A famous gun writer once said “only accurate guns are interesting…”, and I certain concur with that statement. If a gun isn’t accurate and reliable, I lose interest and get rid of it. It can similarly be said that “only sharp knives are interesting…”. I have no use for junk knives. If a knife isn’t up to my high standards, I won’t waste my time testing or writing about it.
For quite a few years, I collected (and designed) custom-made knives, and I really enjoyed it. Even though it was an expensive hobby, it was still fun. When we moved from Colorado back to Oregon, I sold off all my custom knives, even the ones I designed, to make ends meet for the long move. I certainly regret selling the knives I designed and had made. However, these days I’m still designing some knives, so my hidden talent, if you can call it that, is still active to a small degree.
I used to believe that, only custom, hand-made knives were worth owning, and perhaps twenty years ago that might have been true to a certain extent. However, today’s modern knife factories are turning out custom-quality knives in the factories at prices that are a bargain for what you are getting. Enter Zero Tolerance knives. They are producing custom-quality, hard-use folding and fixed blade knives that anyone would be proud to own. Also, on the boxes their knives come in, it says on the side “Proudly Overbuilt In The USA”. They’re actually built right here in my home state of Oregon, I might add. Zero Tolerance knives are made by Kershaw knives right in the same plant. However, as stated, the ZT line-up are all produced for hard-use, and many of their customers are military and law enforcement– those who use knives on a daily basis and demand the best.
The folder under review today is the Model 0804CF, which was designed by Todd Rexford, who is one of the hottest custom knife makers around these days. His knives are always in demand. The 0804CF is based on his Gamma folder, and it is a simple design with nothing complicated or “fancy” about it, and I like simple. Simple works for me. Yeah, I still like fancy designs on knives for collecting, but for use give me a simple design made with quality materials backed by a lifetime warranty, too.
The 0804CF has a 3.9-inch blade made out of CTS-204P steel with a tungsten DLC coating to help protect the blade from the elements. CTS-204P is a powdered metallurgy steel. For the life of me I can’t understand how you can take a powder and compress it into a knife blade, but it is being done, and it works. The blade is opened, using a flipper, and it is on KVT ball-bearings for the opening system. It is smooth, very smooth opening and very fast. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to open the blade, just some pressure on the flipper and the blade opens. It is also securely locked in the handle as well. The backspacer is made out of aluminum, which also helps keep the weight down a little bit.
This is a frame-lock blade, and the one side is manufactured out of super-tough titanium, while the opposite side is very cool-looking and tough carbon fiber. There is also a reversible pocket/clothing clip on the handle for right or left hand carry in your pants pocket, and the knife sits low in the pocket. The clip itself is slim but might be one of the thickest clips I’ve ever encountered. There is a lanyard hold on the butt of the blade, and the blade sits in the pocket, tip-up. Closed length of the knife is 4.9 inches, and opened it is 8.9 inches. For a large folder, it only weighs 5.1 oz; the carbon fiber on the handle helps keep the weight down.
Okay, I’m gonna admit something here; when I first took the 0804CF out of the box, it just didn’t rattle my bones. It was kind of like “ho-hum” to my way of thinking. Then again, as I stated, I like simple in a knife designed for everyday carry and use. However, in very short order, the 0804CF really grew on me. It feels great in the hand, just fantastic. For a large folder, it could also be considered a Gent’s folder. It is that nice. The carbon fiber really sets off the look on this big knife. It’s very eye-catching. Needless to say, the blade came out of the box, scary sharp! I’ve toured the Kershaw plant a couple of times in the past, and it just amazes me how fast those technicians sharpen knives, and they use newspaper to test for sharpness. The knives easily slice through the newspaper.
I’ve been carrying the 0804CF for well over a month now and using it for all manner of chores on my small homestead. One of the toughest things to cut are blackberry vines, and it takes a very sharp knife to cut through a blackberry vine with a single swipe. Also, the shorter the blade the harder it is to cut. Many fixed blade knives have a tough time cutting through these vines. The 0804CF easily severed the vines with a single swipe; it was not a problem at all. My wife does tend to get a bit miffed at me when I “trim” her rose bushes in front of our living room window with a knife, but it needs to be done and what better way to do it than with a knife I have for testing, right?
Almost daily, I receive boxes from FedEx, UPS, or USPS, and I use whatever knife I happen to be carrying in my pocket to open the boxes. Cardboard is pretty tough stuff and will dull a knife in short order, believe it or not. The knife was also used in the kitchen for cutting meat and veggies, and even though this is a folding knife, meant for other chores, it worked great around the kitchen. I also stabbed the knife into stacked cardboard, and it easily went all the way to the handle. It was nice!
I always show new knives I get for testing to the guys at the local gun shop I haunt, and they had nothing but praise for this folder, and more than one of ‘em just stuck the knife in their pants pocket, like I didn’t see that? To be sure, when there are some other regular customers in the shop that I know, I also let them handle a knife I’m carrying. Everyone loved the 0804CF as well.
Many folding knives are just too fragile, in my humble opinion, to be used for self defense or for actually military combat. They’re not knives you can trust to save your bacon, if it comes down to hand-to-hand combat and all you have is a folding knife. However, the 0804CF is one tough folder, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this design isn’t already in the hands of some of our Special Forces troops– guys who operate behind enemy lines all of the time (that is, if there is such a thing as “enemy lines” these days).
As I always say, quality never comes cheap, and if you buy junk, you buy it over and over again because it doesn’t stand up to your everyday needs. However, when you spend your hard-earned money on quality products, you can expect the best for your money. The 0804CF doesn’t come cheap with full-retail at $350. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. However, if you check around at what hand-made Rexford Gamma folders are selling for (if you can even find one), you’ll certainly appreciate what ZT has done with the design. It is a lot of knife for the money.
Kershaw/Emerson CQC-9K Folder…
As an aside, many of us can’t afford to spend a lot of money on a knife, and I can certainly stand in that crowd. In the past, I’ve tested some of the Kershaw knives, Ernest Emerson designs, and I don’t want to rehash that here. They are a lot of knife for very little money. If you check the Emerson Knives website, you will more often than not find that they are out-of-stock on many models; they are always in demand. So, Emerson and Kershaw agreed to a collaboration, and Emerson is designing folders for Kershaw. The latest is the CQC-9K, and this is one of the bigger Emerson designs that Kershaw is producing.
The CQC-9K has a 3.6-inch blade made out of 8Cr13MoV– stainless steel, and it is made in China. Don’t let that scare you away. The knives I’ve seen from China that Kershaw is having made over there are outstanding in quality. This blade has a recurve quality to it, and it makes cutting rope and similar things easier. It really grabs and digs into material when cutting. The handle is black coated steel on one side and G-10 on the front side, and G-10 is some tough stuff.
The best thing about the CQC-9K is that it has not only a thumb stud for easy opening, it also has the Emerson patented “Wave” that allows you to draw the knife from your pocket, and its blade will be fully opened once the knife clears your pocket, if you want it that way.
Check out the CQC-9K. It is a lot of knife for $69.99, and if you shop around you can find it deeply discounted in some of the big box stores or on the Internet. You are getting an Emerson-designed folder that is very well made for very little money. I think you’ll like it, a lot!