Don’t let the unassertive appearance of the all black Zero Tolerance ZT0100 fixed blade military knife fool you; it may very well be the only tactical knife worthy of the name. In addition to offering broad multi-tasking flexibility, the ZT0100 is equipped with one of the hardest and toughest blades you could possibly imagine. Kershaw, in collaboration with renowned designer Ken Onion, worked on creating this rare masterwork. Zero Tolerance knives are produced by KAI USA, a noted authority in knife manufacturing the world over (Kershaw is also a part of the KAI Group). Their decades-old operations have established the company as one of the best in the industry and the Zero Tolerance line of knives is their cream of the crop.
The ZT0100 features a 5.75-inch (13.6 cm) “recurve” blade that is very similar to the Kukri blade shape, though not as pronounced. One of the standout aspects of this particular production knife is the quality of its blade, whose wear-resistance ability is one of a kind. With piercing as one of the manufacturer’s main design goals, the blade is meant to stand up to the hardest surfaces without breaking, chipping or bending. The handle design does not limit your ability to use the knife in such a manner either, as it is ergonomically designed to offer a secure grip and comfortable feel even under extreme use. Quite frankly, the ZT0100 offers the anticipated military toughness that suits the knife to tough cutting, thrusting and piercing activities.
Blade Properties: Shape, Steel and Specifications
The ZT0100 features an all-black fixed blade that is 5.75 inches long and 0.19 inches thick with a full tang design. The blade has a hollow grind with a strong recurved blade shape. Blade material is an extremely tough Crucible tool steel (CPM-3V) with non-reflective Tungsten DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating. CPM-3V is a very high quality tool steel that is remarkably resistant to wear and can withstand intensive force without chipping or breaking. The steel is heat treated to a Rockwell Hardness range between 58-60, which is relatively high compared to average steels and aids in the ZT0100’s ability to withstand heavy abuse without damage. This is by far the toughest blade steel I have ever used and it has great edge retention to boot. The blade coating further adds to the knife’s durability and adds much needed rust resistance (CPM-3V is not a stainless steel). The coating itself is also extremely durable and very hard to scratch, unlike most budget knives that simply use a thin coating of black paint to keep costs low.
The blade has an innovative “recurve” shape, which provides a large belly and improves its suitability for a versatile survival role. An additional benefit of this unique blade design is it offers the leverage needed to make the ZT0100 a brutally efficient tool for piercing tasks. The spear point tip is very stout and perfectly designed for thrusting. Also really good for prying, though I would be extra cautious when using any knife in this fashion. The factory edge is very sharp right out of the box and needed absolutely no sharpening, which is always a plus. You will also notice a small fuller located in the center of the blade (one on each side). This allows for a thicker blade stock without the addition of excessive weight, meaning the knife is both stronger and lighter. It even has good chopping performance so it makes for a competent replacement of a small hatchet or machete.
Handle Material and Ergonomics
The knife’s 3D machined handle pleasantly surprises immediately once you feel the knife in hand. The ergonomic sophistication that went into creating the 4.75-inch handle makes handling the knife an exciting experience. The handle is thick enough to offer a very tight grip on the knife and the palm swells in the middle so it contours perfect with the hand. The jimping on this knife is noticeably better than average due to the size and spacing of the notches. The jimping located on the spine of the blade is aggressive enough to provide a firm grip yet still comfortable without the abrasive quality found on lesser knives. No worries of tearing up your thumb during extended, hard use. The handle shape is also ideal for a saber or reverse grip.
Matte G10 handle scales insure a positive grip isn’t lost during intensive activities such as piercing. The aggressive G10 and “crocodile skin” texture creates very high traction for a secure grip, especially when paired with tactical gloves. The handle scales are held securely to the tang by way of three hex bolts. This allows for easy removal for cleaning or general maintenance. Moreover, the blade’s tang is extended and sticks out slightly from the handle so it could be used as a makeshift glass breaker. This extended portion also has some light jimping to help with traction when used with a reverse grip. The knife weighs 11.4 oz. (21.0 oz. combined with sheath) and has an overall length of 10.5 inches. This combination offers a superb balance in control and functionality. A single lanyard hole is also located at the rear of the handle in which paracord can inserted for extra security.
Sheath Quality and Features
The nylon sheath that comes with the ZT0100 includes a Kydex insert to prevent the blade from eventually wearing through the material and potentially causing injury. It also retains the knife much better than average nylon sheaths thanks to this feature. The insert can also be taken out and flipped for either right or left handed carry. While, in general, the sheath quality doesn’t exactly measure up to that of the knife, it is definitely well-suited for its role and very durable in construction with many options for carry.
The sheath retention is excellent. The insert holds the knife firmly in place, although a secondary strap is included for additional security. It features two belt loops. One connected directly to the sheath and another that is removable and attaches with a quick fastening system. Both belt loops are fairly large so the sheath should be able to fit comfortably on most tactical belts. A decent sized pouch is available on the front which could be used to carry flint strikers, sharpening stones, a small folding knife or whatever else you can cram in there. The pouch can even be expanded in size to fit oversized items because it has an extra button for the flap closure. You’ll also be happy to know the sheath offers full MOLLE compatibility for ease of carry and functionality, as should be expected of a military grade knife.
Final Conclusion on the Zero Tolerance ZT0100
Anybody who uses the Zero Tolerance ZT0100 will be impressed by its overall build quality and attention to detail, especially for a non-custom production knife. The ZT0100 easily lives up to its purpose of providing users with a versatile, tough, and effective tool for cutting and piercing. For combat situations and basic survival in the harshest of situations, this knife is the obvious choice. The ZT0100 is likely to win the admiration of survivalists, enthusiasts, members of the armed forces and anybody else who needs a reliable blade that can stand up to tough outdoors activities. The ergonomic efficiency, high quality blade steel and overall build quality clearly make the knife a pioneering innovation in production knife manufacturing.
Durability and suitability for heavily demanding tasks is the leading selling point for the ZT0100. The CPM-3V tool-steel blade is leaps and bounds better than most materials used to make lower budget knife blades. Additionally, the knife’s overall design is an ergonomics marvel. The unique “recurve” blade design, outstanding ergonomics and high traction of the handle merge to make the knife a wieldy companion for survival in military-like conditions. The ZT0100 can quite literally handle anything you throw at it.
The price of the ZT0100 clearly stands out. At over $200 from many online retail outlets, the knife does not come cheap. The price range is not surprising in comparison to others from the Zero Tolerance line of knives (which are known for being some of the best production knives on the market), but in comparison to most standard model Kershaw knives and bladed weapons, the ZT0100 is quite pricey. On another note, the sheath doesn’t quite match the exceptional quality or fit and finish found on the knife itself. But it’s still a very good sheath and only the pickiest of users will have any complaints.