One of the things I very much dislike about super-expensive designer knives is they rarely combine pure functionality with beauty. Frankly speaking – they don’t have to. The whole purpose of designer custom knives would then be lost. Still, I am deeply concerned that EDC knives should be comfortable and well-built in the first place. And there is at least a hundred examples of perfect knives made by designers (at reasonable prices, and yes, I am looking at you there Kershaw Blur!). But, again – not all top-notch designer knives offer a real deal of comfort, deployment and overall looks like the knife we are about to discuss. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present – Zero Tolerance Dmitry Sinkevich 0450 folder.
This 7.4 inch knife arrives in a standard Zero Tolerance quality cardboard box with a typical “Proudly overbuild in the USA” remark on it. Though I actually expected nothing special, this folder really did surprise me the moment I held it in hand. Seriously, do not trust your eyes – the knife feels better than it looks on photos. But, enough with the spoilers. ZT has the blade length of 3.25 inches, Titanium handles, an S35VN Stonewashed blade with a satin finish and weights 82 grams. The knife is armed with a titanium pocket clip and some other peculiar details, I suggest we save for last. Without further due, let’s talk about why every interested, EDC crazed gentleman should have and carry ZT 0450 in the pocket of his jacket.
- Weight: 2.9 oz. (82.2 g)
- Blade length: 3.25″ (8.3 cm)
- Overall length: 7.4″ (18.8 cm)
- Handle Thickness: 0.40″ (1,016 cm)
- Steel: CPM-S35VN
- Blade Lock: Frame Lock
- Material handle: Titanium
- Country of origin: USA
- Designer: Dmitry Sinkevich
Here’s a great video Zero Tolerance 0450
ZT 0450 Blade
From the early design prototypes to the hi-end collaborations, Dmitry Sinkevich knives have always been about efficiency first. Same goes with ZT 0450. In fact, nothing like the blade itself sums it all up. The 3.2 inch blade of one of the most famous designs from abroad is something I want to focus on in this section of the review.
The shape of the blade is a strongly modified drop point with a prominent swedge on top. Frankly speaking, if not for the gimping, we could call it almost dagger-like. The 0450 has my favorite hollow grind with a good starting point at 1⁄4 down the spine. All the things mentioned lead to one conclusion – it’s going to be a hell of a piercer. Add a good cutting edge with a nice thumb ramp and you get a superb chopping device. Slicing card boxes, opening letters and woodcarving – the blade goes through any reasonable material like crazy. I even use it on kitchen now and then – did burgers with the knife last week. What else is there to say – I love the blade!
Besides clever geometry, ZT 0540 blade is armed with a premium CPM S35VN steel. In short – it is the same steel they use on high-end classics like Chris Reeve Sebenza, Spyderco Native 5 and ZT 0566. It is expensive, it is stain resistant and it cuts like crazy. And that’s why Zero Tolerance loves it so much. In my humble opinion, CPM S35VN is the most balanced steel grade on the market now. Can you name TOP3 blade steels that are a pleasure to sharpen?
Hmmm, let me see, AUS-8 is a piece of cake, ELMAX is good… well, I guess there is only CPM S35VN left to choose. Zero Tolerance heat-treats this bastard up to 59-60 HRC and isn’t that something for a pocket blade. I remember my first disappointment when the edge went blunt. Then I realized my ZT 0540 had been through almost half a year of intensive daily EDC use. It took me about 15 minutes to make the blade shaving sharp on the triangle. Still having doubts about the steel? Go online, watch people torture hollow grind blades with similar geometry and make up your mind. And forget about S30V, no, seriously dude, go with the future.
ZT 0450 Handle
Like I said – everything in this little brother here smells of Dmitry Sinkevich. And I mean that in the best positive sense there is. Been a fan of his designer blades, and now, about five years since the discovery, having the opportunity to hold and use the result of such a collaboration is just priceless. After all, aren’t we man enough to squeeze a tear and admit we love the blade as much as we love the handles? So, getting back to the point – yes the handles look and feel just fantastic. I mean, at least a dozen frame lock knives I owned and never had real pleasure just spinning the thing in my hands. The fit and finish, the tiny Zero Tolerance milled on the side of the handle and the gorgeous red spacers. Especially the red spacers. You see, one of the theories of design states that too many bright spots ruin the idea. With ZT 0540 you have nothing but the very sole incarnation of that theory. The overall plain, minimalistic but sophisticated design of the handle meets with the anodized aluminum tube spacers. In the end you have, what they call a well finished and thought out look with just enough of the bright colors. Optionally you can of course customize the handles and add some brushstrokes here and there. However, the thing is, even from the box, the knife needs no additional self-explanation. It just stays cool.
Another thing is the handle shape. Well, I mean another good thing in Zero Tolerance 0450, of course. The first thing I thought when seeing this knife was ‘Too bad it is going to be too small’. Now, when you actually grab the thing, all them worries fly away. Keep in mind, I wear the L (sometimes even XL) size gloves. So that tells a little about the knife, doesn’t it? The curved, almost pistol-grip handle along with the slim profile and beautifully chamfered edges make it a comfortable EDC user. Although I didn’t take it hiking, backpacking and wood carving, something tells me this little guy here is going to take a beating and survive. After all, it is a Zero Tolerance knife with the encouraging ‘built like a tank’ writing on the box. And for all the city dwellers this blade is definitely going to bring a lot of good moments. With a handle thickness of almost 10mm, Zero Tolerance 0450 will easily find its place in your chinos pockets, evening jacket or waist bag.
Finally, the materials. Ok, I won’t cry out loud about the titanium and the aluminum. However earlier I’ve mentioned the fact that things you see and things you get with ZT 0450 are the two contrasting feelings. At first you look at the photo and think “Well, it’s a Zero Tolerance knife so it should weight reasonably much”. Then you take it out of the box and freaking can’t put the two things together. That, my friends, again is the secret of a good design from Russia with love. The materials here of course play the last but not least important role. The fit and finish, the lines and polished pinheads – all that screams at you with robust heavy metal. But it is only when you take and use ZT 0450, it becomes the favorite all metal EDC companion for years to come.
Ergonomics (pocket clip, locking mechanism and deployment)
Ergonomics-wise things here are a little bit spicy. There are many good moments about Sinkevich Zero Tolerance knife but one, that I’ll leave at the end (you can already start guessing what on Earth could possibly piss me off here). So let me start with the locking mechanism. ZT 0450 features the old good frame lock with a stainless steel insert that many KAI fans love so much. Les George, Rick Hinderer, Jens Anso, you name it – there are many designer collaborations with ZT that utilize the time-proved system. It is removable, it locks blade like hell and the centering is perfect. In fact, a knife like that could easily be released with a one-piece construction. I personally haven’t touched the pivot screw in about five months of everyday use. Spyderco could afford doing it, why not ZT?
The locking system is definitely tightly connected with the opening-closing user experience. Mark this – ZT 0450 is not spring assisted or anything like that. But it flies open like crazy. Seriously, I had numerous questionable situations with this little guy here and people looking at me with this “what are you going to do with the knife now, boy?” stare in their eyes. Anyway, I try using Victorinox tourist blades for letter opening. But the fact remains – there are times, when ZT 0450 is better be opened with two hands. Just for peace and safety. All thanks to the infamous KVT (also known as Kershaw Velocity Technology) ball bearing washers. The blade goes off with a light flick of the wave and locks there for good. Sorry, for bringing this up now, but yes – it is a flipper, so no thumb studs on the blade. In fact that leads to only three possible ways of opening the blade – a solid shake, a two-hands-old-timer way or the flipper.
And the clip. I promised to leave the worst part for the dessert, I keep my word, we are now going to destroy ZT 0450. Just kidding – still a good knife but with a very ordinary clip I’d hate to see here. Believe me, I am not a person to shout out loud about the price and all the cool belt clips the could install here. No, that’s not the case. The thing is – this clip is fine, it holds the knife holstered. Add up the weight factor and you get something that won’t slip even from the 80’s silk shorts, men used to wear jogging back in the day. But the style, dude. Of course you can purchase custom deep-pocket clips online, but hey, when did the “cool from the box” became old and boring? Anyway, this is probably my personal trouble with the clip. It works and it’s fine with me so far.
Speaking about price and target audience has never been easy. Because it sounds so silly, when they say – “it is a true gentleman’s folder”, when about half a dozen my paramilitary friends from Texas own and use it. No pun intended, but come on, people are different. So why bother judging a book by its cover? With price it’s different. I won’t say this is the best knife for the money. In fact, I think, anything worth more than Delica 4 is an unreasonable waste of resources. Or it is a present made for the royal we. Anyway, how can I put this, buying Zero Tolerance 0450 is like owning an antique Swiss watch. It works like any other good American made knife for the money, but with design and look of a Porsche 911. In other words, stop looking behind the price and trust your heart. The weight, the shape and the materials are there to match any style. A formal suit, a commando jacket, an Adidas black and white jumper – anything will work. Just don’t put no Pandora jewelry on the lanyard, please, be so kind.
All things considered, there is still a lot to be said about Zero Tolerance Dmitry Sinkevich 0450. In a nutshell, we got a lightweight, USA made folder with Russian roots, minimalistic design and a whole lot of style. You can love it, you can hate it, but you’ve got to try it. Thus, I strongly advise you to visit your local knives and arms shop to hold it in person. And if not the titanium version, I hope, at least the full black carbon one will touch your heart and mind. So long, stay sharp and wait for more reviews.