Comparison Review: The Zero Tolerance 0562 vs. The Hinderer XM-18 3.5
Hopefully if you’re reading this article, you’ve already read my review (complete with video) of the Zero Tolerance 0562 and 0562CF. If you haven’t go ahead and please do so. We’ll wait. 😀 Finished? Good. While you’re at it, you might just want to read my review of the Hinderer XM-18 3.5″. Since both knives are designed by Rick Hinderer, and both are at significantly different price points, many consumers and enthusiasts will want to know how these two knives compare to one another. Except for Rick Hinderer of course…he hates knife comparisons. All the more reason I think for me to do this comparison review. 😀
Since you read my review, you know the ZT 0562 is the latest collaboration between Rick Hinderer and Zero Tolerance. Essentially, the ZT 0562 (designed by Rick Hinderer and manufactured by Zero Tolerance) is the closest to a production quality XM-18 3.5″ there is. Yes…I know. Technically speaking, the XM-18 is considered a production knife (not a custom). The XM-18 may not be a “custom knife”, but unless I can easily order a knife from any number of vendors at or below retail price, I personally don’t really consider a knife to be a “production” knife. Perhaps the term semi-custom applies here.
Hair splitting definitions aside,the point here is that price isn’t the only major difference between these two knives. One of the great things about the ZT 0562 is that it’s not a limited edition model – it’s a regular production model. “Crunch all you want…we’ll make more” applies here. It should be (after the initial release anyway) easy to source the knife (brand new!) and easy to get replacement parts for it. Hinderer only sells direct to military, law enforcement, and first responders. Since most people don’t fall into those categories, they are forced to deal with elevated dealer pricing, or secondary market mark up. At the retail level, the ZT 0562 runs $200.00, and $250.00 for the 0562CF. The street price on both will likely be at least 20% less. The Hinderer XM-18 3.5″ retails from Hinderer at $385.00. But again, unless you go to a knife show and win a lottery, or fit in one of the previously mentioned categories, it’s unlikely you’ll buy one at retail. They go for nearly twice the retail price from dealers and the secondary market. So comparing the street price of a ZT 0562 to the street price of an XM-18 yields are nearly 3x price differential.
If you take a look at the specifications of both the ZT 0562 and the Hinderer XM-18, you’ll be hard pressed to justify the price difference between the two. Both are titanium frame lock knives, with a G10 handle scale (or carbon fiber in the case of the 0562CF). The current iteration (as of this writing) of the XM-18 uses stone washed S35VN steel in its blade construction, while the 0562 has a stone washed blade constructed from ELMAX steel. One could quibble over the relative virtues of the respective blade steels here (on paper ELMAX is considered a higher grade steel) but I’m guessing that most users wouldn’t notice a tremendous difference between the two. So from a materials perspective, the two knives are quite similar. Of course, if you spring for the ZT 0562CF (an additional $50.00) you get an even more premium materials like the M390 blade steel and the carbon fiber handle scale.
When it comes to a defensive knife, ergonomics are extremely important. I need a knife that I can easily deploy with either hand in a high-stress situation, and is robust enough to not fail in such a defensive scenario. Shockingly few knifes meet my requirements here, but the XM-18 is on the short list. Comparing the two side by side, they feel remarkably similar in hand:
The XM-18 is slightly thicker in the handle. The 0562 handle has a an additional finger groove. Despite these differences, both knives provide (IMHO) one of the best grips or purchase on the knife for defensive purposes of any I’ve used. The XM-18 is slightly better in this regard, if only for the G10 “high grip” texture found on the XM-18. However, given that higher texture/grip G10 handle scales can all ready be purchased from third party makers for the ZT 0562/CF (while still keeping the cost of the 0562/CF well below the XM-18 street price) the true advantage the G10 scales on the XM-18 is limited at best. From a size perspective, the ZT 0562 is a bit more slender in width, but the open and closed length of each is almost too close to give either a significant advantage:
From a deployment perspective, there are pros and cons to each knife. For the sake of clarity, I consider removing the knife from the pocket, then deploying the blade as all being part of “deployment” because (once again) I’m looking at these knives as being used in a defensive scenario. Comparing the first part of deployment (removal from the pocket), the two knives have a significant difference in their respective pocket clips. The XM-18 isn’t particularly “deep carry” meaning a significant part of the knife is visible when it’s clipped to the pocket:
As you can see, a fair amount of the knife is visible above the pocket line – not particularly stealthy, but the advantage here is that there is more “meat” to grab onto in a high-stress situation. Typically, fine motor skills are adversely impacted during a life-threatening defensive engagement. So having more of your knife sticking out of your pocket could be an advantage in such a situation – particularly if (like many who carry a firearm and a knife) you carry your knife on your “weak” side. Now, compare the pocket profile of the above XM-18 to the below 0562:
Only the pocket clip is visible on the ZT 0562. Few people would would even recognize this as being a knife pocket clip – if they even noticed the black clip at all. Clearly the 0562 trades accessibility for concealment. With the knife so deeply buried in the pocket, extracting it for deployment can be a bit of an issue – more so for the ZT 0562CF with the slick carbon fiber scale. Is one better than the other? In my mind, there’s no absolute answer here – it’s situationally dependent. There are situations and environments I carry a knife in that I don’t particularly care if someone recognizes the fact that I have a knife clipped to my pocket – in those instances, I’d prefer the XM-18. Conversely there are times where I’d rather not advertise the fact that I have a knife on me – the ZT 0562 is ideal in those situations.
In terms of flipping/blade deployment, the two knives are quite different in that the ZT 0562 has a stronger detent. Again, I look at this through the lens of defensive use, and the relatively weaker detent on the XM-18 doesn’t bother me. It’s designed that way so that the knife can be deployed via either the flipper or the thumb studs (the 0562 by contrast is really only deployable via the flipper due to the stronger detetnt). I’m quite used to incorporating a bit of “wrist flick” when I deploy the XM-18 blade which ensures a fast, reliable deployment with either hand. With any tool that could be called on to save your life, training and practice are key – as long as you train with either the 0562 or XM-18, both are excellent defensive tools.
In terms of over all quality as well as fit and finish, the Hinderer XM-18 has a slight advantage. The XM-18 is just a bit thicker/more robust, and has a few finer finishing touches, such as the finish applied to the screws. The differences here are subtle considerations that are more important to a knife enthusiast/collector than they are someone more interested in which is the better defensive tool and why. Again, both knives are Hinderer designs, but only one of them is a true Hinderer product (the XM-18). Carrying and using the ZT 0562 will always be to some buyers a cheap imitation (if you can call a $200.00 + knife “cheap”).
If practical considerations are first and foremost, then there are no really good reasons to own the XM-18 over the ZT 0562/0562CF. For the street price of a ZT 0562CF, and the cost of a custom high-traction G10 scale, you can still buy a knife that will cost you less than the XM-18 and provide the lion’s share of capability, with some potential advantages over the XM-18. That said, I’ve not been motivated to sell my XM-18 after purchasing the ZT 0562. Maybe tomorrow I will be, but right now I’m not….there are situations where one is preferred to carry over the other.
In addition to this written photo review, I’ve recorded a supplemental video review:
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.