It is common knowledge among outdoorsmen that experienced backpackers will tend to carry less gear. I believe the same holds true for the modern survivor. As time goes by we tend to understand what works, what doesn’t and settle for a more minimalistic setup. We also tend to appreciate quality. This is all especially true when it comes EDC, the small everyday carry items we are supposed to have with us daily. In my book, that would be keys, cellphone and wallet, knife, CCW where legal to do so, multitool, flashlight and lighter. A well rounded EDC is essential given that its not only useful for daily, more mundane tasks, but also for more serious emergencies. I am writing this just days after the terrorist attacks in Paris where over a hundred people were killed. Had one of the victims been armed and capable of defending himself, maybe things would have turned out different. It wasn’t that long ago that France saw another terrorist attack, also using an AK carbine, but this time the massacre was avoided thanks to three brave passengers that stopped the attacker.
Titanium is strong, light and durable, great for EDC. Sure, looks pretty good too.
When it comes to using a humble folding knife against a terrorist armed with an AK we have to honestly assess such unfavourable odds. After all, every gun nut will tell you not to bring a knife to a gunfight, right? Well, this gun nut actually tried the old knife vs gun exercise, and I would agree that you don’t want to bring a knife to a gunfight, as long as it’s out of the 0-7 feet range, because at that range and all other factors being equal, the guy with the knife is more likely to win the fight. It would take an extremely well trained and fit shooter to move away backwards or sideways faster than the attacker moving forwards, all while bringing up the muzzle of the gun yet avoiding getting stabbed. When there’s not enough distance, it’s more about hand to hand combat than shooting and you never want to wrestle the guy with the knife. This is why the Tueller Drills puts the minimum engagement range for a defensive shooter against a knife attacker at 21 feet.
Even at very close range, attacking any armed attacker is a last, desperate resort option but I at least would gladly take those odds over certain death.
Zero Tolerance 0630
My first reaction to the ZT0630 was literally “Oh crap!”. I had just received the knife, changed the pocket clip and slipped it into my left front pocket. I was chatting with my wife as I pulled out the knife, completely caught by surprise by how strongly the blade snapped open. My wife stopped talking “What the hell? What is that?”. “Oh, it’s a knife that opens as you pull it out of the pocket…”. Why is it that men don’t know when to shut up? She went into a rant about how its always something with me, how everything around me cuts (knives), explodes (li-ion batteries) shoots (guns) or shoots ammo that also explodes on impact(shouldn’t have bought those…).
Anyway, I admit that although I knew about the Emerson “Wave Feature”, I didn’t expect it to be so efficient. Its not perfect though. Of course there is a bit of a learning curve and although you learn how to use it with a few deployments, it’s the kind of thing that will take some time until it becomes second nature. The “wave feature” is simply that small hook on the spine of the blade. As you pull the folder from the pocket it catches the fabric of the edge of your pocket and forces the blade open. With a bit of speed it does so strongly enough to fully deply with a loud snap. Ernest Emerson originally designed this feature as a blade guard/catcher, a request from some SEAL team members. It was only in actual use that the feature was discovered by accident.
Excellent Design, Excellent Execution.
Next to Cold Steel Voyager Large Tanto
The ZT0630 is an outstanding knife because it combines an excellent design by Emerson Knives with excellent execution by Zero Tolerance. Emerson knives are quality, well-thought blades intended for tactical use. “Tactical” does not always equate to ideal EDC. A tactical folder may prioritize being light, because an operator has several pounds of other critical gear to carry. The average person has no such concerns. Steels may be softer prioritizing toughness and blade integrity over edge retention. A knife enthusiast may be willing to pay considerably more for a premium steel which is both strong and holds and edge well. Emerson traditionally uses a chisel grind, which is very sharp and easy to sharpen. It is also off center and more suited for utility rather than detail cutting. The ZT0630 uses a traditional saber grind with double bevel. This requires skilled sharpening on both sides of the blade rather than just one side, but the edge is right in the middle and cuts straight. This is the kind of grind you find in some Swedish hard-use Puukko knives.
Emerson uses a liner lock mechanism. These are somewhat controversial in the knife world given that at times they have failed when hitting the spine of the blade or when a moderate amount of lateral pressure is applied. An Emerson knife in proper form should not fail like this. It is designed so as to bend and jam the liner into place if excessive force is applied. The ZT0630 uses a stronger (and heavier) titanium framelock mechanism. For extra durability and toughness, the ZT0630 lock bar has a steel insert where it contacts the blade. After a few decades of hard use your grandkids may have the insert replaced for a new one so as to keep the knife locking tight. All locks fail when enough force is applied, but the ZT0630 is clearly stronger than its Emerson counterparts. The steel insert in the lock bar extends under the titanium scale, working as a stop to prevent the lock bar from overextending. Clever design.
The blade shape is an upswept clip point similar to the CQC-8. The tip is strong, yet acute and capable of penetrating tissue with ease. The long belly is designed to slash well within the limitations of a 3.6 inch blade. The blade steel is S35VN, which is tougher and holds an edge longer than CPM154. Without getting too technical, S35VN is overall considered an improvement over the already excellent S30V. It is easier to sharpen, 25% tougher than S30V and the edge rolls instead of chipping. The frame lock handle is made of titanium with a matte finish. The black scale is made of textured G10, which provides good traction without being too aggressive. Although the wave inevitably deploys the knife, there’s also a thumb disk which for opening the knife the traditional way. I found it to be comfortable and fast.
While Zero Tolerance uses Kershaw Velocity Technology (KTV) in some of their other premium knives, they went for traditional washers with the ZT0630. I'm glad they did. KTV uses small ball bearings in a plastic carrier which makes for a very fast opening, but it simply isnt as strong as traditional washer construction.The knife still opens smoothly and fast and it only gets better after a short break in period.
The handle is comfortable, well suited for medium or large hands although given the flat profile smallish hands should be ok as well. A deep forefinger groove achieves two important objectives: First, it keeps your hand in place and stops it from slipping forward if used forcefully. Second, it wraps the index finger tightly against the lock bar, pushing it deeper and applying more pressure to the locking mechanism the harder your grip it.
Overall the Zero Tolerance #0630 is an outstanding tactical folder and I highly recommend it. I love the design, the materials used and the careful execution.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.