And, as we will see, even their smaller offerings are beefy, overbuilt, and give you the confidence to take on all challenges. In this article, we take a look at the bestZeroTolerance knives for users who look for the highest quality blades and some history of this renowned company.
Click on one of the links to go directly to our overview, opinion, and features of each knife. Despite its Japanese ownership, though, ZeroTolerance knives are made exclusively in the United States and the company is headquartered in Tualatin, OR.
The AT brand first appeared in 2006, producing combat ready knives, and since then has expanded its lineup to a wide variety of folders. In doing so, however, the company has not lost sight of its original intention: Building heavy-use cutlery.
It continues to make rugged folders for applications as demanding as firefighting, law enforcement, and emergency medical response. Over time, ZeroTolerance has built a reputation for using some of the highest quality blade steels and handle materials to be found in production knives.
In terms of customer service, ZeroTolerance knives are backed by a limited warranty against manufacturing defects. Even with the knives that are not flagship models, AT puts just as much care, craftsmanship, and attention to detail as they do their top sellers.
For example, Bench made and Spider have their lively online forums, and Case provides plenty of educational materials to help the knife buyer. ZeroTolerance, however, while involving itself in some strategic partnerships, does not do a lot at the grassroots level.
On a final note, the company’s tagline refers to their knives as “proudly overbuilt” and ZeroTolerance’s products certainly live up to that description. The folders we will look at in this review are almost all beefy and beastly and not meant to be the EDC of desk jockeys and ultra-light campers.
Even the small models are either unapologetically bulky or lightweights of a substantial length. The ZeroTolerance 0350 is a “small” folder by AT’s standards, although it does retain the same aggressive design that distinguishes its brand.
The blade on the 0350 is CPM S30V stainless steel for both excellent corrosion and wear resistance (analysis). It features black Tungsten DLC (diamond like coating) to give it a non-reflective finish.
Aside from its quality build, it also has a very strong blade and large belly that makes it a great slicing knife. Some may find the 6.2oz weight too much for its size when it comes to EDC, or as a camping folder where every ounce may be at a premium.
Pros : (+) Clip makes for a very comfortable carry (+) Durable, wear resistant blade (+) Very smooth and easy deployment with a solid lockup Cons : (-) A little bulky for EDC (-) Flipper mechanism is maybe a little oversized The ZeroTolerance 0562 features a flat “slicer” grind courtesy of designer Rick Hindered.
It is meant to provide both efficient slicing action, and a tough blade tip. This knife also has a flipper mechanism that works off of a pivot that is surrounded by a caged ball bearing system.
The handle material is carbon fiber with a titanium back, and it features a reversible clip. One thing you might note is that the thumb “studs” on this knife are not functional for deploying the blade.
The blade on the 0450 is DLC coated with a black matte finish and features jumping along the thumb ramp. It has a frame lock, a KIT ball bearing flipper opening system, and features a deep finger groove.
The carbon fiber handle is somewhat textured, so there is a decent amount of grip even with the titanium back. The clip allows for fairly a deep carry, but if you prefer to have the knife essentially buried in your pocket then it might be a negative for you.
Even when pressing and making harder cuts with the 0450CF, you will not feel discomfort or hot spots with it. The original was a limited run, but this version has been made available to the masses and features a smaller, more streamlined design.
Also, the blade has a bit of a sheepfold quality to it, which might limit those who prefer to work with a finer tip. The only big complaint on this knife is that the action is not that great on it, especially in light of other AT knives.
The ZeroTolerance 0801 is a titanium flipper knife designed by knife maker Todd Redford. It features a frame lock, a reversible, deep carry clip that is tip-up only, and a lanyard hole.
This is a heavy folder, especially when you compare it to others knives in its class like Bench made’s Reptilian. But the blade shape does make this a very good slicing knife, and the tip is sturdy for more heavy-use applications.
The handle is large, though, and should feel natural across a range of hand sizes. The titanium handle of this unique knife has what AT describes as “3-D rated contours” and features a KIT opening mechanism, frame lock, and steel lock bar inset.
In addition, it has a very solid lockup, and absolutely no wiggle in the blade with the steel lock bar insert. AT has also made this a very distinctive looking knife with the contoured titanium handle offset by the shots of blue in the pivot and the aluminum backspace.
The ZeroTolerance 0566 is a Rick Hindered design made for EDC use in terms of both its size and features. The blade comes in a faded, black matte finish that AT calls Backwash.
The handle is a textured G-10 and features a stainless steel back, frame lock, and a lock bar stabilizer. This is another beefy, solid knife from ZeroTolerance, although the company has shown a little restraint to the degree that they have overbuilt it.
The ZeroTolerance 0900 is designed by custom knife maker Les George and is based on his Mini-Harpy. This is a smaller knife that really works well for EDC, and competes well with knives like the Spider Techno in the small-but-hefty market.
The ZeroTolerance 0909 is our second Les George design, which recalls one of his earlier well-known offerings, the Talks. The pocket clip is reversible and the handle also features a lanyard hole.
The blade also features a jumped thumb ramp and a Drop Point profile. The thumb ramp also features some very good jumping that provides great handling for both piercing and more forceful cuts.
One minor drawback to it, however, is that it can be a little difficult to unlock because of how it is recessed in the handle. The ZeroTolerance 0620 is a folder with a rugged Tango blade that features an Emerson “wave shaped” deployment mechanism.
The “wave shaped” feature allows the knife to be opened as it is removed from the pocket by actually catching on the seam as it is being drawn. In addition to the wave-shaped feature, this knife also has a thumb disc for ambidextrous opening (in keeping with the full spirit of the Emerson-inspired deployment system).
The modified Tango blade features two grinds to make a great piercing knife with a strong tip. This knife does not feature the KIT ball bearing system, but instead stays true to the Emerson philosophy with low-friction phosphor bronze washers.
The 0620 has a very smooth deployment, and some may prefer the washer system over ball bearings. These knives are going to make great companions to those of you who need something built to last, with weight and bulk being secondary considerations.
These knives are truly about as good as you can ask for without veering into exotic, high dollar, custom knife territory. But even still, you can take away some good information from this review about the level of detail, the types of steels, and handle materials you should be looking for in any high-quality folder.