ZT Knives may be a relatively young brand, but its history is already filled with timeless classics.
After the release of the 0777, ZT pushed the boundaries of innovation with a series of award winners. For starters, because the 0777 was so well received, the Kai Design Team immediately began work on its successor.
This new piece was appropriately named the 0888. The first thing you’ll notice is how clean of a design it is. Nothing interrupts the visual flow of the titanium handle, except for a decorative pivot. Like its predecessor, this bold ZT shows off a Composite Blade. These advanced materials included high-end S110V and 14C28N stainless steel.
Another version was also produced with Maxamet steel, a rarely used, high-speed powdered tool steel. Very few models were created with this steel, making the 0888MAX a highly desirable collector’s item.
These technological innovations propelled the 0888 to the Blade Show 2012 Knife of the Year Award. Blade Show winners are chosen by a group of industry professionals based on quality and innovation. And by their measure, it wasn’t the only ZT to earn a top prize that year
The knife in question was a collaborative effort. Working with custom knifemakers has been a key part of the ZT lineup since the brand's inception. In particular, ZT and RJ Martin have developed a solid relationship over the years. The very popular 0609 has lit up store shelves with beautiful aesthetics and slicey cutting ability.
The 0600 series has come a long way to reach that point. But even in the beginning, the series started with a bang. The original 0600 won Blade Show’s Collaboration of the Year Award in 2012. Based on RJ’s Q-36, the 0600 brings custom-like quality to the production stage.
This knife deploys like so many of the ZTs today – by using KVT ball bearings. Its super smooth action has proven to be very popular with knife aficionados. Whether it’s for reliable deployment, or just fidgeting, you can depend on KVT.
Once the 0600 is open, the textured titanium handle scale feels solid in the hand and features carbon fiber inlays for added visual appeal. Cutting is easy with the B75P steel, another uncommon ZT steel that gets the job done. Overall, the 0600 is a beautiful package. And unless the knife will just be a showpiece for your collection, it has plenty of cutting power to boot.
Other ZT designers would later get in on the award-winning action. The following year, Dmitry Sinkevich and ZT teamed up to create a top candidate. You may be familiar with a lot of Dmitry’s work that’s available now, such as the 0450, 0452, 0462, and others. What you may not be familiar with is an earlier Limited Edition.
Remember the Composite Blades in early winners? Well, the 0454 took it a step further, combing three steels into one. ZT put CPM D2 on the cutting edge, 14C28N stainless steel throughout the middle of the blade, and CPM D2 on the spine. The jigsaw-like pieces are laser cut, then permanently braze welded together.
The 0454 also opens with KVT. And once it’s locked into place, the Sub-Frame Lock makes sure it stays that way. Certain ZTs use this mechanism today, but it was a complete revelation in 2013.
Frame lock knives tend to be more limited in handle materials, because the entire handle scale has to lock the knife. The Sub-Frame Lock allowed ZT to use a carbon fiber handle scale, while sectioning off a piece of steel for locking purposes.
These features and more led the 0454 to the Overall Knife of the Year Award at Blade Show 2013. That marked yet another triumph at the annual convention. But more was soon to come. Join us next time as we take an in-depth look at some of the more recent award winners.
Which of these knives would you want the most? Let us know what your grails are in the comments below.