Zero Tolerance is a brand of Kai USA Ltd. The ZT brand first made its appearance in 2006 when we saw a place in the market for a Made-in-the-USA line of hard-use knives that would meet he needs of professionals in the military and law enforcement, as well as other first responders, such as firefighters and emergency medical personnel.
The initial products were combat knives, but since that time, the line has expanded to include a variety of general use and premium knives. From larger and heavier outdoor knives to slimmer and lighter every day carrying knives that are built to Zero Tolerance’s high-performance standards, Zero Tolerance knives always provide knife owners with top-of-the-line quality. Zero Tolerance knives are manufactured of premium materials such as S30V, S35VN, or CTS-204P blade steel and G10, titanium, and carbon-fiber handle scales. The operation is conspicuously smooth and Zero Tolerance fit and finish is second to none. Their customers have described Zero Tolerance as a “real beast” and proudly— “overbuilt.” All Zero Tolerances are built in their Tualatin, Oregon USA manufacturing facility by their most skilled workers.
Kai USA Ltd., the makers of Zero Tolerance Knives, is a member of the Kai Group. Kai is a major manufacturer and distributor of disposable razors, surgical tools, personal care products, and housewares in Japan.
The knife that we are talking about today is the Zero Tolerance Short Run Orange Emerson folding knife.
Ernest Emerson is the man behind this Short Run knife. His designs have won numerous awards and are used by elite military and law enforcement groups throughout the world. His resume actually includes instructor positons at some of the leading professional training facilities in the world and courses taught to many of the world’s elite military fighting units. He also started his martial arts training at the age of 16 in Korean Judo. So not only is he disciplined in defending himself, he knows how to design the perfect knife that is going to back you up in almost any situation.
The blade on this knife is made out of CPM S35VN steel. To fully understand how quality this steel is, you first need to understand the steel that was designed before this steel. The original steel was CPM S30V, both steels made by US based Crucible. The original steel had fantastic edge retention and was able to resist rust with ease. It was specifically designed as a blade steel, so you knew that you could expect all the best qualities form it. Crucible added vanadium carbides into the matrix, which brought extreme hardness to the steel. This original steel was regarded as having the best balance between edge retention, hardness, and toughness for the price that you paid. There was one major disadvantage though and that was that it was hard for manufacturers to work with, which did increase the cost, and it was tricky to sharpen, which was a hassle. So Crucible took those complaints and revamped the steel, introducing the world to CPM S35VN. This was in collaboration with Chris Reeve, who is a renowned knife maker. They used a much finer grain structure and added small quantities of niobium, which is where the N comes from in the name. Because of these characteristics they were able to make the fantastic S30V easier to machine while improving toughness and ability to sharpen. With the first version of this steel being so fantastic, just imagine what CPM S35VN can do for you and your knife.
The blade has been coated with a black Diamond-Like Coating. This coating is pitch black and the hardest coting that can be put on a blade. It is said that it is so hard that when metal is cut with a DLC coated knife, the blade will get marked—by the metal that has been spread on the DLC coating. This style of coating is applied through a physical vapor deposition. This is a process where the layer is chemically bonded to the metal surface and is much harder than any tool steel can ever be. Because it is chemically bonded to the steel, it protects the blade against rust. And because it is applied in a vacuum, the coating will be completely even—with no ridges or lumps like you might find on a painted blade. The biggest advantage to this style of coating is that it is nearly impossible to scratch off, unlike many other blade coatings that scratch off after hard use.
The blade on this Zero Tolerance knife is a clip point. Clip point blade shapes are one of the two most popular blade shapes in use today because of how all-purpose and versatile they are. To form the shape of this style of knife, the back edge of the knife runs straight from the handle and stops about halfway up the knife. It ten turns and continues to the point of the knife. This area looks to be cut out or clipped out, and is referred to as the clip, which is where the blade shape got its name. On this knife, the clip is straight. Because of the clip, the tip on this knife is lowered, which means that you are going to have more control over your cuts when you are using the knife. And because the tip is controllable, sharp, and thinner at the spine, a clip point is known for being exceptional with piercing and stabbing. Another reason that these knives are so all-purpose is because it features a big belly area that is perfect for slicing. The clip point blade style really only has one disadvantage and that is how narrow the tip is. Because of this, it does have a tendency to be weak and can break fairly easily.
The handle on this knife features two different handle scales. The first one is an orange G-10 handle scale. This material is a laminate composite made of fiberglass. It has very similar properties to carbon fiber, but it is slightly inferior, so you can get it for a fraction of the cost. And while it is cheaper to produce than carbon fiber, it still has to be cut and machined into shape which is not going to be as cost efficient as the injection molding process used in FRN handles. To make the material, the manufacturer takes layers of fiberglass cloth and soaks them in resin, then compresses them and bakes them under pressure. The resulting material is very tough, hard, lightweight and still strong.
The second handle scale is made out of titanium. Titanium is a lightweight metal alloy that offers the best rust resistance of any metal. It is a little heavier than aluminum, but it is still considered a lightweight meal and much stronger. But, because of this, it is more expensive to machine. Titanium is one of the rare metals that has a warm feel to it, so it doesn’t make you suffer nearly as much in the winter time as something like aluminum. It is very sturdy. The pros of having a titanium handle scale is that it is strong, light, and corrosion resistant. The cons is that it is going to be relatively expensive and it is prone to scratches.
There is a deep finger groove in the handle that gives you a more comfortable grip, as well as a more secure grip during extreme environments. There is also a row of jimping on the spine of the handle so that you have more control when you are doing fine detail work. The butt of the handle is squared. The spine of the handle has a slight curve that fits in your palm well.
The Pocket Clip:
The pocket clip on this knife is designed for tip up carry, but it is reversible for either left or right hand carry options. This means that this knife is ambidextrous and easier to use all around. The clip is black, which matches the back handle scale.
This is a folding knife that opens with the patented Emerson “wave shaped feature.” The “wave shaped opening feature,” also called the remote pocket opener, is built into the back end of the blade, similar to the flipper. The unique wave shape is a hook that enables the user to open the knife as it is withdrawn from the pocket. To use this, make sure the closed knife is snugged up against the rear seam of your pants pocket, tip-up. Then you reach into the pocket to hold the handle of the knife, keeping your fingers away from the blade. Pulling toward the rear seam, withdraw the knife from your pocket quickly and steadily so that the “wave shaped opening feature” hooks on the rear seam of the pocket. This will open the blade, and by the time its fully out of the pocket, the knife will be open and ready for use. Pull back quickly and smoothly to ensure the blade lock up.
The blade on this knife measures in at 3.6 inches long, with a handle that measures in at 4.9 inches long. The overall length of the knife when it is opened measures in at 8.5 ounces. This is a heftier knife weighing in at 6.2 ounces. This knife was made in the United States of America.
The Pros of the Zero Tolerance Orange Emerson Folding Knife:
- The steel has great edge retention.
- The steel is hard, but still tough.
- The blade is easy to sharpen and machine.
- The DLC blade coating is applied smoothly and evenly.
- The coating is very dark and matte, so the glares and reflections are completely diminished.
- A DLC coating is the hardest coating that you are going to come across, which also means that it will be the hardest to scratch off.
- The clip point blade is very versatile.
- The clip point boasts a big belly—perfect for slicing.
- The clip point has a lowered tip, which means that you can easily control your cuts and slices.
- The pocket clip is reversible for left or right hand carry.
- The wave shaped opening feature allows you to open the knife while still in your pocket.
- G-10 is tough.
- G-10 is light.
- G-10 is durable.
- The G-10 has a bright orange color to it.
- Titanium is strong.
- Titanium is light.
- Titanium is corrosion resistant—the most of all metals.
- Titanium has a warm of it.
The Cons of the Zero Tolerance Orange Emerson Folding Knife:
- The blade steel is a little bit more expensive than some of the others that offer similar qualities.
- The coating on this knife will add a significant cost to the blade.
- The narrow tip of the clip point style does mean that this blade is prone to breaking.
- The pocket clip is only designed for tip up carry.
- G-10 is brittle.
- G-10 lacks elegance and some have complained that it feels plastic-y and cheap.
- Titanium is relatively expensive.
- Titanium is prone to scratches.
The Zero Tolerance 0620/0630 series of knives are a collaboration between Zero Tolerance and Ernest Emerson of Emerson Knives. These manual folder models are renowned for their superior craftsmanship and high-end materials and are regarded as some of the best knives on the market. These models feature the patented Emerson “wave shaped feature” which allows you to deploy the blade as you withdraw it from your pocket–completely operated with just one hand. Standard on each of these knives are a front G-10 handle scale and a solid titanium back scale with a frame lock design. This limited run model, the 0630ORBLK, features an orange G-10 handle scale and an DLC coated back titanium scale and blade comprised of premium CPM-S35VN stainless steel and the pocket clip is designed for tip up carry only but is eligible for left or right hand carry options. Pick up the Zero Tolerance Short Run 0630ORBLK Orange Emerson folding knife today at BladeOps.