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The Mini CQC 15 – an Emerson classic

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I can’t think of a tool I use more than a good pocket knife on duty and off duty. This was especially true when I was still active duty. I wouldn’t be caught in my skivvies without a good pocket knife. I love Emerson knives, and one of my favorites is the Mini CQC 15. The CQC 7 was my knife of choice during my time as a Marine, but these days I carry the Mini CQC 15 and find it to be one of the more versatile knives on the market.

The Mini CQC 15 Blade

The Mini CQC 15 is the more carryable model, but don’t let the Mini moniker fool you. The blade is 3.5 inches, and the overall length of the knife is 7.9 inches. Mini is relative, and this is a big boy knife. The blade is where the versatility lies. It combines the tanto tip with a good belly. Tanto tips are for penetrating and stabbing through thick material. This tanto tip is reinforced and designed to penetrate deeply and surely.

The blade takes the belly from the Commander. The pronounced belly optimizes your cutting edge and allows you to slice through thick material with ease. I use mine for everything from cutting apples to skinning deer, and the belly will enable it to glide through thick cuts. The belly makes the knife a more versatile tool compared to the straight-bladed CQC 7. The tanto tip ensures you can stab this blade through hard dirt, ice, roots, and even thin metal if needed.

The Mini CQC 15’s blade is made from 154 CM steel. This is a formidable tool steel that’s known for its strength and rigid design. It’s powerful and can take a ton of abuse and keep on ticking. The blade holds an excellent edge and does so for a good long time. The 154 CM steel also shrugs off rust, and that’s a godsend when doing pirate things.

The blade’s durable design does mean you need some effort to get it nice and sharp, especially if you are prone to run a blade until its dull. You don’t have to sharpen the knife every time you use it, but it will save you some work if you sharpen it before it gets dull.

When this thing is slicked up, and sharp it rips through most materials. Fabrics, ropes, paper, cardboard, and even thick tarps are no match for the Mini CQC 15. It slices through just about anything with just a little effort. It might be tasked with opening MREs more than anything, but it can also cut through combat uniforms, webbing, and much more if needed.

The Chisel Grind

The blade uses a chisel edge grind. Most blades use a V grind in which both sides of the blade’s edge is sharpened. The Emerson blades use a single side chisel grind. This grind is a big reason why I love the knife for military use. The chisel edge is quicker and easier to sharpen, and when in the field or on deployment, the time and equipment needed to keep your knife sharp might be short. The single edge chisel design makes it easy to keep the blade sharp with nothing more than a sharpening rod.

The chisel edge is also tougher and more resistant to chipping than a V grind. Tough is a valuable trait in gear designed for military life. The chisel edge has a downside. These edges tend to cut a little rougher and won’t glide like a high-end kitchen knife.

Opening the Mini CQC 15

There are two ways to open the Mini CQC 15 and flip the blade into action. The first is the ambidextrous thumb disk located on top of the blade—a flick your thumb and wrist, and the blade schwings into action.

The second means is the Wave function. See the bottle opener like hook on top of the blade? That’s the Wave. When pulled correctly from your pocket, this Wave will hook onto your pocket and automatically open the blade as you lift the knife from your pocket. This creates a one-handed opening method that can be ultra-handy when your other hide is tied up. Admittedly this takes some practice but can be quite valuable to learn.

The Handle

A good blade isn’t much without a good handle. The Mini CQC 15 is designed from the ground up for the challenging environments, and tasks soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen are tasked with facing daily. With this in mind, Emerson installed a set of heavily and aggressively textured G10 panels on the CQC series.

To a bare hand, these panels feel downright abusive and abrasive. They take aggressive texturing to a different level, but like all things with this knife, it serves a purpose. That aggressive grip texture ensures the knife stays in your hand regardless of the conditions you’re facing. You can be wearing gloves, have soaking wet hands, having freezing cold hands, and you won’t easily lose your grip with the Mini CQC 15.

The grip panels may be a bit much, but it’s preferable to losing your grip in a critical situation. With a blade, this sharp a lost grip could mean a serious injury, and if you’re injured, you’re out of the fight.

The Complete Package

The Mini CQC 15 is an ultra-strong, well made, and durable knife design fitted for the rigors of military life. Emerson’s reputation is also unmatched, and their knives have achieved legendary status among military members. The Mini CQC 15 is a versatile tool that can wear the many hats a knife is tasked with. From mess duty to emergency first aid, the Mini CQC 15 is here to serve.

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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.