Zero Tolerance Knives (ZT to the converted) was made with a specific purpose in mind: Kai USA Ltd. saw that first responders, military personnel, police, firefighters, and other life-saving professionals needed a high-quality, hard-use knife that could go with them over the rubble, through the front lines, and directly into the fray. They made ZT to fill that hole in the market, and consumers have been reaping the rewards ever since.
This brand is beloved because it is meant to thrive in a crisis. These are what you EDC when you live and work in hell. They run a little more expensive than other knives because they’re meant to live a much tougher life. Zero Tolerance blades exist in the pockets of men and women who hack through paracord, cut people out of sinking cars, and have to have a quick pocket cutter because they just ran out of ammo for their AR-15 and there’s still hostiles about. The 8 best Zero Tolerance knives are combat ready, because they’re literally intended for combat. Skimp there, and you pay in flesh and blood.
Zero Tolerance ZT0450 Sinkevich
Super Sized: The ZT0450 is a striking knife that will draw you in the moment you pull it out of the package. It shimmers like Excalibur, and at more than 7-inches when deployed, it can feel like it. Designed based around a limited edition blade that was part of a collaboration with Dmitry Sinkevich, it’s big and flashy. Its progenitor was a massive knife, strictly for display cases. For a mass-produced piece, this modern take is more than worthy of the name. The flipping action is tremendous, allowing it to come out fast, and the sheer size and stonewashed titanium handle that nearly glows make it a monster in a dark alley.
Zero Tolerance ZT0770CF Folder
Understated: Just like Clark Kent putting on his glasses, even when Zero Tolerance attempts to make a simple EDC knife they’re still impressive. The carbon fiber handle is a comfortable feel that is less tactical or aggressive than most of their other options, and has an affable, stonewashed look that mutes it for work around the home or office. It bears the impressive ELMAX tool steel, which has been hardened so that once the ZT0770CF has a razor’s edge, it can hold it through several tough projects. Slim and svelte, it’s a nice back pocket piece.
Zero Tolerance ZT0900 by Les George
Shades of Gray: You’re going to draw eyes when you pull out the slate gray body that seems to catch light like a sunstone. The scales are made from titanium, and they envelop the S35VN steel snugly without being difficult to open or so loose it flops free. Each line is meant to slip into your hand and meld with you as you work, eliminating cutting fatigue as you slash at carpet, or just whittle away the time wearing down a nice piece of hickory. This little flipper is a manual open with a smooth KVT ball-bearing mechanism that rolls out like a silver tongue. A fighter or a work knife, it comes from former US Marine Les George.
Zero Tolerance ZT0801BW Flipper
Formal Wear: Discrete as possible with a serious blackwash finish that makes it a puddle of ink in the night, the ZT0801 is a quiet killer capable of attending a black tie gala. The handle is titanium and the blade is ELMAX, which is a high chromium blend that gives it a little more lightness and better edge retention than its more carbonized cousins. It’s hard to corrode under dire conditions, and cleaning is as simple as a proper rubdown with some blade oil. There is a lanyard hole, though at a breath under 5 oz. it’s a little chunky to be a good neck knife.
Zero Tolerance ZT0560BW Blackwash Hinderer
Combat Carry: Nearly 9-inches overall, the Hinderer might very well hamper your movement if you put it into your jeans, but if you’ve got a dedicated spot in your BDU’s or fatigues, then give it a home. The blade is ELMAX steel with a tungsten DLC BlackWash finish that makes it disappear in the dark. The KVT ball-bearing system give it a pleasurable flip that lands solidly and locks down with nary a wiggle. Quad mounts give you plenty of choices for carrying this deep, so it stays secret and safe until show and slice time.
Zero Tolerance ZT0095BW
Simple Swoop: Made for the SpyderCo devotee, the ZT0095BW is a speedy knife meant to come out hard and fast. The extended handle with its additional curvature makes this an inwardly curved blade, more common to tool knives, machetes, and kukuri knives. The extended grip offers scalpel level control and offers up more choices for how to hold the knife, or alternatives for working at angles. The handles are titanium, giving the ZT0095BW the capacity to work in the worst of weather without needing to be cleaned or maintained. A drop point blade and big gut make it a smooth EDC cutter, though the handle can crowd the fingers.
Zero Tolerance ZT0562CF Hinderer
Anywhere Carry: Polish the stonewashed Carpenter CTS-204P steel blade up to a mirror’s shine, or keep reflectivity low for simpler daily use, this is a variation on the Hinderer that is more advanced and elite. Lockbar stabilization and scales with a carbon-fiber front and titanium back give this the materials to last a lifetime. Thick from tip to pommel, it can be used for prying or fighting as much as cutting and slicing. The drop-point blade is rugged and basic, offering a reasonably good point along with a large cutting surface for hunting or field work.
Zero Tolerance ZT0301 Ranger
Practical, Tactical: Using a SpeedSafe assisted opening system to go along with ZT’s flipper build, there’s the tiniest recurve on this blade for use as a self-defense fighter or cutting a hunk of salami off the roll. ZT has taken S30V stainless-steel and coated it with tungsten tiger striping that makes the blade blend into the fur of kills while you field dress, or prevents shine from making your presence known. Couple the camo paint job with the olive drab handle and the Ranger is clearly a bushcraft, hunting, or bloody work knife and meant for everyday carry in areas where you’re prey as often as predator.