The ZT 0561 is a knife that prior to Zero Tolerance selling, was only available for a price almost three times as high. Although we can’t say for certain that Rick Hinderer XM-18 knives warrant the extremely high price tag, the beautiful functionality of this design is undeniable.
We must start this review saying that we received this knife from the factory crucially flawed. There is a small retention post on the frame-lock that fits into a female hole in the blade to ensure the blade stays closed while not in use. This is necessary due to the very smooth operation of the KVT ball-bearing system of which this knife is equipped. Either our retention post was too long or the hole in the blade was too deep. The end result was that the blade could not be opened when the knife was clutched tightly in the hand. While this can easily be remedied by loosing ones grip during the opening process we still consider this a major issue. In a situation when an individual would need to use their pocket knife for self-defense, that individuals stress response might not allow them to have to have the extra cognitive ability and fine motor skills needed to employ this knife quickly and effectively. The few extra seconds it could take to get this knife open in this situation could cost the user their life or the life of a loved one. That being said it was easy to recognize the flaw after manipulating the knife for only a few moments, and relatively easy to fix with a Dremel tool. We don’t believe you should have to do that kind of work on a knife that is this expensive.
To continue the review, the grip on this knife is secure and the materials used are light yet effective. The handle is 3D machined G-10 on the front, and strong, lightweight 3D machined titanium on the back. The framelock is titanium with a steel lockbar insert and stabilizer. The opening mechanism is a flipper style with thumb studs on both sides of the blade. See our review on the ZT 0301 for more info on the flipper mechanism. The ball bearing action is very smooth and lightning quick when clean but can easily become gritty if not properly maintained (proper maintenance is important for all edged weapons). The design of the blade, sharpness from factory, and the ELMAX steel itself, and the heat treat of the steel which gives the desired hardness, were irreproachable. At the end of the day this is a "cool" folding knife with a lot of moving parts, and some inherent design flaws. It can't be compared to a solid, trusty fixed-blade knife... but should be mentioned that while this knife features all the hot new industry trends/technology/materials, these same "tacticool" features are what make this knife unreliable.
The blade is proficient in slashing and stabbing, it can also handle a variety of bushcraft tasks. It holds an edge very well and is not particularly prone to corrosion. The deep carry pocket clip was a good idea on paper but a horrible design in practice. It allows the knife to sit so low in the pocket that it is virtually undistinguishable as a knife. The problem is that the clip itself is very weak. It’s prone to getting caught on things, and when it does it gets bent out of shape very easily. It is also nearly impossible to bend it back, again because of the design. The good news is ZT’s customer service has been amazing in this regard and they send out extra clips no questions asked. We hope they design a new one for this knife soon. The clip getting bent bothers us so much we permanently retired this blade. We recommend this knife to anyone who wants a great blade they don’t mind tinkering with, performing regular maintenance on, and possibly replacing the pocket clip a few times a year.
Excellent blade design, high quality material, well designed handle with good grip.
The pocket clip is a terrible design, and the knife itself came from the factory needing work.
Six out of Ten Bones.
- Made in the USA
- KVT ball-bearing opening system
- Titanium frame lock
- Quad-mount (tip-up/tip-down; left/right hand) clip
- Steel: ELMAX®, stonewashed finish
- Handle: 3-D machined G-10 front, 3-D machined titanium back
- Blade Length: 3.75 in. (9.5 cm)
- Closed Length: 5 in. (12.7 cm)
- Overall Length: 8.8 in. (22.4 cm)
- Weight: 6.4 oz. (181.4 g)