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Bargain or Just Cheap? – Kershaw CQC-6K and E-Train

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives for a variety of uses in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


The line of collaboration knives by Emerson Knives and Kershaw is extensive and affordable. However, not all of them are bargains (see our CQC-4K review). The CQC-6K is the subject of today’s installment of Bargain or Just Cheap? and it has something impressive that no other folder in this category has.

Specs:

Lock: Frame Lock

Pocket Clip: Reversible, Tip up only

Steel: 8Cr14MoV

Handle: Textured G-10 front, 410 stainless steel back

Blade length: 3.25 in.

Closed length: 4.5 in.

Open length: 7.75 in.

Weight: 5 oz.

Observations from Use

So what does the CQC-6K have that no other knife in this category has? It has the E-Train – a fully functional training drone version of the CQC-6K. That is a huge value added over other knives if you are interested in training but still operating on a budget. Kershaw and Emerson should get major props for creating a budget-minded live blade and drone combo. Even if you aren’t interested in the CQC-6K, you may want to pick up an E-Train to add to your training tools.

The CQC-6K has a lot going for it on its own. It has the Emerson Wave Opening Feature which is a hooked protrusion that can made to catch the edge of your pocket (or other materials), deploying the knife blade as you remove it from your pocket. Once you get used to the Wave Opener, it is hard to live without.

The knife also has a useful clipped point blade shape with plenty of belly and straight edge for a variety of cuts. The knife has a roughly half-height, hollow primary ground and a clipped point. It is relatively thick for a folder at .11″ thick but the hollow grind does a good enough job of thinning the edge that it cuts well. Overall, the blade shape and profile are very useful for a variety of tasks.

The ergonomics are very good. The knife is comfortable in all 4 grips – tip up and down, edge in and out. The G-10 scale offers excellent traction and the deep finger choil serves to lock the hand in place. It feels good in the hand and has a handle heavy balance.

The lock-up the CQC-6K and E-Train that I purchased are both quite good. They lock up early on the lock bar so they should have room to wear in over time. The detent on my CQC-6K is a little light but adequate but the E-Train has an excellent detent.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

The CQC-6K does a few things better than the not-so-positively reviewed CQC-4K. First, it has a higher primary grind which improves cutting performance and the ergos are spot on. It is a better knife in every way.

I can’t stress how cool it is to see an affordable knife offered with an affordable and readily available training drone. I don’t know of another knife in this price category that offers a drone. It is especially impressive when you consider that both the CQC-6K and E-Train can be purchased for less than $50 total.

When you consider things like a useful blade shape, G-10 scale, Emerson Wave Opener, and the availability of a training drone, you have to conclude that this knife is a BARGAIN.

I will be using Amazon as the price base line for this series. All knives were purchased by me from Amazon:

Kershaw Emerson CQC-6K

Kershaw Emerson E-Train


Our goal is to represent knives for a variety of uses from EDC, to outdoor, to tactical knives. Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

Bargain or Just Cheap? – Kershaw Emerson CQC-4K

Welcome to Bargain or Just Cheap? This series will review budget friendly knives in a short format. All of the knives will cost less than $50 (in most cases, much less) and will be purchased out of my own pocket. I’ll buy them, carry them, and use them in an attempt to determine if the knife is a bargain or just cheap.


I’ve been carrying and using a Kershaw Emerson CQC-4K mostly because I was able to purchase it for $15. The ultra-low price was my initial attraction to it. It is one of the lowest priced options in the already very budget friendly line of Emerson designed Kershaw produced knives.

Specs:

Lock: Frame Lock

Pocket Clip: Reversible, Tip up only

Steel: 8Cr14MoV

Handle: Textured G-10 front, 410 steel back

Blade length: 3.25 in.

Closed length: 4.2 in.

Open length: 7.4 in.

Weight: 4.1 oz.

Observations from Use

There is a lot to like here. The size is great for EDC – plenty of blade for most EDC tasks, a long enough handle to support four fingers without crowding, and its very pocketable. The Emerson designed Wave Opening Feature works and is a great feature to have. The spear point blade has some belly, plenty of straight edge, and a useful point. The handle is comfortable in the hand. I find that it is also a good looking knife.

8Cr14MoV steel is a budget steel. It performs similarly to AUS-8. It is a stainless steel that sharpens easily. It lacks the edge holding ability of super steels but I find it completely acceptable. It is a solid, budget friendly steel and Kershaw seems to do well with it.

The lock on my example is very good. It locks up somewhat early so there is room for it to wear in and it does pass a spine whack test. The lock bar doesn’t stick and the detent is fairly strong and positive.

Unfortunately, there are some things about this knife that I don’t like. It is heavy for its size due to it’s thick 410 steel lock bar side and a full steel liner under the G-10 handle scale. The thumb disk doesn’t line up well with the relief cut in the handle making it difficult to access. Finally, the primary grind on this knife is a short, hollow grind that leaves the edge fairly thick. It cuts reasonably well but not as well as it could with a higher primary grind.

Bargain or Just Cheap?

If you like Emerson Wave Openers like me, you won’t find a cheaper one, especially with real G-10 handle scales. Unfortunately, the strange spacial relationship between the relief cut in the handle and the thumb disk strikes me as an avoidable design flaw with a very noticeable impact on how easy you can open the knife.

This knife might be a bargain when it can be found around $15-$18 but other than that I’ll say… Just Cheap. If you are going to spend over $20, I would pass unless you are drawn to its smaller size in relation to other Kershaw Emerson models. I think there are better, but larger, options in the Kershaw Emerson line like the CQC-6K which I will review at a later date.

All of the knives for this series will be purchased by me on Amazon: Kershaw Emerson CQC-4K


Do you have a favorite affordable knife? Let us know about it in the comments!

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