The Zero Tolerance 0561 is a collaboration with designer-maker Rick Hinderer. It is a large, broad shaped folder measuring a total length of 8.8″ and averaging a 1.3″ width when open. The design is heavily based on Hinderer’s custom XM-18.
The stone-washed blade on the 0561 is Elmax, a powder metallurgy tool steel that was originally developed for mold making by the company Böhler Uddeholm. Due to the powder metal process and a high Vanadium content, Elmax has evenly distributed carbides making it wear resistant. Molybdenum and Chromium have also been added to improve corrosion resistance. To fully exploit the edge holding capability of this steel, the blade has been hardened between 58-60 Rockwell.
The profile of the blade is a modified drop point. A high flat grind makes the knife an excellent slicer. The downward sloping spine meets a fair belly at a capable tip. The spine has a long swedge to further improve the cutting geometry. With a length of 3.75″ and a width of about 1.3″ at its base, the blade will easily handle moderate to heavy utility tasks.
For deployment the 0561 uses a large fin shaped flipper. Jimping on the top adds traction when it is pressed like a button, while an inside radius makes it easy to pull. Either way fires the blade out quickly and reliably.
The smooth action is due to the “KVT” ball bearing system. KVT is similar to IKBS (Ikoma Korth Bearing System) in that it improves lateral stability by having the blade tang contact a larger pivot circumference while also reducing total surface contact area. This is essentially how all bearings work. While bearings have been around for a while, the trend in knife pivots is fairly new.
Neither IKBS nor the KVT bearing system is sealed. This could potentially get gritty, as the complexity of the mechanism allows for more places for dirt to collect. On the up side, KVT utilizes bearings nested in a washer-like plastic sleeve, rather than free floating in a greased slot like IKBS. The set-up requires less lubricant and thus attracts less dirt. It also allows the knife to be taken down easily without having to worry about losing bearings.
On opening, the blade is held firm between the external stop pin/thumb studs and a titanium frame lock. Lock up on this knife is very solid and without play in any direction. Its leaf rests at approximately 50 percent against the tang’s lock face and doesn’t have any stickiness when disengaged. Although there have been varied reports on the 0560-61 lock-up, the mechanism on this one works perfectly. To preserve tension, there is a lock bar stabilizer that prevents over-extension of the lock spring while closing. This is a welcome feature on titanium frame-locks as titanium is somewhat soft with a memory.
The handle on the knife, has a flow through, pillar construction. The outer surfaces have a unique dimpled texturing machined on the surface radius. ZT calls this “3D machined”, a bit of a buzzword as all CNC machining is 3D. Regardless, the result is attractive as well as functional. The inner surface of the handles have also been extensively machined to reduce weight. The titanium frame-lock side has pockets milled out while the opposite titanium liner has cut-outs. This removes quite a bit of material resulting in a 5.8 Oz weight. About an ounce and a half less than comparably sized folders with similar materials.
The ergonomics on the 0561 are great, as to be expected from a popular designer like Hinderer. When open, the flipper extends the first finger groove, locking the hand in place. This also serves as a guard, effectively preventing slipping. Aggressive jimping sits under the thumb and extends onto the blade for precise control. The handle’s spine has an arcing shape that quickly slopes toward the pommel. This allows for thumb placement in reverse grip. On the inside edge, coarse jimping adds to the traction. The slight swell from the “3D machined” surface fills the hand nicely and prevents a boxy feeling. The four way, deep riding clip doesn’t feel obtrusive under the hand – an appreciated detail. The handle on the knife will easily accommodate different hand sizes, with or without gloves. A generous slot shaped lanyard hole completes the features. While quite large, the handle is flat enough for easy, comfortable carry.
Over-all the 0561 is an excellent knife. The design makes for a competent tool that is further backed up with premium materials, fit and finish. The balance between function and aesthetics along with the Hinderer name and design will also make it collectible. The tight tolerances and simple assembly make it easy to maintain and a pleasure to use. Zero Tolerance is setting the bar high with this folder and in many ways are leading the way in U.S. knife manufacturing.
If you are looking to purchase the 0560 or 0561 please consider our friends at National Knives. You can get an additional $5.00 off your order with the code EO5.