I had the benefit of receiving the Kershaw CQC-5K knife a few months ago. Yes, I know this thing has been out some time, but that’s okay—there is nothing wrong with being late to the show.
I was hesitant to give it a whirl, because up until this point I had not been a fan of either Kershaw or Emerson, but at the price (free), I couldn’t say no. A good friend gave it to me, and you never turn down a gift.
When I say I have not been a fan of Emerson or Kershaw it was never due to a quality issue. It was just a matter that neither had ever made a product that fit my needs. Well, that train of thought ended and this is now my every day carry (EDC) knife. I feel naked without having it in my pocket.
Note: What I am about to say is pretty much a no-go on blades, but what’s a good review without putting a product through its paces and seeing what it can handle? I immediately noticed the knife’s amazing construction—something you wouldn’t typically expect from a product in this price range. To be candid, I was expecting a cheap piece of junk with brittle steel that wouldn’t last a week in my hands—I can and will break everything. When I say it is built solid I mean it. I have banged this thing around, and it does not break.
In a pinch, I have used it in lieu of a screwdriver and didn’t break the blade. It has been used as a hammer to beat pins into place. After all the abuse, I have not had to tighten anything, and it barely has any scratching. Kershaw was not playing around with coatings on this blade.
Emerson Wave and Every Day Carry
The Emerson wave feature got me hooked on this knife. While it takes some time to get used to, once you have a handle on it, you will never want anything else.
The wave is a slight hook cut into the backside of the blade. When removing the knife from your pocket, you pull slightly to the rear, which causes the hook to catch. As it catches against the material, the blade will smoothly open.
Disclaimer: Do not practice using the wave design with your favorite clothes on, you will destroy them. Grab a pair of junk blue jeans until you are used to opening the knife with the wave, because you will most likely shred the pockets of your pants.
You may still be wondering why I love the wave feature so much. It’s simple—a quality blade is so much more than a day-to-day tool—it is also a self-defense device. There are places where (unfortunately) you cannot carry a firearm. What do you do? If you can’t find a different establishment, you need a knife on you. The wave feature rapidly deploys the knife blade when half seconds matter.
Sturdy Pocket Clip
I lost count of the number of pocket clips I have broken or bent. The Kershaw CQC-5K’s pocket clip has kept its form, without budging or bending. If that’s not enough, it is also reversible for those wrong-handed (left) people. My only complaint is that I wish it would seat deeper into my pocket.
You can judge a lot about a knife by the quality of the steel. You will have to sharpen soft steel blades often, as the gentlest of tasks dulls them quickly. That is not the case with the CQC. Having owned this knife for months, I have only had to sharpen it five or six times. While that may seem like a lot, it is actually very impressive.
This blade has cut through close to 100 fish, scraped across gravel and concrete, ground into copper when stripping wires, and let’s not forget performing daily tasks such as opening the mail and preparing and eating lunch. Through all of this, the Kershaw CQC has yet to fail me.
If I ever do manage to break my CQC, I will not hesitate to buy another. If I had to give it a rating, it would be a solid 9 out of 10. If the knife sat deeper in my pocket, it would be the perfect blade. Kershaw, with the Emerson wave design, brought us one of the best knives I have yet to use at a price that makes it suitable for anyone.
Have you found a budget EDC knife that has yet to fail you? Which one? Tell us about it in the comment section.
Kyle has been very active with firearms from a young age when his father gave him his first .22 and a brick of ammo. This led to deer hunting in southern Illinois and doves in west Texas. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, and currently works as a product tech for Cheaper Than Dirt!