A Look at ZT’s Award-Winning History

Zero Tolerance knives have earned many awards for their quality construction.

If you delve into today’s Zero Tolerance knives, the offerings certainly look different than ZT’s military roots. And yet, the brand boasts the same level of quality that began in 2006. That effort hasn’t gone unnoticed. Throughout the years, the world’s top knife critics have recognized these knives with prestigious industry awards. From the very beginning, the earliest ZTs were making a big splash.

Let’s start with the 0500, an old-school ZT. Fun fact — this is one of a few ZTs that has a spelled-out name: the Multi-Utility Dirt Defiant, or M.U.D.D. for short. Keep in mind, the original ZT concept was heavily focused on military and law enforcement use. That means that this knife gets hard, heavy use in dirty areas.

ZT 0500 "M.U.D.D."

Grant and Gavin Hawk planned for this while designing the knife. They included Polyurethane® seals around the pivot and lock in order to keep dirt and mud out. This allows for a smooth blade deployment every time. The seals are also resistant to a wide range of temperatures, making the knife ideal for many environments. In 2006, These features propelled ZT to its first award: BLADE Magazine’s Most Innovative American Design of the Year Award.

Heavy-duty knives like the 0500 carried ZT in the early years. In 2007 and 2008, the 0200 and 0200ST picked up a pair of awards from the police-focused Tactical Response Magazine. These knives are great examples of the high-quality construction that goes into every ZT. Their 3D-machined, G-10 handles were unlike anything seen on production knives at the time.

But in 2011, ZT took a step further and introduced a knife that would change the direction of the brand. The 0777 was named Overall Knife of the Year at BLADE Show. This infamous ZT Originals design marked the first time ZT utilized its patented Sub-Frame Lock. Combined with a carbon fiber scale, the 0777 feels light in the hand, but it retains the strength of a frame lock knife.

Clearly, it’s a beautiful design, but infamous? As the years have gone by, the popular knife has left a legacy in the knife industry. Not many were made, meaning that it demands exuberant prices on the secondary market. Thankfully, this ZT winner has influenced other projects.

The original 0777 featured Devin Thomas herringbone stainless damascus on the upper part of the composite blade. Recently, the Limited Edition 0450FCDAM used this same steel on its blade.


ZT 0777 Damascus composite blade

ZT also used the 0777 as a basis for a full-production version, the 0770CF. Even ZT’s sister brand, Kershaw Knives, has been inspired by the knife. The Natrix (7007) and the upcoming Bareknuckle (7777) offer affordable alternatives of this landmark design. Needless to say, this knife’s DNA is ingrained in Kai USA.


ZT 0777 custom clip and backspacer

From this point on, ZT went on a dominating streak of award wins at BLADE Show. We’ll take a look at these standout knives in our next throwback story.

Read More ZT History 

Remembering ZTs that sparked Award-Winning Innovation (2012-2013)

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