By Nicholas Italiano
I rely primarily on fixed blade knives to do much of hiking and bushcraft stuff, I also routinely carry folding knives for more day to day uses. In a few rare cases I find folding knives that cross into being solid performers in both day to day uses and in some of my outdoor adventures…the Zero Tolerance 0308 is one of those knives. This knife has been with me since early 2020, and to this day it remains one of my favorite folding knives.
I have a lot of experience with ZT knives and I can say that most of those experiences have been very positive and those that haven’t were quickly rectified by ZT. So I can confidently say I’m a fan of the company. Their knives are made in the USA from premium materials and have excellent fit and finish. ZT has collaborated with a number of big name knife makers such as Rick Hinderer, Les George, and Earnest Emerson to name a few as well as producing designs from their in house design team. ZT built a name for itself by producing hard use knives, and over the years they have diversified a bit by producing some smaller knives and a few “fancy” knives. While some people felt this was a departure from their hard use roots I can assure you that the hard use ethos is alive and well in the 0308.
Let’s go over some specs. For starters this knife was designed by Zero Tolerance’s in house design team as the latest addition to the fan favorite 0300 series of knives. The overall length opened is 8.9 inches and sports a 3.7 inch blade made from CPM 20CV super steel. 20CV is an excellent steel known for great edge retention and rust resistance, though you will find sharpening it is definetly a little more work then your traditional tool steels. The handle comes stock with a textured tan g10 scale with a steel front liner and the lock side is milled titanium. The frame lock with steel lock bar insert provides and strong lock up. This knife is a flipper, opening smoothly and authoritatively thanks to the ball bearing pivot system. The overall weight of the knife is 6.9 ounces giving it a significant amount of heft in your hand.
You’ll notice my 0308 does not have the stock scale, rather it features a custom micarta scale made by LMF Knives available exclusively through USA Made Blade. This upgrade cost a mere 5 dollars more then the original cost of the knife when purchased directly through USA Made Blade and is one of the many material options they have made available to their customers. Some other options include exotic woods, other micarta colors, and carbon fiber. While the knife is great on it’s own, adding a personal touch for just a few dollars more is a win and combining that with USA Made Blades unparalleled customer service, laser/anodize customisation options and lighting fast shipping is even better!
In use the ZT 0308 really shines. I’ve put this knife through all kinds of tasks from cutting boxes, food prep, cutting through assorted building materials, harvesting plant materials and processing wood. While wood processing is something I almost exclusively do with fixed blades the 0308 was definitely well suited for the task when I decided to do an impromptu trip to the woods without a fixed blade. The lock has never once failed on me even when I was doing things that you probably shouldn’t do with a folding knife. Despite bearing pivot systems being known to gunk up with dirt and crud I have seen very little reduction in performance when working in dirt or mud. Ergonomics of the knife are good, while the height of the handles may feel a little odd at first if you’re used to dealing with something more narrow I found that quickly subsided with some use and was grateful to have so much handle to grip on to. The CPM 20CV blade steel lives up to expectations, holding an edge and providing excellent corrosion resistance even in wet in environments or processing some of the more acidic food stuffs.
Everything considered the ZT0308 is one tough folding knife that lives up to ZT’s reputation of building hard use knives. Will it replace a fixed blade in the woods? No, but it will definitely serve as a worthy back up and make a great everyday carry option.