Comparison and Review of the Zero Tolerance 0562 and 0562CF
Zero Tolerance announced both the 0562 and 0562CF at Shot Show 2014 back in January and I was immediately excited. Very excited. Zero Tolerance was bringing to market a knife that (at least on paper) looked to not only be a truly viable alternative to the Hinderer XM-18, but it also looked superior in several different ways. My excitement grew considerably when in June of 2014 I went to Atlanta to attend Blade Show 2014 and got to handle both the ZT 0562 and 0562CF in person. Here are the pre-production models of both the 0562 and 0562CF I got to play with at the Zero Tolerance booth:
The ZT 0562CF actually won the “Best American Made” knife of the year award at Blade Show 2014.
It would not be until September 2nd that my orders for both the ZT 0562 and 0562 would arrive to me:
The ZT 0562/0562CF combines Hinderer design features from the XM series of knives with Zero Tolerance innovations, materials, and manufacturing capacity into a knife which many will consider superior to any previously produced by either company. Here are a few of the more noteworthy features (which are common to both the 0562 and 0562CF):
-Flipper design employing KVT ball-bearing opening system.
-Titanium frame lock with hardened steel lockbar inserts and lockbar stabilization.
-Unique reversible pocket clip (left/right) which enables extra-deep carry in the pocket
The ergonomics, flipper deployment, and the blade grind as well as the blade length make the 0562 the “truest” XM-18 clone ZT has ever produced. Simply put, if you’ve always wanted a 3.5″ XM-18, but not wanted to pay the price or deal with the peculiar personalities at Hinderer knives, the ZT 0562 is for you. Look for my comparison of the ZT 0562 and the XM-18 coming soon. 🙂
The quality of construction and assembly of both examples of these knives is excellent with a nicely centered blade and consistently early lock face engagement at roughly 30%:
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of both the 0562 and 0562CF is that they are NOT limited edition models – both are regular production models that would, I imagine, stay in the Zero Tolerance catalog as long as people buy them. Why is that significant? Well, ZT has made some GREAT knives that I’ve really liked such as the ZT 0777M390 and the ZT 0801CF. But both knives are limited edition models – ZT only made a handful of each and isn’t making any more. The creates a couple of problems if you actually intend to use the knife as…you know…a knife. For one, due to their limited production numbers and high demand, both the 0777 and the 0801CF (as well as several other ZT LE models) have enjoyed a considerable increase in their secondary market value. Related to this first issue is a second issue of trying to get replacement parts. Think you can can get a replacement pocket clip for a 0777M390 or a replacement carbon fiber insert for a 0801CF? You can’t – I called Zero Tolerance and asked. They don’t really make replacement parts for their limited edition models (at least the components which are unique to the limited edition model). Do you really want to hard use a rare and valuable knife you can’t easily replace at a reasonable cost or get replacement parts for? For me, the answer is no…which is why I sold both the ZT 0777M390 and ZT 0801CF models I owned.
The ZT 0562 and 0562CF are essentially the same knife with nearly identical specifications. The 0562 has a blade made of Elmax steel and given a stonewashed finish, and also has a G10 handle scale. The 0562CF as the name suggests has a handle scale made from carbon fibuer, and also has a blade made from M390 steel. The more premium materials in the 0562CF make it carry a slightly higher retail price – $300.00 for the 0562CF vs. $250.00 for the 0562. Both Elmax and M390 come from the same steel company – Bohler-Uddeholm. Both Bohler Elmax and M390 are considered third generation powder metal “super steels.” Which is better? Theoretically, M390 has some superior ratings in key areas like wear resistance and edge retention as evidenced by information on Bohler’s website. Elmax however is no slouch in these key performance areas, and a very respectable choice. Which steel is truly better on the ZT 0562? I surely lack both the foundation in metallurgy as well as the testing protocols necessary to answer this question definitively. Even if I did, I’m not sure that (if both steels were heat treated optimally) that most users would truly see a difference in the day to day performance of the two. I’ve had M390 blades before, and I like it. It seems to hold an edge a little longer, and takes an edge a little more readily than other knife steels I’ve used and sharpened. That said, I tend to choose it based more on the theoretical advantages of the steel over any first hand experience that tells me it truly performs better than any other blade steel I’ve owned.
Regardless of the perceived vs. actual differences between Elmax and M390, both versions of the 0562 feature Hinderer’s “Slicer Grind” on the blade. Hinderer created his Slicer Grind as an alternative to his “Spanto” grind. Some Hinderer customers complained that the Spanto grind did not lend itself well to fine, precision cutting tasks. The Slicer Grind is designed less for brute force prying tasks and more for, as the name suggests, slicing. Note: The “Slicer Grind” isn’t particularly magical or innovative – it’s essentially a full-flat ground drop point. The tern “Slicer Grind” is basically Hinderer nomenclature/branding of something that’s been around a while.
Turing to the titanium backside of the knife, we see a pocket clip design not previously seen before from either Hinderer or Zero Tolerance:
Instead of the standard three stand off design which is common to both Hinderer and Zero Tolerance knife models, on the 0562 models, we see four stand offs. The fourth stand off at the back end of the 0562 provides the anchor for the ultra deep carry pocket clip. The innovative design adds little to either the thickness or overall length of the 0562, while at the same time minimizing the visibly exposed portion of the knife when clipped to a pocket. The clip itself is similar in design to Hinderer’s own pocket clip on the XM-18, and a bit more well made/of higher quality than previously seen pocket clips on Zero Tolerance knives. Note that an ultra-deep carry pocket clip isn’t necessarily preferable in all situations. Like so many things in life, there are trade-offs here. With a deep carry pocket clip, you’re trading accessibility/speed of deployment for concealment. The deeper that knife is down in your pocket, the harder/longer it will be to extract and deploy – particularly in a defensive scenario where you’re heart beat sky rockets and your fine dexterity plummets. I will say that while there’s not a huge difference in grip/traction between the ZT 0562 and ZT 0562CF, it is noticeable when trying to extract either knife when clipped using the ultra deep carry pocket clip. That slick carbon fiber scale makes it a bit more challenging to get a hold of when it’s down so low in the pocket.
If you’re wondering how well the ZT 0562 “flips” I can tell you that the deployment action on both of my knives is nearly identical and is excellent. I think the detent is slightly weaker on the ZT 0562 than on the ZT 0801 I owned. The 0801 is considered by many as best “flipping” production knife produced to date, and I think that the 0562 is comparably good – though not quite as good. The recipe for a good flipper is a relatively simple one for Zero Tolerance – just combine a moderately strong detent with the KVT bearing system. The ZT 0562 has a decidedly different flipping character than the Hinderer XM-18 after which it’s modeled. The Hinderer XM-18 typically has a much weaker detent by comparison which requires many operators to incorporate some “wrist flick” to fully deploy the blade. The trade off here is that while the XM-18 has functional thumb studs which are a viable option for deploying the knife blade, the “thumb studs” on the ZT 0562 aren’t designed by ZT (by their own admission) to be a viable method of blade deployment on the knife – they function primarily as blade stops. The stronger detent on the ZT 0562 makes thumb stud deployment of the blade difficult (but not impossible).
Kudos to Zero Tolerance for making the ZT 0562 easy to disassemble and reassemble. This point may not be important to everyone, but it is to me. I actually enjoy tinkering with my knives. I like to periodically disassemble, clean, and lubricate them. A knife for me is first and foremost a defensive tool, and I like to maintain them and know they are performing optimally. While some knife manufacturers discourage their customers from disassembling their knives, Zero Tolerance has taken the opposite position – and it’s reflected in how they design their knives. A single T8 torx driver is all that is needed to remove all the screws needed to disassemble the ZT 0562. It’s particularly easy and quick if you want to remove just a handle scale – you can remove the scale on the ZT 0562 without having to completely disassemble the knife:
Here’s a photo of the completely disassembled knife – a very simple design with very few parts which go back together very easily:
Here’s a close up of the stainless steel lock bar insert which interfaces with the titanium lock face. By having a stainless steel insert, you avoid “lock stick” which can happen when you have two titanium surfaces interfacing on a lock, and you create a maintainable lock bar that will last much longer – you can easily replace the stainless steel insert when it wears down which is much less expensive than replacing the entire titanium lock side of the knife:
In terms of which version of the ZT 0562 is better/preferable, there are really only two significant factors which differentiate the 0562 and the 0562CF – the blade finish and the handle material. In my mind, it really comes down to how hard you intend to use the knife, and how much wear you’re comfortable in seeing on the blade. The G10 on the 0562 will provide a a bit more traction than the slick/smooth carbon fiber handle on the 0562CF. In fact, the G10 on the production model does seem to have more texture and subsequently is “grippier” than the pre-production model I handled at Blade Show. That said, it’s not a huge difference. The grip ergonomics of the handle on the 0562 are excellent – my fingers settle in nicely to the groves cut into the underside of the handle, and the curvature of the handle promotes a very positive retention. In my opinion, neither handle scale option is optimal for grip/traction, but neither option seriously detracts from the usability of the knife. I feel that within a very short amount of time, third party handle scale makers will begin producing replacement handle scales in a variety of materials, colors, and patterns – for this reason, I wouldn’t choose either the 0562 or the 0562CF on the basis of the handle scale. The blade finish however is a bigger difference. The stonewashed finish on the 0562 will show wear marks less readily than will the pseudo-satin finish on the 0562CF. I say “pseudo-satin” finish because…well….I don’t know what else to call it. It’s not like any true satin finish I’ve seen on a knife blade – it’s shinier with more reflectivity. It’s not bad…in fact, I rather like it. As I noted in my review of the 0801CF (which has a blade with the same sort of finish applied) it’s just nice to see ZT do something other than a stone washed finish. But if you intend to do a lot of hard cutting with the knife, just be aware the 0562CF will be more prone to showing wear marks on the finish than the blade on the 0562. The 0562 with it’s modestly grippier G10 handle scale and stone washed finish blade is set up to be more of a work horse than the 0562CF with it’s pretty carbon fiber handle scale and shinny blade finish which is more of a show pony by comparison. Beyond that, the ZT 0562 is my opinion the best knife Zero Tolerance has ever produced.
In addition to this written photo review, I’ve produced a video comparison and review of the Zero Tolerance 0562 and 0562CF. Unfortunately, both the video and this written photo review are longer that what normally produce. I guess talking about two great knives just takes twice as long. 🙂
John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.