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What makes zero tolerance so tough?

Discussion in 'General Knife Discussion' started by crimsonfalcon07, Mar 28, 2011.

  1. Thomas W

    Thomas W Banned by Moderators Banned

    Oct 11, 2005
    Sorry for the ZT tough thread drift here, but this low dollar high volume business is a tricky one. It's not a category that a manufacture can automatically have success in. You can't just bring in some imports and expect to get placement. It's a very difficult category that can burn you bad if you don't know what your doing.

    When I said earlier that we're all good at something, but not everything, there's a lot to be learned from that. You really have to stick with what you know cause the minute you get all wide-eyed and want a bigger piece (in this example high volume import business), that's the day you'll be making up an excuse on why these knives are no longer available, and crawling back to what you were when you started. It's funny and sad at the same time. All the major manufactures have fallen in this way before, be it in one specific category, or a full line of knives.

    On topic, the premium side of the business has the same challenges. To get a new brand to the status of ZT was difficult to blaze. We struggled early, didn't make money, had 2nd thoughts...Ultimately we took it long term and it's work out, but that's not to say there wasn't tense moments.

    I do believe that overbuilt has its place, but again it's not for everyone, it never was intended to be.
  2. Artfully Martial

    Artfully Martial

    Jun 8, 2005
    I am really impressed that people talk about ZT now more or less like they talk about Strider in terms of prestige. Seems like ZT is a super premium production knife at this point, although it does have some more affordable offerings...
  3. Überich


    Feb 20, 2011
    i'm glad zt stepped into the ring. i would never have bought a strider (for various reasons) this type of stout folder has it's appeal though...
  4. Confederate


    Sep 5, 2005
    Zero Tolerance appears to provide users with a balance of toughness, good looks and quality blade steel. What I think CS adds to the equation is their controversial means of testing. 154CM is one of my favorite blade steels, and regardless of how much it costs, knife companies just don't offer premium knife steels in large knives. Why? Who knows? I don't see any 6- or 7-inch fixed blade knives made with 154CM. And virtually all of the S30V knives I've seen have very small blade sizes. If premium steels were so inexpensive, and well suited for larger knife sizes, I think they'd be on the market.

    If Zero Tolerance can do it, more power to them. By the time you buy the steel, make sure the heat treat is top notch, build the knife and market it, it always ends up being very expensive. As mediocre as CS is said to be, I find their strength and heat treat to be exceptional. Their Secure-Ex sheaths are very good, and as offensive as some people find their marketing, if they don't do it, then someone else will.

    The question is why is ZT so tough. The answer is simple. It was designed to be tough. These knife manufacturers know what makes knives tough and what steels cut better. They also know the importance of heat treat. Clearly there are some on this board who just don't care about toughness. That is, Spydercos and Sebenzas are tough enough for their purposes. (It's the old law of diminishing marginal returns.) So then it comes down to looks, price, size and weight.
  5. EZ Bake

    EZ Bake

    Mar 5, 2009
    Here's a question - how does a knife like the ZT302 compare to say the original titanium frame-lock Kershaw Tyrade? I understand that both knives were done under the guidance of Ken Onion.

    I've got a Ti Fused Tyrade and its got Tianium scales on both sides - I think the ZT302 has a titanium or steel liner under the G10 doesn't it (on the side opposite the frame-lock)?

    One thing that I've always wondered is that knives like the first gen Hinderer XM-18 and current model Strider SNG have no liner on the G10 side and that honestly scares me as G10 is a great material, but its not exactly structural in nature (I would never pry or even dig into wood with a knife that only had G10 on one side), but I know Hinderer put a full-liner on the non-frame-lock side of the XM-18 in later generations of that knife didn't he?

    I guess my point is that with frame locks, a design with a something structural like a liner (or a solid Titanium scale) on the non-frame-lock side would seem more solid - like say a ZT302 being more solid than a knife made with a frame-lock on one side and only G10 on the other.

    But then again, I'm no folding-knife expert.
  6. Thomas W

    Thomas W Banned by Moderators Banned

    Oct 11, 2005
    The 03XX's were designed by Ken and Strider, the Tyrade was a Ken design. They were produced solely by Kai USA.
  7. MCM


    Feb 9, 2002
    "The question is why is ZT so tough. The answer is simple. It was designed to be tough."

    And built with heavy, heavy duty parts. More like this are not made as its a small portion of the market. Lots of folks could do it. Its just a small market share.

    Many that a willing to carry 1/2 pound of knife go for a fixed blade.
    Or both, a slicing folder and a med fixed.

    My pref is for a large folder that isn't super heavy and that carries well.
    (Think 805, 806, Millie, MT Socom, etc) a C95 Manix is as heavy as I want to carry. (A Large Manix would have been a better Spyderco for comparison BTW or an M4 Millie)

    These threads are fun though. I get a kick out of folks getting their feathers ruffled.

    As far as lock strength goes, I am not aware of anyone lab testing lock strength to failure as scientifically as Spyderco. They just do not post the competitors results publicly and sling mud. But they do give credit where credit is due.(think AXIS here) Which is rare in this industry.

    Many gravitate to "Hard use" Others go to other areas like "blade steel", some go for "light weight".

    For me, I think more of S90v, M390, ZDP 189, etc over how much a knife will take before it breaks.
    Out of my 300 folders, I can honestly say I have never broke one.
    (Well, not a quality one anyway from most of the makers mentioned in this thread)
    But do enjoy the new Super duty knifes some Co's are putting out.
    As someone mentioned above, that's what makes this hobby so interesting. All the models we have today to choose from. Its incredible!
    This is really a great time to be into knifes.
    Those that can go back 20-30 years know what I am talking about.
    What's available today, is really something.
    And often taken for granted.
  8. EZ Bake

    EZ Bake

    Mar 5, 2009
    I probably should have said "heavily influenced by" because I know that Ken Onion's name is on my Tyrade, but I didn't know how much of the 03xx knives were his and how much were Strider's.

    Doesn't Kershaw own ZT knives?
  9. MCM


    Feb 9, 2002
    Made in the same factory, I believe.

    I always thought ZT was the top of the line, HD Kershaw.
  10. Artfully Martial

    Artfully Martial

    Jun 8, 2005
    Technically, Kai owns ZT, Kershaw and Shun, although Kershaw is definitely the most identifiable brand...it's sort of like the Chevrolet of GM. The words, colloquially, are interchangeable, although they technically refer to subsidiaries.

    Anyway, I've owned maybe 20 KO knives, and two 0300s (0301 and 0302). In my opinion, the 0300 is a good 80% KO. The blade shape and handle shape are pretty clearly KO--in fact, a friend pointed out the other day you can see KO using that handle shape as long as ago as his custom Taboo.

    Of course, KO popularized speedsafe, so we can safely attribute it to him. Strider is one of a handful of companies that popularized the half ti framelock, half g10 scale--but it was actually KO who was first using 3D machined titanium in the ti Bump.

    Some of the flaws in the design can be traced back to Strider. For instance, using the thumbstuds as stops open and closed. The issue there is that when closed, the lockbar can be moved by pressure from your hand and if held tightly enough, it'll bite the g10 in the back, I'm sure obliterating the edge. In one of the used ones I bought, this had been the case. Not a big deal, but KO wouldn't have made even that small mistake.

    The 0300 is undeniably a great knife--perhaps in time it'll even be seen as legendary. Hell, I'm thinking of buying a third one. But every time I do, I end up preferring just to use my ti tyrade...
  11. Nternal

    Nternal Banned BANNED

    Dec 24, 2010
    This post is spot on. I think it's interesting that the same people that think coldsteel's antics are mall ninja and downplay the tri-ad lock are willing to spend 100's on tiger-striped military folders that are supposed to be super strong. I have heard things like " who cares how strong the tri-ad lock is? I never broke a knife, my knife is strong "enough", etc. If that's the case why buy a ZT? They are marketed as a strong,tough knife and some of you guys go on and on about how solid and strong they are.It just seems that a lot of people just want to pick and choose what they want to bash and accept based on pure bias.
  12. philwar


    Mar 27, 2009
    Sure. Are you implying they (even Frost) receive even 1/10th of the bashing CS does?

    Agreed. Are you implying there is any bashing of people going on in this thread?

    You are not being flamed. If you think you are, you haven't ever been flamed.

    You stated you didn't like their opening methods. Those are it. If you don't like them, you dislike them for just about all brands, OR you're saying they are unique to CS. I can't imagine you dislike the opening method of most folders on earth. CS even used an opening hole for a while. Flippers are the only method I can think of CS don't use.

    Me too. I never claimed otherwise. AUS8A is tougher though.

    Look, we can go back and forth on this as long as we like. The fact is that you brought Cold Steel into this, with what was initially a fairly neutral assessment, but inevitably followed by the gratuitous bash. This I responded to, and you didn't like that. I addressed your factual criticisms by pointing to videos, price, weight, practicality (I never would have brought CS into this but as long as you did...) and now you're trying to make this personal by inferring I am bashing and flaming you. Well, it's just not true. Expect a response when you make unreasonable or unfair claims, that's all.
  13. timberweasel

    timberweasel Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Jan 5, 2011
    I don’t need a heavy over-built folding knife for EDC. I just don’t. I use my knives for slicing, cutting and maybe some light scraping, but never for prying unless it’s with a non-sharpened tool bit on a SAK or multi-tool. This generally means paint cans or a stubborn battery cover, but anything more serious will send me off for my toolbox. For plain-old EDC use, it’s less about the weight as it is about sheer bulk and conserving pocket space. Admittedly, looks and ‘cool-factor’ also play a role in my EDC choice… :eek:

    Outside of EDC, I have an Ontario RAT 1 and a Kershaw Blur that I consider more robust than, say, my Spyderco Delica 4 or CRKT Ripple. These are the ones that I pack when I expect to use/abuse my knives a little harder, such as for hiking or camping, but then I’ll have a fixed blade also. There’s only so much one can expect from a folder, imo. That’s my mileage, anyway.


    I’m liking the ZT line-up more and more. The 0551 is a beautiful folder. For my money, I’d rather have a ZT than a Strider. If all the reports/reviews are accurate, the ZT offers better fit & finish and the same quality of materials at a lower price-point. Sure, I don’t need a ZT, but would I want one… you betcha! :thumbup:

    As far as toughness is concerned, I’d also consider a Cold Steel offering. The Recon, AK-47, Lawman and Voyager series are fantastic, especially for the price. If you look past the cheesy gloss of their marketing videos, you’ll see what CS is really telling you: their knives will survive above and beyond any average or reasonable abuse you could throw at ‘em. Not many folks buy a knife just so they can toss it in a vice and beat on it with a hammer. It’s not like the average joe expects to be suddenly attacked by a knight in shining cola-can and cardboard armour. Whether you like Cold Steel or not, you must admit, they certainly have a reputation for being able to take one helluva beating... :p

    Hmmm… I seem to have talked myself into buying a mini AK or Lawman to toss into my ruck… :)
  14. stabman

    stabman Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    I like this quote.:)
  15. EZ Bake

    EZ Bake

    Mar 5, 2009
    I keep wanting to buy my first 0300 (possibly a 0551 - those are the only two frame-lock models aren't they?), but everytime I get to that point, I think of the super-thick spine and way fat belly with unusable tip for any intricate work at all (even cutting tied-rope or zip-ties if you've got to get that nearly obtuse tip under something fairly tight-fitting).

    I just don't have a need for a folder that can do that - I've got fixed blades for tough use and a Ti Tyrade with a slightly skinnier blade and sharper tip (and thinner spine) that I would gather is nearly as tough as a ZT0302 - but then again, I've only handled other folks' 03XX knives and never owned one of my own, so I'm just guessing on the toughness part.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  16. Stainz


    Jun 24, 2007
    I think they stopped the 0302 production. Love my 0301 - not as an EDC - that spot is taken by a BM 755 MPR. Secondary EDC is either a CRK 'zaan - or the new guy - a 0551 - neat EDC choice. The 0301 frequently travels as an adjunct in a back or lower cargo pants pocket. It's a moose... papa moose, I suppose. the 0551 is more svelt - mama moose. That BM 755 is their overfed brat!

    To massacre the great work of Sir Mixalot, "I like thick knives - and I cannot lie - let other knife-lovers try to deny...". Sorry! Love my ZT collection - both of them (0301 & 0551).


    PS A better slicer - JYDII in Ti/SG2!
  17. Pilot1

    Pilot1 Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 24, 2005
    I doubt anyone, including myself bought a ZT for the packaging. In fact, I bought my ZT 301 off the net so really had no ideas what kind of box it came in. I also recently received a ZT 0551, and for the life of me still can't remember what the box looked like, as its now in storage with my other knife boxes.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2011
  18. Überich


    Feb 20, 2011
    now that's a nice analogy! :D

    any word on why you prefer the BM 755 as edc over the 0301?
    i had an eye on the BM 755 myself but in the end i didn't like how short the actual edge is on it (compared to all the material around it ;))
    that's what i like about the 0302 - perfect proportions

    @Pilot1: you don't miss anything not having seen it. i tried to illustrate how small the effect of marketing actually is. ok actually it was worth a short giggle. felt like i was to unbox a little toy-gun. i actually like how esee sends out their knives though: reduced to what's important.
  19. Artfully Martial

    Artfully Martial

    Jun 8, 2005
    I would say the Tyrade is 95% as tough...the only big difference I can see is the tip thickness. Actually, I have slightly more trust in the framelock of my tyrade than I do the 0300s as well. And I think the handle shape is a little better. But since the 0300s have 3D scales, the actual grip is better on the 0300. So I guess what I'm saying is, you could do all the same stuff with both. I've been told CPM-D2 is more resistant to chipping and rolling than S30V as well (and holds an edge slightly longer) so that might actually give an edge to the Tyrade...
  20. Capolan


    Dec 31, 2010
    I saw some bashing of the Tri-ad lock and I had some opinions.

    1. the Tri-ad lock is the strongest lock on the market. It's not even disputed. the disputes come into play around what it is locking per se -- a strong lock, with lack luster steel and it matters less and less. the tri-ad lock, locking 440c - and yeah, it sucks. Not the locks' fault though.

    2. Andrew Demko invented the Tri-ad lock and allows cold steel to use it.

    3. If you want to talk tough tri-ad lock -- get a custom demko, preferably with extra thick .10 titanium liners combined with cpm154 blade and g10 contour handles. you will then see a knife that can perform. check out the useage videos by the same guy that beats that ZT previously - he has a custom Demko. watch when he compares it directly to a a strider which looks small in comparison to the Demko. Demko is making mine out of M390. It will be stronger than most non-folders guaranteed.

    4. Spyderco. I've had...6 or so over the years. The tips break on them. every.single.one. they all turn into EDC sharpened flat head screwdrivers. I want a knife in my pocket that can be abused if need be, but can also be used to cut everyday items. I want to be able to use it hard sometimes, and know its not going to break. I've had way too many backlocks by spyderco fail on me to trust them anymore. Someone said it doesn't exist, the "perfect" knife -- I think the emerson line proves that wrong, as does the Sebenza Insingo. both can be used, abused and retain their shape nicely. the horseman by emerson is a fantastic example.

    5. People are talking on here of "better" -- better for what is the question? what are your goals of what you carry? I want something that I can depend on for anything, no doubts. most production knives don't make this grade, they just don't. The most abused knife I ever owned was a benchmade emerson. I beat the hell out of that thing, and it worked over and over again. it cut anything/everything and cleaned up nicely. I trust very few knives like I did that one. I'm certain that my Insingo with it's blade design could stand up to that abuse and more.

    6. With cost comes both utility and specialization. Again, what do you want to do with it. If you define "better" based on materials used and construction -- the ZTs are much "better" that spydercos. if you define "better" based on value - spyderco's are a great value, bang-for-the-buck wise. Personally I feel, if the knife is double the cost - then damnit, it should be better! diminishing returns or not... Now, compare the TI ATR to the ZT300 -- does it compare? maybe it does. I'll say this, The Manix 2 for its price is a BARGAIN.

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