- Parent Company: KAI Group, Japan
- Headquarters: Tualatin, Oregon, USA
- Product Focus: EDC, Heavy Duty Folders, Tactical
- Target Markets: High End ($200-$400), Ultra High End ($400+)
- Production Facilities: USA
- Website: https://zt.kaiusa.com/
Often referred to as “ZT”, this KAI subsidiary produces some of the finest production knives available that money can buy. KAI, who also owns pocket knife favorite Kershaw, is a major manufacturer and distributor of razors, surgical tools and housewares in Japan. Often leveraging well known designers and makers in the knife industry for collaborative efforts, ZT has carved a niche in the ultra-durable and high end production knife category. With the use of top quality blade materials and compounding techniques, these completely American made knives are among the best in the world.
“We will continue to build the kind of premium-quality, professional knives that our customers can depend on every single day.”
Zero Tolerance as a brand first appeared in 2006 with various offerings aimed at military, law enforcement and emergency responders who needed well-built, tough knives that could take a beating and continue to perform at the highest level. The brand then grew to serve the knife enthusiast market with top-quality hard-use knives which were commonly referred to as “overbuilt folders“. In recent times, however ZT has diversified further into several lighter and sleeker designs which further solidified their position as a dominant player in today’s global pocket knife industry.
Over the years, ZT has collaborated with knife designers like Rick Hinderer, Todd Rexford, Dmitry Sinkevich, RJ Martin, Les George and Ernest Emerson.
Also, check out our guide to the best zero tolerance knives available today.
Arguably the most iconic of the ZT portfolio, the ZT 0560 hit the stores in 2011 as the second collaboration with renowned US knifemaker, Rick Hinderer. Building on the success of the 0550, Rick and ZT teamed up once again to create an improved sequel in the 0560, worthy winner of the 2011 Collaboration of the Year award at BladeShow. The 0560 is based loosely on the Hinderer XM-18 (and also suspiciously close to the XM-24), superbly balanced in every way.
Sporting Uddeholm’s impressive Elmax steel and a beautifully textured G-10 handle the 0560 packs a punch in the performance category while also being an excellent example of outstanding production quality for a mass produced knife. It feels like an extension of your hand, slicing through everything put before it almost effortlessly. While a little on the larger side for your everyday carry (almost 9 inches), the 0560 is the epitome of Zero Tolerance…proudly overbuilt. What’s more, you’ll find a number of variants of the 0560 (056X series) including the recently released ZT 0562 which is slightly smaller.
As a slightly more muted version of the ZT 0300 powerhouse, the ZT 0350 was released in 2010 and has proved to be immensely popular. Once again ZT offers impressive specs and outstanding fit and finish, combining G-10 scales with an S30V steel blade that deploys using SpeedSafe. At close to 6 ounces and a 3.25 inch blade, it’s on the more manageable side of the ZT ‘overbuilt’ lineup which has appealed to many. It certainly retains the chunky look of the 0300 but far more versatile given it’s size and weight advantages.
In 2015 Zero Tolerance broke the mold by releasing the sleek ‘n’ stylish ZT 0450 in collaboration with Russian designer Dmitry Sinkevich. With a departure from the ‘built like a tank’ blueprint of it’s siblings, the ZT 0450 is all about fusing performance with elegance. The titanium handle and 3.25″ S35VN drop point blade measure almost 7.5 inches end-to-end and everything looks and feels super streamlined. It flips like a dream and locks up surprisingly tight making it an eye-catching yet powerful cutting tool. In a market swimming with titanium flippers, the ZT 0450 is a clear stand out, oozing with quality and somehow manages to stay under the $200 mark.
Overall, Zero Tolerance continues to impress the knife community and general consumers by pushing the boundaries every year. In 2016 they announced several interesting new offerings such as the sleek ZT 0220 designed by Jens Anso and the ZT 0909 designed by Les George. A well respected brand without doubt.