Saturday, May 30, 2015

Zero Tolerance ZT0566 Review

And now, we have played out the thread.  This is as far as the Hinderer obsession will go.  I am sure in the future I will probably want something else he designed, but for now, this is it...the last one I'll review until it isn't.  The ZT0566 isn't a bad knife by any means, but its value proposition, its design, its choice of materials...all of them are in service to something else other than the task of cutting or the consumer, unless that consumer happens to be an ardent Hinderer fan boy.  This isn't a budget XM-18 3", this is a collection of Hinderer design tropes mushed together on a single knife.  It will cut, it will stand up to some thrashing, and it doesn't look bad, but there are a slew of better ways to spend your money.  In many ways, this is a more dispiriting product than the Kershaw Cryo.  At least there we knew it was a budget rendition.  But here, compared to other ZT Hinderers like the very good ZT0560 and the even better ZT0562 this knife just seems like KAI USA is going through the motions, spitting out a design, collecting dough, and moving on.   This is the car the car salesman brings you BEFORE they up sell you to the nicer version--it hits all of your requirements but does so with so little panache that you almost fall asleep merely being around it.  And in this the Golden Age of Gear, we are at point where you can rightfully expect performance, materials, AND panache.

Here is the product page. The 0566 costs around $140 shipped (I found one for $129 on Amazon, but shipping was $ you sneaky bastards). There is a special edition with carbon fiber handles and an M390 blade.  That looks like a better knife than this one. Here is a written review. Here is a video review (like me some Apostle P videos). Here is a link to Knives Ship Free, where you can find the ZT0566, and all proceeds benefit the site when you purchase things through this link:

Here is my review sample (to be given away):


My video overview:

Twitter Review Summary:  You can do better.

Design: 1

Its a Hinderer.  Its a ZT.  And it is mostly pocketable.  That alone is a good combination.  Its not really fair to deduct points from a superior design simply because it has been done before (MANY MANY times before).  Despite the score though, this is not a knife you'll get excited about.  You know EXACTLY what your getting.  There is no moment of excitement and anticipation as the knife slides out of the box.  This is as predictably boring as party politics--everything is scripted and locked down.


But there are places where it is fair to deduct points.  The choice of materials is pretty terrible for a ZT.  This is a ZT in name and steel only.  The lock side is made of stainless steel, not titanium, the only in-production ZT with that distinction.  The show side is G10 which is functional but not exciting.  The steel is Elmax, which is quite good, but aside from that, the 0566 is IDENTICAL to the Cryo.  Same handle materials, same clip, same bolts, same everything.  Its basically a bigger Cryo with Elmax.  That, in my opinion, is not worth $100 price premium.  The G10 Cryo is actually quite a good little knife.  Making it bigger just makes it boring.  Making it bigger and $100 more is a pricing decision that is either greedy or designed to test the intelligence of the knife buying public.  Note that the M390 version runs carbon fiber so there is at least some iteration of this knife that's not Cryo Plus.

The ratios are what you'd expect from a knife this big with steel handles.  The b:h is .73, which is not bad for a bigger knife.  The b:w is an atrocious .61.  How bad is that?  REALLY bad.   The Cryo SS was .55, which I think is the record low, but this boat anchor is second. 


Fit and Finish: 1

ZT has fit and finish dialed in, as I mentioned before.  You can see that a lot of the "first inspection" things, like blade centering:


are dead on perfect.  But there are things that can't be photographed that aren't.  There are issues with the lock that I will cover below, but the big issue here is that the torsion bar in the handle rattles.  Its not a little bit of rattle, its a lot.  And the worst part is that it rattles when you are making medium to high effort cuts.  In other words this thing is a noise maker like 60% of the time. If it were just the rattling torsion bar I'd be okay and probably keep things at a 2, but that combined with the lock issue means that fit and finish is not up to the usual ZT level.  What's weirder is the fact that on the similarly made and priced ZT0770, everything was JUST right.

Grip: 2

The ZT0560 was a behemoth, a true pocket sword, even though it had a "modest" 3.75 inch blade.  Its girth was...insert your own innuendo here.  And while that made for a great knife to hold and use, it was a bear in the pocket.  Not so with the ZT0566.  Hinderer's basic design, even the ZT echo of that blueprint, is so solid and fundamentally good and that goodness starts with the handle and the grip.  The ZT0566 is no different from any of the other dozen or so Hinderers in that regard.  


Its great in the hand.

Carry: 1

Okay, so I will honest and tell you that I think this is like a 1.5, but in the end, the weight of this knife is just too much for what you get.  The Paramilitary 2 is about a quarter inch longer and almost 2 ounces lighter.  Th large Cold Steel Voyager, with its 4 inch blade, is 4.6 ounces.  The ZT0770 is 2.3 ounces lighter, with the same materials made by the same company for roughly the same price.  I could keep going forever as this knife is just too heavy.  The steel lock side and the steel liner make this thing a porker.  And so, despite its more modest size, its too portly for me, especially in light of the blade length. 

Steel: 2

I wrote about piece on AllOutdoor about how difficult it is to be really precise in evaluating steels and this was in large part a response to the rampant backyard tester/bro science that is out there.  These "scientists" focused their collective wrath on Elmax a while back and despite their proclamations, I have yet to have a problem with Elmax.  I think at this point I have reviewed almost a dozen blades with the steel and I have no problems.  Its a great steel.  I like it quite a bit.  

Blade Shape: 2

Like with almost all Hinderers, the ZT0566 has a fundamentally solid blade shape.  No complaints here.  

Grind: 1

Oh, but wait, there are complaints here.  The edge on this knife is not very thin and the result is that the ZT0566 is a poor slicer.  And here is the real deal--you are 1,000 times more likely to need a folder for slicing tasks than you are to need it to baton through wood.  It just doesn't happen.  Given the real world use of a knife, I'd strongly prefer a thinner blade than a thicker one.  That said, even if you want thick blade stock, like on the Paramilitary 2, it should really be thinned out.  There is simply no excuse leaving the edge this thick.  The...well you can probably guess...ZT0770 is just as thick, but sliced far better because the blade behind the edge was correctly profiled and ground thin.  

Deployment Method: 0

I am done with assisted opener.  If they are done VERY well, I am okay with it, but I think, given the rattle, which may presage actual impaired function, I am done.  Gimme a bearing pivot any day.  Or heck, just a good washer-based flipper.  I know they sell, and in the end, companies make knives to sell them, but from a consumer point of view, assists aren't worth the hassle.  

Retention Method: 2

I sung the praises of this clip when it was on the Cryo and it is still good.  Either this clip or one of the two over the top designs from Benchmade are about the best you can get.  Why Buck doesn't use the Vantage clip more often is beyond me.  Its a winner too.  

Lock: 1

More proof that this is not a REAL ZT--the lock on my model is wiggly.  Not like afraid-I'll-lose-a-finger wiggly, but much more than you'd expect from ZT.  


Oddly enough I also found some engagement issues.  Sometimes it would just stick in there and other times it seemed to wander in behind the blade and just hang on, not really putting any pressure on the blade whatsoever.  


Not a fan.  

Overall Score: 13 out of 20

If you are a Hinderer fanboy and the 0562 or 0560 are too big, save your pennies and buy a 3" XM-18.  If you can't save or don't want to spend that much on a knife buy the G-10 Cryo.  If that's too small by the Cryo 2.  If those don't work then pick between this knife and the Thermite.  There is no way around it, when it comes to KAI'd Hinderers this one is well down the list for me. 

Don't believe the labels and logos--this is a Kershaw in every way except the steel.  The assist sucks for all of the reasons assists suck, and proving their inferiority this one rattles like a baby toy.  But for all of my boo hoo-ing over this knife it is still a pretty solid offering.  The problem is that is just not competitive.  The 0770 is a much better knife than this and it is the same price.  I just can't get behind the ZT0566.  This knife is the sign that they have sliced the baloney too thin on the Hinderer design trope.

And to KAI USA, yes I know that this knife sells well and that assists sell well.  But sales alone do not make a product a great product for the consumer. When it sells well for 50 years like the Buck 110 or 25 years like the Sebenza, we'll talk.  Until then sales numbers are more associated with good marketing than emblematic of good design.  It might be a great product for KAI USA, but consumers can do better at this price point, within the ZT line or outside it.

As it is, this is my last Hinderer for a while--after the 560, 562, and THREE Cryo reviews.


Its called the ZT0770.  Its better in every way. 


  1. Since you are not a fan of this knife, and you are planning on giving it away - I'll take it off your hands. Where do I send shipping details? :)

  2. I've owned this knife for about a year and pretty much agree with everything except the quality issues you have with yours. Bear in mind this was ZT's third Hinderer model, and I really don't know what they were thinking. I do know that this model would have never been released today...the bar has been raised so much since this knife came out almost 3 years ago. I currently own 7 ZT's and hands down my favorite is the 0550. I don't NEED a flipper, and I don't NEED bearings, but I DO need for the knife design and manufacture to be properly executed. And in this regard the 0550 is a winner. The SpeedSafe action in the 0566 is terrible, with a ridiculously heavy spring. And it seems like your spring is lacking the grease to stop the rattle. I would definitely see how it works deassisted. Mine didn't flip well after removing the spring, but I hated the spring so much that I kept it deassisted....and eventually I Dremmeled off the flipper tab. So now it works and looks awesome with just a manual thumb stud.... Like a smaller 0550....without the S35VN...or titanium...and with a tiny washer on one side.... But at least I don't hate it anymore.

  3. I have a Blackwashed carbon fiber version, I very much like it because it has sentimental value to me (it was a gift) but it is pretty heavy and the clip has torn up my jeans a good bit from carrying it.

  4. Excellent review. Great to see a shoutout to TheApostleP, who's my favorite YouTube knife reviewer. (You mainly review knives here and AllOutdoor.)

    If you guys had Rob as a guest on GGL that would be an Avengers-level crossover event.

  5. I was looking into buying this, but chose the 0770 instead. A friend got a 0566 so I got to play around with it. Wasn't impressed. Truely feels like a Cryo. The torsion bar didn't rattle, but it was stiff, the flipper design didn't help either. He sold it after a month or so without any carry.

    I ended up buying a RealSteel H5 Gerfalcon. It's everything, the 0566 should have been. FFG 14c28n, bearings, less then 4oz, better fit&finish.

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