The following was excerpted from examiner.com, and written by Mike Searson, Knife and Sword Examiner:
Emerson Knives held the grand opening of its new factory in Harbor City, California this past weekend, with more factory space, an in-house CQB-training area, visitor lobby and other amenities.
There were several charity raffles, door prizes, contests, a raffle to “Build your own knife,” a custom knife lottery, and a demonstration by martial arts aficionado and Emerson instructor, Richard Bustillo, with a number of his students from the IMB Academy. Additionally, tattoo artist Vance Foster was on hand to provide body art for any willing subjects.
Ernest Emerson set up a “virtual museum” with the timeline of Emerson Knives featuring photos and some rare and unique pieces from the vault. Emerson made his first knife, a butterfly knife, in 1979, while working as a machinist for an aerospace company in southern California because he could not afford to buy one for his martial arts class. He had been studying under Dan Inosanto and Richard Bustillo (both protégés of the late Bruce Lee) at the time, and soon received requests from other students to make knives for them. Emerson made these early knives in exchange for the cost of materials.
He branched out into more conventional designs of the time, fixed blade knives and lockback folders, but soon was intrigued by the LinerLock® design developed by Michael Walker. With Walker’s permission, he incorporated the lock into his own designs and used high-end materials such as mother-of-pearl, titanium and paua shell in his knives. Falling back on his martial arts background, he stripped these designs down to their essence and made a series of tactical knives. These knives featured bead-blasted titanium hardware and black-canvas-Micarta® scales.
In the 1980s he was contacted by a group of “underwater welders” to build a “hard use folding knife as strong as a fixed blade that could perform in extreme environments.” The “welders” turned out to be members of SEAL Team Six, for whom Emerson designed a knife from the ground up. The knife incorporated a unique chisel-ground blade, sharpened on only one side to eliminate parasitic drag and was named the CQC-6.
After profiles in knife magazines and being mentioned in the novels written by Richard Marcinko, the founder of SEAL Team Six, the CQC-6 took the knife community by storm in the 1990’s. Military and firearm aficionados purchased the knife as did legions of knife collectors. Emerson designed a slightly different version for Benchmade Knives in 1994, the CQC-7.
In 1997, Emerson launched his company as a full-time endeavor to produce knives on a larger scale for both his military and police contracts, and to supply the quickly growing collector base.
More than just a Knifemaker, Emerson is an accomplished martial artist. This new facility not only has more factory and warehouse space, but has a dedicated training area for Emerson’s CQB classes.
The highlight of the grand opening was the fabled “Emerson Lottery.” When the demand became overwhelming, Emerson stopped taking custom orders in 2000 and the only way to get a custom knife from him was at a show. To make it fair to the numerous collectors, dealers, and purveyors, this is done via lottery. Names are written on slips of paper and placed in a box. Whoever’s name is drawn gets a chance to buy a knife at the “table price.” Often the ratio of knives to consumers is more than 10-to-1, and with good reason. A custom knife may cost $650 at a show, but on the aftermarket can go for more than three times that amount.
As is always the case with Emerson Knives, the donations for the raffles were generous. According to Mary Emerson, over $3,000 had been raised to benefit the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, The Naval Special Warior Foundation and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
For more information on Emerson Knives, consult the company’s website: http://www.emersonknives.com.
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