I’m a real sucker, for a well-made, and stout knife, especially when it comes to folders. I carry two folders in my front cargo pants pockets each day. And when out hiking, I’ll carry a fixed blade knife, as a rule. However, folders get used every single day for some chores around our small homestead. I’ve written about this before, but for who might have missed it, I prefer an Everyday Carry folder, with a blade between 3.5-inches and 4- inches long, and I like a blade right around 3.75-inches long – just seems to balance better in my hand and it does everything I ask of it.
I don’t like “junk” knives, and we all know one when we see or handle one. They look pretty, however, they are made out of junk steel, and more often than not, the steel isn’t even heat-treated. Most of those knives come dull, and just won’t take an edge, and if you manage to get some kind of an edge on it, it won’t last long at all. And, be sure to never apply too much pressure on the locking mechanism, because it will surely fail on you and you might lose a couple of fingers.
Simply put, if a knife isn’t well-made and has high-quality materials in it, then I have zero interest in owning one or even testing one. Over the years, I’ve flat out sent knives like that back to whoever sent them to me for testing. I won’t waste my time, or our reader’s time on testing junk – period!
Zero Tolerance is a division of the KAI Corporation, and KAI owns Kershaw Knives. The Zero Tolerance line of products is made in the Kershaw factory right here in Oregon – my home state. However, keep in mind that the ZT line is manufactured using only the best of the best materials, and the prices reflect that, too. Look, there is nothing wrong with the Kershaw line. They have some outstanding knives out there, and I can be seen carrying a Kershaw folder quite often. They are a great bargain if you ask me. Some of them are made overseas, and some made in the USA – and I can’t tell the difference – high-quality and care in each folder – no matter where it comes from. And, to be sure, those knives made overseas are not made in slave labor prison factories.
However, I do love products made in the good ol’ United States of America, and that’s where the Zero Tolerance line comes into play. All ZT knives are made in the USA – don’t forget that. And, the time and materials involved in producing these knives cost a lot more than you think. The ZT line of knives comes from the minds of some of our best custom knife makers and they have to be compensated for their work, too. I’ve been on-board ever since I saw the first few Zero Tolerance prototypes during a visit to the Kershaw plant. I’ve tested and written about a variety of the ZT knives, and never had any problems with any of them. They are custom-quality in all respects. Also, when compared to many custom-made folders, the ZT line-up is actually better made than those from custom knife makers. Of course, you get them at a fraction of the price, that one would cost from a custom knifemaker.
Today we’re looking at the Zero Tolerance Model 0223, and this one is a bit different than some of the other folders I’ve tested from ZT. First of all, it resembles a Soviet-style bayonet, of course it is not that big, but at first glance, it looks like it could go on the end of an AK-47. This folder was designed by Tim Galyean, and if you don’t know who he is, then do a web search on his name. He is quite the knife designer. This folder has a deep clip point blade – making it ideal for a lot of different chores, one that comes to mind is as a hunting knife, used for dressing out big game – that clip point blade will get the job done in short order. There is also heavy “jimping” on the spine of the blade – friction grooves, if you will. There are also some decorative holes drilled in the ricasso echo on the jimping.
I like a lot of the new super stainless steels that are being used on folding knives today, and the 0223 has a blade made out of CPM-20CV – it is a fairly “hard” steel, but it is wear-resistant, and holds an edge a good long time, and it really isn’t that hard to re-sharpen, either. The blade is coated in black diamond-like coating (DLC) for a non-reflective look, and it protects the blade from rusting easily. The handles are made out of Titanium and also have this black DLC coating. The earth brown G-10 handle scales makes one think of the AK-47 bayonet. The pocket clip is made out of Titanium as well, with a black Teflon finish on it. Overall, the knife really catches your eye – its beautifully done – flawless in all respects.
The 3.5-inch long blade has a Rockwell of 60-62 – just at the point of almost being too hard, making the blade hard to re-sharpen…but with this Rockwell, the blade can be easily re-sharpened without too much trouble. Overall length of the Model 0223 is 8.6 inches open, closed length is 5 inches, and it only weighs in at 4.7-oz – the use of Titanium makes the knife a bit lighter in weight than you’d think it would be.
I carried the 0223 in my right front pocket for more than a week – I like to carry longer, but I’ve been swamped with folding knives that need testing for articles. In that week, I didn’t notice the 0223 in my pocket at all, until it was time to draw it – I like a good light-weight folder, that doesn’t pull down on the pocket it is in.
One test I do on most of the knives I have for testing is, slicing through yellow poly rope, if your knife isn’t super-sharp, it will simply slide off this slick rope…and many times, you will have to saw through this rope if your knife isn’t super-sharp. The 0223 had no problems cutting right through this rope. I also test cotton rope – no chore at all for this folder. Cutting open and cutting up thick cardboard boxes is a real chore for a knife and cardboard really dulls a knife blade in very short order, believe it or not. I get ammo for use in my firearms articles, and that ammo comes in some very heavy cardboard boxes, but the Zero Tolerance had no problem getting through it. After I remove the ammo, and remove the heavy staples, I give those boxes to my two German Shepherds – they love tearing them apart and fighting over this heavy cardboard, but my ZT ripped through it easier than they could.
My real test on most knives is the thick blackberry vines we have all over eastern Oregon – this stuff is very fibrous, and it is tough to slice through – summer or winter. I find the thickest vines I can, and see if a knife can cleanly slice through a vine with one clean swipe – sometimes a very short-bladed folder can’t do it – not enough cutting edge. However, a lot of knives, that you think are sharp won’t cleanly cut through these vines with one swipe of the blade. The 0223 from Zero Tolerance had no problems cutting through these vines. I also stabbed this blade into stacked cardboard, no problem reaching the hilt of the knife.
As is my usual thing with new knives, I go to my local gun shop and let the boys there handle it and give me their two-cents worth…everyone thought the same as I did – the knife looks like a small AK-47 bayonet, and they liked the deep curve of the blade as well. No complaints at all – and that’s a rare case from these guys.
I don’t know what happened to this sample after my testing, but I think it slipped out of my pocket some place…probably getting in and out of my truck. I looked all through my pick-up truck, but the folder seems to be gone forever – too bad, I liked it – a lot.
The Zero Tolerance Model 0223 folder usually retails for $375. However, right now on both the Zero Tolerance web site and on Amazon.com it is selling for $300. Even if you pay the full retail price of $375 – you are getting a custom-quality folding knife from ZT that will stand up to all you can throw at it, every time. Check one out, or one of the many Zero Tolerance folders, you will have a hard time picking just one, trust me on this. So, start your search for the 0223 from Zero Tolerance – I think that you’ll be quite impressed with it.