Zero Tolerance 0561 Designed by Rick Hinderer

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.


Zero Tolerance 0561 Hinderer Design

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.

ZT 0561 Dark Earth G10

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.

ZT 0561 3D Machined Titanium

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.

KVT Ball 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.

ZT 0561 Hinderer Design

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.

ZT 0561 Weight Saving Liners

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.

Zero Tolerance 0561

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.

ZT 0561 Blade CenteringZT 0561 Open Pillar ConstructionHinderer Lock StabilizerZT 0561 FlipperZT 0561 3D Machined Texture
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The Edge Observer

The Edge Observer is a site dedicated to knife reviews, primarily focusing on folding knives.

16 thoughts on “Zero Tolerance 0561 Designed by Rick Hinderer

    1. Definitely a step in the right direction for ZT. Hopefully they will also put out some equally impressive folders at a lower price. With some of their new offerings, it looks like they might get pretty expensive…

  1. Really nice review man. I love how your photographs capture the knife – there is real personality and perspective to them that really show off the details. The 0560/0561 really is an interesting folder. It gets a lot of stuff right, and as you said it has really raised the bar in some respects. Really an exciting knife and perhaps the coolest production blade to come out in 2012.

    1. Thanks Dan. This is a pretty great offering. Taking it apart really put a lot of details into perspective for me. I think I’ll be doing it more often.

  2. 0560 is my first ZT and its great.. Not centered, but there is an easy fix out there…
    Great review and pictures as usual E/O! Keep up great work!

    1. Thanks Art! I really like ZT’s knives. They have been doing a great job growing the line-up and upping the quality while still experimenting with their manufacturing. Good to hear you like the 0560. If the centering isn’t spot on, ZT would likely fix it for you.

  3. What would you choose: ZT 0561 or Pohl Force Foxtrott One. Would like to get a companion for Pohl Force Alpha2 and I don’t really have the possibility to try any of them before ordering.

    1. That would be a tough choice. Both are made very well. Personally I prefer the unique design of the Foxtrott but the 0561 is a much more practical knife, depending on how and what you carry.

  4. Im fairly new to higher end folders, the most expensive blade i have is a pm 2 and a bm adamas a friend gave me. I was planning on getting on getting the 560bw. What can you tell me about elmax, as for ease of sharpining (I have a spydie sharpmaker)edge retiention compared to d2 and s30v. Because those are the steels im most familier with. Thanks! Eric

    1. Elmax, in my opinion is harder to sharpen than both D2 and S30V. That being said, the ease of sharpening and edge retention will depend greatly on the heat treat. For example S30V at 60-61 HRc is slightly harder to sharpen than S30V at 58-59 HRc. Likewise the harder heat treat will be harder wearing but usually slightly more brittle. I find Elmax slightly ‘tougher’ than S30V and I believe that the heat treat on the 560 line is around 60 HRc….. Also, it comes down to how you use and maintain your knives. The more often you upkeep your edge the easier it is to maintain. To dial it back a bit, if you treat your knife well and keep up the edge I’m sure you’ll like the Elmax. The best thing to do is to try it!

  5. I am a new entrant in to folding knives but I like the design of the 0561 so much that I plan on getting one in the near future. But I understand it’s been 2 years since the first of these came out. I seen the other reviews on your website an really like the selection of knives featured. Are there any serious competitors to the 0561 I may also be interested in as of 2014?

    1. The 0561 is a nice knife but very big. There are a ton of options in that price point. I would have a look at the overall weight, size and materials as well as the design before deciding on a particular model…

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