Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
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If you aren’t familiar with Oregon-based Zero Tolerance knives, I’d wager you’ve probably heard of Kershaw. The two are sister companies, both part of the Kai group. Given that the pair are headquartered just a few miles down the road from me, I’m more than familiar with them and many of their products.

The primary difference between the two brands is that while Kershaw has design and quality control here in Oregon, they use Chinese manufactured parts to keep the costs in line on their budget-based knives. Zero Tolerance on the other hand, is a no-holds-barred American-made brand, with prices that reflect the care and quality that go into the final products.

I’m not primarily a knife reviewer, and this isn’t a knife-centric website. I took the chance to review this knife because I’m tired of working with low- to mid-grade knives that just don’t hold up over time.

If you’re looking for a “good enough” or a “twice-a-year” camping or bushcraft knife, you might want to move along to the next post. Zero Tolerance knives are reputed to be made for those who make their own shelters, hack their own trails, baton through wood, and expect to slice easily through a steak at the end of the day.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
The ZT-0006 in its Kydex sheath

With that, let me introduce the Zero Tolerance 0006. Let’s take a crack at the ZT-0006’s specs as provided by Zero Tolerance before looking at hands-on time.

Technical Specs:

  • Blade Steel CPM 3V
  • Blade Length 6 in.
  • HRC 59-61
  • Blade Finish/Coating Bead-blasted finish and Cerakote coating
  • Blade Thickness 0.19 in.
  • Handle Material G10
  • Handle Thickness 0.7 in.
  • Overall Length 10.7 in.
  • Weight 10.3 oz. 
  • Kydex Sheath Included
  • Made In The USA

First a quick visual inspection. The ZT-0006 looks like a bayonet, which is expected since the design is inspired by the ZT-9 bayonet.  The 0006 was shrunk down a bit, and turned more into a hiking/camp knife.

The spine is thick with a nice taper towards the front. The handguard is fairly small, but it’s large enough to protect your hand. The Cerakote finish is well applied.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
Thick spine, tough knife

The textured G-10 handle is comfortably beveled, lacking coarse edges but providing enough grip even for a harsh stab (more on that later).

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife

And then there’s the edge. Most factory knives come with a good edge on them — you’d expect that — but the ZT-0006 has them beat. I’m surprised there isn’t an animated gleam of light running down the blade with a cartoony “SHING” noise accompanying it when you take it out of the sheath.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife

Overall, an excellent presentation.

I wanted to test that edge, then beat it up, then test is again and see how it holds. First, the paper test.

It’s simple really, hold a piece of standard printer paper up, place the knife in the middle, and see how easily it slides down through the paper. If you have to saw back and forth, or if the paper has tear marks instead of a clean slice, the knife isn’t sharp enough.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife

The ZT-0006 easily slid through the paper, with far less resistance than my Emerson Seax, and about on par with my Morakniv (which has a blade about half the thickness). So far, so good.

Batoning is a test nearly everyone uses with camping and bushcraft knives, and for good reason. It’s a realistic use for a knife that might be your only modern tool in an emergency situation. Place your knife on top of a piece of firewood and use a thick stick as a hammer to pound the blade through the wood.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
Not pictured: me whacking the front third of the spine with that round stick.

I took the ZT-0006 through a couple of thick pieces of wood with no trouble. That wide spine shook off the hammering with ease, and so far the edge still looks picture perfect.  No rolls, no chips.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife

Sharpening sticks is another common test with real world application, whether you’re getting a stick ready to roast some meat over the fire, or sharpening some stake poles for a survival shelter. Even if the kids just need marshmallow skewers, this is a basic task.  Green wood is far easier to shave down, so I found some harder branches around the property and went at them.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife

The ZT-0006 pivots nicely in my hand as I pared the sticks down, again showing the good balance of texture vs “non-cheese grater” of the grip.

Any knife you’re hoping to have on you in an emergency situation or on a hunting trip may end up doing more than cutting kindling. It may end up being used defensively or to break downn an animal. The term “tactical” is used in the advertising after all. I was lacking in fresh mammal corpses, so I went to the next best thing: ballistic gelatin.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife

Long held as the standard for ballistic testing, gelatin calibrated to 10% is the FBI ammunition testing protocol medium. It’s less than stellar for a knife as I found, but still makes for a useful exercise.

I jabbed my gel block from a few different angles and with a couple different grips on the knife. Each hit was between 3 and 5 inches deep, but it wasn’t long before I discovered the problem with gelatin and knives.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
The ballistic gel wasn’t a great test, but the photo turned out nicely.

Ballistic gelatin is very “dry.” It doesn’t feel slippery like Jell-O, it’s more like a giant, partially dehydrated gummi bear. Stabbing in? Ok that’s fine. Tough, but fine. Pulling the knife out? It’s kinda like starting an engine without oil. Punching a cheap folder through the side of a (bloodshot) deer’s ribcage is far easier than doing that in gel.

Compared to real world experiences, I don’t think this was a particularly enlightening test, but worth a try. The “bloody” ballistic mannequins often seen on Forged in Fire and Garand Thumb’s YouTube channel are much more realistic, given the lubricating effect blood has, and the overall moisture content of meat.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
The grip is an excellent size, very “Goldilocks”

Time to get the ZT-0006 into some dirt. No, I’m not going to throw it at a steel plate or drop it onto a concrete floor, but I know I’m not the only one who’s ever dropped a knife around the camp site. Will the edge hold up?

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
Dirt is notoriously rough on fine cutting edges

At that point I expected to see at least a couple small rolls, given that I nearly had to stand on the handle to get the blade halfway down into the dry, hardpacked summer dirt, had shaved a couple branches down, had hacked into the side of a log, had batoned a small pile of kindling, and had murdered a small cube of gelatin. The ZT-0006 took it all like a champ, with nothing to show for it but some minor blemishes on the Cerakote. The edge is still in fantastic shape.

After all that I listed above (and a good bit more) I was hungry. I grabbed a few apples off one of my trees and went for a series of thin slices all the way through, core included.

The thickness of the spine precludes keeping the semi-transparent slices all the way through the apple, but slicing was still easy regardless of which part of the edge I was using.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife
It wasn’t made to be a kitchen knife, but it sure does the job.

The ZT-0006 blade is made of CPM 3V steel. This is a premium, American-made steel, well known for its edge retention, resistance to chipping, ability to hold a fine edge, and exceptional toughness.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so all of that performance comes with two costs. The first is this isn’t a stainless steel (which are softer and less durable, but resist rust), so it will oxidize if you don’t take care of it. That Cerakote finish will help in that regard. The second cost is, well, cost. American steel and workmanship don’t come with “Made in China” price tags.

Zero Tolerance ZT 0006 fixed blade knife

So in the end, you have to ask yourself, am I in the market for a “good enough” knife that will handle a few leisurely camping trips (and will be replaced a few times in my life), or do I want a top-of-the-line knife that your kids can fight over when you’re in the ground?

I’ve broken and worn out a dozen lesser knives between hunting, camping, and during my time as an Army Ranger. When I realized I was no longer a kid living paycheck-to-paycheck anymore, I adopted the “buy once, cry once” policy whenever possible. The ZT-0006 is the kind of knife Mad Max will find laying on the outskirts of the post-apocalyptic wastelands, lightly oiled and still with a honed edge.

I’m just one man with one opinion, and that opinion is that $320 (of ever-inflating dollars) is a worthwhile price to pay for a knife this good that will last a lifetime.

 

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65 COMMENTS

  1. That’s actually less expensive than I was expecting. Still, for me $320 is more of a “pistol price” than a “knife price”. Yes, I’m one of those “good enough” cheap guys running PSA rifles and Moraknivs. 😁

    • Moraknivs are a light weight razor blade. What’s not to like? Like most gun guys I have a drawer full of knives. I almost always grab a Mora when I’m heading for the boonies.

      My car kit has one of those shockingly cheap Mora’s with the gawdawful orange handle on it. If I ever do a Julian Sands I want my last act to be sticking it into a tree next to my body so it will be easier for the poor guys doing the body recovery to find me.

    • “Is this thing made of titanium and moon rock alloy?”

      China is incapable of making the highest quality alloys, thank God. Russia won’t even let them in on the secret. They are incapable of creating a competitive military jet engine thanks to their ignorance.

      Quality metals cost money…

  2. First of all outside of youtube survival experts has any one ever used a knife to baton wood? Ever? Your most basic and important tool and you’re using it to bludgeon wood to death? You’re trying to survive. How many calories are you going to burn finely processing wood that is just going to be burned?

    Wood you tie your one knife to a stick and use it for a spear? Hell no. Best way to break it/lose it. You use that knife to make wood spears. More than one.

    • jwm, I’ve used a knife to baton wood more times than I can recall. Although, I have to admit it was usually fat lighter for kindling. Don’t need to beat the blade for that. Do you have fat lighter in California?

      • We probably do. But I always take a fire kit with me into the boonies. Ferro rod. Flint and steel. Lighter. Charcloth. Cotton balls and vaseline.

        I will get a fire started when it is needed.

        • Fat lighter is when pine sap cures in a particular way. It’s almost like gasoline when you put a match to it. It also preserves the wood. It was often used for fence posts back in the day. Most old Florida Cracker homes were built with pine that became lighter. if it caught on fire, get out. There is no extinguishing it. You just lost everything you own. A little Florida flat woods history.

        • A heavy resin heartwood, then?

          That would explain the termite resistance…

        • Yes GF we have something like that here. Lots of pine. Pine cones are a natural thermite grenade. At least the ones here. That resin stuff is caked on some of them.

    • Three things…

      1: CPM 3V offers mediocre edge retention (at best) and its a pain in the a** to sharpen…neither of which are favorable qualities in a knife steel.

      2: Using a knife to “baton” wood, while popular among the wanna-be survivalist crowd…is actually a very moronic thing to do.

      3: YouTube contributes far more to ignorance..than it does education. Tha is especially true when it come to firearms, self-defense, and survival.

      • So, please enlighten us and tell us what types of steel provide excellent edge retention–ideally without being impossible to sharpen and without being too brittle?

        • 440 c for low end knives. A2 for mid level. H1 for salt water resistance, (I own two of these but I live on an island) VG 10 for a good high end blade. And Elmax for the numba one top tear. Expensive but amazing. YMMV but these are out there. Titanium blades don’t hold an edge for shit. I like Cold Steel knives a lot for decent steel at good prices.

      • The whole batoning thing is all wrong because morons try splitting giant logs. You can baton small sticks thinner than your forearm all day long with no problems, and you can use a rat tailed mora to do it.

    • I’m leaning toward a Council Tool Velvicut 1.25 lbs. hatchet instead of another knife, seems more utilitarian in the woods (if I were to choose between one or the other).

    • it’s like you almost understand that there are men who actually use tools to destruction, then find better tools until they don’t break anymore; but then are trying to believe that such men do not exist because you try to compare yourself to them. I’m sorry, you do not compare. I doubt many of the “experts” bloviating here have sharpened blades so many times they had to reprofile the spine. If you haven’t batoned, beated on, pried beyond all reason, and other wise used your blade past a perceived breaking point you are no better than those idiots who move to Alaska on tv. Not truly qualified. My perspective on what qualifies a knife changed when someone in my younger years said if you were going to spend money on steel, at the very least be able to hammer it into a tree and stand on it, folder or fixed. If it can’t do that, it can’t handle much else where the rubber meets the road. D2 for the win btw.

      • slightly better than 1095 for tough and edge, semi stainless as well. it’s really not a knife steel but with proper heat treat it’s ok.

  3. Rex, Rangers Lead The Way! I was at Hunter many years ago. Next, don’t apologize for posting an article about knives on a firearms site. They go hand in glove. The blade looks good. I’d like a hilt a little more akin to a Randall #1, but that’s just me. The handle needs a lanyard. Helps with the whole dropping thing. I spend a little time on the water. You don’t just bend over and pick them up. Good review.

    • Gadsden Flag,

      The handle needs a lanyard. Helps with the whole dropping thing. I spend a little time on the water. You don’t just bend over and pick them up.

      Regarding that last sentence that you don’t just bend over and pick them up: sure you do–once! After that, you may not have that hand any more, or that arm, or your life.

      Somewhat related comment: it baffles my mind to think of people swimming in gator and water moccasin country.

      • uncommon, don’t forget the sharks. The great whites, hammerheads and tigers get all the press, but it’s the bull sharks you better watch out for. When they fold those pectoral fins you better be getting out of the water.

        • Yes sir, bull sharks are the nastiest of the bunch. Multiple sources believe that bull sharks are responsible for more shark bites than any other shark.

          And that isn’t because bull sharks are more common than other types of sharks–it is because bull sharks are arguably the most aggressive.

          I recently saw a video clip from several years ago about some researcher standing in waste-deep water with several bull sharks swimming around him. He was making the video to show that bull sharks are not the aggressive monsters that people make them out to be. In short order one of the bull sharks shredded his lower leg (removing a nice chunk of his calf muscle) and that dumba$$ nearly lost his life due to the massive bleeding that ensued.

          As we have heard so many time–you just can’t fix stupid.

      • I don’t consider myself easily frightened, having grown up in grizzly country. The first time I found myself in a Florida swamp up to my chest and that telltale water ripple of a snake coming towards me… I won’t forget that anytime soon.

    • “Next, don’t apologize for posting an article about knives on a firearms site.”

      The creator of TTAG used to have ‘The Truth About Knifes’ website, in the exact format as TTAG. It unfortunately failed.

      There’s nothing stopping a new TTAK from arising from the ashes, and I hope some does… 🙂

      • the editor wound up at the online knife magazine, mostly a digest with some reviews. well worth visiting the weekend open thread. if you do so you will understand why.
        for reviews i have had many purchases influenced by everydaycommentary.

    • Looks like you enjoyed the article, I’m happy to hear it. I don’t make a habit of apologizing often, don’t expect to hear me whinging often. I do like to mention when a specific article is a little out of my wheelhouse, as it 1. sets expectations and 2. provides the readers with a similar level of knowledge to myself the sense that this isn’t “John K Knifeman” talking down at them, rather another guy working his way through the maze of jargon and concepts.

      A lanyard hole isn’t a bad idea at all. Better to have and not need, than need and not have.

  4. An outdoorsman’s knife that can stand up so well to a torture test like that is easily worth $320.00, and more.

    • Spencer, you are correct. I’d rather have one really expensive very good knife than ten mediocre ones.

      • I think you are correct. I have a drawer full of inexpensive knives, and should have probably bought a couple really good ones instead. 😁

        • I have a drawer full of inexpensive knives and a drawer full of expensive ones. Classic knife nut I am, cuz once ya get on that collecting road and got that itch…

  5. Oh, congrats on that Emerson. I have an old CQB I carried as an LEO for 25 years. Carry a Reeves Sebenza today. All good steel.

  6. Nicely written review. Learned a few things.

    I am not an outdoorsman. No hunting, no fishing. Rough camping days are behind me (far preferred cold weather camping than spring or summer). I don’t wrestle alligators nor ride ferral hogs in rodeos.

    The past 30 years my knives have had to help repair and restore my homes. I have purchased a few wrecks, lived in them while restoring them, then sold, and purchased another wreck with even more potential. Currently, two Dewalt D2 folders. One in a tool bucket, one as my EDC. A German made pair of shears, also in the bucket.

    BTW, when I finish this current wreck, I want to be burried in it. Gonna need a.mighty big hole in the ground.

    • Psssst!

      I asked our church treasurer this morning, and she is cool to the idea of after church ‘Range Day’, so ‘Praise the Lord and pass the Ammo’ will likely come to pass at the rural property she owns that has a range on it… 🙂

  7. One other question for the author. How do you use the thumb notches with a double hilt? I have knives with double hilts. I have knives with thumb notches. Not together. My thumb would have to be as long as my middle finger to reach these.

  8. Darkman, a knife is the oldest tool s man invented. That must have made it very important. It still is today. Why would you want to cut corners?

    • There are plenty of sharp knives in the world for far less than $320. I own around a dozen of them. The ones designed to do so, will do exactly the same thing as this overpriced piece of steel. I’ve never paid more than $70 for a knife and that one I bought in the 1980s. It still will do everything this one will, even at almost 40 years old.

      • Bad news man, $70 in 1980 isn’t far off of $300 now, that’s not a stretch, considering I remember fueling my car at 82 cents/gallon and it’s $3.50 now. A gallon is still worth a gallons worth, but wages didn’t follow.

  9. This looks like a pretty nice knife, except that the handles (scales) are pretty junky. Does the manufacturer offer scales that have a little more contour and have better slip resistance?

  10. I bought the bayonet version of this thing when they first came out. I think it was about $220, now I see them new in the box selling for $1200. I’m going to buy one of these but my everyday carry is either a Randall #14 or a Grayman Suenami on my hip along with a Spyderco civilian in each back pocket.

  11. It’s probably because I’m an old, out-of-touch sucker who doesn’t keep up with the latest trends but I’ve never understood some folks’ manic focus on “batoning” wood with a knife. Just about any small hatchet will a better job of splitting wood with more ease, less danger and no abuse to a knife.

    So why beat the snot out of a knife by using it for a purpose it wasn’t intended?

    • If you have a hatchet, it’s a better tool for that job. If you only have a knife though, it better be able to do everything you need

  12. All my fixed blades are Ka-BAR made in the USA, so are the chop sticks, the ice scraper, the spork/knife.

    • I’m a Ka-BAR fan too. I’ve done a lot of the things in the test, minus the ballistic gelatin, and it works fine.

  13. I’m a senior now, but when I was a Boy Scout, an uncle who was a WW II vet, gave me his issue Ka-Bar to use for my camp knife. It was the envy of all the other boys. I used it for every purpose while camping, even as a hatchet. Never batonned it but I bet it would stand up. I own a buttload of many types of knives cuz I love ‘em. I still reach for that old reliable when I venture into the woods. My latest EDC is a Cold Steel 4Max Scout. It’s beefy and locks like a vault. I like D2 also and like to mix it up with what I EDC.

  14. I live about 180 Miles from the Buck Knife company. Mt friends and I make a road trip there about once a year. Great company and they have manufacturing shop tours. Very interesting to see how they actually make their knives; The factory store has sales and also severe discount on Blemished knives. Quality is very important and on their blemished products, they have to point out the blemish, I couldn’t find it. . . I bought a blem which the Buck trademark stamping in the steel was not deep enough, I can live with that for 1/4 price of perfect.

  15. Amazon delivered one of those to me today and I have to say that I’m disappointed. it is not as substantial a knife as their bayonet is. I wear a 3X glove and the grip on this thing feels like I’m clenching a pencil. I guess this falls into the category of an almost $350 impulse purchase that is going to be collecting dust here in my shop until I pass away from old age a very long time from now.

  16. Too bad this primitive forum does not allow you to post your private pictures of your knife or gun collections.

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