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Last Updated: August 7, 2019
Titanium framelock flippers. Are we sick of them yet? No? Great, because I’ve got another titanium framelock flipper review for you today. Given the rapid influx of titanium framelock flippers on the market, I initially thought that I would pass on the Zero Tolerance 0801. The wide shape, chunky build, and monochromatic look of the knife all lead me to quickly dismiss the knife.
Buy the Zero Tolerance 0801 at BladeHQ
It wasn’t until I handled the 0801 in person that I decided to buy the it. Oddly enough, I became so intrigued that I ended up acquiring 2 of these at once – the standard version, as well as the 0801CF “Copperhead” limited release version of it. This review will focus on the 0801, as the 0801CF is a true collectible that I ended up selling off and never using.
Designed by acclaimed custom maker, Todd Rexford, this understated design is based off of his Singularity custom offering. The 801 is the second in a string of collaborations Todd has done with KAI (the previously reviewed Kershaw Injection being the first). This is his first high end collaboration with Zero Tolerance.
General Dimensions and Blade Details
The 0801 has an overall length of 8.2″, a 3.5″ blade, and weighs 5.85 ounces. The 0801 is a substantial knife and you will feel it in your pocket. It isn’t quite as chunky as the 0550, but it’s pretty darn close. No doubt that is due in part to the thick full titanium handle. I can’t think of any other production full titanium flippers on the market at the moment, so that is something to keep in mind. I like the fact that ZT has introduced a full TI handle into their lineup. Just understand that the 0801 ain’t no feather.
The blade on the 0801 is a spearpoint shape with a high flat grind. There is also a swedge that terminates well before the point to support the tip. The blade shape, like the rest of the knife, is pretty sober looking. But it certainly functions well in normal cutting tasks like breaking down cardboard boxes, doing light wood processing, and other general utility tasks. The blade is pretty thin behind the edge and the knife comes very sharp. It’s nice to see a high performance grind on this kind of knife, as the ZT/Hinderer collabs seem to favor strength over slicing.
The 0801 comes in Elmax steel. Elmax has become a staple in Zero Tolerance’s higher end line up. I have come to enjoy Elmax for its combination of good edge retention and relative ease of sharpening. I have had zero issues with rust or corrosion. I think Elmax is a good choice in this higher end offering.
Handle, Ergonomics, and Pocket Clip
The 0801’s full titanium handle slabs are separated by three black standoffs. This knife has been well executed. There are no visible machining marks, all the parts line up well, and everything has been nicely finished. The oversized decorative pivot is a nice detail, and the black hardware serves as the only contrast on the knife. The handle slabs themselves have been milled out with grooves and has a sort of sweeping faux bolster look. I am not wild and crazy about the grooves or the “ZERO TOLERANCE” brand engraved into the handle, but I have to admit Jim Skelton’s customized version with blue two-tone anodizing job really pops.
The 0801 works fine from an ergonomic standpoint. I wear a large glove and there is just enough room for a 4 finger grip – those with freakishly large hands may run out of real estate. There is something of a forward choil, so you can choke up and get a little more out of the handle if you need to, or lay back for more powerful cuts. There isn’t any jimping on this one, so you don’t have to worry about hot spots for your thumb, but I readily acknowledge that the absence of jimping may be a turn off for some. The rest of the handle feels good. This isn’t a funky handle shape so it should work well for most people.
The pocket clip on the 0801 is straight out of the KAI parts bin. A slightly smaller version of the clip can be found on the Cryo. Visually it’s not the most amazing clip, but it is very practical, especially if you are into deep carry. The 0801 buries into the pocket, but even if your co-workers won’t notice it, you certainly will. At near 6 ounces this is not a lightweight pocket knife. That’s the trade off when you go for a thick full titanium handle. It would be cool to see ZT pocket out the inside to lighten things up, but I know that is probably cost prohibitive. If you are into bigger, heavier knives this obviously won’t be an issue, but weight weenies need not apply.
Deployment and Lockup
As far as titanium framelock flippers go, the 0801 is up there with the best on the market. I’m not saying it’s as good as the freakishly fast 0454… it’s definitely nothing near that, but fans of snappy flippers should still be satisfied with this knife. The Elmax blade rides on KAI’s KVT captured bearing system, and you can see the guts of it peeking out by the lock face. I thin it is somewhat unseemly to have the bearing cage poke out like that, but I guess that is what needed to be done to make the knife work right. All said, fans of flippers will find a lot to like with the action of the 0801.
ZT incorporated a stainless steel lockbar insert into their frame lock, and the steel on steel contact makes for a secure and stick free engagement. I couldn’t detect any sort of blade play. The lock geometry of this knife has definitely been dialed in, and the blade centering is perfect. These details are important to find in this higher end knife.
Zero Tolerance 801 Review – Final Thoughts
There isn’t anything else out there filling the full titanium framelock flipper niche, so off the bat that puts the 0801 into a league of its own, unless of course you are willing to venture into custom, midtech, or aftermarket territory. The full titanium handle does have its potential drawbacks, mainly the weight, but there are plenty of people willing to forgo an ounce or two for full TI goodness.
Despite not having any direct competition, the 0801 doesn’t rest on its laurels. It is a very solid and well made knife. Build quality and materials are both excellent. The flipping action and lock up are superb. The design is austere and based off of Todd’s coveted custom offering. There is a lot to like here for fans of high end production knives and frame lock flippers. If you are interested in the 0801 I can safely recommend it.
- Made in the USA; Manual open, KVT ball-bearing system
- Frame lock; Reversible (left/right), deep-carry clip
- Steel: ELMAX, stonewashed finish; Handle: Titanium
- Blade Length: 3.5 Inch (8.9 cm); Closed Length: 4.7 Inch (11.9 cm)
- Overall Length: 8.2 Inch (20.8 cm); Weight: 5.8 ounces (164.4 g)
Andrew McCormick says
Another excellent review!
My buddy and I bought ZTs at the same time, I bought the 0560 and he bought this one. I no longer own my ZT but he still has his! I think the 0801 is better designed for actual use than the 0560. While I loved my 0560, it really was a folding sword and somewhat of an awkward cutter for me, and ultimately I sold it because it didn’t get a lot of pocket time. I think the 0801 is a fantastic choice for people who want a functional utility knife but still retain the panache of the ZT brand. Keep up the good work Dan!
Thank you, Andrew.
I agree the 0801 is much more pocketable than the 0560 – even at 5.85 ounces. It’s a very nicely made knife and it has grown on me quite a bit. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the review.
Just a heads up in case you hadn’t noticed, but there’s presently a bit of exposed html that didn’t properly link to the 0454 review.
Nice review as always, Dan. I can’t say I’ve seen a ZT that tempted me to abuse my wallet just yet, but it’s undeniable that they aren’t afraid to make bold choices in their limeup. Strange to say about the same company that for a time was releasing legions of nigh-identical black plastic and 8cr13mov combinations in the Kershaw line, but lately they have gotten braver on the low end too what with the Emerson collabs and so forth.
Thank you for pointing that out, Kyle. Fixed.
I agree, ZT/Kai seem to be pushing the envelope in many directions, and that is great to see. I have my eyes on picking up one of the Kershaw/Emerson collabs, and think that it’s an awesome collaboration.
Hans Stoffregen says
I bought the ZT 0801 about a year ago and it has become a part of my wardrobe on a day-to-day basis. I find the very things that the review cites as a drawback the things that appeal to me. Heavy with a large handle? No problem! I’m a big man with big hands. In fact, the weight of the knife lets it sit down snug in my pocket and and gives me the peace of mind that it’s not going to fall out as I go about my days activity. I’m an electrician and the knife is as much a tool as it is a knife so the edge never stays sharp long but it also never takes much to get the edge back to where I want it. I have yet to have a problem with the blade opening with just a little pressure from my index finger and a snap of the wrist. I have a drawer full of pocket knives that I’ve carried at one time or the other but as I’ve stated, this knife has become an extension of my right hand or in this case an extension of my wardrobe.
Thanks for stopping by. Glad you are enjoying the 801 and appreciate it’s extra heft. I think it is a great utility knife and could see it working really well as an electrician’s tool. It’s great to see a different opinion than mine – plenty of room for multiple perspectives here. Carry yours in good health my friend.
Hey Dan, I once again appreciate you taking the time to write these reviews. Actually, sometimes when I get a new knife, I have been known to search blade reviews to see if you or one of the other guys have done a review on it. Anyway, I am thinking about getting an 0801 this weekend since Smoky Mountain Knife Works has them in stock and reasonably priced. Would you consider this a solid hard use knife? Would it be something that would last many years if used frequently? ZT’s are known for being “overbuilt” but this one just doesn’t have that rough rugged look to it. Thanks again