Zero Tolerance 0230, by Pat Cascio

Today, we’re looking at something a bit different from Zero Tolerance knives. Zero Tolerance used to say their knives were built for use by “Professionals” and they were rock-solid designs, meant to take on the harshest battlefields, or the meanest streets of any city in the world, or meant for survival situations. The ZT-0230 is about as far removed from the above as you can possibly get.

Many of you are old enough to remember way back in the day when almost all folding knives had a “detent” ball system, and that kept the blade opened under most circumstances, and well as keeping the blade closed in your pocket – a very important thing if you ask me – in the far past, I had more than a few folding knives either open-up in my pants pocket, or the blade close on my fingers during use – ouch! The detent system that is still in wide use today, keeps the blade closed in the bottom of your pocket, and helps keep it “locked” open per se, when using the knife. However, under hard use, the blade can still close on your fingers, if you’re not careful.

The ZT0230 folder was designed by a Danish designer Jens Anso, and it is a slip joint folder – as are some folders today that are considered “tactical” folders and it features a double detent system – two steel detent balls, one on either side of the blade, helps keep the blade from accidentally opening in your pocket, or closing on your fingers under use. Another thing you don’t see much of these days, is a half-open position on the blade, that means you can open the blade about halfway open, and it keeps the blade open at that position – nice!

Here are some of the specs on this folder, it has a blade made out of CPM 20CV stainless steel, and this is one of the newest “wonder” stainless steels used in knife blades. Yes, it is still a stainless steel, but it will rust with neglect – it just means that it will “stain” less when left to the elements. This steel also offers some tough hardness and wear resistance, and it retains a sharp edge a good long time. The blade is actually stonewashed by ZT that that helps hide any scratches – I personally view “scratches” on a blade as a sign of a lot of hard use.

The CPM20CV blade is only 2.6-inches long – so this is a pretty small folder from Zero Tolerance. This blade has a Rockwell hardness of 60-62 – so as already mentioned, it will hold an edge for a good long time. And, believe it or not, it is all that difficult to re-sharpen this blade once it gets dull. The closed length of this model is a mere 3.7-inches long. The handle material is Carbon Fiber, and it is black in color – very attractive. Plus, this little folder only weighs 1.8-ounces – we are talking a super lightweight folder. And, there is no pocket/clothing clip – the knife is meant to be carried in the bottom of a pocket. There is a blue anodized backspacer with an integral lanyard attachment as well. The blade design is something akin to a Wharncliffe style – and this design is especially handy for close-up use, like cutting something that calls for complete control of the blade when in use. Delicate cutting!

I actually carried this little folder more the better part of a month. Unfortunately, it didn’t get the usual workout – because I always kept forgetting that the knife was in the bottom of my cargo pants pocket, and I would reach for a folder that was clipped to the top inside of my pants pocket. I didn’t abuse this little folder at all – it was too nice of a knife for abuse. This little knife is really a “Gent’s” folder, something that is meant to be used in the board room, cleaning your nails, or opening mail – it is not designed for hard use in the least. And, you’d better believe when you pull this little folder out of your pocket, that everyone will think you have a custom-made folder in your hand, not a factory-made knife. It is that classy looking.

Anytime someone pulls a folding knife out of their pocket, and use it in front of me, I take note, as best I can, as to what make and model of knife it is. Couldn’t tell you how many times, I’ve seen guys pull out a well-worn folder, that probably cost them all of $5.00 – $10.00 at the local gun shop or big/small box store. The blade has been sharpened – and not very well done – until there is no real edge on it, and the blade is also loose – the pivot pin was never adjusted once the blade started getting loose. And, to top it all off, when they went to cut, whatever it was they wanted to cut, they had to “saw” through the material, because the blade was so dull. You’d better take note of this: A dull knife blade is a dangerous one. A sharp blade requires very little effort to cut – if you have to start “sawing” though something, that means you are applying a lot of pressure on the knife and there is a real good chance, that blade will slip off of whatever it is you are trying to cut – and odds are really good, that blade will end up cutting you, instead of the material you are trying to cut. So, remember a sharp blade is easier and safer to use, than a dull blade is.

I used the ZT0230 for many small tasks around my little homestead, especially opening mail and boxes that come to our front door almost daily. It performed great for those tasks. There was no way this short blade was going to slice through tough blackberry vines with a single swipe. I used the knife in the kitchen, but because the blade is so short, it didn’t do what I wanted it to. At the kitchen table? Nope, this little folder is best reserved for small cutting tasks that you’ll probably perform every single day – that is, if you remember it is in the bottom of your pants pocket, or a suit jacket pocket.

In the end, I somehow lost this little folder. I don’t know if it fell out of my pants pocket – not likely – or I laid it down and forgot where it was, or someone found it. I searched my pick-up truck all over the interior and I couldn’t’ find it – that’s not to say that, it may not show up later on, when I’m not looking for it inside of my truck – this has happened many times – do a complete search and you can’t find whatever it is you KNOW you lost in your car or truck, and a couple months later, it show up like magic. Right now, I’m in the process of trying to find a S&W M&P Shield 9mm 8-rd mag, that I know I have – someplace in my office – but can’t find it – so Just ordered a replacement – odds are good, that day the replacement arrives, I’ll run across the “lost” magazine – it is here, in my office, someplace. LOL

If you’re in the market for a true gentleman’s folder, then you should give the ZT0230 a good look, it is quality made in all respects, and no Gent would feel embarrassed pulling it out of his pocket. And, what the heck, you don’t even have to be a Gentleman to own and use one. Over the years, I don’t recall many folks calling me a “Gent” but I like quality-made knives – even little ones, that I many not use all that often. And, if you’re a gal, this would be a great little folder to carry in your purse, and I assure you, it will get a lot of use all the time. Plus, it would make a great gift.

As always, all ZT Knvies are made in the USA – and that still means something to many of us. And, I’ve watched the folks at ZT/Kershaw fitting and assembling these knives – the tolerances are “that” close and it takes a keen eye to do this sort of work – many of their employees had a mount magnifying class at their work stations to make sure everything is fitted perfectly. However, in the end, all these knives go through a quality control check, and if everything is up to par, those knives are set aside – rejected – for one reason or another.

The ZT0230 usually sells for $220 – and that’s a fair price for such outstanding cutlery. However, ZT presently has these folders marked down to $180 – a great deal if you ask me, on a great little folder. Get one, before they are all gone!