Knife Review: Zero Tolerance 0630 (Emerson Design)

The ZT (Zero Tolerance) 0630 is a collaboration between ZT and Ernest Emerson, and naturally features the patented Emerson “wave shaped feature” that makes it one of the fastest deploying folding knives in the world.

With a strong upswept S35VN tactical blade the 0630 is powerfully over-built for hard-use.

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

The blade is made from S35VN steel.

Explained by the Maker:

The reasons for certain design choices may not be clear when simply looking at an object, so this section is intended to give an insight into the thinking behind a design by speaking to the designer themselves.

Unfortunately I can’t always get time with the designer so will use this section to include relevant information about the knife and its designer.

I wanted to include a short extract from Emerson Knives about the ‘Wave’ feature.

“The remote pocket opener is the most dynamic and advanced feature ever designed for folding knives. Originally designed by Ernest Emerson as a request from the Navy Seals. They needed him to design a ‘blade catcher’ that would essentially stop a blade from sliding up the back of your knife and cutting your arm when in a one-on-one knife fight. By accident, Ernest Emerson inadvertently created the Emerson Wave Feature when he discovered that the knife would self deploy when being pulled from your pocket, given the right motion.

This device allows you to open the knife literally, as it is removed from the pocket. This makes any Emerson Knife with the remote pocket opening system the fastest deploying knife in the world. Faster than an automatic, your knife is open as it comes up into your hand-ready for use.”

A few more details:

The 0630 comes in a cardboard box.

Along with the knife are two leaflets, one with general information, and one about the Wave feature.

How to use the Wave Feature.

Tucked under the pocket clip is a silica gel packet.

On the other handle is a peeled G-10 scale with milled grip grooves.

Rather than a stud, the 0630 has a thumb-disc for manual opening of the blade.

Matching the heavy no-nonsense design of this knife, there is a substantial pivot nut which can be adjusted with a standard spanner; no special tools required).

By default, the pocket clip is fitted to the framelock side of the knife which suits a right-handed owner. However the 0630 comes drilled and tapped for the pocket clip to be moved to the G-10 side for a left-handed owner.

The titanium framelock has a pleasing stonewashed finish.

At the base of the lock-bar cutout is a rounded corner to reduce stresses.

All round the Titanium slab, the corners are nicely radiused ensuring there are no sharp edges to cut into your hand.

With its wide design, the pocket clip has a strong grip. This is important when used on the Titanium side as the smooth titanium does not grab the pocket fabric as much as the G-10 side.

Key areas of the handle have jimping to help with grip.

The cutout that forms the lock-bar spring is deep and well rounded at the corners.

Though it might look like the clip is pressing on the lock-bar, it actually sits onto the fixed part of the frame.

Where needed, stress reducing features are included, in this case at the end of the lock-bar slot.

Further jimping in the thumb ramp area of the grip. This actually extends up onto the ‘wave’ as we will see.

There is jimping on the top of the ‘wave’ which is a natural extension of the jimping on the frame.

With the blade open, you can now see that flow of the jimping from handle to wave.

The 0630 has an open frame with black spacers.

On this example the lock engagement was about a third out-of-the-box. Note the hardened steel lockbar insert for reliable solid lock-up. You can also see the phosphor-bronze washers making the bearing as simple and strong as it can be.

A close-up look at the blade tip, and edge bevel.

To make unlocking more comfortable the inside of the lock-bar has a bevelled corner.

A well rounded plunge line keeps maximum blade strength.

Love those grind lines.

Let’s put it to work…

What it is like to use?

ZT’s 0630 has pushed me in a direction I normally avoid, as I’m not keen on pocket clips. They work well for a lot of people, but I’ve had knives become unclipped, which makes them very likely to be lost. However, here we have an Emerson, and the Wave, so it means you really do need to go for the pocket clip carry or you just won’t get the experience you should be.

Very often I find pocket clips (or more accurately the handle scale under them) too abrasive, and end up with shredded pockets. With the 0630 having a smooth titanium handle under the strong pocket clip, despite the ‘hold’ the clip has, it has not chewed up my pockets, but has also not come free by itself. If I were left handed, it would be a different story, so for some this won’t work out as well.

What is very apparent when handling the 0630 is its super solid build. There is not one aspect of this knife that feels like a weak point. I’m still looking for one, but haven’t found it yet.

Thanks to getting lots of pocket carry, it has been getting a wide variety of uses.

With ZT featuring a lot models with flippers and wave opening, they have developed a very strong detent, perhaps one of the strongest of any production knife I’ve used. This strong detent means the opening action becomes very positive as a lot of force is built up pressing on the detent before it ‘breaks’ and the blade deploys. The downside to this is one-handed manual opening can be much harder work than on other knives and the thumb opening of the 0630 is certainly an example of this. Out of the box I struggled to open the blade using the thumb disc, and even now don’t consider this a reliable opening method. At the end of a day’s work, that disc can start to create a sore spot on the thumb thanks to the relentless detent. This short video talks a little about this as well as showing the wave opening in slow motion.

Video Edited with – Cyberlink Director Suite 5 (PowerDirector 16 and AudioDirector 7)
Camera – Panasonic HC-V770    Microphone – Tonor TN120308BL

The Wave feature just keeps giving, as it provides an extended thumb ramp for a great grip for pushing the tip forward.

Thanks to its size the length of the handle allows a comfortable grip for general slicing. (I take XL size gloves).

For a right-hander, the peeled G-10 scale falls under the fingers and has a lot of grip even with wet hands. The peeled G-10 is not overly aggressive or abrasive to your hand.

To give an idea of scale, here it is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife.

Looking like a bit of a brute, I would not have said the 0630 was a particularly attractive knife (to my taste), but as I have found before, there is often a very good reason why the design looks the way it does, and the 0630 has proven without a doubt that it functions incredibly well, and those design aspects that I’m not so keen on the look of make it a really excellent tool.

I like a super slick ball bearing pivot as much as the next knife enthusiast, but when it comes to a hard-use knife I always prefer phosphor-bronze. Again I love a flipper, but for the utmost reliability I don’t want to rely on flipping a blade open, I want to be able to manually open it. The wave opening of the 0630 is a bonus, with the thumb disc giving that ultimate reliability (albeit with a very tough detent).

Based on looks alone I was initially a little underwhelmed by the 0630. As I got to know it, its capabilities just shone through along with a striking strength of build which means I will happily work this knife harder than I would most folders. If I could change one thing, it would be the severity of that detent, hopefully it will wear in more over time.

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Super strong build. Overly stiff detent.
Powerful and tough blade.
Emerson Wave Opening.
S35VN Steel.
Steel lock-bar insert in Titanium frame-lock.

 

Discussing the Review:

The ideal place to discuss this reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

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Knife Review: Zero Tolerance 0095BW Flipper (S35VN blade, Titanium Handle, ‘BlackWash’ Finish)

One of Zero Tolerance’s new knives for 2016, the 0095BW is one which initially did not particularly stand out for me, but as I’ve got to know it better, I’ve found I very nearly missed out on a real gem.

 photo 19 ZT 0095BW open angle lockbar P1180414.jpg

The Blade and Handle Geometry:

Most knife specifications have a basic description of the blade geometry, but in this section I will be taking a more detailed look at geometry and balance.
 photo 32 ZT 0095BW grind P1180524.jpg

Using a set of gauges and precision measuring equipment including a Vernier protractor, callipers, fixed radius gauges and the unique Arc Master adjustable radius gauge (the one that looks like a crossbow).
 photo Knife measuring P1180483.jpg

These measurements have been tabulated and are presented along with a few reference blades (8″ Chef’s Knife, 5.5″ Santoku and the popular Fällkniven F1).

Key aspects such as the primary bevel angle, grind type, blade depth, blade thickness, length, weight are detailed, along with balance information.
 photo 33 ZT 0095BW measure P1180531.jpg

The ‘Balance relative to the front of the handle’ tells you if the knife will feel front heavy, or if the weight is in your hand (a positive value means the weight is forward of the front of the handle). The ‘Balance relative to the centre of the handle’ indicates how close to a ‘neutral balance’ the knife has in the hand.
 photo 31 ZT 0095BW balance P1180523.jpg

In the case of full convex grinds the approximate centre of the grind is used for the primary bevel angle estimate.

 photo 0095BW Parameters2.jpg

The blade is made from S35VN steel.

A few more details:

The 0095BW’s box.
 photo 01 ZT 0095BW boxed P1180348.jpg

Inside was the 0095BW and a generic ZT information leaflet.
 photo 02 ZT 0095BW box contents P1180351.jpg

Quiet and subtle, the 0095BW’s stonewashed ‘BlackWash’ finish makes it inconspicuous.
 photo 03 ZT 0095BW closed angle P1180354.jpg

Nicely picking up the edges, the stonewashed finish allows you to really appreciate all the design details and flow of the lines.
 photo 04 ZT 0095BW closed angle lockbar P1180356.jpg

A two-tone pivot adds a decorative element.
 photo 05 ZT 0095BW pivot bolt P1180361.jpg

Blade and handle blend into each other with the stonewashed finish, and on this side the model, ‘made in’ and KAI logo can be seen on the blade. Also note the bolt head holding the hardened lockbar insert onto the Titanium lockbar.
 photo 06 ZT 0095BW model P1180363.jpg

The blade is perfectly centred (even if I’ve not quite captured that in this photo).
 photo 06b ZT 0095BW blade centring P1180367.jpg

Despite such an understated, almost ‘used’ look, the 0095BW is a stunning looking knife.
 photo 07 ZT 0095BW closed side P1180371.jpg

On the other side of the blade is the ZT logo which sits into the lock release cut-out.
 photo 08 ZT 0095BW logo P1180373.jpg

The removable clip also has the ZT logo. Also note how it sits at an angle such that it does not press on the lock bar, but instead on the side of the handle.
 photo 09 ZT 0095BW clip P1180374.jpg

Taking a lower angle view, you can see the thinned area of the handle (under the clip) that creates the lock bar spring.
 photo 09 ZT 0095BW lock spring P1180377.jpg

Ready for action the flipper (which doubles as a finger guard) has jimping to provide a good grip.
 photo 10 ZT 0095BW flipper P1180386.jpg

Ready for the clip to be mounted on either side, the 0095BW has the threaded holes for tip-up carry either way round.
 photo 11 ZT 0095BW clip holes P1180387.jpg

A close view of the stonewashed finish on the handle. This gives an even overall ‘worn’ look, which really helps further marks blend in. The 0095BW is asking to be used.
 photo 12 ZT 0095BW finish P1180392.jpg

With the blade open you can now see the lockbar release cut-out, and the where you press on the lockbar to release the blade. Notice as well how the lines of the handle flow into the flipper.
 photo 14 ZT 0095BW flipper open P1180399.jpg

A close-up of the blade tip.
 photo 15 ZT 0095BW tip P1180402.jpg

One of those details I consider a must-have, the 0095BW has a choil to terminate the edge and allow proper sharpening.
 photo 16 ZT 0095BW choil P1180404.jpg

Like the handle, the blade has a stonewashed finish. The main difference here is that the blade grinding lines are visible through the finish.
 photo 17 ZT 0095BW blade finish P1180410.jpg

A well rounded plunge line follows the handle’s front edge.
 photo 18 ZT 0095BW plunge line P1180412.jpg

Out of the box, lock engagement is not that deep. However the lockup is rock solid. As it wears this will gradually increase the engagement.
 photo 21 ZT 0095BW lock engagement P1180418.jpg

The blade stop is a pin set into the handle, but set into blind holes so it cannot be seen on the side of the handle.
 photo 22 ZT 0095BW blade stop P1180428.jpg

Giving it the really snappy opening is the detent ball which holds the blade closed until enough pressure is applied to the flipper.
 photo 28 ZT 0095BW detent P1180472.jpg

A curving handle acts like a palm swell. The harpoon blade design is one of my favourite blade shapes.
 photo 23 ZT 0095BW open angle P1180431.jpg

Another look at that harpoon design.
 photo 24 ZT 0095BW harpoon P1180437.jpg

What it is like to use?

Again this knife surprised me, as in contrast to its modest appearance (mainly thanks to the stonewashed finish), the 0095BW displays modern lines and has particularly good slicing and piercing ability. The blade cuts very aggressively and eagerly.

With a narrow point angle, the tip cuts very deeply (frequently deeper than you might want) and means you have to be wary of this. The high flat grind makes this almost a full flat grind and as such it slices very well. Add to this the blade being only 3mm thick and it makes those deep slicing cuts very easily.

The 0095BW is a good size folder with 3 1/2″ blade, yet remains slim, light and easy to pocket due to the Titanium used for the handles. This cuts both ways though, and does make the handle a little thin for heavy or extended work. As an EDC blade for sporadic cutting, the compromise is ideal.

Holding for a piercing cut, the flipper serves as a finger guard and gives you a solid surface to push forward with. (I take XL size gloves)
 photo 25 ZT 0095BW in hand P1180454.jpg

Taking up a power grip, the harpoon blade shape fits in perfectly with a thumb positioned on the spine for a stronger cutting force. The curve of the handle sitting nicely into your palm.
 photo 26 ZT 0095BW in hand P1180456.jpg

While looking at grip, a small aside to take a look at a common issue people have with flippers – that of finding them difficult to flip. The most common reason people have difficulty with flippers that use integral locks, is the accidental pressure on the lock bar. The lock bar has the blade retention detent, and is you push on the lock bar you effectively prevent the detent from slipping and so stop the blade deploying. You need to ensure that when you grip the closed knife you keep your fingers off the lock bar, and if you do this, sliiiiCK, the blade flies open and locks firmly. For a knife where the pocket clip sits fully on the lock bar (not the case here) you need to watch that as well.
 photo 29 ZT 0095BW opening grip P1180474.jpg

Once you have the hang of gripping the knife correctly for the flip, it starts to become addictive and usually your flipping session ends with someone shouting at you to “STOP IT” (or is it just me that has that happen?).

In terms of its flip, this is one area Zero Tolerance have worked hard to get right. The design of the detent allows a good amount of force to build and then a clean release of that force as the blade breaks free. Using ZT’s KVT ball-bearing makes the blade motion super smooth, in fact if you push the lock bar out slightly to stop the detent ball pressing on the side of the blade, the blade will swing smoothly under its own weight. The result of a tuned detent combined with the KVT ball-bearing, is a very positive blade deployment which you might even think is assisted. Lock-up is absolutely solid with no play at all.

A quick mention of the ZT BlackWash finish – this is a bit like getting stonewashed jeans, it has almost been worn-in for you. The finish makes it look used, and easily masks any further marks from use, so unlike other types of finish that can be painful to see the first signs of use on, the 0095BW is just asking to be used.

To give an idea of scale, here it is next to the Fällkniven F1 and a Spyderco UK Pen Knife.
 photo 27 ZT 0095BW size P1180458.jpg

Review Summary

The views expressed in this summary table are from the point of view of the reviewer’s personal use. I am not a member of the armed forces and cannot comment on its use beyond a cutting tool or field/hunting knife.

Something that might be a ‘pro’ for one user can be a ‘con’ for another, so the comments are categorised based on my requirements. You should consider all points and if they could be beneficial to you.

_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Things I like What doesn’t work so well for me
_______________________________________________ _______________________________________________
Understated look using ZT’s BlackWash finish. Handle too slim for extended use or heavy cutting.
Extremely effective for slicing or piercing. Blade tip makes it easy to cut too deeply.
Silky and positive flip action. Pivot bearing is not sealed so could attract dust and grit.
Light weight. Careful placement of fingers required for an easy flip.
Slim design is easy to pocket. Can become slippery with wet or greasy hands due to a lack of grip patterns or jimping.
Uses S35VN steel.
KVT pivot ball-bearing.
Reversible clip.
Excellent fit and finish.

 photo 13 ZT 0095BW open angle P1180395.jpg

 

Discussing the Review:

Please feel free to add comments to the review, but the ideal place to freely discuss these reviews is on a forum. If you started reading the shorter forum version of the review, but followed the link this full exclusive review, please return to that forum to discuss the review there.
If you read the review entirely on Tactical Reviews, please consider one of the following to join in any discussion.

EdgeMatters – Sponsored Reviews (UK based Forum for Knife Makers and Collectors)

BladeForums – Knife Reviews (US based Forum for Knife Discussion)

CandlePowerForums – Knife Reviews Section (Largest and Friendliest Flashlight Community Forum)