TTAK Knife Madness: Emerson vs. ESEE


Facebook readers: Click “Like” for Emerson, Click “Love” for ESEE.

Howdy folks, and welcome to the final Round 1 match in the USA- Modern division: #3 Emerson vs. #6 ESEE. The winner will move on to the Sweet 16 where they will take on Zero Tolerance, who knocked off Benchmade yesterday in a contest that was not as close as one would expect.

Just a quick reminder: You can vote twice. Once in the blog comments, and once at this Facebook link

Emerson Knives:

My only experience with Emerson Knives is fondling them at the BLADE Show, and trying not to drool on their product line. Unfortunately, their wares are pricier than my knife-procurement budget normally allows, and I have not yet managed to cultivate a relationship with the company that results in testing knives being sent our way. They are one of the companies that I am going to make a concerted effort to try again with at this year’s show.

I did managed to meet Ernest Emerson in passing at the show a couple of years ago, and as you can read below, he is a remarkable man and a true patriot.

From “Why we are made in America”:

I ransomed everything we had in the dream to start this business. I put our entire future up as stakes in this cutlery poker game. Yes, there were many who told me I was crazy, that I had made a stupid decision, that I had done a very bad thing. There were those who told me that I couldn’t do it, that it could not be done. Little did they realize, that telling me that I couldn’t do something, have always been the words that guaranteed I would do it or die trying in the effort. “You’re too small. You’re too short. You can’t win this match. You can’t beat this guy. You can’t win this fight.” I’ve heard this all before, and every time, it only made me double my efforts to succeed, and it has paid off.

My knife company, actually, our knife company, our family business, succeeded in spite of all of the naysayers, and the hardships along the way. I did not draw one paycheck for the first two years that we were in business, and many were the times that we maxed out our credit cards, just to make payroll. Several times my wife and I looked at each other and asked, “Is this really worth it?” But we never lost faith, and neither of us was a quitter. I never walked away from a challenge, or a fight, and though I’ve certainly lost my fair share of times, it was never because I had gave in, gave up, or didn’t give my best effort. I wasn’t giving up this time, either.

We did succeed. We did prevail, and we did carve out stone by stone, our reputation, and our place in the cutlery industry. And now, the result is that our foundation, has been carved out of solid granite.

I wanted a company that I could be proud of, that my family could be proud of, and that every Emerson Knife user on the planet could be proud of. The only way that could be possible, in my book, was if we were “Made in America.” Not assembled in America. Not just labeled made in America, according to some minimum requirement, something printed out by the State Department, or the Department of Commerce. We had to be literally, truthfully, and honestly, 100% Made in America. Down to the last screw. If I needed to consult some chart to see if my product qualified to say, “Made in America,” then guess what? It’s not made in America.

I owe everything I have to the freedoms, and the opportunities that this great country has given to me. I saw how this country’s workers were being hammered by jobs being lost to overseas manufacturing. I’m from a small town, a place that never had a lot to start with, and I’ve seen them feel the pain, suffering, and loss from unfair overseas competition. These were my friends, and families, and I vowed to do my best to put Americans to work, in an American factory, making a product, made right here, in the United States of America, and I did it. Our customers know it, and because they know this, many fellow Americans are willing to stake their lives on the integrity, strength, and dependability, of Emerson Knives.

I grew up in America. America gave me the opportunity to pursue my dreams. America gave me the chance to make something of myself. Americans, for over 250 years, have given their lives to protect me, and my family. America gave me my past, and my future. America made me who I am.

(read the whole thing)



Twitter: @Emerson_knives
Instagram: @emersonknivesinc
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All TTAK Emerson tagged content.

ESEE Knives:

Headquartered in Gallant, AL, ESEE started as an offshoot of Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin’s survival training operation.



Beginning in 1997, Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin started down the path of changing the way the survival and wilderness industry did business. Having become frustrated with the endless amount of exaggeration and hype often associated with “survival” gear and training, they started Randall’s Adventure & Training to bring realistic tools and knowledge to the consumer. Working under contract with the Peruvian Air Force’s “Escuela De Supervivencia En La Selva” (School of Jungle Survival), also known by the acronym ESSEL, they introduced many clients to the art of jungle survival in the vast Peruvian Amazon jungle.

After several years of operating in South America, they brought their training stateside and added a sister company that produces high quality field grade knives and gear. One of their first designs was the RTAK made by Wicked Knife Company in Arkansas, then later produced by Ontario Knife Company. They also introduced the Laser Strike that was built by TOPS Knives. After spending 5 years designing the RAT line of knives for Ontario, they formed their own knife company named RAT Cutlery with Rowen Manufacturing in Idaho Falls producing their line. The name was later changed to ESEE Knives to avoid confusion with the Ontario produced RAT line of knives. While most all of their current line is now produced by Rowen, Jeff and Mike still design for other companies, such as the Blueridge Knives’ Avispa and Zancudo folders and Ontario’s Model 1 and Model 2 folders.

Since the inception of Randall’s Adventure & Training in 1997, it has led numerous expeditions and survival training courses in the Amazon jungles of Peru and across the United States, and the ESEE brand now has global distribution and recognition. ESEE Knives / Randall’s Adventure & Training has a clientele that ranges from military and law enforcement teams to film crews and professional adventurers. Their courses and gear have been featured on the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel and in numerous books, outdoor magazines and trade publications.

The company’s philosophy is simple: treat the customer with respect, keep the prices fair, provide the best in quality, and never teach a skill or provide a piece of gear that hasn’t been tested in the real world. Every student that walks through the doors of Randall’s Adventure & Training leaves with a set of skills that will stay with them throughout their life, and every end-user of an ESEE product knows they are backed by the best warranty and customer service in the industry.

In the world of factory knives, survival gear and wilderness training, ESEE/Randall’s Adventure & Training is one of the only companies that the owners and employees all live the lifestyle of the gear they produce. No suit and ties, just hard-won experience that is reflected in the world’s best knives, gear and training. View the team photo page.

We have only done one review of an ESEE knife -David reviewed the Izula 2 plus Jake did a review of a set of aftermarket scales by Lahammade for said Izula 2. We are going to need to up our ESEE game here at TTAK.

You can read all of our ESEE Tagged content here.

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As I mentioned, Zero Tolerance knocked off Benchmade in a very lopsided contest yesterday. This was due in no small part to a Facebook share by their legendary designer Les George. As I have mentioned before, I have absolutely no issue with anyone, especially the company involved, sharing these posts in an effort to stuff the ballot box.

Again I had tagged both Benchmade and ZT on Facebook and Twitter. I also mentioned it to a Kershaw contact (I don’t have one on the ZT side of KAI), as well as leaving a voicemail for my contact at Benchmade. I did my part. If the company in question doesn’t take advantage of the opportunity, oh well. Having the various companies involved in this tournament try to rally their fan-base is going to make the later rounds of the tournament that much more interesting. In an ideal scenario, our two eventual finalists are going to actually work to try to win it all. Fingers crossed, because if it comes to pass it is going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Thank you to everyone on both the reader and manufacturer sides of the equation who have helped make this month-long event so successful thus far.

You can read all of our TTAK Knife Madness content here.


  1. DENNIS O'BRIEN says:

    I’m going with Emerson on this one.

  2. Cubbie says:

    Tough call. I respect everything that Emerson does, especially for the military, but I got to give it to ESEE for their fixed blade knives.

  3. Peter says:


  4. StickFighter says:


  5. md matt says:

    Emerson hands down. I’ve offered before but if you want to review some of their products, you’re welcome to put my cqc7bw and my sheepdog through their paces. Drop me a line at If interested.

  6. stuartb says:

    ESEE, for their impact on the bushcraft fixe blade market

  7. James Smallwood says:

    Emerson, A knife you can sharpen on anything everywhere. Hands down!

  8. Tok Kebayan says:

    See all the way.

  9. MiamiC70 says:

    Esee for the win

  10. Larry says:

    You are comparing fixed blade survival knives vs EDC folders that have the primary use of last minute survival that is not meant to be batoned. Unfair advantage to ESEE for fixed blade unless you took Emersons Fixed blade EOD knife in comparison. . Then advantage Emerson. You don’t use Emerson for harpooning like the ESEE. Chopping tree then ESEE. Batonning ESEE. Skinning game ESEE. Both can start a fire. But you would have to go with ESEE as the final winner for all around use. I own both in several models. Way to many paychecks. Yes, knife snob but I do it for the quality and purpose of the mission. ESEE is the go winner in this matchup in the woods while more than proud when I carry my Emerson in the city jungle.

    1. Ed says:

      Yeah these Vs. articles really are not well planned out that way. Mostly comparing apples to oranges.

      1. In the end it is a popularity contest to a large degree. We grouped companies into 4 divisions and randomly seeded the brackets.

        You are right about apples to oranges in many cases.

        This was just a fun way to pay homage to the March Madness basketball games, and gave us a chance to write a general overview of many different Knife companies.

        It has also allowed me something recent to have published when I contact the various companies to either initiate or strengthen relations with them.

        Please mull over changes you would like to see for next year. There are without a doubt areas on which to improve.

  11. Jason Lilly says:


  12. Cadeyrn says:

    Regrettably, I can’t cast a vote on this one. I’ve walked past many ESEE because I don’t particularly care for their mass and geometry – a purely personal position, no fault of theirs.

    I’ve only walked past a few Emerson mostly because they don’t stay in stock long and I’m not particularly interested in many of their cutesy builds. In particular, I hate their blades that have cutouts right in the ricasso area. Wouldn’t mind putting their EOD through a few non-EOD paces, but can’t justify $700 for a looky-loo on beryllium.

    So… I abstain where I have no meaningful opinion.

    1. Points for honesty 🙂

  13. cmeat says:

    esee. there is a minor becker connection.

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TTAK Knife Madness: Emerson vs. ESEE

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