TTAK Knife Madness: Zero Tolerance vs. Benchmade


Facebook Readers: Click “Like” to vote Zero Tolerance. Click “Love” to vote Benchmade.

Things are heating up in the 2017 TTAK Knife Madness tournament. Today we bring you a Clash of the Titans in what looks to be the most evenly matched contest in the first round. I have no earthly idea who will pull this one out in the end.

So it is up to you all. You can vote twice. Once here on the blog, and once at this Facebook link. Go for it.

Zero Tolerance:

ZT is part of the KAI family of knives, alongside Kershaw and Shun. Where Kershaw fills the more mass-market niche, ZT tends towards the higher-level enthusiast in terms of design and price point.

I don’t personally own a ZT knife, though I have several Kershaws. If Kershaw is good, ZT takes it up another notch in terms of overall roubustness. Or as they like to say, ZT’s are “overbuilt”.


We will continue to build the kind of premium-quality, professional knives that our customers can depend on every single day.Zero Tolerance is a brand of Kai USA Ltd. The ZT brand first made its appearance in 2006 when we saw a place in the market for a Made-in-the-USA line of hard-use knives that would meet the needs of professionals in the military and law enforcement, as well as other first responders, such as firefighters and emergency medical personnel.The initial products were combat knives, but since that time, the line has expanded to include a variety of general use and premium knives. From larger and heavier outdoor knives to slimmer and lighter every day carrying knives that are built to ZT’s high-performance standards, ZT knives always provide knife owners with top-of-the-line quality.PROUDLY “OVERBUILT”
Zero Tolerance Knives are manufactured of premium materials such as S30V, S35VN, or CTS-204P blade steel and G-10, titanium, and carbon-fiber handle scales. Operation is conspicuously smooth and ZT fit and finish is second to none. Our customers have described ZTs as a “real beast” and—proudly—”overbuilt.” All ZTs are built in our Tualatin, Oregon USA manufacturing facility by our most skilled workers.
A BRAND OF KAI USA LTD.Kai USA Ltd., the makers of Zero Tolerance Knives, is a member of the Kai Group. Kai is a major manufacturer and distributor of disposable razors, surgical tools, personal care products, and housewares in Japan.
We have done a couple of Zero Tolerance reviews: ZT561, and ZT0350. We also have a several other ZT tagged posts, though please pardon the school-suspension posts that are also tagged “Zero Tolerance”.

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Benchmade was second only to Spyderco in KnifeNews’s brand-awareness survey. In my case, they were in fact the second “premium” brand of which I became aware as well. I have a mini-Griptillian that is in my regular EDC rotation, and the Steep Country Hunter which I reviewed lives in my drift boat throughout the fishing guide season.

That said, our most notable interaction with Benchmade is when David’s testing found a deficiency in the locking bar of the 665, which led Benchmade to do a redesign of the mechanism. 

You can read David’s review of the 665 here, or check out our reviews of the 890 Torrent, 915 Triage, 580 Barrage, or 300 Axis flipper.

You can see all of our Benchmade tagged content here.


For over twenty-five years, Benchmade has been designing and manufacturing world-class products for world-class customers.

When Benchmade was founded, the mission was to create something better; something exceptional. Today, we continue to innovate with the goal of taking performance and reliability to the next level. To exceed what is expected.

Whether you are using a Griptilian® for every day duties or taking the fight to the enemy with the Infidel®, our knives are built to perform. When you choose to purchase a Benchmade, you do so because you want the best. You demand it. And programs like our LifeSharp Lifetime Service and Warranty are the foundation of our commitment to excellence.

We live it and breathe it, and we know what you mean when you say:

It’s not a knife. It’s my Benchmade.


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I am not yet finished with my piece about my visit with Allen Elishewitz, but I need to stop for the night when I finish this. I apologize. It has been a rough week, and we leave in the morning for vacation. I will get that wrapped up soon, as well as a 5 from the Grinder piece from Allen that will run next week.

That leads me to the results of Friday’s matchup. In an epic upset, Hogue Knives upset the overwhelming favorite Spyderco, by a score of 94-37.  Round 2 is going to bring us a “Battle of the Cinderellas” when Hogue will face TOPS who knocked off #1 seed Microtech on Thursday.

This was obviously due to my discussing the tournament with Allen yesterday, and his sharing it with the social media folks at Hogue. That is perfectly alright, and even encouraged. We want news of this tournament to spread. I tagged Spyderco multiple times in our Facebook post and on Twitter. They never acted on it. I even shared it on a couple of Spyderco fan groups, which did lead to a few folks showing last-minute “love” for Spyderco, but it was too little too late.

Case, TOPS, and Hogue all have taken an active role in sharing our posts, and they have been rewarded with wins. If we have a matchup where you feel strongly about a company, please be sure to share it yourself. Tag the company involved. I can hardly wait for TOPS vs. Hogue, because I have a feeling it will be a monumental battle. Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend folks. We will be wrapping up the USA- Modern round 1 tomorrow with Emerson vs. ESEE.

You can read all our 2017 Knife Madness posts here.



  1. Cadeyrn says:

    Benchmade FTW. Their Torrent is my very favorite EDC folder, even better than my Hogue. Light, fast, sharper than a scorned redhead, absolutely reliable one-hand operation. My vote: Benchmade.

  2. Dennis says:

    I love my ZT 0452 and therefore am voting for ZT in this round

  3. Cubbie says:

    Benchmade. My second good knife was a Mel Pardue 551. Held up incredibly well considering I used it beyond its limits.

  4. StickFighter says:

    ZT for sure, they make cool stuff!

  5. Jon says:

    Far and away, ZT. Benchmade got lazy with the axis lock and rested on their laurels. The current Benchmade releases all “upgraded” to S30V, a steel ZT ditched after the 0350. ZT is using titanium and carbon fiber, Benchmade chose rubber-coated plastic.

  6. stuartb says:

    ZT, someday I’ve got to splash out for one of their high end Hinderer designs (Yes, I have low end Cryo esteem issues)

  7. Wendell steele says:

    Love my benchmades but love my ZT’s more.

  8. Eric says:

    Benchmade 940. Probably the best edc knife out there.

  9. Mike Epperson says:

    ZT – Love their toughness.

  10. Daniel J says:

    Zero Tolerance. In my opinion you get more knife for the money than with Benchmade.

  11. Peter Ujvarosi says:

    Zero Tolerance

  12. MiamiC70 says:

    Zero Tolerance for any other knife

  13. JttK says:

    I’ve never used a Benchmade as I picked up a ZT (0350) and found it greatly improved over the PM2 I carried for a number of years prior.

    Love my ZT’s but they are addictive. It all started with daily carrying a 0350 for 3 years (still locks up as tight as day one). I have since purchased a 301, 770 and 450cf…

  14. Tim B says:

    I have just returned to edc. My family all carry Benchmade
    I did a side by side comparison with Benchmade and ZT. I found ZT 0220 to catch my Eye better. I loved the overbuilt heft, quick and smooth action although I had to get used to it. rides well in the pocket. I think some of my family may come over to ZT, They mostly liked the overall Feel.

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TTAK Knife Madness: Zero Tolerance vs. Benchmade

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