When it comes to choosing a reliable and versatile tactical pocket knife, the market is replete with options. Among the plethora of choices, two knives that have garnered acclaim among enthusiasts and professionals alike are the Zero Tolerance 0350 and the Spyderco Paramilitary 2.
If you need a robust, weighty, assessed opening heavy-duty tactical knife with a highly ergonomic handle that provides a solid and versatile grip in any situation then the ZT 0350 is for you.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple tactical knife that is strong, not heavy, opens smoothly in manual, ensures a firm grip in large hands when wet, and above all can perform daily tasks, then you may prefer PM 2.
I’ll break down this puzzle-like comparison into a few key steps below.
- Opening and Locking Mechanism
- Pocket Clip
- Finally – Which One to Choose and Why?
Zero Tolerance 0350 Tiger-Stripe
Spyderco Paramilitary 2 – CPM Cru-Wear Steel
The measurements of a pocket knife, including its blade length, closed length, overall length, and knife weight, are crucial in determining its usability and suitability for any wielder.
The ZT0350 features a 3.25-inch blade, making it a compact but sufficient blade for a variety of tasks. The PM2, however, boasts a slightly longer blade at 3.42 inches. The added length grants a bit more of a slicing-edge, which may be useful depending on the application.
When it comes to closed length, the ZT0350 measures about 4.63 inches. This ensures that the knife is conveniently portable. The PM2 is slightly longer at about 4.81 inches. Although it is slightly less compact, the knife will have no issue fitting into a pocket.
The overall length of the ZT0350 is approximately 7.63 inches, offering a balanced length that combines both portability and utility. The PM2 is about 8.24 inches, making it a slightly larger folding knife. Although this may be advantageous for some tasks that may require a longer reach, it may be considered simply less compact by others.
In terms of weight, the ZT0350 weighs in at approximately 6.2 oz. In contrast, the PM2 is much lighter, at about 3.8 oz. The heavier weight of the ZT0350 gives it a sturdier feel but may just be considered bulky by some. The light weight of the PM2 makes it easier to carry for long periods and makes it less noticeable in the pocket.
Overall, while the ZT0350 is slightly heavier, its shorter length compared to the PM2 may be more appealing to some.
Without a doubt, the most important component of a good knife is its blade. Without a good blade, a quality pocket knife won’t be anything but a pocket butter knife, let alone a paperweight. Because of this, it’s incredibly important to analyze whether a knife’s blade fits one’s needs.
First off, blade quality. The Zero Tolerance 0350 utilizes S30V, S350V stainless steel for its blade, which is known for its balance of hardness, edge retention, and corrosion resistance. This steel performs wonderfully across diverse applications.
While the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 can also be found using CPM S30V, CPM S110V, CPM S45VN, CPM Cru-Wear steel, do be aware of the Cru-Wear steel variant, which incorporates higher quantities of vanadium.
Stain and Corrosion Resistance
Both blades, regardless of the variant, are made using stainless steel. S30V is a very good metal in terms of stain and corrosion resistance. S30V stainless steel makes use of decent quantities of chromium, which adds to its corrosion resistance.
However, the CPM S45VN, CPM Cru-Wear variant of the Paramilitary 2 has higher quantities of chromium and introduces 3% niobium, further increasing its resistance. Therefore, in this category, the Paramilitary 2 has a slight advantage with an additional option.
The Zero Tolerance 0350 sports a modified drop-point blade, which is great for slicing, chopping, carving, skinning, cutting, and opening different objects. The blade shape is re-curved and versatile, making it suitable for a variety of tasks.
In contrast, the Paramilitary 2 makes use of a leaf-shaped blade. The PM2 features a more pronounced point making it ideal for precision and push cutting tasks. The PM2 is excellent for work that requires detail, while the ZT0350 is more of a workhorse.
In terms of sharpness, both knives come incredibly sharp out of the box. However, the Paramilitary 2’s blade is thinner, which can give it the impression of being sharper. In comparison, the 0350’s blade is slightly thicker, which can make it safer to use for heavy-duty applications.
Because of its additional thickness, although only 0.13″ inches, the Zero Tolerance 0350 comes out slightly ahead in terms of blade strength. In addition, because of its drop-point design and shorter length, the ZT0350 has a higher tolerance for lateral forces and is designed for heavy use. The Spyderco PM2, with its thinner (0.14″) leaf-shaped blade, trades some of its strength for additional precision and sharpness.
Both blades are equally useful, although in different applications. The ZT0350’s drop point blade excels in general-purpose cutting, slicing, and chopping tasks, and its beefier build makes it great for heavier-duty tasks.
The PM2’s leaf-shaped blade and thinner profile make it exceptionally useful for tasks that require precision, detail, or piercing. It also lends itself to cutting through thick materials or substances.
The Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is much easier to sharpen than the ZT0350. The S30V steel that both blades use makes both knives’ blades relatively easy to sharpen, at least in regard to the metal itself. However, the shape of the ZT0350 makes it more difficult to sharpen.
My family owns several assisted sharpeners, including Tormeks, KME, and Work Sharps. The recurve shape of the ZT makes it more difficult to keep the edge angle constant and thus makes it somewhat harder to sharpen. It is even worse for those who freehand sharpen with traditional stones. Meanwhile, the streamlined shape of the PM2 makes it much easier to sharpen.
Blade Edge Retention
Finally, regarding blade edge retention, the Paramilitary 2 has a slight advantage due to its S110V, CPM S45VN, and CPM Cru-Wear variants. CPM steel excels in retaining its edge due to its higher vanadium content. This enables the blade to maintain sharpness for a longer period. The ZT0350’s CPM S30V steel is also good at holding an edge but doesn’t quite match the performance of CPM’s upgraded versions.
A good handle contributes a great deal towards the usability of a knife. Too short and it’s impossible to get a grip. Too long and it becomes unwieldy. For that reason alone, it is crucial to understand whether the handle fits one’s hand and is to one’s liking.
Both the Zero Tolerance 0350’s and Spyderco Paramilitary 2’s handles are composed of G-10 handle scales which are durable, lightweight, and provide an excellent grip, even when the handle is wet. G-10 is known for its strength and resilience.
However, the Paramilitary 2 also offers variants that use other materials, such as carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is not only lighter than G-10 but also has a more premium feel, although at a premium price.
For durability and strength, both knives have full metal liners.
Both handles attempt to convey a “tactical” feel and are coated black. While the ZT0350’s handle usually comes in black, the Paramilitary 2 also offers several other colors, including camouflage, brown, and other brighter colors, appealing to those who may desire a more personalized touch.
Handle Design and Size
The handle design of the ZT0350 is robust and practical. The handle features textured G-10 scales and a pronounced finger groove for a secure grip. The handle is also on the thicker side, making it more suitable for those with larger hands.
Conversely, The Spyderco PM2 features a longer, more streamlined handle. The handle is slimmer and more contoured, making it more comfortable for a wider range of hand sizes. The sizes of each handle accommodate different grip styles and hand sizes.
The ZT0350’s handle has aggressive texturing and a deep finger groove, ensuring a secure grip in any condition. Due to its ergonomic design, ZT0350 allows so many grip styles that are not available in PM2.
The PM2 also has textured G-10 scales but with a more subdued pattern. Its longer, less contoured grip makes it versatile but potentially less secure in certain conditions compared to the ZT0350.
Due to its length and simple design, which accommodates various hand sizes, the Paramilitary 2 takes the lead in comfort. While the Zero Tolerance 0350’s thicker, contoured handle may be comfortable for those with larger hands, its chunky build may not suit everyone.
Both handles are comfortable to use for long periods. However, the PM2, with its additional length and less aggressive contouring, offers a slightly more comfortable grip, particularly for those with smaller hands.
Opening and Locking Mechanism Comparison
When buying a pocket knife, it’s important to know that you can trust the knife’s opening mechanism and locking system to ensure there won’t be any accidental injuries. Both the Zero Tolerance 0350 and Spyderco Paramilitary 2 incorporate efficient opening and locking mechanisms, ensuring swift blade deployment and secure locking, which are crucial for safe and reliable performance.
The ZT0350 features a SpeedSafe-assisted opening mechanism, allowing for rapid and effortless single-hand blade deployment using either the thumb studs or flipper.
The Spyderco PM2 makes use of Spyderco’s signature “spydie hole” in the thicker portion of the blade, a signature of Spyderco. This allows for easy opening regardless of which hand is used. Although the PM2 lacks an assisted opening mechanism, one could argue that it allows for a more controlled opening of the knife.
For its locking mechanism, the ZT0350 employs a sturdy liner lock, which is admittedly simple and effective. On the other hand, the Paramilitary 2 makes use of Spyderco’s proprietary Compression Lock, which is reputable for its strength and ease of use.
Both locking mechanisms are solid and reliable. However, liner locks are more common than compression locks on most folding knives.
Hand – Left or Right?
Both knives are symmetrical, aside from their belt clips. Regardless of whether wielders are left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous, you will have no issue opening either of these knives. However, it is worth noting that due to the PM2’s manual opening, it may be difficult to open with the non-dominant hand.
Both knives are very smooth. The ZT0350’s assisted opening ensures a consistently smooth and fast deployment of the blade. The PM2’s manual opening is also smooth, but due to its manual nature, it also offers further control over speed and can be “broken in” to the wielder’s preference.
Both the ZT0350 and the PM2 are highly reliable. The 0350’s SpeedSafe mechanism is dependable, but the spring can wear over time. The PM2’s Compression Lock is often cited as one of the most reliable locks, combining strength with ease of use. Overall, both knives offer a satisfying operation experience and can conform to any wielder’s needs.
Pocket Clip Comparison
The ZT0350 features a Quad-Mount Clip, making the knife friendly to both left-handed and right-handed wielders. It also allows the wielder to rotate the clip to suit their preference between tip-up and tip-down carry. The clip is sturdy and secures the knife firmly inside the pocket.
Similarly, the PM2 also allows the user to adjust the clip’s position, suiting the wielder’s left hand, right hand, and carrying preferences. Both knives’ ambidextrous design and customization options make them both exceptionally user-friendly, catering to a wide range of users.
Both knives are high quality and come at a premium. At the current time of writing, price is largely irrelevant in making a choice between the two knives. On Amazon, the black S30V versions of both the ZT0350 and PM2 are $187 and $200, respectively.
When making a purchase in the 200-dollar range, a ten-dollar difference in the prices is insignificant. However, before making the purchase between the two, make sure to check what variant of the knife is, especially with the PM2.
ZT 0350 vs PM 2 – Which One Should You Choose and Why?
Based upon the above information, the choice between the Zero Tolerance 0350 and the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 is highly dependent on individual preference and its intended use. If you are seeking a robust, compact knife with an assisted opening and don’t mind a bit of extra weight, then the ZT0350 is an excellent choice. Its ruggedness and blade strength are great for demanding tasks where a simple cut is not enough.
Conversely, if you place more priority on ease of carry and lightness, the Spyderco PM2 is a more ideal candidate. If you are looking for a knife with more personality, with its variety of colors, the PM2 is a great option. Its compression lock makes it an excellent option if you are looking for a knife that will always stay secure.
For those with larger hands or a preference for a sturdier feel, the ZT0350 may be more appealing, while the PM2 might be favored by those seeking a slimmer knife. Both knives are excellent choices, and because there is only a marginal price difference, the choice should ultimately be made based on one’s own preferences.