Benchmade VS Zero Tolerance Knives: Comparing Two Elite Companies


Benchmade and Zero Tolerance are two well-known knife manufacturers.  They both offer a number of different styles of knives and both manufacturers are well thought of when it comes to the quality of their products.

Both Brands are leaders when it comes to producing folding knives that you might use for everyday tasks.  The primary drawback when it comes to looking at premium brands like Benchmade and Zero Tolerance is going to be the price point.

Both companies are typically on the upper end of the price spectrum, but their knives are made with high-quality steel which can warrant a higher price tag.


1. More About Benchmade

Benchmade bushcrafter (Credit: flyawaylittleone on Reddit)

Benchmade sets high standards when it comes to knife manufacturing.  Its history dates back to 1979, nearly four decades.

After all this time, the company has built a solid following and a great reputation the world over.

Each knife manufactured by Benchmade has one thing in common: expert craftsmanship.

2. Knife Options & Specs

Benchmade is considered a premium brand and they try to set themselves apart from other brands like Spyderco, SOG or Kershaw by using premium steel during the knife manufacturing process.

Some of the top knives from Benchmade include:

Tactical Triage Blade: The Tactical Triage is perfect for rescue and emergency situations. It has a blade made from N680 steel and a G10/aluminum handle. The blade length of the knife is 3.58 inches and it comes in a drop point style.

Benchmade Bedlam: Benchmade has a variety of dynamic tactical knives, including the Bedlam. This is a 154Cm satin steel blade measuring 4 inches in length. It weighs 7.30 ounces and has been designed to ensure comfortable handling. This is a manual opening knife with an overall length of 9.76 inches and a closed length of 5.76 inches.

Benchmade Griptilian: If you are looking for a high quality, versatile everyday carry knife, Benchmade is one of the best manufacturers to look at. The Griptilian is especially versatile, and has a blade made from 154CM steel that can be satin or coated. It has a 3.45 inch blade and an overall length of 8.07 inches. This is a folding blade that is easy to handle and easy to carry around. 

Contego Fixed Blade: The Fixed Blade Contego, which has a blade length of 4.97 inches and an overall length of 10.18 inches. Made from CPM – S30V steel, it is a hardworking knife weighing in at 2.32 ounces. 

Mini Barrage: Rugged and solid, the Mini-Barrage, which is a robust folding knife with a blade made from 154CM steel. The blade length is 2.91 inches and the overall length when open is 6.91 inches. It is a drop point design and has assisted opening. It’s great for outdoor and everyday use. 

Saddle Mountain Skinner: If you are looking for a high quality, high performing hunting knife, the Saddle Mountain Skinner is one of the knives in this category. It has a satin CPM-S30V steel blade that measures 4.17 inches. You also have two different handle options, Dymontwood and G10. 

Benchmade also allows you to customize many of its knives, which is ideal for those that want to create something that is perfectly suited to their needs.

3. More About Zero Tolerance 

Another big name in the knife manufacturing industry, Zero Tolerance is part of Kai USA Ltd. The brand is relatively young in the grand scheme of things with the first Zero Tolerance knife which came out in 2006.

Many of the Zero Tolerance knife collection is used by consumers, firefighters, law enforcement, military personnel and emergency services.

4. Knife Options & Specs

Zero Tolerance has a broad spectrum of knives that will fit all types of different needs. Again, this ZT typically makes their knives with premium steel, so some of them can be more on the pricey side.

Some of our favorite Zero Tolerance Knives include:

ZT 0450CF: The ZT 0450CF is a folding knife with a bronze carbon and titanium handle. The blade length is 3.25 inches and the overall length of the open knife is 7.5 inches. Weighing in at 2.3 ounces, this knife is easy to carry around and comfortable to handle.

ZT 0804CF: Designed in collaboration with Todd Rexford, this knife has a tough, extremely sharp, anti-corrosion blade made from CTS-204P steel. This folder measures 8.9 inches when open with the blade measuring 3.9 inches. It is a robust knife that weighs in at 5.1 ounces. The carbon fiber and titanium handle adds a stylish touch and makes the knife easy to handle.

ZT 0180 ‘Hinderer’: This fixed blade knife is small and lightweight but very tough and dependable. It has a blade that is made from Vanadis 4 powder metallurgical cold work steel and the blade measures 4.2 inches. Weighing 8.7 ounces, this knife has a machined G-10 handle and an overall length of 9.2 inches.

ZT 0450: Fashioned on the award-winning 0454 model, this knife boasts high performance and a stylish finish. Its blade measures 3.25 inches and is made from S35VN steel. The titanium handle has a stonewashed finish and the knife weighs 2.9 inches. It is a manual opening mechanism and comes in a reversible clip style.

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ZT 0392: This is a limited edition knife created in partnership with beloved knife maker Rick Hinderer. The blade is made from two-tone M390 steel and the handle from blue anodized titanium. You get a 3.6 inch blade with this model and an overall length of 8.25 inches when open.

ZT 0566: Boasting a stylish design and durability, this folding knife is wear-resistant and corrosion-resistant. The blade is made from S35VN stainless steel measuring 3.25 inches. The overall length of the open knife is 7.70 inches and it weighs in at 5.4 inches. The handle is a combination of textured G10 and stainless steel.

The majority of the knives from Zero Tolerance are folders, but all come with high-quality finishes and great performance. 

5. Benchmade or Zero Tolerance? 

No matter which of these two manufacturers you decide to choose, you’ll end up with a premium quality knife at a higher-end (but reasonable) price point.

Benchmade has won the knife world over with their consistency and quality over the years, while ZT has hit the ground running as a premium knife manufacturer in a very short amount of time.

Both brands have an extremely loyal following, and neither will disappoint you, no matter which direction you take.  If you are on a budget, Benchmade may be a better choice for you as some of their mid-tier knives are cheaper than most made by Zero Tolerance.

For those with an unlimited budget, Zero Tolerance has some options that are definitely worth looking at.

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