For today’s gear review, we’ll be looking at the Zero Tolerance (ZT) 0350 EDC pocket knife. Why review an EDC knife on a fly fishing blog, you ask? Simple, because fly fishing is awesome, and this knife is awesome. Awesome and awesome always go great together. Here are a few thoughts on this great tool.
1. The Speed Safe. This is ZT’s patented assist-open mechanism, and it’s as sharp as the blade. One small, but deliberate, flick of the opener with your index finger, and this blade flies open. It might actually have recoil, I can neither confirm nor deny. If you need to get the blade out quickly, for whatever reason, this knife can support that need. Get ready for ooh’s and awe’s if you flip it open around other people. The speed and sound (not hurt by the look of the knife) will grab people’s attention – which could also be a bad thing, depending on how you look at it, and what you’re looking for in an EDC knife.
2. The size. This first thing you need to understand about ideal EDC size is that there are as many ideals as there are people. This is a larger knife, measuring in at 7.75″ overall and 4.50″ closed with a blade length of 3.25″, but certainly not the largest I’ve seen people carry. This is actually one of ZT’s smaller blades, so when you put it into that comparison, the knife is a compact, yet very usable and heavy duty EDC. It sits very flat in my pocket, and after alternating between this one and my Leatherman Wave, it almost feels as if it’s not there at all. For me, this is the ideal size.
3. The weight. Similar to size, weight is up to personal preference. I wear shorts almost everyday, because I live in Florida, and I can, so weight for me is an important factor. If you wear combat boots to Publix, this knife probably wont be big or heavy enough for you. The knife weighs in a 5.8 oz, and even though that’s more than double of the highly esteemed Kershaw Skyline (2.3oz), it’s also more than double the knife. By the way, if you want a super light, super awesome knife that has a lot of value to price, the Skyline is a winner-winner-chicken-dinner.
4. The G10 handles. Okay, so G10 handles are half about function and half about tacticool. But I don’t care. This is a lightweight handle, that’s very tough, and grips phenomenally. I’m a big fan of the grip and feel of this knife. Plus it sounds cool when you slide it out of your pocket.
5. The blade. The metal used here is S30V stainless. Mine has the DLC black coating as well, which has some scuffs from normal use, but has held up pretty well after about a year of use. This is the first and only blade I’ve had with S30V, and my overall impression is that the edge retention isn’t as good as I’d like it to be in a $150+ knife ( I didn’t pay that for it), yet it’s very easy to sharpen. So while it dulls quickly (relatively), it’s an easy blade to put an edge on.
6. The design. The ZT 0350 is a Ken Onion design, and most people will feel the same about the overall design as they do with size and weight. For me (and most sane people) this is one of the best looking knives on the market. The shape is not only pleasing to the eye, it’s pleasing to the hand. If you have girl hands, or it they’re larger than Shaq’s, you might not like it. But if you’re a normal male human being, this knife was made to fit. It does have an ambi thumb stud, which I find to be a bit pointless, and would be about the only thing I’d change if ZT gave me the password to their design software. The blade is awkward and difficult to open with the thumb stud and doesn’t really have a point with the flipper. Plus it makes it that much more difficult to clean. But now I’m just whining.
7. The price. ZT’s aren’t cheap, either in quality or price. Retail on this blade (at a local gun shop where I saw one yesterday) is $160. I saw one online today for $140. I pad about $95 brand new for mine on amazon.com about a year ago. Here’s a tip. If you have a knife fetish, get an amazon prime account and get free 2-day shipping on everything they supply. You can find some outstanding prices on knives there, and get them quickly. If you buy more than a few a year, it will more than pay for the membership.
8. The overall. Obviously, I love this knife. It can be used as a highly effective tool in multiple applications, and could even be used as a decent self-defense weapon if you had to. The most likely self-defense situation I’d see myself using it in, would be against a pissed off shark that I tricked with my fly out on the gulf, but then again, I don’t often take it on the water much because salt water hates metal. If you do take it on the water, keep it rinsed with fresh water at the minimum, and consider coating with a light layer of gun oil (or similar). Highly recommended is the ZT 0350 DLC EDC knife!