Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Kershaw Emerson CQC-3K

I really love this knife, I pre-ordered it as soon as I could and waited 6 months for it. I had always wished for Emerson's tacti-cool aesthetics on a smaller, inexpensive, EDC-oriented knife. The Kershaw Emerson CQC-3K gives you exactly that. With its thumb disk, wave opener, non-torx hardware, G10 scale and aggressive looking tanto point, it has a lot of the things people love about Ernest Emerson's US made knives but at Kershaw's import prices.

A year later, I still love this knife and carry it frequently. It has some serious scratches, and a year of heavy use plus frequent sharpening have rounded out the belly. It remains a super useful and reliable blade.

Things I like about this knife:

1. The wave opener is fun and functional. I prefer it over assisted openers, it's easily the fastest way to open a folding knife and you don't have to rely on a spring like with AO or auto knives.

2. Reliable, beefy frame lock. A nice chunk of black oxide coated 410 stainless steel makes up the lock side of the handle and locks the blade up strong with a loud click The US made Emerson models with frame locks are rare and expensive, so I was really happy when I learned that 6 of the 8 Kershaw Emerson models featured a frame lock design..

3. Compact and comfortable in the hand. Having hands on the smaller side, this is the perfect size for me. There's jimping everywhere it needs it and nowhere it doesn't. If you have larger hands you might want to consider the bigger knives in the series like the CQC-7K.

4. Easy maintenance. Non-torx screws mean I can adjust the pivot (or take the whole thing apart if I wanted to) using the standard screwdriver bits on my keyring. If you've ever been out anywhere and needed a torx bit you didn't have, it really sucks. Problem solved.

Yes, it's made in China, but if anybody in the knife industry knows how to take a great design and make it well and inexpensively in China, I feel like it's Kershaw. This is one of the most perfect beater knives I've owned. 

The Ontario RAT Model 1

This is my newest knife. I wanted a big, scary, black tactical knife with good serrations. I looked at a few models and settled on the Ontario RAT 1. It's everything I wanted. It's a smart, simple, no nonsense design with big cutting power and it's even bigger than I thought (with a 3.5" blade and an overall length of about 8.5"). The 'monster teeth' serrations saw through rope and other fibrous material with ease. I've always had good experiences with AUS-8 blade steel, it's a great value and a pleasure to sharpen.

There's a lot of debate over whether tip up or tip down carry is more natural, but the RAT's four position clip gives you both options, even for left handed users, something I think more knife designers should do. Even as a righty I've positioned pocket clips lefty to allow them to clip inside an internal coat pocket or onto webbing on a pack, so I think the benefits of a four position clip extend beyond hand dominance. The dual thumb studs allow for ambidextrous opening, and with some practice allow for a middle finger flick to open the knife instantly.without your thumb even touching them.

I see myself using this knife a lot, I tested it at work cutting plastic straps and cord and that made it very clear that it's going to be a user. I want to take this knife everywhere.

The Gerber Shard

The Shard is a smart and compact one piece multi-tool, or 'OPMT.' It's a true minimalist's tool, a single piece of stainless steel with several useful functionalities built into its design: Phillips driver, bottle opener, and a pry bar with flathead driver tips. There is a very large lanyard hole that makes it very easy to carry on a keyring. I use this at work regularly, the prybar is great for getting paint cans open or removing brackets from signs we make, it also excels at scraping. I find that the screwdrivers are perfect for quick adjustments for when I'm out in the world and don't have a proper screwdriver around, I can tighten or loosen any screw on my Kershaw Emerson with it.

The bottle opener works decent, but I have other openers like the one on my Leatherman Skeletool I usually go for first. I have read that the bottle opener can even open an oxygen tank like those used in ambulances, but I have never had an opportunity to test that and I don't think it's the tool I'd want to use for that.

The Shard sways between a $7.00 and sometimes as low as a $3.00 price point on Amazon, also qualifying for free shipping on qualifying orders. I think it's way worth that price, I've paid a lot more for tools I don't find as useful. If you're ever on Amazon and your cart isn't quite at the Supersaver minimum, maybe check what they're going for at the moment.