Regarding the fit and finish of Emerson Knives-
I’ve never built the knives for looks or for a fancy finish or for “perfection.” You’ll notice we never enter any of the “quality in manufacturing” categories at the Blade Show. We don’t because we know we won’t win.
We have however, won the top award, Overall Knife of the year and several other awards including American Made Knife of the Year, along with a long list of awards from many many shows. The thing about fit and finish is that, that is all it is, fit and finish. It has nothing to do with the function of the knife or the design of the knife.
Now, I’m going to tell you that Chris Reeves is a dear friend of mine. Sal Glesser is a friend of mine and Columbia River well, I really don’t know them personally. Having said that, I will now say that those are the knives that I am most often compared to. All of them have fine fit and finish.
Now, with all due respect, I will also tell you this. None of those knives were present when (all) of the Somali pirates were taken down. None of those knives were present when Al Zarqawi was captured and killed.
None of those knives were present when Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was taken captive. And none of those knives were present when Osama Bin Laden was shot dead. Yet, there were knives that were present at all of those and hundreds more firefights, assaults and covert actions. Anyone care to guess what knives those were?
We make tens of thousands of knives a year. We get about 35-40 complaints a year about fit and finish, and it is less than a fraction of one percent of our total. The other tens of thousands seen to be just fine for our customers.
Now, before all the business majors come out and say “Ernest Emerson is not a good businessman. He isn’t responding to the demands of his customers or evolving his business plan.” I will just say this, “Like Hell I’m not.” We haven’t even had to advertise in almost 10 years. And yet our business continues to grow and prosper.
You can say what you want about me or my knives, but you can never say that I don’t know my customers. Hell, I know several thousand of them on a first name basis, and many are my friends. I know what knives they need and I know what they want and expect in an Emerson Knife. There are no other major knife companies with that close a relationship to their customers.
Most of you know me. It’s obvious that some of you do not. To me a knife is just like a good hammer. It is a tool. I just need it to work and work. People come to like Emerson Knives because that’s what they do. And I’m happy that in that regard, I’ve done my job well.
A little more about me. I’ve dealt with this same type of issue both in regard to shooting and in combat skills. I’ve had people say things like “Your feet were not in the “right” position. Your punch didn’t turn properly. You didn’t squeeze your knees together on the arm bar. I usually respond by saying “come here, put your hands up.” And in a couple of seconds they are either on their ass or tapping out. I once had a guy tell me one time I don’t know anything about weapon control in a knife attack. I had him come out and I said “I want you to “control” my knife.” I hit him about six times with the knife, and kicked his right leg so hard that he buckled. I told him, You’re lucky I didn’t throw my left cross. your guard was down the whole time you were chasing my knife. I didn’t want to hurt you.” In a real fight you don’t control the weapon. You control the man. The weapon will follow.” By the way, he is now a good friend of mine.
I can’t tell you about all the different martial arts and the goofy names for all of their techniques. I couldn’t tell you all the crazy “rules of fighting” that they all claimed you needed to know. I can tell you what it’s like to get caught with a straight right and get knocked clean out. I can tell you what it feels like to knock someone out. I can tell you what it’s like to break your knuckles on someones face (more than once). I can tell you what it feels like to feel your nose slowly snap as your face is being ground into the mat. I can tell you what it’s like to see cross-eyed for a couple of hours after being hit so hard you see stars. I can tell you what it feels like when your jaws and teeth don’t align for a couple of days after taking a good hook to the chin.
I can tell you what it’s like to do roadwork in the snow in the dark at 0430 hrs before you start your morning workout in a freezing cold gym at 0500 hours for two hours, knowing that you are going to train for another two hours that evening.
Most of the guys who always knew all the details about fighting arts just couldn’t tell you those things.
As to shooting skills, I know nothing about ballistics, wound cavities, foot pounds of energy, muzzle velocity, etc, etc. But I can hit a target. I can hit it under stress and I can hit it when someone is shooting back at me. And it doesn’t matter if it is a pistol, a rifle, a subgun, or a shotgun.
We could track a white tail deer in the Northern woods in -12 degree weather, shoot it, dress it out and eat venison if you would like. I use a 50 year old Remington 30-06 that used to belong to my Dad, to do the job. I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what brand of bullets I was using.
I have a friend who is a Navy SEAL Sniper who told me he was not interested in all the minutiae and details that revolve around shooters and their discussions of such. But, his Chief told him, son, you have to learn all that crap or you’ll never be accepted into the “community” no matter how good you are. He was the top sniper in his class and has a long list of “accomplishments.” He knows his dope but he still doesn’t’ know all of the facts and figures the others guys argue about constantly. And everyone wants him for their deployment.
I was a pretty good athlete, a serious athlete. I played college football and pro baseball. In my high school we had a serious badminton competition every year and many of the competitors went out and purchased $150.00 aluminum rackets to compete with. They were very nice, very light, very tight and had a lot of spring. My Junior year I went down to our local hardware store and bought a cheap backyard badminton set for $29.95 with four wooden rackets. I took one of those loose wooden rackets, painted it red, white and blue, wrote the words “U.S. Bomber,” on the handle and whipped everyone in the tournament of over 100 players. I did it to prove it was not about the equipment, it was about the player. You may want to read an article I wrote for human events on the problem with weapons dependency for more insight into that mindset.
When I played ball, I couldn’t tell you all the stats of the major league players or who was in first place. I didn’t buy a new mitt or cleats every year. But I can tell you what it feels like to catch a line drive hit so hard that it hisses in the air and your hand swells up for days after the catch. I could tell you how you can’t sleep on either side at night because of the open strawberries on your hips from stealing bases. I could tell you the difference in the feel of a bat due to its grain and density when it contacts the ball. And I could tell you what it feels like to hit one “out of the park”, and I never, ever, wore batting gloves. I still have and use the same mitt I bought in 1971. After re-lacing it dozens of times, it still catches as good as it ever did.
The guys who always knew all the stats never got the chance to play against those major leaguers. I did.
People are always trying to put me in a box, a conventional box along with all the other conventional knife companies. I get that. Problem is, we’re not conventional. Never have been and never will be. I don’t fit into a box – any box for that matter, and I never will.
Some have even bragged, “I’ve got the balls to tell Ernest Emerson what’s wrong with his knives. I’m not a fan boy.” All I can say is if that’s your definition of having balls then you’ve not had a very hard life.
You might ask why is Emerson going on about all this stuff? It has nothing to do with knives or fit and finish.
Well, it has everything to do with my knives because it is about me and who I am. My knives reflect the way I see them and the way I use them. The point being made is that some of you do not know me or even know about me. If you did know me then you would know that I am about performance and performance only. Either something works or it does not. Either you can do something or you cannot. It does not matter to me how much you “know” about the subject or the fanciness of your gear. And whether or not the handles or liners line up perfectly or not on the ass end of a knife does not affect the performance of the knife in one single way.
And in the end those other, highly finished knives don’t get to go on all those crazy adventures that mine do. And selfishly, I’m damned proud of it. Maybe I’m doing something right.
Maybe some of you know me just a little better now. And maybe some of you will now know why my knives are the way they are.
My Best Regards,
Ernest R. Emerson