds up to the claim, ” Famous in the worst places”. I’d be ready to carry this to work every day, and also depend on it in the field, where having a good knife can be a matter of life or death. Made in the U.S.A.