Three Zero Tolerance Knives are hard use for all occasions.
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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tolerance as “the allowable deviation from a standard; especially: the range of variation permitted in maintaining a specified dimension in machining a piece.” When I think of Zero Tolerance (ZT) Knives, this definition comes to mind.

3 Zero Tolerance Knives

Having used ZT products for years now, I can honestly say that their quality is a testament to their name. I had the pleasure of taking a look at ZT’s new lineup, and while the company doesn’t have a lot of new items coming out this year, every piece is a solid example of the ZT brand. Particularly interesting is the fact that each of the three new knives covers a different demographic—from the woods to the boardroom—and level of dress.

0308

For some people, the 0308 will seem like a nice return to the big, beefy roots of ZT knives, building on the legacy of the 0300 series. When I say beefy, I am talking 6.9 ounces of slicey-dicey mayhem. With a hand-filling thickness of 0.61 inch, the handle features a textured coyote tan G10 front scale and textured titanium frame back. Although there are lightening pockets inside the frame, on the front side, the 0308 still maintains a weighty footprint. I for one really like the solid feel that the heavier weight provides.

The Zero Tolerance Knives 0308 is a beefy, hand-filling EDC knife that is built like a tank.

The 8.9-inch overall length of the 0308 boasts a generous 3.70-inch blade, constructed of CPM 20CV stainless steel. The drop point blade includes a slight shark fin rise at approximately the halfway point, which features a swage to aid in penetration. Just behind the shark fin is some very subtle jimping, just enough to securely hold the thumb in place without being uncomfortable.

The blade glides easily to full lockup via the smooth KVT ball bearing pivot and is set in motion utilizing the skeletonized flipper. The decorative pivot cap sits just forward of a weight-relieving handle window, which also adds a little style to the overall aesthetics. Lockup is handled by employing a titanium frame lock with a hardened steel lockbar insert, relieving the stress on the titanium.

The 0308 comes ready for right-hand, tip-up carry, but is reversible to left hand, tip-up carry. It rides about 0.75-inch high in the pocket. The knife accepts aftermarket pocket clips, should you want to dress yours up a bit to make it more personal. Just above the pocket clip, at the butt, is a lanyard hole just big enough for a single strand of paracord, for easy retrieval.

0223

I will admit that when the 0223 first came out I wasn’t quite sure what to think of it. Even the initial response it received on Instagram was less than favorable. With many people saying it was too gimmicky and looked a bit like a gas station knife. So, knowing ZT’s reputation and quality, I felt it deserved evaluation on its merits and not on its looks.

The Zero Tolerance Knives 0223 pays homage to the classic military knives of recent history.

At first glance the 0223 calls to mind the styling of classic military knives, but with a modern flare. The 8.6-inch length of the 0223 features cleanly chiseled lines, adding to the comfort and overall aesthetics of the theme.

The 3.5-inch blade is constructed of CPM 20CV stainless steel and features a clip point with a swedge. Running half the length of the blade is a cutout fuller to decrease weight. Which I think is partly responsible for the initial reaction people had to the overall looks of the 0223. Personally, I think people would have liked a standard fuller more and it would have better fit the theme.

Running the length of the cutout, on the spine, is a series of squared-off jimping, providing solid thumb retention. Five decorative holes adorn the ricasso. Although for me I think this takes away from the subtle overall beauty of this knife. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Handling and Operation

The handle is where the 0223 really hits a home run. The titanium handle features dramatic lines and earth-brown G10 scales designed to mimic the traditional stacked leather handle on older military knives. The G10 scales wrap completely around the spine of the handle for a very comfortable grip.

The 0223’s smooth action is compliments of the KVT ball bearing pivot. The pivot brings the blade smoothly to full lockup, via the flipper. The blade of the 0223 is securely locked in place during use, utilizing a frame lock with hardened steel lockbar insert.

The 0223 rides approximately 0.75 inch out of the pocket via the reversible pocket clip, which comes set up for right-handed, tip-up carry. With a closed length of 5 inches, it is slightly long in the pocket. But at only 1.145 inches wide, 0.55 inch thick and 4.7 ounces, it virtually disappears until needed—making it very comfortable for everyday carry (EDC).

The clip point of the 0223 easily penetrated the sidewall of this radial truck tire. The edge made short work of slicing out a chunk and bisecting it—without damage or wear to the edge.
The clip point of the 0223 easily penetrated the sidewall of this radial truck tire. The edge made short work of slicing out a chunk and bisecting it—without damage or wear to the edge.

0230

I am the kind of guy who doesn’t go anywhere without a knife—or four—on my person at all times. My brother always says I look as if I am entering Bartertown (in the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) when I empty my pockets. But carrying a larger, heavier EDC while in dress slacks is uncomfortable and throws off the lines of your suit or slacks. For that reason, I am always looking for a good dress folder, and the 0230 fits the bill beautifully.

The Zero Tolerance Knives 0230 is elegantly at home in any formal environment.

The 0230 is an elegant slip-joint folder weighing a light 1.8 ounces, keeping your dress slacks from being weighed down. The 2.6-inch, CPM 20CV blade features a double detent system—with steel detent ball on each side of the blade. The sheepsfoot blade profile makes it a great slicer—perfect for any chore or self-defense need. The blade is brought into play via a nail nick.

The carbon-fiber handle scales help to keep the weight down, while adding a classy layer to the aesthetics. Sandwiched between the scales is a blue anodized aluminum backspacer, which includes a small rise at the butt with an integrated lanyard hole.

Being a slip-joint knife, the 0230 does not have a lock of any kind, so if you are going to use it for self-defense/slashing techniques, I recommend using a pinch grip on the blade, to prevent it from folding over onto your fingers. However, for normal, daily EDC tasks, your regular grip will be fine. Just exercise the same level of caution as you would for any slip-joint folder.

In an effort to maintain clean lines and a boardroom etiquette, the 0230 does not feature a pocket clip or the means to affix one. This is a carry-in-pocket-only knife.

Solid Performance

Although I have used all three blades a lot, I wanted to conduct a few focused tests. My first dedicated test was to take a couple of thick pork roasts, wrap them in a heavy layer of Saran Wrap, cover them in denim and take slashes at each one.

The first knife up to the plate was the 0223. It glided through the subject matter so smoothly and cleanly that I initially thought it didn’t cut at all. I thought instead that it slid right off the denim. Upon further inspection, I found that the 0223 sliced almost as deep as the entire length of the blade.

Initially I thought the Zero Tolerance Knives 0223 had glanced off the denim. However, it sliced as deep as the blade’s length, with almost no resistance.
Initially I thought the Zero Tolerance Knives 0223 had glanced off the denim. However, it sliced as deep as the blade’s length, with almost no resistance.

Next was the 0230, and the sheepsfoot blade profile slid right through the subject matter a full 2 inches. This is deep enough to sever tendons and arteries and stop an attacker. I finished with the 0308 and achieved the same results as with the other two knives. I can honestly conclude that the edge geometry and factory edges on all three knives are perfect for slicing.

Hard Use Testing

Next, I took the 0223 to an old truck tire and stabbed it into the sidewall. I then cut out a large portion. The clip point of the 0223 easily penetrated the thick, fibrous rubber. The edge then easily sliced out the section and then bisected it cleanly.

The 0308 had no issues slicing through three layers of mountain bike tire. There was no effect to the edge in any discernible way.
The 0308 had no issues slicing through three layers of mountain bike tire. There was no effect to the edge in any discernible way.

I then took the 0308 and cut an old mountain bike tire into three sections. Then, stacked the three sections and cut them in half. The 0308 sliced cleanly through all three tires with little effort, and the edge was completely unscathed.

Finally, I took the 0230 and sliced up a large section of corrugated cardboard—which is notoriously hard on edges. The 0230 easily and cleanly sliced the cardboard into a pile of smaller pieces. However, the edge showed zero damage or wear.

The 0230’s keen edge quickly reduced this corrugated cardboard to a pile, with no bunching or tearing.

Wrap-Up

As mentioned earlier, I have been carrying ZT knives for some time now and have enjoyed the quality and precision that goes into each and every knife.

Although not every design is going to be for everyone, the functionality is on point. Each knife exhibits high levels of craftsmanship and construction that will get the job done—without fail. True to their name, ZT Knives demand zero tolerance in the construction of all of their knives. And it shows in the raw performance of each piece in the ZT stable.

Whether you are looking for a folding combat blade, stout EDC or something for the boardroom, this year’s lineup has something to fit your needs—with dominance.

For more information, please visit ZT.KaiUSA.com.

Zero Tolerance Knives 0308 Specs

The 0308 has an overall length of 8.9 inches and weighs a beefy 6.9 ounces.

Blade Material: CPM 20CV
Blade Length: 3.75 inches
Closed Length: 5.2 inches
Overall Length: 8.9 inches
Blade Thickness: 0.156 inch
Blade Finish: Stonewashed finish
Handle Material: G10 front, titanium back
Handle Color: Brown
Overall Weight: 6.9 ounces
Handle Finish: Bead-blasted finish, back
Handle Thickness: 0.61 inch
MSRP: $300

Zero Tolerance Knives 0223 Specs

The narrow profile of the Zero Tolerance Knives 0223 is very comfortable in the hand, but hides almost completely in a pocket.

Blade Material: CPM 20CV
Blade Length: 3.5 inches
Closed Length: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.6 inches
Blade Thickness: 0.156 inch
Blade Finish: DLC coating
Handle Material: Titanium, G10 overlay
Handle Color: Brown and black
Overall Weight: 4.7 ounces
Handle Finish: DLC coating
Handle Thickness: 0.55 inch
MSRP: $300

Zero Tolerance Knives 0230 Specs

A pocket-carry-only knife, the Zero Tolerance Knives 0230 does not feature a pocket clip of any kind, or any means to affix one, keeping its profile clean and sleek.

Blade Material: CPM 20CV
Blade Length: 2.6 inches
Closed Length: 3.7 inches
Overall Length: 6.2 inches
Blade Thickness: 0.121 inch
Blade Finish: Stonewashed finish
Handle Material: Carbon fiber
Handle Color: Black
Overall Weight: 1.8 ounces
Handle Thickness: 0.4 inch
MSRP: $180

This article was originally published in the Personal Defense World Aug/Sept 2020 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions at OutdoorGroupStore.com. Or call 1-800-284-5668, or email [email protected]

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