The Emerson PUK: The best modern blade

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Emerson knives have long made professional-grade sharp things for professional-grade people. The original CQC 6 by Ernest Emerson is a sacred treasure in the SEAL Teams, and Emerson knives have long served with military members. I carried a CQC 7 during my time as a Marine and now own and love numerous Emerson knives. They make one of my favorite fixed blade knives in the form of the Emerson PUK.

PUK stands for Police Utility Knife, and while it’s great for Police, it’s also a solid choice for Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, or Sailors. It can be tricky to find a good fixed blade knife. Lots of people purchase fixed blades and quickly find them too big for practical use. Many a fixed blade gets left on the pack after a few patrols.

Emerson PUK

Related: The Top 5 American Military Fighting Knives

The PUK finds a way to remain both effective and relatively compact. The PUK’s blade is 3.6 inches long and has an overall length of 8.5 inches. Longer blades often feel unwieldy for small tasks. The PUK delivers a short blade that’s sharp, easy to maneuver, and quite handy. The old school fighting knife called for a massive blade, but the modern fixed blade benefits greatly from a shorter blade.

The PUK is quite thin and weighs a mere 5.89 ounces. The PUK provides a compact fixed blade for everyday foot patrols, field ops, recon missions, and more.

Why The PUK?

Besides being lightweight, relatively short, and simple, the Emerson PUK is an outstanding knife. Ernest Emerson designs working knives with much pomp and circumstance. The short little blade makes it quite handy for a wide variety of tasks. As a working knife, it’s meant to fit and function in a wide variety of tasks.

The PUK provides users with a very sharp tool that can be called upon for typical field use. You can cut through everything from thick rope and uniform clothing to batoning wood and even a last-ditch self-defense weapon. Modern warfare rarely calls for a knife, but it’s not exactly an impossible situation. MOH recipient David Bellavia wrestled with an Iraqi insurgent and turned to his knife to finish the fight.

Emerson PUK

Related: Modern Knife Fighting – The Marine Corps Way

Predictably the PUK utilizes a full tang design. A full tang ensures the knife is as strong as it can possibly be. As one big piece of steel, the PUK is highly unlikely to break or bend. Emerson used 154 CM steel to build the blade, and it’s one of my favorite steels.

154 CM is traditionally a tool steel, and when used for knives, it’s a tough and rugged choice. It delivers excellent strength, the blade can get super sharp, and it retains the edge well. It can be tough to sharpen due to its strength, but I’ll take in favor of the strength and scalpel-like sharpness it offers.

Emerson PUK

The blade utilizes a traditional V grind. It marks a departure from Emerson’s love of chisel grinds. This allows the PUK to cut smoothly and consistently through a wide variety of materials. The steel, the grind, and the swedge near the tip allow it to be one heck of a stabbing tool. Not quite tanto-like, but good enough to pierce through some thicker materials.

Get A Grip

Emerson designed the PUK to provide a versatile option for those needing a knife. It’s also designed to be used from a duty perspective. You can wield the PUK with ease with wet or gloved hands. As most of our military readers know, gloves are a requirement for tactical situations and training environments.

The PUK wears G-10 handles that have been extremely and aggressively textured. When I say aggressively textured, I want to really emphasize the texture. It clings to your hand, and when you start doing hard work, you’ll want to wear gloves with it. The PUK will dig into your hand and create hot spots due to the texture.

Related: The Ka-Bar – A USMC Icon

Some might consider that a downside, but personally when gloves are a PPE requirement, it makes sense to have that aggressive texture. You won’t slip your grip with the PUK.

Packing the PUK

Admittedly, carrying the PUK is made much easier via the modular sheath included with the PUK. This Kydex sheath provides a steady friction fit that holds the blade quite well. The sheath comes with a Blade-Tech Tek Lok mount and is compatible with most other Blade-Tech mounts. The Tek Lok allows the blade to be carried at a wide variety of angles.

You can pack it vertically or horizontally, or even at a few different angles. The Tek Lok is adaptable for a wide variety of belt sizes. It can be carried on your average pants belt or adapted rather easily to a battle belt setup. If the Tek Lok isn’t for you, you can swap for MOLLE mounts, IWB loops, and more. It’s modular and adaptable to a wide variety of mounting options.

Fixed Blade Perfection

For duty use, the Emerson PUK is tough to beat. It’s lightweight, short, and handy. The PUK utilizes a rugged and versatile design paired with powerful steel. Add in the aggressively textured grips, ergonomic design, and versatile mission-ready sheath, and you have a duty knife that’s tough to beat. It can absorb some serious abuse and keep on kicking. The Emerson PUK provides a premium-grade knife at a rather friendly price point. If you need a fixed blade for your next field op, you can’t go wrong with the Emerson PUK.

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.