If you’ve been watching the T.V. series NCIS you know the main character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs, has a series of rules to live and work by, and is often quoted by members of his team. In several episodes, his requirement to “always carry a knife” has been featured and while I don’t want to blur fact with fiction, it’s a sound principal.
If you’re engaged in a profession in which carrying a gun is a necessity, doesn’t it make sense you might require a cutting tool as well? It makes perfect sense to me. After being a person who needed a knife during a critical incident and didn’t have one, I’ve made sure to tell every recruit/cadet I’ve ever trained to carry a knife. It’s also a sound practice to have the best “kit” you can afford. But at the same time, keep in mind such gear can also be lost or left behind.
Zero Tolerance, a division of Kershaw Knives, makes knives for serious applications. The company tries to pack worthwhile features into each blade they make and keep the price as low as possible. Their Model 0350 (a Ken Onion design) was introduced in 2009 due to requests from customers who liked the shape and quality of the ZT 0300 Series, but wanted different features such as a smaller size, reduced weight and a lower price tag. The 0350 is much more affordable and easier to carry day in and out. By the end of that same year, the 0350 outsold all other items in the ZT line. And to this day, remains their top seller.
This is mostly due to features like the Speed Safe opening system that assists in blade deployment once an ambidextrous thumb or index finger guard is pushed or flipped toward an open-blade profile. Once the blade is open, this “flipper” acts as a guard against the hand sliding on to the blade during heavy use, especially when gloves are worn or the hands are wet. It’s my opinion that not enough companies that make tactical-grade blades take this potential problem into account. The spine jimping offers a solid grip surface for the thumb in the event a sabre grip is used, a grip that most people seem to use by default. There’s also jimping on the end of the grip to help engage the skin on the heel of the hand.
The shape of the handle is also an important feature as it curves in such a way as to help hold the knife in the user’s hand. The G-10 scales are both tough and nicely checkered to enhance the grip and are in place on both sides. Some manufacturers use a liner lock system that only permits scale material on one side, reducing the grip surface. Not so with the ZT 350. Their liner lock is robust and fully engages the heel of the blade to keep it from collapsing during rough use. The pocket clip can be moved for either tip-up or tip-down carry (the knife world’s equivalent of 9mm vs. .45 or Weaver vs. Isosceles) or for right- or left-hand use.
The Model 350 ST that I tested is a partially serrated blade. Although many debate whether or not serrations are useful for a tactical knife, I find the serrations of great value based on my real world of work and play. I’ve cut through more items than I have fought with when using a knife (actually, I’ve never been in a knife fight and I don’t want to be either). The serrations on the Model 350 ST are placed to the rear of the deep belly of the central blade so when the end user applies pressure, the sharper points on the high end of the serrations punctures the material more efficiently. This makes for a quicker and easier cut with less force applied. Let’s face it, there are times when a sharp blade won’t be fast enough so being able to saw is another option—and in police work, options are always good!
The Tungsten DLC coated blade reduces reflection while the S30V stainless blade is a proven tough material. This durable blade will resist corrosion in even a saltwater environment, so blood and other fluids should cause little concern. Just wipe the blade off and keep it lubed and sharpened and the Model 350 should outlast your career.
This isn’t a thin gentlemen’s knife for carry when out on the town. It’s a serious cutting tool for serious situations. However, I was recently in Michigan teaching a pistol course and while in my hotel room, I was making a cup of coffee and didn’t have anything to stir it with. Guess what I used? The paddle shape, deep belly of the 350 worked quite well. Don’t we carry tools for sudden “emergency” situations?
I tested the 0350 by cutting a number of materials officers are likely to come in contact with (seatbelt material, leather, cardboard, meat, denim, bandage material, etc.) and it cut through them all as if it were butter. The blade kept its edge and I have yet to sharpen it. The rounded belly is in place to enhance the cutting surface and the blade is thick enough to use for prying (not recommended—but hey, shit happens!) in a pinch.
The Zero Tolerance 350 Series is everything you would want in a folding duty-grade knife. It’s also worth noting that it’s entirely made in the U.S.—something worth supporting. Without a doubt, Zero Tolerance has built a robust, hard-use knife that will certainly stand up to the rigors of law enforcement and military use. It seems to me that Zero Tolerance just has a zero tolerance for officer failure—and that’s good to know.
Blade: S30V stainless steel with Tungsten DLC coating 3.25 inches long, .121 inches thick
Scales: Textured G-10 in matte black
Closed length: 4.625 inches
Open length: 7.75 inches
Locking mechanism: Locking liner
Weight: 5.6 oz.
Includes: Speed Safe ambidextrous opening system and a quad-mounting system for tip-up, tip-down, left- or right-handed clip carry.
Zero Tolerance Knives
KAI USA Ltd.
18600 SW Teton Avenue
Tualatin, Oregon 97062
Phone: (503) 682-1966