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Review of the Zero Tolerance 0801CF

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I’ll cut right to the chase – the Zero Tolerance 0801CF is a manufacturers “vanity” knife – ZT is strutting their stuff with this knife and showing just what they’re capable of as a brand that manufactures high end production knives.  ZT has taken a knife design that has proven very popular with the in the Todd Rexford Singularity inspired ZT 0801 and created a limited-production variation on the theme which demonstrates just what Zero Tolerance is capable of from both a design and manufacturing perspective.

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I will admit to being a dope and not pre-ordering this knife.  When I first saw/heard about the 0801CF in 2013, it didn’t appeal to me.  Yes, the notion of an M390 blade with a finish other than ZT standard stone wash was exciting.  But a brown knife?  I thought, “Oh, why didn’t they make this black….or blue…or just about any other color than brown.”  I just didn’t think the bronze PVD coated titanium handles would be my cup o’ tea.  But once the knifes started shipping in April of this year, I was kicking myself.  Of course, by then it was too late – being a limited edition piece, inventories disappeared virtually over night, and the secondary prices jumped accordingly.

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Let me emphasize that the ZT 0801CF isn’t a run-of-the-mill limited edition or “sprint run” knife.  We’re used to seeing production knife manufacturers make a slight variation to a standard model – perhaps in the handle scale material, or the blade steel, and produce a limited production run featuring the variation from the standard model.  However, the ZT 0801CF features some rather significant changes to the design and manufacturing of the standard ZT 0801.  Compare the above photo of the ZT 0801 to this photo of the 0801CF:

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The presentation side titanium handle scale on the ZT 0801CF is barely recognizable from the ZT 0801.  For starters, the handle scale had to be milled out to accept the 6K twill weave carbon fiber inserts which are precision flush mounted into the handle – very impressive.  They also cut out a window in the center of the handle scale which makes a portion of the knife blade visible when closed, but when the blade is deployed, the Zero Tolerance logo is visible:

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The blade steel used on the ZT 0801CF is premium M390 – a nice step up from the very respectable ELMAX blade steel found on the standard ZT 0801:

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You can they also extended the bronze PVD coating to the blade – very nice touch.  One of the most exciting things to me about this knife was the fact that Zero Tolerance FINALLY chose a finish other than stone wash for this knife.  In photographs, the blade appears to have a VERY attractive satin finish.  However, in my opinion the blade looks better in photographs then it does in hand.  The blade is VERY shiny – not like any satin/brushed finish I’ve ever seen.  It looks closer to a polished finish with heavy grind lines.

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Note the bit of blue shining from out of the black shadow area just below the pivot.  This little bit of detail might just be my favorite feature of the 0801CF.  It REALLY shows what lengths Zero Tolerance went to try and make the CF version of the ZT 0801 both different from the standard 0801 and special in its own right.  I believe they succeeded admirably.  Here’s a shot of the pocket clip side of the ZT 0801CF:

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To be honest, I like the bronze PVD coating on the 0801CF a heckuva lot better than I thought I might.  It color shifts to some pretty interesting shades depending on the lighting angle – anywhere from a copper-like color (this model is often called the “copperhead”) to a purple hue.  Of course the ZT 0801CF retains all the best features of the original 0801, including the KVT bearing system which, coupled with the perfect detent, gives the 0801CF one of the best flipping actions that can be had on a knife at any price.

The limited edition nature of the ZT 0801CF is both it’s blessing and it’s curse.  The limited number available make it special and unique, but it also creates a lot of disincentive to carry and used the knife.   Which is a crying shame because as I wrote in my review of the standard edition ZT 0801, the basic design is one which makes for a very nice every day carry option.  Replace the bland aesthetic attributes of the standard 0801 with those of the 0801CF and you’ve got a knife that begs to be carried and used.  As I have little use for “safe queens” in my collection, this knife will likely be a “catch and release” for me.  But I’m extremely impressed with the ZT 0801CF – my biggest complaint is that it’s not a regular production offering.

In addition to my written photo review, I’ve recorded a video review supplement which you can see below on the ThruMyLens YouTube Channel:

About 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.

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