Review of the Zero Tolerance 0095
The Zero Tolerance 0095 (and its variants) is a knife that slipped under my radar. Here in the US, the knife was introduced in 2016 as the ZT 0095BW – “BW” being Zero Tolerance nomenclature for a knife with a black wash finish. I’m not terribly enamored with the finish (personal taste) so that’s probably why I didn’t pay the knife much attention. This year, ZT released a “sprint run” (knife industry jargon for a small production run of a variation on an existing knife). In this case, ZT came out with the 0095S90BLK – it offered a more premium blade steel (s90V) and a black Diamond Like Coating (DLC) on the blade and handle scales. It’s this model that got me interested in the 0095 series and I ordered one (I’ll soon be doing a review of the 0095S90BLK here on ThruMyLens). It looked like a good tactical/defensive knife, and the DLC coating would allow me to “beat up” on it a bit without fear of marring the finish on the handle scales or blade.
Having been a ZT knife fan for a few years now, I’ve noticed a pattern. Normally when ZT introduces a knife, they introduce the “plain” version of it first – no exotic coatings or finishes. If the model is successful enough for them, they may produce variations of the same model – give it a black wash finish for example. I thought it was odd that the ZT 0095BW was the first version of the 0095 I’d seen, so I started researching to see if a “plain” version of the ZT 0095 existed. I found out that ZT had released exactly what I was hoping for (a ZT 0095 sans any fancy finishes or coatings) exclusively to the Russia. Wait…what? You read that correctly – Russia. Apparently Russia has a strong, vibrant knife collecting community. Who knew? I got in touch with 3-Gun Pro and ZT ambassador Jessie Tischauser about getting a hold of one, and he sent me a link to an online Russian knife dealer who communicated in (very good English): Angry Rabbit. The website is entirely in Russian, but if you send an email to Maria at email@example.com, and let her know you want the Russia exclusive ZT 0095, she’ll help you. The knife itsn’t cheap – as of this writing, they’re charging 23320RUB (which includes shipping) – at the current exchange rate, that’s about $414.00. Looking on eBay, there was only one (also being sold by a Russian dealer) available, but they wanted $445.00. That’s about twice the street price of US versions of the 0095. But it’s a very rare knife that’s likely to appreciate in value. Remember the ZT 0777M390? Good luck finding one for under $1000.00 these days. It only took about a week and a half for my Russian ZT 0095 to show up:
I’ve spent a few days with the ZT 0095 and have a good sense of the pros and cons of this model. I’ll start off by saying I normally don’t care for knives that have solid metal handle scales. It adds a lot of weight (as compared to one side being comprised of a lighter material like G10 or carbon fiber) and can also make the knife slick and more difficult to hold on to under hard (defensive) use. The ZT 0095 is an exception. With a weight of 5.27oz., the ZT 0095 isn’t exactly light, but it’s not unduly heavy either. Let’s not forget that this isn’t a small knife – an overall length of 8.375″ and a blade length of 3.625″. I can carry it unclipped in dress pants unclipped (sitting in the bottom of my pocket) without feeling like my pants are coming down around my ankles. The knife doesn’t “print” either – it’s on the slender side, relatively speaking.
In the above photo, you can see the knife has a clean, flow-through design with just a single stand-off in the rear, anodized blue. I’m a sucker for blue ano, so this is a real icing-on-the-cake feature for me.
The curvature of the handle scales locks in perfectly to my hand with a nice tight purchase. My index finger slips nicely under the flipper when the blade deploys for a no-slip grip. The faceted contours of the scales also provide some nice flats which keep the knife from slipping in hand. I would have no problem using this knife defensively should the situation present itself.
For my taste and uses, the ZT 0095 has one of the most attractive blade shapes ZT has ever produced.
Not only is this harpoon-shapped blade visually stunning (and a little intimidating I’d imagine) it’s also quite functional. I love how my thumb locks into the natural stop along the spine. The blade is constructed from good old S35VN blade steel, and given ZT’s brushed finish (stone washed on the flats) first seen with the ZT 0562. It’s very attractive, but of course not as wear-resistant as an all stone washed finished. S35VN is a tried-and-true blade steel first used by Chris Reeve in his Sebenza, and still used by him today. It’s not the hippest/coolest/trendiest super steel you could ask for, but it’s still on my personal Top 5 steels. Given the rarity of this Russian-market exclusive version of the ZT 0095, I probobly won’t be doing any cutting with it.
In terms of flipping action, the ZT 0095 is equipped with the ZT/Kai KVT ball bearing system in the pivot. ZT has figured out that the KVT system, combined with the correct detent, will produce a very smooth, consistent flipping knife. The last few years, ZT hasn’t produced a bad flipper, and the ZT 0095 is no exception to that rule. My ZT 0562 flips a bit better/smoother, but the ZT 0095 is darn good.
Turning to the back of the knife we see it has the standard, run-of-the mill stamped metal ZT pocket clip:
I do wish ZT would have put a more premium pocket clip on this knife – something closer to the milled clip on the ZT 0777M390. Even the deep-carry pocket clip on the ZT 0562 is nicer. I did find an independent manufacturer/seller on eBay that produces “3D” milled titanium pocket clips which are compatible with several ZT models and tried it out:
It certainly looks good – like it was made for the knife. The problem is that it rests directly on the lock bar. When you try to deploy the blade, your fingers naturally want to rest on that clip, which puts pressure on the lock bar and makes flipping out the blade more difficult. Not a huge deal for how I intend to use this particular knife, but disappointing.
About the only real negative to this version of the Zero Tolerance 0095 is the fact that it was a Russia exclusive. Aside of that, I think it’s one of the nicest, most useable knives ZT has come out with to date.
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.