Emerson Horseman Review

I have bought a number of Emerson knives under the guise that they were going to be my next EDC. Ernest’s blades have an American bravado to them that I really enjoy, and on several occasions I’ve found myself say, “Oh yeah, I’m going to EDC the heck out of this thing,” as my cursor hovers over the buy button. When the knife arrives it’s usually about twice as big as I imagined. The unfortunate truth is that while I enjoy the knife for what it is, it never ends up staying in my pocket.

I have (presumably) learned from this mistake several times now, and purchased my latest Emerson, the Horseman (aka the mini CQC-8), because it is a smaller knife.

Ernest calls this scaled down version of the CQC-8 “the Horseman” because it was designed to be carried while riding a horse. I haven’t been near a horse for at least a decade, so unfortunately I will not be providing any commentary on the blade’s equestrian capabilities. That said, I do hope to answer whether the knife is a worthy urban EDC.

General Dimensions and Blade Details

The Horseman has an overall length of 8.35″, sports a 3.54″ blade, and weighs 4.8 ounces. Compared to previously reviewed Emersons like the Super Commander and CQC-13 this is a much smaller knife. That said, this is still an Emerson, and it still has a blade over 3.5″ inches long. It’s got a pleasant thickness to it, a reassuring heft, and generally isn’t what I would call a small knife. While it is definitely more pocketable than some of their other offerings, it’s no gentleman’s folder either.

Emerson Horseman

It’s hard for me to determine what exactly the blade shape would be classified as – perhaps a modified clip point? Some call it “the banana blade,” and to me that is as good a classification as any. The curved edge comes to a very acute tip thanks to a finely ground swedge. Like all of my other Emersons I have handled, the blade has been beautifully ground. I once again opted for the stonewashed version. I love the way stonewashed version is finished with it’s sparkling flats and satin grinds.

Like most Emerson knives this blade has been V ground, but is left with a chisel ground edge. Ernest claims this is done for ease of sharpening, and I must say that the edge was very easy to maintain. The steel is 154CM: a well-balanced blade material that should be no stranger to regular readers of this blog. 154CM sharpens nicely and holds a good edge.

I tested the Horseman out on a variety of materials. I started with a 6-foot length of 1/4″ thick sisal rope and had no issues cutting it inch long sections. I then moved on to a piece of 3/4″ thick manilla rope – a pretty nasty material – and the Horseman once again cut cleanly and with confidence. I found the jimping on the spine of the blade a bit aggressive under repeated hard cutting, but for normal work I think you will find it is alright.

Emerson Horseman Blade

I touched the chisel edge up on a strop and then moved along to several pieces of cardboard. The Horseman cut without issue although I do prefer a more conventional V ground edge over a chisel edge for cardboard. I find that a V edge tracks through cardboard a little easier, but that could just be due to my relative inexperience with chisel edges. I will say that the chisel edge is capable of getting razor sharp with very little effort. Ultimately I was satisfied with how the Horseman worked on cardboard.

I rounded things out with a little carving on a piece of pine 2×2. The fine chisel edge made for an aggressive carver, and I was pleased with how quickly the knife removed material. I have to admit that I found the handle pretty uncomfortable under this kind of use, and resorted to wearing a glove to finish the job. That is pretty much par for the course with most folders, but I felt it was still worth mentioning.

Ultimately I found the Horseman to be a capable cutter well suited to a variety of tasks. As expected, the 154CM held onto its edge, and was easy to keep sharp. I had no issues with rust or corrosion either.

Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip

The Horseman’s handle follows the same formula of all of Emerson’s other knives: black G10 scales over a steel non-locking liner and a titanium locking liner with a black G10 backspacer. Everything is held together with Phillips and flat-head hardware. If you have seem one Emerson handle, you have pretty much seen them all. My Horseman came well finished. All of the parts are well lined up, there are no tooling marks on the liners, and everything is very solid. It’s simply constructed, but also well done.

Emerson Horseman Handle

From an ergonomic standpoint, the Horseman benefits from Ernest’s decades of knife design and martial arts experience. The Horseman feels very natural in both forward and reverse grips. The deep finger guard makes it difficult to slip forward on the knife, and the thick handle provides plenty of support for your palm. The jimping on the thumb ramp provides good traction, but it can get uncomfortable under extended use. For normal use I think most will find the thumb ramp to be comfortable.

Emerson Horseman Ergonomics

The pocket clip is the same clip found on all Emerson knives. It’s a simple black parkerized clip and is very similar to the standard Benchmade clip. This isn’t an ultra deep carry, but the Horseman rides reasonably low and carries discretely in the pocket. Despite being a “mini” Emerson, this is still a thicker knife, and it still weighs 4.8 ounces. I definitely felt it while carrying it around, but there are certainly bulkier knives on the market. It carries better with jeans and thicker fabrics.

Deployment and Lockup

The Horseman makes use of Ernest Emerson’s patented wave feature for deployment. For the uninitiated, this is a tried and true method of rapidly opening a folding knife. They also included a thumb disk on this model, which is easy to access and suits the lines of the knife. My model came a little stiff, and could probably stand to be taken down, cleaned, and reassembled with some tuf-glide or other high end lubricant.

Emerson Horseman Lock Up

For lockup we have the aforementioned titanium locking liner. It is a bit thicker than the steel non-locking liner, and engages nice and early. There is a little stick on the lock of my knife, but it isn’t obnoxious. There is no blade play in any direction. There is something very purposeful about the way this knife was manufactured and assembled, and the solid lockup adds to that feel.

Emerson Horseman Pocket Clip

Emerson Horseman – Final Thoughts

The Horseman is another well contemplated offering from Emerson, and I think it will satisfy fans of Emerson’s products that want something a little more manageable for carry on a daily basis. It has the same features and design quirks of its bigger brothers, but it doesn’t compromise in ergonomic or cutting performance. That said, this is still a thick knife, and at 4.8 ounces I definitely feel it in my pocket. Whether it will make a practical EDC knife for you is entirely subjective.

I will say that this is a sturdy no-nonsense knife, and I was surprised with how much I have enjoyed it. My particular knife is immaculate, and it has been fun to carry. If you can find one as solid as this I think you will like it.

I recommend purchasing the Emerson Horseman at BladeHQ. Purchasing anything through any of the links on this website helps support BladeReviews. As always, any and all support is greatly appreciated! Thank you very much.

Emerson Horseman on BladeHQ
Emerson Horseman – $149.95
Retail Price: $203.95
You Save: $54.00
From: BladeHQ

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This entry was posted in EDC Knives, Emerson, Folding Knives, Made in the USA, Tactical Knives and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Emerson Horseman Review

  1. JudasD says:

    I was very excited the first time i had heard about Emerson knives. The All-American company and persona was very alluring to me. I had a number of Emerson’s on my want list for a very long time and i couldn’t wait until the day i could own one . The very first time i held one i must say i was a bit let down. :( The build quality was the first thing i noticed. Just a few little items like fit and finish and clean-up under the scales were not there. For the price of these knives i just expect a bit more. While i do own an Emerson i am afraid it will probably be my only Emerson. For the money i think something like a Spyderco or a Benchmade really give you a better bang for the buck.


    • Dan says:

      Hey Judas,

      Thanks for stopping by man. I have to admit that some of my earlier experiences with Emerson knives were underwhelming. I gotta say that the past 2 knives I have reviewed have been excellent as far as fit and finish is concerned. Based on that experience I’d consider giving them another chance – just my .02 of course.



  2. Steven says:

    First of all I would like to tell you that I like your reviews a lot. They are very informative.
    You talk about ending up with a rather big Emerson every time you purchase one. My Emerson, I bought 2 years ago, is the CQC 14 (Snubby). What I like about that knife is that it has a blade that is under 3 inches but with a proper full sized handle. It still carries as a big knife (because of the full sized handle) but is legal in a lot of places and it is comfortable to use for EDC tasks as well as self defense (I assume the last statement as I never used it for SD)
    I also compared the Mini CQC 8 (Horseman) and the CQC 7 (they almost have the same length).
    I was interested in purchasing either the Mini CQC 8 or CQC 7 regular size. As I have never carried a tanto blade as an EDC knife (never even owned one) and since I am used to a blades with at least some belly I am unsure about how well a tanto blade performs for most EDC tasks.
    The blade shape looks more up to abuse compared to the mini CQC 8. (at first glance)

    Now that you own both, what are your thoughts if you were to compare both models?
    (those two models are also the only ones immediately available in the shop here in South Africa)

    Thanks in advance.

    • Dan says:

      Hi Steven,

      Thanks for the insightful comment and sorry it has taken me so long to reply to it. I appreciate the kind words and am glad you enjoy the site and reviews.

      The CQC 14 has always intrigued me for the very reasons you describe. I like the practicality of it. I know a lot of people focus on blade to handle length, and while I can appreciate where they are coming from, I totally could care less to blade to handle length. The CQC 14 epitomizes that in it’s focus on function over form.

      To answer your question (re CQC 7 vs Mini CQC 8) I would suggest getting whichever pattern appeals to you more because functionally they are very similar (at least in my opinion). I like them both for what they are, and would have a hard time recommending one over the other. For EDC use I suppose I like the belly of the Mini 8 a little more, but I EDC tantos with no ill effects. Just my .02 of course – thanks again for the great comment.


  3. Thomas says:

    I was wondering how your horseman has held up over time? Are there any issues with it and has it smoothed out at all?

    • Dan says:

      Hi Thomas, I am still enjoying my Horseman a lot. This review isn’t that old so I can’t say a whole lot has changed. It’s still very solid and functional, no blade play or centering issues or anything like that. The action is still a little stiff but honestly I think I need to take it apart and clean out the old grease if I ever want to improve that.

      Thanks for the great questions, hope this helped a little.


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