The primary functional importance of a good knife is its ability to cut, but I have to admit that it’s the look of a knife that first captures my attention. That said, the Zero Tolerance 0095BW is one of the most elegant-looking folding knife designs I’ve seen to-date. We review all kinds of knives, and from many manufacturers, but the Zero Tolerance knives have been consistent in their quality and ability to hold an edge.
The defining characteristics of this new Zero Tolerance 0095BW knife are its blackish finish and the smooth bearing that allows a smooth, but authoritative open. Besides this, the angular features and sleek lines of this knife give it an incredibly tough, yet elegant stance and look that really redefines the genre. Mo knife is perfect, but right from the start we realized that the ZT 0095BW was something very different in both form and function.
The gray Blackwash finish is excellent, and gives the surface of the ZT 0095BW an almost indestructible quality, with only the corner edges of the blade and titanium handle susceptible to marking. This is a knife you can carry anywhere without fear of it looking much different in a month or a year.
Zero Tolerance 0095BW Knife Features
The Zero Tolerance 0095BW knife has a blade made with S35VN steel and a solid titanium handle with integrated frame lock and hardened lockbar insert. The “N” in S35VN signifies the use of niobium (Nb) which gives this steel improved toughness over the more common S30V. With toughness comes a bit more work when sharpening, but that’s balanced by the fact that the ZT 0095BW will hold an edge longer than most blades.
To give the knife its signature look, the blade of the 0095BW features a beautiful BlackWash finish which blends right into the titanium handle for a unified look. ZT calls the shape of the blade “harpoon-style” but it’s essentially a modified drop point with a nice gradual belly on the blade and a slightly dropped angle on the tip. Both the blade and handle are nicely chamfered, with those on the handle aiding in creating a more comfortable grip.
The titanium handle includes a frame lock with a hardened adjustable lockbar insert that secures the blade open during use. There’s no jumping on either the rear of the blade or the top of the handle, but the shape of the handle fits the hand so perfectly that it doesn’t slip around during use. Additionally, there’s a nice scoop on the rear of the blade that lets you thumb nestle in nicely and guide the blade when using the knife in a filleting or chopping motion.
KVT Ball-bearing Open
The ZT 0095BW uses a KVT ball-bearing opening system—the same opening system utilized by the Zero Tolerance 0450 knife and the Zero Tolerance 0900 knife. This opening system is the next best thing to an assisted open. It requires the flipper to be used beyond the point of tension holding the blade in place. Once you pass that point, the blade flips right open with a decisive click. It lets you open the 0095BW quickly and easily—provided you hold it correctly.
The key thing to remember is that this knife uses a frame lock, so you don’t want to press on that while trying to open the blade (it will provide countering tension which is self-defeating). The best position for your hand is to rest it on the belt clip while you activate the flipper with your index finger.
The 0095BW’s pocket clip is reversible for left- and right-handed tip-up carry (there’s no option for tip-down carry). If you do plan to use the knife with the pocket clip reversed, your hand will fall into a natural “safe” position when opening the blade, so the above advice about where you place your fingers isn’t needed.
ZT 0095BW Specifications
- Made in the USA
- KVT ball-bearing opening system
- Reversible clip (left/right, tip-up)
- Titanium frame lock, hardened steel lockbar insert
- Decorative pivot hardware
- Steel: S35VN, tungsten DLC BlackWash finish
- Handle: Titanium, BlackWash finish
- Blade length: 3.6 in. (9.8 cm)
- Closed length: 4.9 in. (12.4 cm)
- Overall length: 8.4 in. (21.3 cm)
- Weight: 5.3 oz. (150.3 g)
Zero Tolerance 0095BW Knife Performance
I carried the Zero Tolerance 0095BW knife for a few weeks, using it to open packages, cut cords, trim line, and more. It carries fairly high in the pocket—more akin to the Kershaw Tiger Stripe Blur 1670BLKTSX than the low-hanging Kershaw Camber 1678 knife which nestles almost concealed in the pocket. The blade comes very sharp. I was able to slice through standard newsprint quickly and easily, with few rough spots on the blade. Even 20# paper sliced easily with the blade.
After three weeks of fairly hard and consistent use, I could certainly sharpen the blade, but I really don’t need to—it’s still cutting strong. The S35VN blade on the Zero Tolerance 0095BW knife is incredibly resilient and is a big part of the cost of this ~$220 US-made knife.