You know the expression, “Never meet your heroes?” It’s the idea that, no matter how great something or someone may be in person, they’ll never measure up to the image you’ve created in your mind. Well, I’ve decided to go against this axiom. The folks at Zero Tolerance recently offered to send over one of their 0450 models, which has been my most coveted knife for a long while. I mean, just look at it! How was I supposed to refuse?
Oh. Hello, beautiful. I’ll be honest, guys – I’m smitten with the look of this knife. Ever since I first laid eyes on it, I’ve been waiting for the chance to hold one. So, does my idea of the knife match up to the reality? For the most part, yes!
Let’s start with the dimensions, specifically those of its gorgeous blade. ZT and designer Dmitry Sinkevich have looked into my heart, crafting a 3.25-inch, drop point dream out of CPM-S35VN steel. Wait – why was there a knife blade in my heart? I supposeit is a somewhat dangerous metaphor. Though perhaps it’s appropriate, given the almost sinister feeling that radiates from beneath the satin and stonewash. Look, any knife can be used as a weapon (and I am BY NO MEANS advocating such practices). But there’s something about the design here that brings to mind a futuristic, lethal aesthetic. Maybe it’s the swedge, topping off the blade’s 0.12-inch thickness.
This appearance does have its drawbacks. As we’ll discuss below, it limits the places in which I felt comfortable carrying the 0450. But as a design exercise, its melding of the sophisticated and the sinister is really a thing to behold.
Moving down to the handle, you’ll find 5.125-inches of titanium with a thickness of 0.4. Its framelock lives beneath of portion of the pocket clip, providing two things I adore – A strong lockup and a wonderful sound. The blade swings on KVT ball bearings surrounding a non-captive pivot. This means that, while the action is wonderful, you’ll need two torx bits in order to make adjustments.
Okay, to the hand test. If there’s any letdown here, it’s that the ZT 0450 is perhaps not as appealing to my palm at it is to my eye. Like, the quasi-pommel at the butt end can cause discomfort under heavy grip. And the titanium sides themselves can be a little slippery if your palms are moist. It also rides just a touch higher than I like, which is a consequence of the clip’s vertical screw arrangement. These are minor complaints, however. There’s a lot of good, too, such as the jimping at the top of the blade. The flipper tab is also quite nice, as are the red backspacers.
So, while it may not be as ergonomic as something from Spyderco, it’s certainly better looking. Don’t get me wrong – It’s still a nice knife in the hand. Just not quite as perfect as it is visually.
4.5 stars out of 5
I have a confession to make: I didn’t carry this knife to work. There are two reasons – First and foremost, it has a rather dangerous appearance. Second, it’s a little small for my particular needs on the construction site. So where did I carry it instead? Pretty much everywhere else.
Let’s eat our dessert first and talk about the action. Zero Tolerance has the blade deliciously dialed in, to the point where it’s almost ridiculously fun to flip. A simple light switch style flick sends the blade rocketing through its arc, landing in place with a satisfying snikt. Stowage takes a bit of practice, mainly because of its smooth nature. This is a drop-shut capable knife, so use care when allowing the blade to swing back into the liners. It really is an addicting process, and I’ve spent more time playing with this knife than I’d care to admit.
There are some folks who’ve had trouble with the action, however. Read the Amazon reviews and you’ll come across at least a couple. From what I’ve read and discovered, most of these folks are inadvertently applying pressure to the lockbar while attempting to flick the flipper. If you do this, yes, the knife will have trouble opening. But that’s because you’re essentially holding the blade in place by squeezing the lock. User error seems to account for most of the problems here.
So, I’ve said I didn’t take the blade to work. Instead, I cut paper, cardboard, plastic packaging, and even an onion or two. It performed each of these tasks without issue, though it does get fairly thick above its edge. This hinders its ability to slice through produce but, c’mon, how many of you are going to use a ZT for food prep?
Look – I’ll readily admit that this particular knife is maybe more of a piece of “man jewelry” than a functional tool. Or that’s how it wound up for me, at least. But you know what? I absolutely do not care. This is a gorgeous design, and it cut everything I put it up against. If you want a more heavy duty tool, check out its big brother, the ZT 0452CF. But, taken as the elegant small blade that it is, the 0450 is perfectly functional.
5 stars out of 5
This knife figures to be part of my permanent collection for a long, long time. And, with ZT’s Limited Lifetime Warranty, it’s got the backing of an established and respected brand. This has allowed me to use, clean, and disassemble the knife with peace of mind. Don’t underestimate the effect this has on consumer confidence. It’s a huge plus, and the major reason behind this category’s perfect score.
Beyond that, I’m not sure what to say. There are no real nagging flaws and no real long-term concerns. There is one minor issue that we’ll cover in the next section, but it’s not enough to hurt it here. Zero Tolerance pride themselves on producing knives built “like a tank,” and I think they’ve succeeded.
5 stars out of 5
Through all my months ogling this knife, the price remained fixed at $160. Heck, even the local Sportsman’s Warehouse had the same price tag. And after owning one for a couple weeks, I can safely say it’s worth every penny. Consider what you’re getting – Gorgeous design, superb flipping action, and American manufacturing. Add in the titanium sides slabs and S35VN blade steel, and you’ve got an incredible value.
While we’re on the topic of steel, though, I do have to ding it a quarter of a point. I’ve seen and read several reviews calling ZT’s version of S35VN into question, claiming that it doesn’t hold up as well as its peers. I have yet to witness such a deficiency, but I also can’t ignore the body of evidence from folks I respect. Unfair? Maybe so, but it was enough to tarnish the score ever so slightly.
That being said, don’t let rumor and hearsay dissuade you from adding on to your cart. I absolutely endorse this knife at $160.
4.75 stars out of 5
So, I met my hero. And I’m pleased to say that, despite a few minor blemishes, my overall experience with the ZT 0450 was overwhelmingly positive. It’s been a great addition to my collection, and I’m pleased that I got the chance to review it.
Would I recommend it for everyday carry? That depends upon your environment. For me, this is more of a special occasion or dress knife. It’s gorgeous and well built, but I’m just not comfortable taking it to the job site. But that’s the fault of my own hangups (or rather, those of others). This is a strong, capable, and attractive knife, backed by a good warranty.
Kudos to ZT and Dmitry Sinkevich for bringing such a wonderful knife to the market, and for keeping it within reach of budget-minded enthusiasts. While I’m sure I’ll enjoy the 0450 for years to come, they’ve managed to whet my appetite for their future projects.
Where to Buy
Amazon (rated 4.4 out of 5 stars over 107 customer reviews as of 6/16/17)