EDITOR'S NOTE: This is probably the only preview that will also be an "In Case You Missed It". The ZT 0777 was available for pre-order for over a year and the pre-ordered versions arrived at their buyer's houses this week. Many sites are still hoping for a small lot of ZT 0777 beyond what was pre-ordered so there is a chance that you could land one, even if you didn't preorder, but those chances are incredibly slim given demand for the knife and the nano-sized production run. For a tip on how to snag one of these, see the last paragraph.
It was the Blade Show Overall Knife of the Year...in 2012. It was the subject of a firestorm of controversy when Microtech released an uncannily similar blade (I am working on an article on the subject and I don't have enough info right now to say if it was a copy or coincidence). Then there was the sourcing and manufacturing issues. The composite steel was complex. The lock was unique. The pocket clip was sculpted. Every single thing about the ZT 0777 was a challenge. It is a testament to the folks over at Kershaw and ZT that they were able to get this sucker out the door. Here is a glamor shot (from ZT's Flickr feed):
But after an incredibly long wait, the Zero Tolerance ZT 0777, an in-house design by Kai USA's Jim McNair, has finally been released. This is a blade to end all blades. It weighs 4.2 ounces but has a 3.75 inch blade in a 5 inch handle (for a very decent pair of ratios: blade:handle of .75 and blade:weight of .89). The handle is sculpted carbon fiber. The lock is a fully adjustable titanium sub-frame lock. The pocket clip is a sculpted number as well. The pivot is the wondrously smooth KVT system and deployment comes easy in the form of a flipper (though the machined groove in the upper third of the blade could also aid in opening the knife). The steel is a composite of Devin Thomas Herring Bone Damascus on the spine and Vanax 35 on the cutting edge, giving you the look of Damascus with less maintenance and the cutting performance of a powder metallurgy steel. Overall, the features are first rate, running ahead of every production knife on the planet and besting the vast majority of customs as well. Only the very top echelon of custom makers produce knives this sophisticated and complex.
It has the rugged overbuilt features of a ZT with the premium materials of a custom and the techno-gee-whiz awesomeness of the Kershaw Tilt. That is a heady combination. I am going to say this now, so you have fair warning--this knife will be more collectible than any other Kai release ever. It will almost certainly jump directly into the Tilt/Jess Horn/Michael Walker Klotzli level of collectible production blades. It has all of the right ingredients--preciously small run, incredibly high price, and unique look and materials. Ever see a composite blade with Damascus? Even on a custom this is unheard of. I'd argue given its tortured release history, this knife could be even MORE sought after than the "big three."
Here is an excellent review of the newly released knife (I am writing this on 2/27/13 and the video was posted on 2/26/13).
As you can see from the video, this blade has everything you'd want and stuff so cool you didn't even think of it. If you can, buy it. Its like an investment that you can use to cut open boxes. This blade also proves that when Kai is given a blank check design-wise, they can produce a blade that is unmatched. With the gloves off and the budget listed as "whatever is necessary" there are few knife makers that can match this degree of beauty, technological wonderment, and cutting edge use, whether we are talking about a batch of handmade custom gems or the design embarrassment of riches allowed by a four-axis CNC machine.
The ZT 0777 is the pinnacle of knife making in 2013. Get one if you can. If you can't and still like the overall shape, try the ZT 0770, a slightly smaller, assisted open, "budget version" of the ZT 0777. I say "budget version" in quotes because this blingless copy still has cutting edge steel and a heft $180 price tag. Roll the dice on landing a non-preordered 0777 or line up for the 0770 at: