It is no secret that I am a fan of ZT (Zero Tolerance) knives. ZT is a product line from KAI, USA. They specialize in hard use, semi-custom, factory production knives at a reasonable price. I started my foray into ZT about five years ago when I purchased my beloved ZT 0301 ST. I carried this knife daily for five years, beating the snot out of it. The only failure I had with it, was breaking the pocket clip off, when I hit the knife on the T Top-down support on my boat, offshore one day, in VERY rough seas. I sent the knife back to ZT, to have them replace the pocket clip, but I got the knife back in about a week with a new blade, new pocket clip, all free of charge. Customer service and warranty are top notch. Unfortunately, it fell overboard while catching American Red Snapper out in the Gulf of Mexico. This was a hard loss, so I had to replace it. My next ZT was a 0300BW since I could not find a 0301ST to replace the one lost at sea. The ZT 0300BW is my everyday carry knife, even though some say it’s too big. Well, it WAS my everyday carry knife until now. The ZT 0350TS is not nearly as large and bulky as the 0300 series, but it has that familiar feeling to me. I have heard from some people that they believe the 0350 to be rather large for every day carry. I have larger than average hands so the physical size difference between the 0300 and the 0350 is not lost on me.
The ZT 0350 is an assisted-opening, folding knife that has a liner lock and a 3 ¼” blade. ZT calls the assisted-opening “Speedsafe” and it can be actuated by hitting the “flipper” with your finger, or using the two blade stops on the spine of the blade, with your thumb. The spring assist deploys the blade quickly, with almost zero effort and the blade locks in place with a very detectible “click”. Even though this knife is ambidextrous, if you are a left-handed person, the blade stop on the left side of the knife does come down lower to the micarta, due to the liner lock. This may pose a problem if you use the blade stop as the primary way to open the knife. You can mitigate this issue by using the “flipper” with your index finger.
The belt clip is standard ZT sturdy, and can be moved via two Torx screws to either left or right, tip up or tip down carry. I am a tip down carrier, right-handed guy, so I had to move the belt clip to accommodate. It’s simple to do with a Torx driver and a little blue loc-tite. The position of the belt clip on the 0350 is set up for secure pocket carry, not quite “deep carry” as shown by the picture of how it rides in my pocket. Even so, it is very comfortable in all but the flimsiest of pants and is visible to the trained eye.
Since I carry a ZT 0300BW daily, this 0350 felt instantly smaller, and lighter in the pocket. I wouldn’t call it “light” by most standards, it still tips the scales at just over 5 ½ ounces, but it is noticeably lighter than the 0300. It’s a solid ½ inch thick at the handle, making it large for some folks. This knife is built like a tank, very sturdy, and almost “overbuilt”. Much like my beloved 0300.
The G10 scales are flat and have a very nice texturing to them. They provide a nice gripping surface, even with olive oil on your hands. Yes, I tested this. So, the knife provides more than adequate purchase if you have wet hands. The jimping on the 0350 is moderate but functional. Some may take issue with it, I find it very useful, especially in a reverse grip.
The blade is made of S30V, a premium grade powdered stainless steel, that is expensive to use, but makes the blade rugged and increases edge retention. S30V is considered by some, to be one of the best steels to use for a rugged knife, and I can’t argue that point. Keep in mind, I am not a knife maker or a bladesmith, but I am a consumer and an end user. I have several knives with S30V blades, and every one of them are what I consider “hard use” knives. The fact that ZT chose this steel does not surprise me.
Now let’s talk about sharpness. Out of the box, the ZT was sharp enough to shave the hair on my arms. It sliced phone book paper with laser ease, was able to cut cardboard without any hesitation. There are many reviews and videos online showing this knife being tortured and how sharp it is, so I won’t bore you with repetition. What I can say is, be careful if you order this knife. It will definitely get your attention if you are not careful.
I’d like to discuss sharpening the ZT 0350 with you for a bit. The knife is shaving sharp out of the box, but I wanted to normalize the edge, and profile it with the factory bevel. The ZT 0350 is advertised to come with a 30-degree bevel with a 40-degree micro-bevel, and it is surely sharp. But, I wanted to make sure the edge was perfect, so I put it in my trusty KME sharpening system and in no time it was.
As I have mentioned, I have carried the ZT 0300 series for years, and it is what right feels like in my hands. My very first impression of its little brother the 0350, was that it was too small. Now, having carried it daily for a few weeks, I am really liking it. The pronounced choil up top gives a great resting place for the thumb, and the finger guard allows a very secure grip for stabbing or pronounced cutting. The texture on the scales, in conjunction with the pommel jimping, makes this ZT very usable in a self-defense scenario.
The Tiger Stripe DLC (Diamond-Like-Coating) on the blade, will appeal to some, and not to others. Me, I kind of like it. I can attest to the coating over time, for I had my ZT 0301 ST with the tiger stripe DLC on the blade for over five years. It’s super durable, and almost scratch proof. The blade can be had in an acid washed finish as well, if the tiger stripe is not your cup of tea.
In conclusion, I was a bit hesitant to like this ZT. I thought I would never find a knife I liked as much as my 0300 series, but this 0350 has really captured me in a very short time. It is a scaled down version, but also makes it easier to carry for some. The ruggedness I have grown to expect out of ZT is found in every aspect of this rugged folder. If you are looking for a high end, semi-custom production knife, made in the USA, that has the most awesome ZT warranty, take a look at this 0350TS. If you ever see me in public, there is a sure bet it will be in my pocket.
Author – (D. MacIntosh) US Army Special Operations with over 30 years of service. Former 1SG, current Warrant Officer with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggary. Over the years, he’s developed a unique style and appreciates the finer things in life. He evaluates gear based on his unique personal experience and no-fluff presentation.