Let's start at the beginning, which would be January 14, 2014, when during the Shot Show Kershaw announced collaboration with Rick Hinderer and Ernest Emerson. Both are well known knife makers, and Hinderer's XM folders have been all the rage few years before 2014. At a first glance, I've picked several blades from the ZT 2014 catalog, but in the end, after evaluating and re-evaluating those knives (my picks and the rest of the 2014 offerings) more carefully, I've ended up buying just the Zero Tolerance 0562CF model. I suppose, if those knives were available the day the catalog was published I'd pick up 3 or 4 blades, just on the impulse, but granted the waiting period was really long, I've had enough time to cool down :) I was able to place an order for ZT 0562CF M390 and Spyderco Tatanka Folding Knife in late 2014 and finally got it after 5 months of waiting after that, which was February 2015. I Have ben EDC-ing it since February, so by now (08/2015) it's about 6 months of EDC use, plus some testing.
General- Zero Tolerance Hinderer Design 0526CF folder came in a nice black box with ZT logo on it. Box contained paperwork and the knife itself in a bubble wrap. The usual unpacking/inspection was done right away, I was home when the package arrived and after 14 months of waiting for the 0562CF folder to arrive, I was rather anxious to see what all the fuss was about. 0562CF folder is a medium size, integral( a.k.a. frame ) lock folder. It's quite hefty, weighing in at 155.50g(5.26oz). Almost all metallic construction and rather thick blade spine account for that. Well, it's not uncomfortably heavy, don't get me wrong, for it's size it feels on the heavier side, but also has a very solid feel. CF in the name stands for the Carbon-Fiber, which has become increasingly popular in high end and limited edition knives. Some sources on the net do state CF handles on 0562CF, but in reality it is just one handle slab that is Carbon-Fiber. Because 0562CF is a frame lock, another side of the handle is Titanium. Inspected the knife with a magnifier glass, that is after not finding any issues with visually. No defects, everything fitted together perfectly, nothing was wobbly or loose. No grind marks, no imperfections. Overall, 0562CF was a knife with quality which you'd expect from a 240$ knife.
Action is very smooth and lockup is rock solid. KVT ball bearing system utilized in 0562CF does make opening/closing silky smooth. One thing I've noticed on 0562CF was the use thumbstuds as stop pin. To be precise, those are not thumbstuds, you can't use them as such, it's what on other folders would be dual thumbstuds serves as a stop pin on 0562CF. I'm not really happy about that specific design decision, especially that inside the handle there is a small pin which is in the same place where a stop pin is on other folders. Mainly because I can't use those things as thumbstuds. Flipper is quite good on 0562CF, not too stiff to become an issue when opening a knife, but at the same time, it is strong enough to prevent accidental openings, be it in a picket or due to accidental drop, I did several drop tests, on the hardwood floor, it stayed closed, while Benchmade Subrosa Lerch did fail the same test. To be honest, I am not all too excited about frame locks these days, it's getting old, and there are more comfortable and easier to use locking mechanisms available, breaks handle symmetry, I'll talk about the below, in the handle section, but in this case, I had to make an exception.
Blade- The lade on Zero Tolerance 0562CF is 89.00mm(3.5") long, and at its widest, it measures 32.25mm. As I mentioned in General section, blade spine is 4mm thick. That's quite a bit for a knife of this size, but cutting ability isn't really compromised, since the 0562CF uses flat ground blade geometry, which in the promotional materials is referred as Hinderer slicer grind. As far as I can tell, it's called so because Hindered uses the term, grind itself has been around for a long time. As for the rest, the blade itself is a stonewashed satin finish. Looks quite nice and for EDC use it is durable enough so that I don't have any scratches or significant signs of wear on it after half a year of use. The initial edge on the 0562CF was decent. Relatively rough edge, but given the alloy used in the blade - Bohler-Uddeholm M390 PM Steel, rough edge is gonna be a better performer. The edge was ground approximately 15°-17° per side. Reasonable choice for the steel and the knife itself.
The blade features thumbstuds which are not thumbstuds, but stop pins. I've discussed that above. I've never managed to open the 0562CF folder using those. Flipper works just fine, except if you want to open without flipping :) Some people can flip out seeing the flipper open, and you have to go into this is legal, it is not a switchblade blah blah blah... For the record, flippers are perfectly legal in California and many other state, you can read up more on that in the California State Knife Laws article. Overall, it's a medium size folder knife, and cutting performance with a proper edge is really good unless you have to cut through thick mediums, when blade spine thickness can become an issue, but as usual those things are relative, yes 1.5-2mm thick knife will cut better in that situation and I am not sure you really need 4mm thick blade spine on a medium folder, but on its own 0562CF is a decent cutter. And to complete the description, let's mention ZT and Kai USA/Hinderer Design logos on left and right sides of the blade respectively. You can see those on the images linked in this review. Since this is a limited edition knife, it also features serial number, mine being #1622.
M390 Steel- Originally, 0562CF was utilizing Bohler-Uddeholm M390 PM Steel. Hi tech alloy, with very high amounts of Carbon and Chromium, respectable amount of Vanadium - 4% and 1% of Molybdenum, later two being strong carbide formers, giving the M390 high wear resistance and high corrosion resistance. I have used few other knives made with Bohler-Uddeholm M390 stainless steel including: Benchmade Contego 810-1401 Folding knife, Benchmade TSEK LE 805-1101 Folding Knife. Overall, my experience with those knives was very positive and I consider M390 and its counterparts from other makers to be a premium knife steel. Highlights being good corrosion resistance and high wear resistance. It's tough enough to server reliably and hold a good edge in a folder with ~15° per side edge.
After years of using it, now I've picked approximately 600-800 grit edge finish as optimal for cutting abrasive materials like rope, cardboard, plastic, etc. Benchmade TSEK LE Folding Knife review has more info on the M390 steel, and my experimenting, you might read up on that over there if you are interested. In the end, good steel, easy to restore sharp edge, aggressive cutter and lasts long time. Not an ideal choice for a kitchen knife IMHO, but if I were to use it in a kitchen, most likely I'd go with much higher edge polish and more acute edge, but never experimented with that, folders aren't really suited for 20 lbs veggie cutting tests I do when preparing kitchen knife reviews.
Later on Kershaw switched 0562 series production to use Carpenter CTS-204p PM steel. That did cause minor disturbance in a knife world, simply because even though the two alloys are identical in composition and both benefit from PM manufacturing process, M390 is more recognized name and bunch of people assumed it was being substituted with worse alloy. Simply not true. On the other hand, who can remember hundreds and thousands of steel names. Things like that were the exact reason I've embarked on developing the Knife Steel Composition Chart :) Interestingly, Rick Hinderer himself uses yet another variation of the same alloy, Latrobe Duratech 20CV steel. By now, 2015 Latrobe was also bought by Carpenter, so I am not quite sure what is going on with production, whether or not Carpenter would choose to produce two identical alloys under different names, I suppose that doesn't make much business sense, but then again, I am not a metallurgist, or a steel dealer, so who knows. What you need to know, those alloys are the same and they are Powder Metallurgy(PM) products.
Officially, target hardness on 562CF M390 steel is 60HRC, which gives 59-61HRC range, granted the HT tolerances and measuring accuracy errors. As far as I know, 62HRC is a max that M390 can do without becoming too brittle to be used in knives. Haven't measured the hardness on my knife, but I sure hope it's 61HRC ;)
Handle- The handle on 0562CF is made of stonewashed Titanium and the left side has Carbon Fiber slab. Carbon fiber is machined very well, smooth, fits handle well, precisely matching contours. The groove at the top of the front end of the handle accommodates blade tbumbstud/stop pins. The lock side of the handle is considerably thicker than the right side, and this is part of what I meant above by breaking symmetry. That and the fact that there is a lock cut into the handle which bends and generally is different from the opposite side. I am sure a lot of people are just fine with it, and when I use the knife that doesn't really degrade comfortability or performance in any way, but after splurging 240$ on a folding knife, I could indulge myself and ask for minor details ;) Anyway, ask or not ask, it is what it is. Most of the time these days I stay away from frame locks, like I said I was curious about the 0562CF folder and I got it.
Interesting detail on the frame lock bar is the stabilizer. It is a simple device to prevent lock overtravel which can cause lock malfunction or render the knife unlockable. Stabilizer serves dual purpose depending on the knife blade position open or locked. When the knife is opened, stabilizer prevents the lock bar from traveling inwards, and when the knife is closed it prevents the lockbar from traveling outside too far. Simple, but very useful addition to the framelock mechanism. As a side effect, when the blade is in opened and locked position, because the lockbar has no travel, it gives more solid feel and stable grip. 0562CF also utilizes hardened steel inserts to provide secure lock and reduce lock bar wear over time. Overall, that framelock on 0562CF is as good as framelocks get. Personally, I do like lock stabilizer feature and consider it a welcomed improvement. Not that I'd ever take framelock with any improvements over an axis lock though.
Ok, enough about the lock and symmetry. Let's talk about the usability. I've cut a lot of cardboard using 0562CF, plastic and few other mediums, all that described in the usage section, but the point is, all that was a good input to assess handle comfortability and user friendliness during prolonged use. I didn't have any serious complaints or issued with 0562CF handle during almost 2 hour cardboard cutting session. For the record, I was using the knife barehanded, since gloves would obscure the results, although that was done strictly for testing purposes, on average day, if i have to cut cardboard or something harsh, I'd most likely use gloves. Anyway, I've had no hotspots on my palms, no skin damage, I did get bored and tired at the end, but that's the usual result of any repetitive task ;)
One thing I've had an issue with this handle is gimping at the inner side of the handle butt. Ironically enough, the issue didn't manifest during cutting tests or actual usage. I carry 0562CF in my jeans left pocket, since the right one is occupied with Benchmade 710 HSSR AL. Twice I managed to scrape side of my pall on that gimping, both time it was considerably irritating. Doesn't happen when I wear cargo pants, because pockets are much bigger, but I suppose that's something for you to consider too. To be specific, the issue is partly my own doing, I didn't swap the clip position for left pocket carry, because I do use the knife with the right hand and for that reason I prefer the clip where it is, which in turn is the reason the gimping facing inwards.
Well, that's it about the handle specifically, in the end it's a good one, despite the design issues I mentioned. Secure grip, rock solid feel and comfy for prolonged use. That carbon finer slab does decent job even if it's only on one side.
Usage- During last 6 months I've had plenty of knify opportunities to test and use 0562CF folding knife. That includes occasional, whenever I had to cut something and I choose to use 0562CF folder, plus dedicated tests of this folder using whatever test mediums I had for my usual testing. Even though 0562CF is promoted as heavy duty folder, I didn't feel inclined to use it as pry bar or baton 2x4 pieces with it. It is still a folder and I don't have a reason to abuse it. For normal EDC work, at least for a person who doesn't do cutting all day long Zero Tolerance 0562CF is more than enough. Packaging, occasional rope or plastic, letters, small food items, etc. If that's all you need, it's really unlikely you notice edge degradation for weeks or even months, unless you cut your food on glass plates. Maintenance is also very easy. Normally, I use a few strokes on fine DMT Diamond diafold sharpener and I get the aggressive, shaving sharp edge back. Yes, coarse edges can shave just fine, and despite my affinity for acute, 100K mirror polished edges, I prefer coarser edges on the alloys where that makes sense, and for EDC type work with Bohler-Uddeholm M390 stainless steel does better with coarse edge. I said above, if I wanted to use it in the kitchen, I'd go with polished edge though. Not 100% sure about the result, but this class of alloys seems to do well with polished edges too.
Testing- I did the mandatory cardboard cutting session, few times. Per session, it varied between 200 and 1200 inches of cardboard. Slicer grind is quite efficient in cutting, essentially it is a flat ground blade, but 4mm thick spine when going through the large pieces of cardboard is less efficient than doing the same with 2mm thick blade. On it's own, Zero Tolerance 0562CF is no slouch though. Just stating that thinner knives cut better ;) Obvious, isn't it. Those cardboard sessions provided the longest running cutting processes I've been through with my 0562CF. Longest was 2 hours, and I was happy to write down in my testing notes that there were no sore spots on my pals, or any skin damage after cutting barehanded for 2 hours. The edge did loose shaving sharpness at the end, but 99% people would still consider it sharp, simply because they don't demand high levels of sharpness. Good part was the ease with which I was able to restore shaving sharp edge, DMT Diafold, fine grit, dozen strokes per side and it was good to go again.
Next step was miscellaneous items. Started with the usual mix of garage items which included PVC tubing and 6mm thick rubber sheets. Again, things went really well until I had to cut so deep that thick spine started slowing things down. That doesn't happen with 6mm rubber sheets, but when I rolled it up and tried to push cut through that thick spine did require more effort to make it through. Still, with a folder that kind of cutting is relatively rare and you can work around that as usual. I went on with standard PVC cutting, sliced about a dozen rings from PVC tube which had 9.5mm outer diameter and 6.35mm inner diameter, i.e. the wall thickness was just above 3mm. As usual, I do that using mostly push cutting, and in the end there wasn't much of the degradation either. Both tests(hair shaving, free hanging paper) still passed easily. Keep in mind, it was just a push cutting test, otherwise with coarse edge I had no reason to push cut, that type of the edge works much better slicing or sawing.
Last was the edge strength test, which as usual I do by cutting several different types of wire. For the record, the wire cutting is done with steady hand, pushing vertically down on the blade, and wire is perpendicular to the edge. Any other way will most likely seriously damage the edge. By now, I know 63-64HRC and higher hardness won't have any issues, at least not with the wiring I use for those tests, but for the blade rated at 60HRC I'd have to see it. So, I've aligned copper, aluminum, steel wires, plus RG6 coaxial cable. Test went fine, 15° per side edge is 30° total, and ~60HRC blade did handle it well. No damage visible to a naked eye, no rolling or chipping was detected using magnifying glass either. All in all, solid performance.
Conclusions- Solid performer at a solid price :) Not that I have not paid more money for smaller knives, but still, no matter what I think, and how much I like Zero Tolerance 0562CF knife, 240$ for a folder still is a steep price for majority of the people out there. However, this folder isn't designed for them, and if you are a knife aficionado, and you know what M390 steel is, can tell frame lock from door lock, then ZT 0562CF has a lot to offer, my highlights being stabilized lock bar, M390 steel, efficient cutting, very good build quality, etc. If you like the design and the price is fine, and you can find it for sale, sure go for it, it won't disappoint you. And again, as a reminder, Bohler-Uddeholm M390 steel is the same as Carpenter CTS-204p and Latrobe Duratech 20CV steels. Different makers, same composition and all 3 are made using variations of PM (powder metallurgy) process.
Last updated - 08/26/15
- Blade - 89.00mm(3.5")
- Thickness - 4.00mm
- Width - 32.25mm
- OAL - 208.00mm(8.19")
- Steel - M390 steel at 60HRC
- Handle - Ti/CF
- Weight - 155.50g(5.26oz)
- Acquired - 2015-02-15 Price - 240$