Review of the Zero Tolerance 0801
So it would appear I’m still searching for a knife (or two…or three…) that I like to carry. My ZT 0777 seems to be my all around favorite knife. I like to carry it on the weekends and even during the work week. My ZT 0550 usually makes it into my pocket once or twice a week. It seems as though Zero Tolerance is quickly becoming my go to brand for production quality knives.
I often fall asleep watching YouTube videos on my iPad (those things hurt when they smack you in the face…) and a couple of months ago I watched a Jim Skelton video about his Will Moon modified Zero Tolerance 0801. While the unmodified ZT 0801 never grabbed my attention, his modified version most certainly did – it was gorgeous. It wasn’t tremendously elaborate in terms of the modifications – he satin brushed all the black hardware on the knife. He also blue anodized the knife, then put a satin finish on the titanium handle scales, with the grooved areas of the knife retaining the anodization – the two-tone effect was stunning.
I looked up Will Moon and quickly discovered that he was no longer providing the modifications on the knife. Undaunted, I went ahead and ordered a ZT 0801 thinking I might trying modifying it myself (which I quickly discovered wouldn’t happen with the limited tools I have available) or I’d reaching out to the knife modifier community to see if someone else might be able to duplicate the modifications Will Moon made to the ZT 0801. As of this writing, my ZT 0801 is sent off for the modifications to be done, and I’m hoping to have it back in about a week. But I did have it and carried it for about two weeks before I sent it off. Here’s a photo of my unmodified ZT 0801:
When I received my ZT 0801 I was…surprised. I quickly determined that this is a knife that photos don’t really do justice. It’s not nearly as unappealing in person as I expected. I maintain a pretty steady diet of tactical folders, and this clearly isn’t a tactical folder – and I think that’s what I like about it. I’d describe it as sort of a gentleman’s/dress knife – though it’s larger than what most would consider “gentlemanly.” At 5.85 oz. in weight, it feels hefty in hand, but isn’t too heavy to carry in dress pants. It’s also quite slender in dimensions which adds greatly to it’s “everyday carryability.”
The curvature of the handle scales adds nicely to the ergonomics – it’s quite comfortable in hand and despite the lack of jimping on the blade spine or the scales, the ZT 0801 does provide a confident purchase when cutting.
Turning to the back of the knife, we see a the standard issue Zero Tollerance deep carry pocket clip. It’s reversible for left or right hand carry, but you are limited to tip up carry, which is my preference:
You can also see a screw set into the lock bar for adjusting the stainless steel lock bar insert (which doubles as an over travel stop). This insert interfaces with the tang of the steel blade in order to prevent the occurrence of galling, sticky lock and lock rock sometimes associated with titanium frame locks when a bare titanium lock bare interfaces with a (harder) stainless steel tang. It’s nice feature that’s recently been popping up in a lot of high end knives.
The 3.5 in. blade length of the ZT 0801 is perfect – it’s about the longest blade that I can carry comfortably in my pocket if I don’t want to clip a knife to my pocket.
Neither the basic hollow ground drop point blade shape nor the typical ZT stone wash finish on this knife blade will win any beauty contets, but that’s OK. It’s basic and gets the job done. First and foremost I see this knife as made to handle basic “EDC” utility cutting tasks, but it can easily flex into a defensive role if needed. You can see in the above photo I put a nice mirror polish on the edge of the ELMAX blade on the ZT 0801 with my WorkSharp Knife Sharpener (which I absolutely love – see my review here). ZT’s execution of ELMAX steel has come under a fair amount of scrutiny and criticism from the online enthusiast community – some users report that the edge holding is greatly reduced due to their heat treat of the steel. I can’t really confirm or deny (based on my limited use) except to say that ELMAX and M390 steel (my current favorite) are quite chemically similar and should perform quite similarly to M390 if both are properly heat treated. My guess is that if there was a problem with ZT’s ELMAX heat treat, they’ve fixed it since this knife was introduced in 2013. The flipping action of the blade is excellent – smooth and fast thanks to the Kershaw/Zero Tolerance KVT bearing system.
As high-end production knives go, the Zero Tolerance 0801 is a great value – while it has a retail price of $240.00, you can find it for well under $200.00 over on Amazon.com. In addition to this photo review, I’ve also prepare a video supplement which can be found on my YouTube Channel:
I’ll post another article in a week or so with some photos of my ZT 0801 once the modifications I’ve ordered have been completed.
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.