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Zero Tolerance 0550 in depth review & discussion

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by RBid, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    This thread is intended to be a resource for people who want an understanding of this knife beyond the raw data. Participation is welcome. Please note: this review will split a lot of hairs and completely ignore or poke fun at things other people discuss in reviews. The reason is simple: all knives cut stuff. If we didn't split hairs, we would all be carrying $5 folders.

    [​IMG]

    Overview: the 0550 is a weightlifter, not a bodybuilder. There is no spray tan. This thing shows up to do work. I don't really consider it a tactical folder. It's more of a Camp Knife. No. Really. It's basically a Hinderer Camp Knife. See?

    [​IMG]

    This brute is a blade you carry when you don't just want a blade; this is for people who want their EDC to be able to handle anything from opening mail to opening buildings. This thing is not a Delica. If you are the type of person who gets offended by the weight of this thing, I offer this advice: Exercise. Learn about nutrition. Stop expecting a blade that comes in a box that says "Proudly overbuilt..." to weigh less. Look elsewhere. This is not for you.

    Construction:

    The blade is a 3.5" long, .156" thick drop point with a swedge on the spine. The steel is CPM S35VN, which is very similar in edge retention and corrosion resistance to the very popular CPM S30V, while offering increased toughness-- it should chip less, and should withstand side loading a bit better for those who insist on prying. This steel is as good as or better than what you get on many high end folders like Striders or Sebenzas. The grind is a high flat grind.

    Lock up is outstanding.

    [​IMG]

    For perspective:

    [​IMG]

    This pic shows the similarity in cutting edge and overall blade length as compared to the ESEE 3, which is a dedicated outdoor/survival blade.

    [​IMG]

    What you may not quite notice in that pic is that the 0550's .156" of blade thickness beats out the .125" on the ESEE 3.

    [​IMG]

    Right now, you may be asking, "so what? It's not a fixed blade!" You're right. The 0550 isn't a fixed blade, BUT... ask yourself what you would really use a 3" camp knife for. Are you doing heavy batoning or prying with it? Probably not. Yes, an ESEE 3 will work better for those tasks than a 0550 will, but the reality is that the 0550 is easily capable of anything short of the work you'll reserve for a heavy chopper.

    This beings us to it's chunky form. 6oz? .57" grip? Wow! Are we looking at design failure? Did Rick Hinderer fail miserably at equaling the Endura? No. The goal here was clearly *not* to make a light knife for Nutnfancy fans to carry in their fanny packs. Hinderer showed us clearly with the 0560 and 0566 that he knows how to make excellent, slim feeling grips and understands how to reduce weight when he wants to. The 0550 is fat for a reason.

    [​IMG]

    That is a grip comparison between the ESEE 3 and the 0550. Note that reviewers of outdoor blades often discuss hand fatigue over extended use, and that knives with fat handles (Mora, etc) are praised for being hand filling. The fat handle of the 0550 is intentional. This is the kind of handle you want for extended work.

    Speaking of holding it:

    [​IMG]

    It feels excellent in a strong hammer grip, and is very comfortable in a saber grip. This blade has no jimping on the back of the handle, but does have a bit on the back of the blade for control in the saber grip. There is no choil above the handle, but the cutting edge comes close enough to the hand to easily support fine tasking. The G-10 offers great, very functional traction. That is the only reason to keep the scale, because it is ugly as sin. That's not subjective. In this case, it's a fact. Babies will cry. Dogs will bark. Birds will fly away from it. It offsets the ugly by being outstanding in hand.

    Reverse grip is *extremely* comfortable. Draw cut grip?

    [​IMG]

    In draw cut grip, assuming right hand, tip up carry, the gen 1 pocket clip is in a bad spot. The tip of the clip comes up under the tip of my ring finger in a way that causes me to put pressure on it. That is not comfortable, and makes me wonder if it could eventually loosen the clip. Other than the clip position, the point of the finger groove pokes into the palm a little, as well. I have done a little draw cutting with this. It worked fine, but I didn't like how it felt at all. This is not a common need, of course.

    [​IMG]

    Snap cuts are also not a common thing to use a folder for, but guess what? The 0550 is about as perfect for that as a folder can be. The run of jimping on the pinky area of the grip and the fattening and curve at the back lend this very well to getting a great two finger grip. Throw on a paracord fob for the last two fingers and you're suddenly holding a respectable snap-chopper. I wouldn't attack trees with it, but I have used this to break into cardboard where there were no edges to start on, and this would easily handle clearing small branches-- especially when you consider the massive stop pins and the fact that you're swinging 6oz of knife.

    Deployment... Good grief! Mine came with a diamond hard detent. It would not move with one hand until I broke it in a bit. It still won't move if you touch the lock bar even a little. This is how I have to open it:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Note that my middle finger is not putting pressure on the lock bar. I'm pulling down slightly with my ring finger to help load pressure on the thumb stud, directed from 6 o'clock to 11 o'clock.

    [​IMG]

    A motion similar to finger snapping throws it out.

    Some reference pics...

    Vs Manix 2 and ESEE 3 for size:

    [​IMG]

    Vs 0566 for size:

    [​IMG]


    In conclusion:

    This thing is a monster. It is not a great choice for people looking for a sleek, lightweight, FFG slicer type of EDC. It is absolutely awesome for people who want a single solution for everything from opening blister packaging to extended wood work.


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
  2. SAKplumber
    • In Omnia Paratus

    SAKplumber EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Relocated to the Gear Review Forum.
     
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  3. Quikclot

    Quikclot Loaded Pockets

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    Nice review. Thank you :)

    I'm currently on the fence between a 0560 and a 0550. I bought a 0300BW from a forum member and it's a tad heavy/fat for EDC and my needs.

    This is not making it easier to decide lol.
     
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  4. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    Thank you!

    The 0560 is certainly sexier, but I have found that the 0550 is everything it needs to be and nothing it doesn't need to be. I have grown to love it more as I continue using it.


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
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  5. gemini
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    gemini Frog Eggs

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    Great, perfect review. Amazing thread. Agree 100 and the bunch % to what's said. Would only add some custom scales to it :showoff:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    Gemini, that is a beautiful knife, and you do a fantastic job of presenting it in pics!


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
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  7. Quikclot

    Quikclot Loaded Pockets

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    Hey Rbid (o anyone), one aspect I usually don't see in reviews is what it doesn't do vs another popular blade.

    (Yes, shameless angle for my dilemma)

    What would this NOT be a good choice for or be better at vs a 0560?
     
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  8. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    First, I have to acknowledge that we're about to get into extreme hair splitting. Between the 0550 and 0560, that is how close things really are. Here is my take:

    - flipper vs thumb studs. They're both very fast. If you observe the total hand movement from pocket to ready (as in, to the point where the knife is held ready to use), the actual difference in time to deploy is a non-issue. This is a subjective area.

    - bearings (0560) vs washers (0550). Washers provide more lateral support to blade lock up. In reality, this is probably never going to be an issue.

    - the 0560 looks more impressive and intimidating. It has a slightly longer blade, a more tactical looking guard, and sticks out another 1/2" farther than the 0550 at the back of the hand. People who object to knives will STRONGLY object to the 0560. Knife guys, on the other hand, may try to hump it in public. The extra guard, blade length, and aggressiveness of the grip make it a better stabbing tool.

    - the 0550 guard lets you get closer to the cutting edge, and the grip fills the hand more, which helps stave off hand fatigue in extended use. It is a little better suited for camp use.


    At the end of the day, the above is splitting the hairs growing on the heads of hairs. These are two great knives. I happen to prefer the utilitarian 0550.


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
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  9. gemini
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    gemini Frog Eggs

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    As for me - I find 0550 thicker handle more comfortable for me large hands. If fills in the whole grip, feels very solid in hand. 0560 on the other hand not that comfy, kindda too slim. So work horse vs breeding stallion :) Amma fan of 0550 for that reason. Love me 0560BW to the bits, though.

    [​IMG]
     
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  10. neginfluence04

    neginfluence04 Loaded Pockets

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    I never really got the weight thing but I'm 6'3" 270-280lbs and power lift so I rarely find much of anything to be heavy.
     
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  11. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    You have about 90-100 pounds on me and I'm not a power lifter (though I used to be a trainer and remain very fit). The weight is a joke to me, too


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
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  12. neginfluence04

    neginfluence04 Loaded Pockets

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    Nutnfancy "ounces equals pounds"
    Me "Than go to the gym and lift something heavy"
     
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  13. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    And/or take 3-4 of the back up blades out of the fanny pack!


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
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  14. pduds

    pduds Loaded Pockets

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    I don't understand the reference to "feeling heavy" and how it's a lack of strength if a folder feels too heavy. I train a lot, I'm 6'2" and 250 lbs and very strong, I walk and run about 1.5 hrs everyday, and a Ladybug still feels better in my pocket than a stainless steel Police. The difference in the 2 folders' weight is not very much compared to my bodyweight or what I can lift, but it still adds up. The heavier Police will always not 'feel' as good in my pocket. I put up with it because of its superior cutting power, but if comfort was the only issue I'd carry the ladybug. sure it's not very much additional work to carry it, but something about a heavy knife in a pocket vs. a heavy knife in a backpack just feels that much heavier.
     
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  15. hal_chase
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner
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    hal_chase EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Nice review, even nicer humour and lets be honest, most of the larger ZT's are brute force, Fugly 'Pit Bull's of the knife world (and I love them), they are all heavier than most of their peers but I know what I would rather have in my pocket if things went really wrong.

    Anyway's your 0550 looks almost anorexic compared to my 0300, he's an 8oz porker :p
     
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  16. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    It's a frame of reference thing, pduds.

    The Dragonfly wouldn't feel any lighter on me, because I don't feel the 0550 at all. That is for multiple reasons. First, I am healthy enough that I have done multiple mile hikes with laden messenger bags without feeling like I was carrying anything-- it doesn't slow my pace at all or cause any fatigue whatsoever, even after miles of uneven terrain, going uphill. From a weight standpoint, the 6.0oz is effectively 0.0 to me. I don't feel the weight *at all*, so I wouldn't feel a Dragonfly less.

    Second is how and where it gets carried. When I work, I carry my folders in slash pockets of 5.11 Stryke pants. The slash pockets hold the folder close to the thigh, as opposed to typical front pockets where the blade can hang at the corner and stick out a little sideways. That makes weight more evident as it is creating a little dead weight at the corner of the pocket, leaning away from the body. Same basic idea as hiking packs-- chest and waist straps distribute weight and hold the pack close.


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
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  17. EZDog

    EZDog EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    Great review RBid and I concur on all points.
    I am also surprised the 0550 doesn't get as much talk as the 560 or 566 both of which are also great but as you suggest for different reasons maybe.

    I have been carrying the 550 or 566 for a while now as EDC and can not imagine not having one with me all the time.

    But last week I was on the road and drove and delivered a car to northern Maine(inside Acadia!),worked for a week and flew back Yesterday.

    I was determined not to loose either of my favorites on a return flight for any reason so I took my Thermite for the week.
    I also took a 150 lb Pelican case full of tools and my Vic Spirit kit in Skinth and eneded up using the Thermite and Skinth kit constantly rather than running up and down 4 flights of stairs for better dedicated tools!

    What an amazing cousin the Thermite is to the other Hinderer designs and what a huge relief it was all week having it on my side!
    It just drives home what a great design and designer can do across all price points and build details that this $50.00 knife can stand in with no apologies at all when required and screams to the basic soundness and value of Kershaw as a maker and brand to me.

    So I read this earlier Today and got the 550 out and back in pocket right away and of course I kinda miss the Thermite now too!

    I am able to deploy the Thermite and 566 much easier than the 550 in almost all situations but it is a lot better the more I cary the 550 too.

    I also did really feel sort of "Naked" yesterday with no blade at all,it is amazing what we can get used too.

    As it was the TSA guys at Bangor were the most thorough I have ever seen and they said I might have had the most Flashlights they have ever seen on one person where of course I did cut them back a little and I also had more non-bladed tools than they had ever seen so I guess I was doing something right?

    So....each blade d'Hinderer has a spot in the rotation again and I will carry the Cryo too when the day calls for it,they are just great blades all the way around.
     
    Last edited by EZDog, Jul 14, 2014
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  18. RBid

    RBid Loaded Pockets

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    Thanks, EZDog!

    I appreciate the lengthy reply. It's always interesting to me to hear another person's perspective on things I've used.

    I have eyeballed the Thermite, Cryo, and Cryo 2 a bit, and simply haven't been able to justify buying more 8cr13mov. I hadn't considered the travel angle, though. I use my knives a LOT at work, so I prefer blades that keep a good edge for a long time. On the road, things change. A soft steel won't be an issue under vacation use :) That may be a great excuse for me to get a Thermite and a Cryo 2.

    I like your comment about a designer delivering at a variety of price points. I just had the same conversation a few days ago about Hinderer and KAI. At their price points, the Kershaw models are pretty solid values and great looking blades. The 0560 and 0550 are clearly doing very well, and I am of the opinion that the 0566 is one of the most underrated knives on the market. The 0562 could be the best received, yet.


    If you don't carry it every day, it's not every day carry.
     
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  19. ManVsLawn

    ManVsLawn EDC Junkie!!!!!

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    After much research and drooling over the ZT 0550, this review made me finally cave.

    But, I wasn't totally sure - so I bought used, off B/S/T here, on the forums.

    Your review nailed it dead on. This thing is a weightlifter. I agree with the 'fat for a reason', as I used it to break/cut up some old thick plastic cartons in the garage. They were thick but dry rotted... the ZT 0550 'crushed it,' and slipped into my pocket nicely after the task was completed.

    It felt great in hand, solid, and I sure have a good grip when putting force behind the blade.

    Thanks for the honest review. My gal does NOT like this knife. It's not delicate. it's not pretty. But I love it.

    Hard as hell to open, as a normal flipper would. I use my pointer and thumb to 'start' the blade out of the handle, grabbing more towards the 'swedge', and finish with a flick off of the thumb stud.

    Great lockup. It feels like a "Fixed Folder." This knife has reduced my need for a solid flipper and a small fixed.

    It sure is big in hand. Great for work. I have smaller hands (yeah, let the jokes roll on in....), but the grip is great and I feel even bigger hands would have no problem with this tank.

    Edit - now I gotta get a nice bead for this beast 8)
     
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  20. gemini
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    gemini Frog Eggs

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    great knife :)
    [​IMG]
     
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