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Emerson Commander

Posted by Bugout Bill 
Emerson Commander
November 05, 2015 07:10PM
Embrace the weaboo:



I should have it in a week or so.

Some Specs:

Overall Length:8.75"
Blade Length:3.75"
Blade Thickness:0.125"
Weight:5.80 oz.

This is a big ol goofy knife, one of the more iconic designs in Emerson's line up. This, along with Ken Onion's work, arguably made the recurve popular on production knives. The history of this particular knife is quite interesting, being the descendant of a custom knife designed to kill sentries. Emerson then tweaked the design for a SERE knife, added some other features (the wave), and viola; you get this monstrosity. Despite it's history and appearence, this has been marketed as being one of the CQC series more utilitarian blades. There are various mentions of it's cutting performance for utility work, as well as skinning work.

Some things I will be looking into:

-Performance of such extreme belly and recurve in cutting and edge retention under rough use.

-How the coating holds up when cutting dirty material.

-Ease of sharpening a relatively difficult blade grind.

-How much more tactical the knife makes me.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 05, 2015 07:53PM
I don't know if Emersons will ever be my jam, but I certainly appreciate these write-ups. Interesting overview of the knife.

-Nate
Re: Emerson Commander
November 05, 2015 08:04PM
Nate: Thanks.

Emerson knives are similar to Randall Made Knives in the sense that you are really buying more the heritage rather than raw performance. Both companies have long and storied histories (Randall more so), the original product lines are beyond cool, and the prices are more due to collector value than anything else.

Honestly, I don't need any folding knife other than a Delica, an Endura, or a Leatherman Wave. None of those exude the same swagger, though.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 05, 2015 08:08PM
Nice choice Bill. I've always been curious about Emerson knives, never handled or used one though.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 05, 2015 08:28PM
Quote
Bugout Bill
Honestly, I don't need any folding knife other than a Delica, an Endura, or a Leatherman Wave. None of those exude the same swagger, though.

Absolutely, despite my shameless Spyderco and Bussekin binges I could easily get by with maybe $100 in blades, total. That might be enough to cover an axe and saw too. Might be an interesting challenge.

-Nate
Re: Emerson Commander
November 05, 2015 08:53PM
I've always liked the Commander. Granted the big recurve is probably not ideal for most uses, but it sure does look cool.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 06, 2015 03:10AM
I always wanted one of these bc I thought it looked awesome.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Always in search of a good choppa'
Re: Emerson Commander
November 06, 2015 09:49AM
Ryan: They are something you either fall for or could care less about. Emerson is a marketing genius in that regard.

Chad: It will be interesting to see how it compares to something like the ZT200.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 07, 2015 10:02PM
I always liked this knife, but all the Emerson production knives seem overpriced relative to their peers (sorry, I took Writing 121 four times in college, I still can't write a decent sentence in English). Other than it being an Emerson, and the fact that I like his knives and designs, I have a hard time not buying two Benchmade Griptiallians or three Spyderco Delicas for this when it first came out, never mind a Benchmade 940. Nowadays, you can buy 5 or 6 Spyderco Tenacious or Resilience knives for the price if an Emerson, and I can't, for some reason, come to terms with this.

---------------------------------------------------------
Stone Sharp Edges
[www.youtube.com] [www.facebook.com] [www.instagram.com]

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage."
--Cliff Stamp

"Cause geometry cuts, .....steel determines the level and the duration"
--Roman Landes

"But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of 'designing in the dark' "
--Sal Glesser
Re: Emerson Commander
November 08, 2015 07:50AM
Well Jason, I have a few knives that are certainly more costly than a knife needs to be, and while I could have gotten a few cheaper ones in stead, if a knife design looks interesting enough to me then the price isn't something I'm terribly concerned with, within reason. If I can't justify the price at one time, but I still want the knife, I just save enough to buy it so that the purchase doesn't really impact my normal financial situation. Just my perspective.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 08, 2015 08:17AM
The way I see the price: yes, they are overpriced. You are paying for the name. I don't really buy all that many folders, so I tend to only buy what really appeals to me.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 08, 2015 08:44AM
Bill, Ryan-
It's a little more of my personal situation, as because if health issues I cannot work regularly which affects my income, and I was speaking when I still had a small disposable amount of income and before Benchmade changed it's pricing policy(which means I can no longer afford Benchmades, although I support their policy, as %90 of the cutlery stores closed in Portland, OR, Benchmades backyard, within just a few years of each other, and none have opened), so in the year 1997-2001, I was deciding between an Benchmade Axis AFCK in D2, a 940, a 710 vs the Emerson Commander (and since I groin-line/IWB carry, the wave feature isn't that useful), which at the time the Emerson was $240 (the best G10 texture on the scales ever!) or a Axis AFCK D2 and 940 for ~$100-150(prices varied widely then, and you could find them new on sale), so I purchased both Benchmades instead.
Now that my income is much lower (don't ask), and you can get knives like a Benchmade HK/HD, Spyderco Byrd series and Tenacious/Resilience, Kershaw, CRKT, Ontario, ESEE, KaBar, all have folders within the design, performance, and quality of ~$100-200 knives, nevermind SRM, Ganzo, Bee/Navy ect., so this is my perspective and approach currently to knife buying.
At one time, the Wave Commander was my secondary grail knife, and I still really want one, it just doesn't make sense to buy one when if I saved every spare cent, it would take over a year to buy the Emerson, when I can now get a Kershaw CQC 4/5/6/7 K for about a month of savings, hence why I have been collecting budget/high value knives.

---------------------------------------------------------
Stone Sharp Edges
[www.youtube.com] [www.facebook.com] [www.instagram.com]

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage."
--Cliff Stamp

"Cause geometry cuts, .....steel determines the level and the duration"
--Roman Landes

"But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of 'designing in the dark' "
--Sal Glesser
Re: Emerson Commander
November 09, 2015 07:43PM
Received the knife today, here are some OOB impressions:

-Edge bevel is a little wonky, being thinner near the tip and base than in the middle of the recurve.

-From the two knives of theirs that I have owned, Emerson has solid OOB sharpness, easily capable of push shaving arm hair. This is always nice to see.

-The transition to the choil was a bit pointy, but a minute or two with the file on my Leatherman nicely chamfered it.

Looking forward to putting some actual use on it.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 09, 2015 08:04PM
Bill,
Can't wait!

---------------------------------------------------------
Stone Sharp Edges
[www.youtube.com] [www.facebook.com] [www.instagram.com]

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage."
--Cliff Stamp

"Cause geometry cuts, .....steel determines the level and the duration"
--Roman Landes

"But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of 'designing in the dark' "
--Sal Glesser
Re: Emerson Commander
November 17, 2015 08:32PM


In order of usefulness, from top to bottom.

This is a fairly surprising knife, but in a good way.

Ergonomics:

While the Emerson Horseman was a bit less than impressive, the oft touted ergonomics come through on this knife. The scales are nicely rounded and the grip is remarkably comfy.



Thumb ramps can be a hit or miss thing on a lot of knives. For my hand, this one works. The Commander falls into a sabre grip very naturally.



Hammer grip is also relatively comfortable; not something you see on a lot of folders.





Reverse grips are quite natural, though the comfort of Filipino grip with this knife is quite revealing about the design's purpose.

In general, the Commander exhibits solid ergonomics compared to other tactical folder designs like Strider or ZT, easily existing in the same class as a Spyderco Military or Endura. There is a slight hotspot present in a hammer grip, and the rather old Benchmade design clip could prove to be an issue for some users. The G10 is quite rough compared to a lot of other knives, though it is not overly abrasive. This allows for high security under wet or slippery conditions.

General Impressions in Use:

I will admit that I had fairly low expectations for the utility of this design, as I have used similar designs (i.e. ZT200) and been less than impressed. However, the high sabre grind and acute edge actually make this a practical knife for a lot of cutting tasks, existing in the same class as Spyderco's hollow ground folders or a more conservative FFG like a Tenacious. Provided the blade is sharp, the Commander is usable for a lot of kitchen tasks, like slicing onion, tomatoes, and other veggies. On cheese and meat, as well as softer foods, the cerakote finish doesn't seem to stick nearly as badly as black oxide or DLC. The recurve has the disadvantage of limiting the amount of the blade that you do a lot of cutting with, though it can prove advantageous in saving the rest of the edge if you are cutting on a plate.



On boxes, plastics, ect, the Commander has no real issues. There are many better performing knives, but the Commander's cutting ability is still quite capable. On opening cans, the coating did wear some, though not as severely as Cold Steel's awful teflon.

The initial OOB sharpness was solid, but degraded quickly for 154CM/VG-10. Upon opening the can, the loss of sharpness was quite rapid in the effected section, with some chipping occurring. Whether or not this is due to the chisel grind or power sharpening remains to be seen, though my Emerson Horseman exhibited similar edge retention.

As for the tactical goofiness, the wave opens reliably, perhaps better than the Emerson Kershaw or the Horseman. It is either a feature you like or don't, I like it. Unfortunately, it isn't the best bottle opener compared to the Wave on the Kershaw design. Perhaps removal of the thumb disk would help.



This would make a formidable impact tool as well.

Conclusions:

Despite it's aggressive design and tactical promotion, the Commander is a solid example of a working knife. It is comfortable and secure under most conditions, as well as offering cutting performance that a lot of people would be quite happy with. While a Spyderco Military or FFG Endura would offer higher cutting ability, the Commander offers a bit more lateral durability for prying or similar. As a tactical knife, the Commander lives up to the promotion. There is a definite fighting pedigree; with rapid deployment and ergonomics emphasizing this. However, none of these features detract from the overall practicality of the knife as a tool.

Among the hype and promotion so prevalent among tactical folders, the Emerson Commander is about as close as you will come to a knife that actually delivers.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 17, 2015 10:41PM
I am still in love with that knife, I just can't take the price.

---------------------------------------------------------
Stone Sharp Edges
[www.youtube.com] [www.facebook.com] [www.instagram.com]

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage."
--Cliff Stamp

"Cause geometry cuts, .....steel determines the level and the duration"
--Roman Landes

"But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of 'designing in the dark' "
--Sal Glesser
Re: Emerson Commander
November 18, 2015 03:46AM
Nice write-up Bill.glad it is working well for you. It is a cool design

_______________________________________________________________________________________________

Always in search of a good choppa'
Re: Emerson Commander
November 18, 2015 07:53AM
Bill,
Nice write up. How do you like the chisel edge with a recurve?

---------------------------------------------------------
Stone Sharp Edges
[www.youtube.com] [www.facebook.com] [www.instagram.com]

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage."
--Cliff Stamp

"Cause geometry cuts, .....steel determines the level and the duration"
--Roman Landes

"But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of 'designing in the dark' "
--Sal Glesser
Re: Emerson Commander
November 18, 2015 08:28AM
Jason: The ease of sharpening with Emerson's chisel edge is quite high, as it forces you to focus on deburring as a matter of course. With a spyderco CBN rod, sharpness can be returned in about two minutes.

This is a functional recurve, unlike the ZT200, though it still suffers on cuts if there is a minor loss of sharpness compared to a straight edge.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 20, 2015 10:18PM
Any comments about the nature / use of the recurve?
Re: Emerson Commander
November 20, 2015 10:45PM
Cliff: In the Commander, the recurve was included in order to pack as much cutting edge into the blade as possible. On material like cord or cardboard, the recurve does seem to bite into material as long as it is consistently sharp. If there is any damage, however, I have found that recurves seem to snag much worse.

On this particular knife, it does limit the portion of the blade you use for things like food prep and similar, but the thinner grind than the ZT200 or the Strider does mean that you can still do slicing rather well. It wouldn't be my first choice, but it does seem to be well executed on this particular knife.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
November 21, 2015 07:19PM
Sounds about right, since I have heard a recurve described as one large serration, and serrated knives act similar. I have been wondering and working on what finish and angle with a micro bevel would be durable to remain sharp and undamaged in serrated blades. Anyone have any input?

---------------------------------------------------------
Stone Sharp Edges
[www.youtube.com] [www.facebook.com] [www.instagram.com]

"I am still discussing issues of steels and performance at this stage."
--Cliff Stamp

"Cause geometry cuts, .....steel determines the level and the duration"
--Roman Landes

"But in general, I'm all about high performance, Ergos, safety. That's why I've been accused of 'designing in the dark' "
--Sal Glesser
Re: Emerson Commander
November 21, 2015 07:28PM
Nice write up on a tactical/practical. Does the broad tip pose any issues in your use?
Re: Emerson Commander
November 21, 2015 07:50PM
Jason: In regards to serrations, I think more study has to be done on the matter. Considering how heavily most serrated knives are used and the damage that can be taken, I think it needs to be first determined what steel is perhaps most appropriate first. Furthermore, whether or not the chisel grind nature of the serration makes it more prone to damage could also be related to the durability of serrations.

Chad: Thank you. Not particularly, when opening packages and similar, I tend to slice them open rather than poking them. In a knife of this sort, I would rather have tip durability over a very fine tip.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
December 09, 2015 08:54PM
One issue to keep an eye on:

The pivot seems to loosen after repeated openings, so thread locker may be needed.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
July 27, 2016 02:54PM
I finally succumbed to the weaboo. I bought an Emerson Commander.
Initial thoughts:

Fit and Finish

Corners of scales are not rounded. a small bevel at 45 degrees on the corner instead
Scales stand proud of the liners by a small amount
Lockup is positive. The amount of blade the lockbar engages depends on how forcefilly the blade is opened.

Ergonomics

G10 scales are "grippy". I like that.
Fits my hand well, comfortable in spite of proud scales

Sharpness
A nice compromise between slicing ability and push cutting ability

Negatives

Liners are different thicknesses and are made from different materials. Lockbar side is titanium and thicker than the other side. Non-lockbar liner appears to be stainless. If it is, it has not been passivated. It has started to rust in my pocket from the sweltering heat and humidity of the deep south.
Blade opening is stiff. I assume it will smoothe out over time..

Overall
I like it. It cuts pretty well. Still not sure about the chisel ground apex bevel. Time will tell.
Re: Emerson Commander
July 27, 2016 04:04PM
Curmudgeon: Nice! I'd be interested to hear how you think it compares to other knives of similar class.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
July 29, 2016 09:49AM
Bugout Bill:

Preliminary disclaimers
1. The information presented is subjective (anecdotal).
2. The conclusions are mine.
Notes:
My hands are the hands of a computer programmer, a job I held for 17 years. I am now retired. That said, I have significant callouses from all the knife work I have done.
The test medium is pressure treated pine 2" x 2" lumber. It had been used on a deck that was torn down. It continued to season outside for 4+ years. Total seasoning time about 8 years. It is significantly harder than non-pressure treated new pine lumber. If a different medium was used, the results would probably have been different
All of the knives compared against the Commander had been resharpened, unless noted, typically finished with a DMT fine (600 grit). Some may have had a 1200 grit DMT micro-bevel. I don't remember which were which. Certainly my sharpening skills influenced the results. Your mileage may vary. Now, I will state my opinion that knives with polished edges are more "fluid" in the wood. By that I mean that they will cut using less force than a comparable blade that was sharpened at 600 grit using a diamond hone.
The knives were compared to a new Emerson Commander. The factory edge had been used moderately before the comparisons were done. It has not been resharpened. The comparisons were done one at a time against the Commander.
The knives:
1. Spyderco Military, S30V, decent cutter, roughly equivalent to Commander, thin handle, not as comfortable as Commander, blade off center
2. Cold Steel Voyager x 2, BD1 & AUS 8, uncomfortable handle, Commander cuts better
3. Cold Steel Recon 1, large, XHP, apex angle reduced, OK handle, inside edges of G10 scales should be rounded, comparable cutter
4. Kershaw 1950, ?, recurved blade, bites deeper than Commander, less fluid in wood, handle less comfortable than Commander
5. Spyderco Paramilitary, S30V, comparable cutter to Commander, handle less comfortable
6. Spyderco Yojimbo, S30V, cuts better than Commander, but less fluid in wood, Commander handle more comfortable
7. Cold Steel Recon 1, XL, AUS8, factory edge, Emerson cuts better and is more comfortable in hand
8. Lion Steel Molletta, D2, aluminum handle, Emerson cuts better and is more comfortable in hand
9. Spyderco Gayle Bradler, CPM M4, blade reground almost to zero, small apex bevel, cuts bette than Commander, handle more uncomfortable than most (I hate the proud liners)
10. Spyderco PPT, S30V, convex edge, Commander cuts better, handle extremely uncomfortable
11. RAT Model 1, D2, apex bevel angle reduced, Commander cuts better and handle is more comfortable, cuts better than same model below
12. RAT Model 1, AUS 8, Commander cuts better and is more comfortable
The folding knives that have performed best cutting this test medium are these, in no particular order:
1. Enzo Birk, S30V, single bevel (scandi), small micro bevel applied to prevent chipping, rippling
2. Enzo PK70, S30V, single bevel (scandi), sharpened as Birk above
3. Case mini Sodbuster, CV, that has been reground to almost zero, with a small apex bevel
4. Opinel #10, stainless (12C27?), resharpened with a micro bevel
Re: Emerson Commander
July 30, 2016 03:32PM
Curmudgeon: interesting comparison, particularly the the Spyderco PPT and the Gayle Bradley. For some reason those stuck out to me as an interesting comparison as they are both widely liked, but with serious ergo weirdness.

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Bill22252 on YouTube. "See you space cowboy"

Resident Emerson Fanboi

Folding knives are fun, fixed blades are important.
Re: Emerson Commander
July 30, 2016 04:26PM
Bill, do you guys think that the Emerson or the Kershaw collaborations seem to cut better than a lot of knives because of the relatively low edge angle that comes with the chisel grind?

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