About four years ago, I started reading reviews on the various Zero Tolerance knives and the Zero Tolerance 0200 (Tactical Response Knife) caught my eye. At that point, I had never tried a Zero Tolerance and wanted to see if the hype about the quality was justified. So I bought a 0200 off the net and put it through it's paces.
First and foremost, this is a BIG knife for a pocket knife. The closed length of this knife is 5.25 inches. The opened length is 8.75 inches. It weighs in at a significant but manageable 7.7 ounces. I found it to be much more pocket-able than it larger and heavier cousin, the Zero Tolerance 0300 series . While I hate to start off any review with a negative, I have to admit that the 0200 is somewhat of a pocket hog. It doesn't achieve the pocket snob status of the ZT 0300 series but it definitely takes up some space and makes it uncomfortable to retrieve anything from the same pocket that it is clipped into.
The handle of the ZT0200 is made from 3-D machined G-10 and is very grippy. The clip is a standard Zero Tolerance clip; it's short, stiff and grips like a pit-bull against the machined G-10. It is so tight in fact, that in a very short time, it tends to wear on pocket material. The clip also makes it ride pretty high in the pocket, a pet peeve of mine. The clip can be moved to the right or left side and be configured for tip up or tip down carry on either side.
While the machining on the G-10 is pretty rough, in a less-than-ideal situation, it should provide an excellent grip. Under hard use the G-10 at least for me, felt nice and grippy with no hot spots even when I put the knife through some batoning exercises.
The pivot screw is unique amongst folders that I have owned and I actually like it. Like it's larger and heavier cousin, the 0300 series, the pivot uses an exposed 3/8" nut designed so that it can be disassembled in the field with common tools. The size of the protruding nut itself is not an issue as one might think; I found it's presence to be a non-issue in the pocket or in use.
Fit and Finish:
Right out of the box, the ZT0200 screams quality. In fact for a knife hovering at just over the $100 mark in some places, you would be hard pressed to find any better quality at that price point. After using and carrying this knife for several months, I can honestly say that in a production knife, ZT knocked this one out of the park in the Fit and Finish department. It becomes very apparent in use that ZT designed this knife to make a statement about their quality and the quality is GOOD. The screws holding the knife together are semi recessed torx screws; they were all tight with no play in the construction. When open, there was no up or down or side to side blade play. Blade centering was also very good even after some very hard use. The below photo was after months of use and at least two hard batoning sessions. ZT has built a very tough knife with the 0200.
I'm not usually a big fan of liner locks and was a bit apprehensive when I bought this knife. All of my reservations however were put to rest with repeated use of the 0200. I really learned to respect the lock on this knife as it proved very sturdy and reliable.
The 3 7/8" blade is made from 154CM, a common steel in mid to upper priced knives. It wasn't too long ago when 154CM was considered by many to be the "super steel". It's properties are very similar to 440 C in that it holds an edge very well, is fairly corrosion resistant and holds up to fairly heavy cutting (albeit not as good as higher carbon steels). 154CM has seen use in many higher end production and custom knives. Most all of my older Benchmades and many of the newer ones use 154CM. 154CM varies in quality from manufacturer to manufacturer depending on the heat treatment. Benchmade seems to have perfected the process as the knives I have used from them with this steel have performed very well. The same can be said for ZT as held it's edge nicely under heavy use and sharpened fairly easily. While 154CM is fairly corrosion resistant but ZT takes it a step further by protecting the blade with it's DLC (Diamond Like Coating or more recently referred to as Diamond Like Carbon). The coating protects the blade during use from abrasion and rust. All together, the blade on this knife is VERY tough and should last a lifetime under normal use.
The blade shape is a drop point recurved style blade. While it worked very well for most purposes, I would have preferred a plain Jane drop point. The shape makes it a little more difficult to sharpen but maybe I'm complaining a bit too much :).
The ZT0200 also has two types of opening options, a flipper and a standard thumbstud. I found the thumbstud to be well placed and I could flick it open with authority. The flipper is also very well done and I found myself constantly flipping this knife open with both methods. This is a fun knife to "flick" and if you get one, you'll be aquainting yourself with it for hours. :)
While Ergonomics is a personal preference, I found the ergos of the ZT0200 to be very well executed for a knife of this size. The knife has a very unique shape to it, a shape I found to work nicely. When open, this knife fits my big mits very well and the jimping is in all the right places. The knife feels very nice in the hand and comfortable in all grip configurations including reverse grip. Most reviewers (and I) agree, the ergonomics were well thought out on this knife. Under hard use, I found the ergos done very well and found no hot spots during extended use. In short, this knife just feels right in the hand.
Smoothness of opening:
I don't often see this mentioned in reviews but to me it's an important factor. In a life or death situation, being able to snap your knife open with authority via muscle memory is a must. Despite the large size of this knife, it opens extremely smooth with the flipper or thumb stud. With the flipper, it flips open nicely and locks up very well. If you add some wrist flick, it snaps open even faster. Using the thumb stud allows for one to flick it open with a bit more authority and (like the ZT0301 I owned) I found myself using this method more often than the flipper. Lastly, this knife is so smooth with the installed phosphor bronze washers that simple wrist flicking from the closed position from most angles is easily accomplished. All in all, I'd give the "flickability" rating a 10 on this knife. This knife is really that smooth and "flickable". Lock up with the liner lock was VERY tight with no blade play in any direction. You'll have fun breaking this one in.
If you are in the military or Law Enforcement and if you don't mind a big knife with a little bit of pocket hog issues, look no further. This knife was obviously built to be abused and used in the harshest environments. Its size may limit its use as an EDC knife for some. As a last resort self defense tool for a law enforcement officer or military personnel, this knife would fit this bill well. Opening this knife in a sheeple environment might cause some anonymous phone calls to DHS amongst the weak minded. In a knife friendly environment, EVERYONE is going to want to hold it, flip it, ask questions and drool over it. Two of my friends purchased this knife after they saw and played with mine. The recurve of the blade would probably work fairly well for game prep but a plain old drop point would work better for food prep.
Customer Service / Warranty:
One of the best things about this knife is the company that makes it; Zero Tolerance. ZT is the sister (or brother) company to Kershaw and as any knife nut will tell you, in the customer service department, they have few rivals. While I never used their customer service for any of the ZT's I've owned, I have used them for a speedsafe issue on my Kershaw Boa and even a broken tip on a leek that was my fault. In both cases, I was amazed at how well they took care of my issues. These guys score a solid 10 on the customer service scale! It should also be noted that the ZT0200 is 100% American made; that should count for allot in my book. KUDO's to Kershaw / ZT for well made homegrown products!
The Zero Tolerance 0200 (Tactical Response Knife)
Ergonomics: 8/10 (Great in the hand, not so much in the pocket)
Fit and Finish: 10/10 (for a production knife, I've not seen better)
Camp Use: 10/10
Hard/Military/Police Use: 9/10
EDC Use: 6/10 (a big knife and it stands out; might scare sheeple)
Food Prep: 7/10 (a little big for delicate tasks)
Skinning/Game Prep: 8/10 (excellent for this purpose, belly good for skinning)
Warranty: 10/10 (as good as it gets)
Zombie Usefulness: 8/10 (Zombie's will fear this knife)