Go Darke

Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it

Close Quarters Combat

Zero Tolerance 0301

The 0301 is made by Zero Tolerance. It is a division of Kai, a holding company whose divisions also include Kershaw Knives and Shun Cutlery. The 0301 is a premium top-tier folder. The blade (3.75in/9.5cm) is made from S30V, which is a martensitic stainless steel which has then been given a Tungsten DLC (Diamond like coating). The frame lock is made of titanium as is the back of the handle. The front of the handle is 3D Machined G-10 (a composite material made from glass cloth and epoxy resin)


The Zero Tolerance is a big, solid, heavy folder made to exacting standards. It comes with a patented assisted opening system. This makes the knife very easy to open even with your off-hand. It is specifically designed for ambidextrous use and comes with multiple mounting points so you can very easily configure your carry to tip-up or tip-down and for left handed or right-handed draw.

Personal use bias

The ZT 0301 is one of the best knives I have ever owned. I have carried it almost every day since I bought it, probably five or six years ago. It occupies a position as my secondary left hand draw in EDC. Its ambidextrous design and SpeedSafe assisted opening system make it perfect for my off hand. (I use an Emerson Super Karambit as my primary right hand draw)

Standard grip

Δ A Standard grip

Reverse grip

Δ A Reverse grip

What I like about the Zero Tolerance 0301

My students often used to ask me what knife is the best knife or what knife I prefer.  It’s a question I hated because it meant that you weren’t in the mindset I was trying to develop. A sharpened piece of plastic or a cheap ballpoint pen can be just as effective as the most expensive folder. (ask anyone in Leavenworth or Pollsmoor) Generally you need something pointy, everything else is just vanity and personal bias. Getting a Zero Tolerance 0301 is like a lot getting a Porsche when all you really need is a second hand Honda.

Having said that, it is very nice owning a ZT 0301. It is a beautiful knife. Holding this folder you immediately know you’re holding a precision piece of engineering. The ergonomics on this tool are excellent. The opening assist mechanism is also really good and the folder locks up nice and tight. I also like the large broad blade and while a lot of people dislike ‘heavy’ folders I find the weight weirdly comforting.


The Zero Tolerance 0301 is what some people might term a ‘Combat folder’. The big, broad blade lends itself to this moniker. A longer blade will obviously penetrate deeper and the broad  blade creates a bigger wound. A broad blade combined a with a ‘screw-driver’ type motion on exit means the wound is going to bleed ferociously. A broad blade also makes missing major arteries (Brachial, Femoral and Carotid) less likely.

Even though I pictured it above I am generally not a big proponent of a reverse grip. It is often purported to be more effective at close range but I feel you limit your range and reduce your available and effective strikes. Toe to toe knife fights are a disaster that you want to expedite as quickly as possible. Ideally a knife is used against an opponent that is either unaware of your presence or does not identify you as a threat before it too late, hacking at each other at close range is one of the least desirable positions to be in.

There is one exception to my reverse grip rule, when you much taller than your opponent.  Against an opponent that is shorter than you an overhead strike is very difficult to block effectively. Especially if you are using your off hand to clear intervening limbs and weapons. An over hand reverse grip to the head, face, neck or in through the clavicle is very difficult to recover from.


Δ Jo in black, knife sparring. A blurry frame grab from a bout back when I used to teach. We weren’t big on eye-protection back then. Having read some horror stories, I now suggest using protective equipment when you train.

Notice the boxing stance. Years and years of boxing have ruined me for other types of footwork. I’m pushing off my back foot to move forward in Southpaw. I feel that if you are right handed you should almost always knife-fight in Southpaw, otherwise you limit your range.

Southpaw is a boxing term that designates the stance where the boxer has his right hand and right foot forward. The boxer will lead with right jabs and follow with a left cross. Southpaw is the normal stance for a left-handed boxer.

I think my intention was to close the distance and clear my opponents weapon with my off hand* and then strike downwards aiming somewhere between his ear and shoulder. He’s defending correctly though, threatening the center line. He has also created space  by extending his weapon which means I have to crash through a lot of contested space to make this work. (I actually change my mind and revert to an normal grip almost immediately after this frame-grab)

*the critique is often leveled that using your off-hand to clear means taking damage. In a knife fight generally speaking, one of you is going to the hospital, the other is going is going to the morgue. In my opinion taking non-lethal damage to kill or disable my opponent is an acceptable risk.

If you’re not training with aliveness you’re not really training. Training something through static drills at half speed doesn’t really teach you anything. You are wasting your time. Just like in boxing you can hit pads and beat the heavy bag all day, but its not until you get into the ring that you realize where your deficiencies lie, how to gauge distance and fast things really happen. Same with knife fighting.

The Zero Tolerance 0301 is a great all round folder made by an exceptional company. Its broad blade allows it to excel at CQC but it also functions very well as a normal everyday carry for some who wants a quality tool and doesn’t mind a big folder.

Close Quarters Combat