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Last Updated: March 4, 2018
Fans of Emerson Knives are no stranger to the Commander. It’s one of Emerson’s original designs and is among their most popular models to this day. So it would seem like a no-brainer to take this classic knife and come out with a mini version, and the Super Commander shown here. Having owned this one for a while now I can say that this knife not only has all the things that made the original Commander so desirable, but a lot more.
Buy the Emerson Commander at BladeHQ
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The Super Commander has an overall length of 9.5″, a 4″ blade, and it weighs 7 ounces. Yeah, this is not one that I’d like to EDC (although plenty of people do), but it actually felt surprisingly good in my pocket and feels light for its size. This of course would make a great tactical knife, large utility knife, or just a welcome addition to the collection.
The blade on this beast is just a thing of beauty. I tell you, Emerson does not mess around when it comes to grinding their steel, and Super Commander’s blade is nothing short of epic. Of course you have that classic Commander blade shape, the nice drop point with the swooping recurve and nasty belly. They started with a thick piece of steel and everything has been ground with laser like precision (including the swedge – a recent refinement to the Commander series). I am super impressed with the blade on this knife.
Note that this Super Commander is “V” ground – although the actual edge is a chisel grind. I know this polarizes people but the grind works alright for me and the knife gets extremely sharp.
What I especially love about my Super is the gorgeous stone wash on the flats. Now, stonewashes have recently experienced a resurgence in popularity. I have to say this is the finest, most beautifully stonewashed knife I have ever seen – nicer even than the Chris Reeve knives I have handled. The stonewashing is so well done it basically has given the knife a jeweled appearance. My recommendation is if you are picking up an Emerson don’t get the coated version, don’t get the satin finish – get the stonewash (you can thank me later).
Emerson uses 154CM for all of the blades on all of their knives. They found something that works and are sticking with it – I can totally appreciate that. 154CM is a long time favorite steel of mine, it gets sharp, holds the edge and is fairly resistant to corrosion. A good all-round steel.
Handle, Ergonomics and Pocket Clip
The handle on the Super Commander is relatively plain next to the beautiful blade. Again, Emerson has a formula, and they tend to stick with what works. In this case it’s black G10 over steel and titanium liners with a G10 backspacer. The handles are held together with phillips screws, an interesting touch that was designed for easy maintenance in the field. All in all, handle construction is solid. The liners haven’t been milled out, but the titanium liner lock helps lighten the load. The steel liner could be milled to reduce weight, but I find that unnecessary here. Everything is sturdy and lines up well.
You would expect the ergonomics on such a large knife to be decent, and the Super Commander doesn’t disappoint. The spacious handle gives you plenty of room for any grip, and the Commander feels very comfortable in hand. There is a large choil that forms a nice guard, and the thumb ramp is substantial and nicely jimped. The edges of the handle have all been rounded and the G10 has a nice medium rough texture to it. No complaints with the ergonomics.
The pocket clip on the Super Commander is a nice sturdy blackened clip. It’s not a low rider clip, but it rides low enough for my tastes and has good retention. The one issue is that it is not ambidextrous. I could send this knife in to the factory and they will drill and tap some holes for like $25, but really – this should have already been done. Ambidextrous clips are important – not only for lefties like me, but for right-handers who like carrying knives on their weak side.
Deployment and Lockup
My Super Commander came with a black thumb disk. It works alright, not really my first choice (especially with such a big blade). I think you might be able to get this one with a thumb hole – that may be preferable although personally I’m not a huge fan of the Emerson style thumbholes. What I am a fan of is the wave deployment. In my mind this is the only real way to deploy this sucker. There is nothing like having 4 inches of gleaming steel at your fingertips, and the wave is the absolute fastest way to make that happen with a folding knife.
Lockup is done through a nice titanium liner lock. Mine engages very early, and it’s an extremely solid lockup. It’s a well executed lock that has held up so far. On the subject of deployment and lockup, my blade didn’t come perfectly centered and I wasn’t able to get it tuned with the pivot screw – it’s not that bad though. An interesting thing to note about the pivot screw is that it is it uses a flat head driver rather than more conventional torx bits.
Emerson Super Commander Review – Final Thoughts
The Super Commander is one hell of a knife, I don’t know any other way to really say it. The blade is the showpiece here – it is beautifully ground, and the stonewash finish on the flats provides awesome visual interest. I’d buy this knife just for the blade.
That said, everything else is pretty solid on this one. The materials are all great. Fit and finish is good – not outstanding, but good. Lockup on mine is super early and deployment is very smooth. My blade isn’t perfectly centered, and I noticed just some small things that could have been finished a little better (like the thumb ramp, and the backspacer isn’t 100% flush with the handles). But these are very minor issues, and are par for the course with all the Emersons I’ve handled.
So if an Emerson Super Commander is on your radar I think it’s a great knife. These retail for around $250, which is on the spendy side – but this is a big knife made in America (and it’s an Emerson) so frankly price wasn’t a big factor for me… and I suspect that would be true for many Emerson enthusiasts. So for the final word on the Super Commander – I think it’s a great knife, and I recommend the stonewash finish.
Emerson Super Commander – $234.95
Retail Price: $312.00
You Save: $78.00
- Emerson Wave Feature
- Plain Edge
- Black G-10 Handles
- Titanium Liner Lock
- Made in the USA
I recommend buying the Emerson Super Commander at BladeHQ or Amazon. Thanks for checking out the review.
I am not a big Emerson fan, but 2 things about them really strike me as a good thing. One is that they have chosen a steel and they stick with it and seemingly have it down perfect. I much prefer this instead of others who go with the flavor of the month steel and never get it quite right before they move on to the next flavor.
In all my years of knife using I have only had a screw on a folder come loose maybe once or twice, but when it does happen there is nothing worse than some oddball screwdriver required to tighten it that you most likely wont have. Emerson has done a great thing by using screws that a Swiss-Army-Knife can handle.
As always, great review and pics!
Thanks KG – nice points. They really know how to work with 154CM and phillips head screw construction is a nice touch.
The Edge Observer says
I haven’t been a big Emerson fan in the past but lately I’ve been taking an interest in some of the models. This review has me even more interested, although I’ll likely go smaller. Nice shots and video!
Thanks EO! I’ve had a couple Emersons now and I like them both. They are definitely a little different.
Hi. Great reviews. I really enjoy them and they are very thorough. Just one FYI point. The Emerson liners are titanium on he lock side and stainless steel on the non-locking side. That’s pretty much always been their formula unless it’s a framelock for the HD-7 or the CQC-12 and HD-12 as well as their customs. Pretty much all other Emersons are titanium locking liners and stainless opposite liners. I love my Emersons!
Thanks Pyaoliang – I did not realize that! I appreciate the info brother, glad you are enjoying the reviews.
Great review. I must say, I like the looks of the Super Commander! I like a large blade and I have been giving it a hard look, however there is one thing that stops me from buying one and that is overall attention to detail and quality. For example, in your review you state: “my blade didn’t come perfectly centered and I wasn’t able to get it tuned with the pivot screw – it’s not that bad though. “. Now if I paid $50 for it, I would say it’s to be expected but not when the knife costs $312.95 retail. For that kind of money, I expect it to be perfect, NO off centered blade or other issues. Now I’m not bias, I REALLY like the look of the Super Commander and don’t mind spending the money, but I want the blade to be dead centered. This isn’t the first place, nor the only comment I’ve heard. Granted I’ve heard many good comments but I can’t tolerate the idea of spending that kind of money for it to come out of the box with the blade not centered. To me they are missing the attention to ALL the details. Why make a beautiful blade like that to be OFF center?
EXCELLENT point. These fit and finish issues were not something that I was trying to gloss over just so I could write a nice review. The reason why I wasn’t freaking out over the blade centering is because having handled a number of Emersons, in my experience, this stuff is fairly common for the brand. As you said, I’m definitely not the first person to notice this either. I just wanted to make people aware of the issues without beating a dead horse or hating on the knife, because some people don’t mind a slightly off center blade, or the kind of rough finishing on the thumb ramp and liners that often comes with an Emerson knife.
So yeah, if you are on the fence, cant stand the idea of a $300 knife with a blade that isn’t perfectly centered, I can’t say this is the knife for you. In fact, I’d probably suggest something else. But, the Super Commander is still a beautiful knife and there is still a lot left to like. For someone who doesn’t mind relatively minor fit and finish issues, and who loves the look of the knife, wants a real user, or is simply an Emerson fan then the Super Commander is a great choice.
If it were my money? Well, I have my sights on a Super Roadhouse, and I’d love to get a CQC7 in for a long term review, so I’m still an Emerson fan, but again that is just me.
Kevin, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. You raise an excellent point and I hope it helps out other people who are thinking about buying this knife.
just got one and although its kinda large i love it
Hey man, very cool. They don’t call it the “super” commander for nothing. 😉 Glad you like it. Feel free to post your thoughts on it here (if you want) down the road.
Apart from the fit/finish-issues there’s also mr Emerson himself. I respect the man for starting up a company as successful as EKI and as a military man I respect his passion for the troops and their wellbeing.
That being said, in text and on Bladeforums he has been very rude to his customers when they have offered very moderate criticism along the lines of “well, it’s off centre and I’m not a fan of that” or “my lock isn’t engaging properly, could you fix it?”. He also comes across as a pseudo-operator (sans a single day in uniform) with serious illusions of grandeur (his “Fit and Finish”-thread on BF was just…..wow.).
None of that would matter if his fit/finish were up to speed but sadly they’re not. I’ve been drooling about a Super-CQC7 for a while but if I’m slapping down 200+ dollars (AND shipping to Europe-land) I want the thing bloody perfect. With Spyderco and BM fit/finish-issues are exceptions, with EKI it sadly seems as if small issues are the rule.
Lew, thanks for the great insights. I have heard things here and there about Mr. Emerson although I haven’t witnessed anything personally. Perhaps I need to take a trip on over to BladeForums although I will say I have heard a lot of good things about the man too. No one is perfect and I can understand how when you invest so much time and energy into a project it can be difficult to hear the painfully honest feedback of an internet forum.
That said, I can understand your concern with the fit and finish. My Benchmades are all absolutely flawless. I am sitting here with a $180 581 Barrage and it’s just a beautiful knife made to exceptionally high tolerances. And frankly, at this point I would expect nothing less from the company. I also have a USA made Para 2 here. As you probably know, it’s a large knife with nested steel liners, G10 handles, and S30V steel. It is pretty much spot on centered and locks up extremely tightly. Cost? Right around $100.
But, then again, as you noted these plainly are not Benchmade or Spyderco knives. I really don’t know what goes into the design and manufacture of an Emerson, and I’m sure it isn’t easy to consistently make a quality product. Perhaps crafting an Emerson is much more of a hands on process? As a reviewer all I can really do is continue to evaluate Emerson knives as objectively as possible (like any other knife). And despite issues here and there I still find much that excites me about his knives, which is why you will see many more Emerson reviews from me. Thanks for reading and providing the thought provoking comment.
What the issues and mr. Emersons attitude (when compared for example with mr. Glesser of Spyderco*) tell me is that EKI don’t consider fit and finish an important issue, for them the only important thing is “will it work as adverstised”. I can respect that, especially since it came straight from mr. Emerson in that BF-thread without any attempt at sugar coating. However, I can not accept that as a customer (especially not at EKI prices). Emersons arn’t made of gucci materials (sans HD-series), it’s G10 over steel with 154cm with a thin titanium liner. A Böker Plus Exkelibur has more or less the same materials apart from the blade but 154cm isn’t something that will break the bank. The Emerson is made in the US, but so are the Spydie you mentioned.
For the slightly more than 200 dollars I’d put down for my Super-CQC7 I’d be getting a production knife, almost at custom prices and with a high probability of slight aestetical issues. It will still perform as advertised but….you know, I just wish mr Emerson would care about the finish of his knives. His personal attitude nonwithstanding the man makes excellent and beautiful customs and is without a doubt one of the most influential designers around today. I’d gladly pay ten dollars more to have EKI give their stuff a once-over but since mr. Emerson (AKA the Baws) does not consider it a priority they won’t be seeing my money.
Well, that’s not really true. Since I do believe that the wave feature is the most awesome thing since internet pornography I shall in due time be getting an Endura Wave. I might not agree with mr Emerson on much but that innovation of his is a potential lifesaver. A waved knife designed by mr. Glesser and executed by G. Sakai of Seki City will not only due what I’d like my hypothetical Emerson to do, it’ll also perform better as a folding knife when it comes to food, woodwork and the general business of cutting things.
*Sal Glesser is a member of the British Blades forum and whenever the quality of his products is questioned (within reason) his answer is simple: Send it back, it’s not supposed to be like that and we’ll take care of it. He’s also very polite and not afraid to admit that other people do great things. An immaculate gentleman one could say.
Lew, I can’t argue with that logic – nor would I want to. You make an excellent point, and I guess the writing really is on the wall (or forum). It’s a shame because I really like a knife that is centered, especially when hundred dollar bills are getting tossed around like packs of matches.
I agree, Mr. Glesser handles himself very very well. I’ve witnessed him on numerous forums and have recently had an experience with Spyderco customer service – it was nothing short of phenomenal. It’s no wonder his knives are so highly regarded. A waved Endura or Delica strikes me as a great compromise. Those are knives I wouldn’t mind adding to my own collection either!
Happy thoughts says
Browsed around for info about the Zero Tolerance 0620 and stumbled upon this review. Reading the comments there are quite a few people looking forward to this collab. Looking forward to read a review of the “perfect Emerson”.
I’ve got one on pre-order HT, so I’ll definitely be reviewing it. Thanks for dropping in.
Great design, so-so execution. A lot of things on this knife I really like (normal fasteners) but their QC, not so much.
My knife came with only one washer. No wonder I couldn’t get the blade to center properly. I had to buy a set, $6 plus $5.40 shipping. So, I also got a spare clip, handle and clip screws.
The knife works much better now and the blade is properly centered. Definitely use non-permanent thread locker on the pivot screw.
Overall, I’m glad I have one. Now, with my spare parts kit I’m prepared should I, in a moment of weakness, buy a second one.