Zero Tolerance 0620CF Ernest Emerson Design
Pat Cascio 04.11.16
I remember some years back when I was touring the Kershaw Knives factory at their (then) new digs. I was privy to the new line of Zero Tolerance knives–super-tough, no-nonsense knives meant for professionals. I was totally blown away by what I saw, and I was sworn to secrecy about the new line of knives until they were ready to be released. Hard task to do, especially when I was given one of the new samples to write about when the time was right!
To be sure, the ZT line-up of knives are meant for the harshest and hardest conditions you can put a knife through. Make no mistake, these are not “Gentleman” folders and fixed blade knives. These are not the type of knives you pull out of your pocket to clean your finger nails at the dinning room table and for sure not while you’re in church. Without a doubt the ZT line-up are over-built, but not over-engineered. They have everything you need and nothing you don’t.
Enter the new ZT Model 0620CF, designed by world famous knife maker Ernest Emerson. I’ve reviewed many of his folding knives in the past. And I’ve spent many hours on the phone talking with Emerson–he’s quite the guy, very serious about his knives and martial arts, so we have a lot in common. I haven’t spoken to Ernie in quite a few years, but I was thrilled to learn that ZT and the Kershaw line were picking up some of his knife designs.
One thing that sets Emerson Knives apart from other folders is the patented “Wave Feature” that allows the user to rapidly draw the knife from the pants pocket, and by the time the knife is fully withdrawn from the pocket, the blade is fully opened–faster than any automatic folder. And it only takes few minutes of practice to master this technique.
Basically, what you have is a little part of the top back of the blade that has a feature on it that extends beyond the top of the blade, which looks for all the world like a wave in the ocean. When you pull backwards and up on the knife, drawing it from your pocket, the “Wave” catches on the top of the pocket, opening the blade. Easier done than explained, and there on videos on the Kershaw and ZT website demonstrating this procedure.
Features and Specs
Thomas Welk, who handles PR and Marketing for ZT and Kershaw, was probably about ready to strangle me because I bothered him so often for the ZT 0640CF sample. But at long last it arrived in my hands.
The blade is made out of Bohler M390 powdered steel. I’m a huge fan of the powdered steels for knife blades. It’s a complicated process turning powdered steel into a solid steel, but the end result can’t be argued. It’s a superior stainless steel that seems to hold an edge for the longest time, and with a little bit of effort you can put a hair-poppin’ edge back on the blade.
The 0620CF has a blade that is 3.6-inches long and has Tanto design to it. I’ve loved the Tanto shaped blades for the longest time. They just seem to be better at piercing things and tearing them apart than other blade designs.
Needless to say, the Wave feature is on the 0620CF folder, and there is also a thumb disk for manual opening.
The pocket clip is ambidextrous, so you can switch it over to the other side if you are left-handed and want to carry the knife in the left front pocket of your pants and be able to use the Wave feature.
The handle material is carbon fiber on the front of the handle and stone washed Titanium on the rear, and the Titanium rear portion of the handle consist of the frame lock–an extremely strong locking mechanism, to be sure. When this knife locks open, it is locked open solidly!
Weight of the 0620CF is 6.2 oz, however, it doesn’t feel heavy in the pocket at all. The blade pivot pin is large with a large locking nut. It’s definitely over-built, and that’s a good thing. The blade is stone washed for a semi-shiny finish.
Carry and Use
My 0620CF was flawless in every respect. I couldn’t find any part of the knife that needed anything. The top front of the handle and the Wave feature have “friction” grooves machined into them for a secure thumb placement when using the common “fencing” technique of holding the knife.
The carbon fiber handle scale is beautiful, to say the least–very attractive and extremely tough. The pocket clip is heat treated, too–more on this shortly! On the bottom rear of the handle are more friction grooves, another nice touch. And we have a groove machined into the front bottom of the handle scale so that your index finger just naturally falls into it when the blade is opened.
The 0620CF is larger than many of the folders in the Emerson line-up on his website, and if you’ve followed my writings over the years, you’ll know that I like bigger folders. Blade lengths between 3.5-inches and 4-inches seem ideal for me. The 0620CF blade appears to be larger and longer than it actually is for some reason, but that’s not a bad thing. The back of the knife is an open design, allowing dirt and dust to escape instead of building up in there–another nice touch, and this is a very strong open design–no ass wag as they say.
Back to the pocket clip. I usually wear one particular type of cargo pants from Cabela’s, and they made some design changes over the years. Some were good, some not so good. One of the recent changes they made was to the top rear of the right front pocket for guys who carry a folding knife clipped inside this pocket. They added a little more material to the pocket where the knife is clipped, and that’s a great idea–mostly! If you carry a knife if your right front pocket all the time, it tends to wear out that part of the pocket. Well, with the double material there, it takes forever for the material to fray.
However, with the 0620CF clipped inside my right front pocket, the clip is soooooo strong I can’t readily withdraw the knife using the Wave feature. So, I had to carefully add some more “bend” to the pocket clip so it wasn’t to tight in the right front pocket. And I’m here to tell you, this clip is stout. Many cheap pocket knives with a clip come without being heat-treated, so they easily bend and/or break in short order. With some careful bending, I was able to get the 0620CF clip so it wasn’t so tight in the pocket when clipped in there. I also wear some cargo pants from Blackhawk Products, and I don’t have any problems drawing and opening the this knife from the Blackhawk cargo pants.
Bonus: Kershaw CQC-8K
I also received the Kershaw Knives Emerson-designed CQC-8K folder for testing. These knives are designed for everyday carry and use and to be very affordable. Whereas the ZT 0620CF is made in the USA, the Kershaw Emerson-designed folders are made overseas, which makes the knives very affordable. There are numerous Emerson designed folders on the Kershaw website, so be sure to check ’em all out. I know you’ll find one or two you simply must have. Too many to list in this article, to be sure.
A quick run down on the CQC-8K is: Wave feature, thumb disk for manual opening, liner lock, reversible pocket clip, 8Cr14MoV stainless steel blade, black oxide coated, handle material is G-10 on both sides, blade length is 3.5-inches and it weighs 5.4-oz. Best thing is, it has a full retail of only $59.99, whereas the ZT0620CF retails for $300.00!
I typically put the Kershaw Emerson in my left front pocket and the ZT 0620CF in my right front pocket. For everyday cutting chores, I abuse the Kershaw CQC-8K and reserve the ZT 0620CF for serious self-defense use if the need ever arises. However, I’d have no problem using the Kershaw Emerson CQC-8K for self-defense purposes. It is very well-built!
Both the ZT 0620CF and the Kershaw CQC-8K came shaving sharp right out of the box, too. Both knives, while similar in appearance, are quite a bit different, but both balance extremely well in the hand. Emerson knows his stuff. I used both knives for chores in the kitchen for over a month, and neither knife needed to be re-sharpened. Many boxes from UPS and FedEx were also cut open, and I gave both knives a lot of workouts, drawing them from my cargo pants pockets, too.
You simply have to experience the Emerson Wave feature to fully appreciate it. As I mentioned above, in a few short minutes you can master the Wave feature, and there is no other folding knives as fast to open from the closed position in the pants pocket than those with the Wave feature. None even come close. Such a simple design, but oh so handy and easy to use.
Be sure to check out the other Emerson ZT folder on their website, and then head over to the Kershaw website to see the complete assortment of Emerson folders they have to offer. I’m betting you’ll find at least a couple Emerson-designed folders you’ll want on the Kershaw website.
Ernie Emerson doesn’t allow his name and his Wave feature to be stamped on just any ol’ knives. The man has a reputation, and it was a long process before he allowed ZT Knives and Kershaw Knives to produce some of his designs.
If you surf the Emerson website, you’ll note that many of his knives are always out of stock. His knives have always been popular, even when he was making them one at a time by himself. Now he has a fully equipped shop where knives are turned out fast. However, he still can’t keep most of his knives in-stock. But thanks to the collaboration with ZT and Kershaw, you can hopefully find an Emerson-design folder in-stock. Then again, I’m told they are hot sellers. VERY collectible, too!