Emerson Knives, a company known for producing high performance tactical folders, is taking on a new direction with the release of the La Griffe neck knife. The La Griffe design originated with renowned French knife maker Fred Perrin, and it is probably his signature knife. It was designed to be a back up tool to for those who make their living in the law enforcement fields. But how can a knife this compact and small be an effective back up?

The Emerson LaGriffe is an effective knife in a small package.

The key lies in the knife’s grip and blade. The curved handle fits in the palm snugly. The user passes their index finger through the big hole nearest the blade, therefore locking their grip onto the knife making it virtually impossible for the knife to be wrestled away from the grip. Add to this the short 1 ¾ inch long blade. There is not enough blade available to provide leverage for the opponent to disarm the defender. Aside from being a back-up, the La Griffe is a lightweight fixed blade that one can carry around comfortably on a daily basis. It lies flat against your body and is lightweight.

In terms of construction and materials, Emerson Knives chose 154-CM steel, precision ground from 0.125 inch stock. The coating is black oxide, which seals the La Griffe against corrosion resulting from prolonged contact with body perspiration. The chisel ground claw like blade (“Griffe” means “claw” in Fench) came out of the box sharp and ready for action. Each La Griffe comes with a molded Kydex neck sheath with matching black paracord. The entire package weighs around 2 ounces – comfortable indeed. To release the knife, firmly grasp the handle and give it a swift tug. The entire package is very thin, permitting the user to wear the knife very comfortably underneath T-shirts, polo style shirts, and even button down dress shirts.

Overall, the construction quality of the Emerson La Griffe is very good. The grind of the blade is even and all holes in the handle are slightly chamfered for a cleaner look. The outer edges of the handle are rounded a bit to be easy on your hand. Out of the box, the blade was sharp, but not “shaving sharp”. A few swipes on my steel took care of that, bringing the edge of the La Griffe to hair shaving sharpness.

The La Griffe “clawed” its way through thick cardboard. Obviously, a large folder would be better suited to this task but the La Griffe handled it well though having to muscle the small blade through. That claw like blade also makes a great scoring tool. The down-turned point concentrates all of the pressure placed on the handle. I found out that the La Griffe cut through the cardboard faster and easier by taking a few swipes until a chunk of the tough material falls off. When it comes to maintaining the La Griffe’s curved cutting edge, It is recommended to use some sort of sharpener for serrations (e.g. Spyderco Sharpmaker™, GATCO Tri-Seps). The triangular shaped hones of these devices work good at staying in constant contact with the cutting edge. I was able to resharpen the La Griffe successfully using my Sharpmaker. Five minutes or less is all it takes.

It was during this workout that I discovered one thing lacking on the Emerson La Griffe. To aid in a comfortable purchase during precise sutting, the addition of traction notches would be very welcome on the part of the blade spine above the Emerson logo.

A rather interesting fact about Emerson Knives’ La Griffe that Ernest Emerson relayed to the author – a while back, Emerson Knives filled an order of several La Griffes that were ordered by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler to give as gifts to the band’s security officers. Tyler wanted the La Griffes to be a bit different from the standard production ones, so Emerson personally hand ground them from titanium stock. No doubt about it, when the band’s security crew found out what they received, they were filled with “sweet emotion”!

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