Ernest Emerson of Emerson Knives 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 legendary Emerson CQC-7. It was the genesis of the tactical knife industry and has remained a major influence in tactical knife design. It’s a true classic. And since Spotter Up has never done a review on the CQC-7, I thought it was time to rectify this glaring omission.

The Emerson CQC-7 has its genesis in Emerson’s custom, hand-made CQC-6. The CQC-7 was originally licensed to Benchmade, who sold it under the model name BM970 or BM975 depending on blade length. Emerson CQC-6 and Benchmade BM970 shown. Photo: Dave Mundell / Public Domain.

The CQC-7 was designed for one purpose 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 US 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. It remains so to this day.

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 over 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 a whopping $34,500.00 at a charity auction!

A number of variants of the CQC-7 have been made by Emerson Knives over the years. The CQC-7 Flipper and Mini CQC-7 Flipper are the latest models in the CQC-7 line. They take the outstanding CQC-7 to an even higher level.

Although most of the specs of the CQC-7 remain unchanged, the CQC-7 Flipper has 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-7 Flipper gives you 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 option for deployment, making the CQC-7 one of the most deployable folders, even in a high-stress, gross motor skills environment.

The Emerson CQC-7 Flipper features a bearing pivot system and gives you three options to bring the blade into action: flipper, Emerson Wave Feature and thumb disk

The flipper also serves as a guard to prevent your hand from slipping onto the blade. It also prevents the blade from closing on your fingers in the unlikely event that the lock is inadvertently disengaged.

Some have criticized the look of the large flipper, contending it reminds them of a shark fin and ruins the classic lines of the CQC-7. Well, I will take practicality over looks on a knife anytime. And the looks of the flipper have grown on me. For those of you that don’t like the shark fin, Emerson still offers a CQC-7 without the flipper.

The Emerson Wave Feature allows the knife to be automatically opened as its drawn from the pocket for lightening fast deployment by simply catching the Wave on the edge of the pocket. There’s no faster method of opening a folder. The wave also serves as a thumb ramp.

According to Ernest Emerson, the Emerson Wave Feature actually originated when some US Navy SEALs asked him to design a knife with a “blade catcher” that would stop a blade from sliding up the back of a knife in a knife fight. Quite by accident, he discovered that the knife would self deploy when being pulled from the pocket with the right motion. The rest is history.

The CQC-7 Flipper has an overall open length of 8.0 inches (20.32 cm), a 3.3-inch (8.38 cm) chisel-ground tanto-style blade, and weighs 5.0 ounces (141.75 g). The knife measures 4.65 inches (11.81 cm) closed and has a 0.47-inch (1.19 cm) thick handle. The blade is 0.125-inch (0.317 cm) thick.

The knife has a reasonably thick titanium liner lock and grippy, black G10 handle scales. Other features include an open-backed design that simplifies the task of removing any debris, a lanyard hole and a pocket clip.

The G10 scales have a fairly aggressive texture, Some have complained about this. It’s important to keep in mind that Emerson designs his knives for “hard use.” The last thing one wants is a slippery handle. If the texture is too aggressive for your taste, it’s easy to remedy with a little sandpaper.

The Americanized tanto blade of the CQC-7 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 minimizing 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 super sharp from the factory.

The Emerson CQC-7 Flipper comes drilled and tapped for right-hand tip-up carry. Drill and tap for left hand carry is available as added option.

The CQC-7 Flipper is currently the only Emerson knife to be offered with a CPM S35VN stainless steel blade. S35VN is a modification of CPM S30V that’s made by reducing the vanadium content, adding 0.5% niobium, and removing the added nitrogen, resulting in increased toughness.

The CQC-7 Flipper is no longer available in 154CM. Although an outstanding knife steel, the simpler 154CM cannot match the toughness and wear resistance of CPM 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-7 Flipper provided for evaluation has a perfect detent and crisp and secure lockup with no blade play whatsoever. Emerson Knives utilizes an over-sized pivot pin and a large heat-treat stop pin for additional strength.

With some liner locks it’s possible to accidentally release the lock if the knife is tightly gripped. This didn’t occur with the CQC-7 Flipper, even when I gripped the knife with a white-knuckle grip.

The CQC-7 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 a drill and tap for left-hand carry service that allows the ability to change the clip over to the other side for left hand carry.

Emerson knives are built for function and simplicity. There are 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-7 I received is first rate.

The ergonomics of the CQC-7 Flipper are pure Emerson. Which is to say outstanding. The contours of the handle perfectly fit my hand. The knife is well balanced.

Emerson Knives offers a fully functional training knife version of the CQC-7. The CQC7-T trainers features a dull steel blade and “Safety Blue” handles. Unfortunately, it’s currently not available with a flipper.

The CQC-7 Flipper is a great update to Emerson Knives’ classic, flagship design. MSRP for the CQC-7 Flipper starts at $265.95. Partial serrations are $5.00 more. Drill and tap for left hand carry is $25.00. All Emerson knives are made in the USA and come with a limited lifetime warranty.

Emerson Knives offers a 20% discount to active-duty US non-reserve Law Enforcement, Firefighters, Paramedics and Military


Emerson Knives

Emerson CQC–7BW Flipper

Manufacturer: Emerson Knives, Inc.
Model: CQC-7BW Flipper
Designer: Ernest Emerson
Opening Mechanism: Manual folder (flipper, wave, thumb button)
Pivot System: GTC bearings
Lock Type: Titanium liner lock
Blade Steel: CPM S35VN

Blade Hardness:
57-59 RC
Blade Length: 3.3 in.(8.38 cm)
Blade Thickness: 0.125 in. (0.317 cm)
Open Length: 8.0 in. (20.32 cm)
Closed Length: 4.65 in. (11.81 cm)
Handle Thickness: 0.47 in. (1.19 cm)
Weight: 5 oz. (141.75 g)
Blade Style: Tanto
Blade Grind: Chisel (available w/ plain edge or partially serrated)
Blade Finish: Black or stonewash:
Clip: Stainless steel
Clip Type: Right hand tip up carry (drill and tap for left hand tip up carry option)
Handle Material: Black G10
Lanyard Hole: Yes
Type/Use: Tactical, EDC
Origin: USA
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
MSRP: Starting at $273.95.

Material Disclosure

I received this product as a courtesy from the manufacturer so I could test it and give my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal or implied contract to give this product a good review. All opinions are my own and are based off my personal experience with the product.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


By Eugene Nielsen

Eugene Nielsen owns and operates a private intelligence and security consulting firm. He has a BA degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in Political Science. His byline has appeared on over 1,500 articles published in major national and international journals and magazines. He was on Contributing Staff of SWAT Magazine for over 20 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.