Zero Tolerance Knives is a relatively new brand that first debuted in 2006 with products that were specifically designed for tactical applications. They saw a need in the industry for American-made knives that were built for heavy-duty combat use and could meet the needs of military and law enforcement professionals, so they stepped up with beefy folders like the 0200 and award-winning models like the 0500. While ZT may not have as long of a history as its sister brand Kershaw, they’ve made up for lost time by racking up several awards for their collaborations with famous knifemakers like Rick Hinderer and Dmitry Sinkevich.
ZT is dedicated to the highest caliber manufacturing processes available, and they don’t shy away from taking risks with their designs. We’ve picked what we feel are some of the best knives from ZT’s lineup, starting with one of the best EDCs in their arsenal…
ZT is known to frequently collaborate with knifemaker Rick Hinderer to create some pretty incredible knives, including the 0562. This folder takes Rick’s exclusive “slicer” grind and adds all the best hallmarks of modern knife construction, easily making this one of the best titanium frame lock flippers on the market. The lockbar features a replaceable hardened steel insert that interfaces with the tang of the blade, and that steel-on-steel interaction is going to last longer than steel on titanium and help prevent lock stick as the knife is broken in. You also don’t have to worry about overextending the lockbar, as there’s a disc on the back that prevents it. The cherry on the cake is the S35VN steel, which can be sharpened to hair-popping levels.
ZT is known for their stylish and overbuilt designs, and the 0456 may just be the perfect example of their famous aesthetic. With its broad, angular sheepsfoot-style blade in CPM-20CV steel and 3D rayed titanium handles, this knife feels pretty darn good in the hand. There’s beauty to match the heft thanks to the anodized blue backspacer, pocket clip and pivot, which actually turns into a nice purple color in some areas. The 0456 deftly balances handsome looks with solid utility.
The 0456 is a chunkier design than this second Dmitry Sinkevich collaboration – in fact, these designs are polar opposites. The 0450 is sleek, slender, and completely blacked out with a black blade finish and black carbon fiber/titanium handle scales. This is a much more sophisticated option that serves as a great gentleman’s knife, especially with refined touches like the eye-catching emerald green anodized aluminum tube spacers.
If you’re at all familiar with ZT, you know about their award-winning 0777 model, which took home the Blade Magazine “Overall Knife of the Year” Award back in 2011. Sadly, that model is discontinued, but the 0770 is based on that design. With a more compact and streamlined build, this production version is the only knife on this list that features an assisted opening mechanism. It’s also the only one to be designed in-house rather than in collaboration with a custom maker. Well, they couldn’t resist a small touch – the SpeedSafe Assisted opening was created by Ken Onion, after all.
The 0055 is probably one of the more distinctive picks on this list. The faceted design is the brainchild of Gus T. Cecchini (GTC), who integrated a floating backspacer and hidden flipper into the design that disappears into the frame until you’re ready to deploy the blade. This folder is all about style and angular momentum, and the wicked looking blade is perfected with compound grinds and a stonewash finish.
This knife was a collaboration with not one, but two incredible knife designers – Todd Rexford and Dmitry Sinkevich. Thanks to the patented sub-frame lock, this knife is as secure as any standard frame lock and exceedingly light for the size – a mere 4.3 ounces with over eight inches of knife. The weight is going to stay at a minimum despite that solid lockup thanks to the anchored lockbar and the carbon fiber composite handles. This is one of the few ZTs out there that doesn’t feature a flipper, but the action is still incredibly smooth. The thumb stud and the pivot pair nicely with the cylindrical backspacer, which is made of machined aluminum and resembles the cylinder of a revolver.
Just like the 0777, the famous 0606CF stands out as a master thesis on the ZT process. This 0609 model is a scaled down version that is perfectly sized for everyday carry but still maintains a clean, streamlined look and highly detailed handle machining. The 0609 really shows off ZT’s manufacturing prowess and honestly, it’s just plain sexy. Heavily 3D machined titanium front and back, anodized titanium handles, a CPM-20CV two-tone blade, and a See-Through Pivot riding on super smooth KVT ball-bearings – you’re getting a the complete package of high style and high performance with this knife.
Tell us your favorite ZT knife in the comments below, and don’t forget to weigh in our list – did we nail it or fail it? Be sure to check out the original and greatest catalog of cutlery over at KnifeCenter.com.