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Large Tactical Folder Deathmatch

I generally gravitate towards larger knives.  I have small hands for my size, but it’s all relative and a larger folder or fixed blade feels better in my hand than a smaller one. So, when I can legally do so, I usually opt to carry something at least 3.5″ in length.  For a while, my carry knife was a Zero Tolerance (ZT) 0300.  Then, for reasons passing understanding, I sold it.  I replaced it with a Benchmade Adamas. Then later, I found a great deal on another ZT 0300 series (this time a 0303). So now I have both, but I’m selling one of them.  How do these two very popular knives stack up against each other and which one did I opt to keep?  Read On.


The Zero Tolerance 0303 and Benchmade Adamas

The Zero Tolerance 0303 and Benchmade Adamas



I’m not going to lie – both of these folders are beasts and not for the faint of heart.  Here are the stats on the Adamas:

Designer: Shane Sibert
Mechanism: AXIS
Action: Manual-opening
Blade Steel: D2
Blade Length: 3.82″ (9.7 cm)
Open Length: 8.70″ (22.1 cm)
Closed Length: 4.88″ (12.4 cm)
Weight: 7.68 oz. (217.7 g)



And here are the stats on the ZT 0303:

Designer: Ken Onion and Mick Strider
Mechanism: Speedsafe
Action: Assisted-opening
Blade Steel: S30V 
Blade Length: 3.75″ (9.5 cm)
Open Length: 8.60″ (21.9 cm)
Closed Length: 5.10″ (13.0 cm)
Weight: 8.00 oz. (226.8 g)



Both are very close in terms of overall length but the Adamas weighs slightly less due to Benchmade’s wise decision to drill out it’s steel liners.

Despite the weight advantage, the Adamas feels larger and chunkier in the pocket due to the thickness of its G10 scales.



The 0303 is wider but it’s also thinner so I didn’t notice it my pocket nearly as much.  Advantage: 0303



The drop point blade of the Adamas makes it a better cutting tool and it’s easier to sharpen.  It’s harder to put an edge on D2 steel but it also holds an edge longer.  The 0303’s S30V came much sharper from the factory but both were razor-sharp once a proper edge was put on them.


The ZT’s tiger stripe Tungsten DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating held up better with normal EDC use.  I didn’t beat either of these blades up, but as you can see in the above picture, the blade on the Adamas was already showing minor signs of wear.  Advantage – Adamas



I’ve always been a huge fan of Zero Tolerance’s Speedsafe assisted opening mechanism. The ZT blade opens easily with one hand and deploys quickly.  The AXIS mechanism on the Benchmade is super smooth for a manual knife and it also deploys fairly quickly with a flick of the wrist.  But, both of these knives have thick stout blades and the 0303 benefits from the spring assisted help that the Speedsafe opening provides.  Advantage – 0303


Both blades feature thick stock that is very fixed blade-like.

Both blades feature thick stock that is very fixed blade-like.



Here’s how the Zero Tolerance 0303 carries in the pocket..



And here is how the Benchmade Adamas carries in the same pocket…



The Adamas pocket clip carries much deeper.  However, even after having Benchmade install a new clip, it lacked retention.  The reason is a small gap between the clip and the knife.  It just isn’t that tight.



The 0303’s pocket clip is the opposite.  It will shred your pockets over time if they are not reinforced.



Given the choice, I’d rather have my pocket shredded versus risk losing my knife.  I like how deep the Adamas carries, but it still has to be secure.  Advantage – 0303



There is about a $100 difference in the street values of these knives.  Both are available but the 0303 has been discontinued by Zero Tolerance so it commands a bit of a premium.  Advantage – Adamas 



I opted to keep the Zero Tolerance 0303.  It carries better, deploys faster, keeps an edge, and I love the look of the tiger-striped blade.  Both knives have rock solid lock up and are almost fixed blade-like in terms of their durability.  However, if I’m going to EDC a larger folder, the one that is more comfortable in my pocket is going to get used and for me that proved to be the difference.  

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4 Responses so far.

  1. Gnarly says:

    Held my breath that you’d pick the right knife….and you did.
    Merry Christmas.

  2. Jim Graham says:

    Wondering if the Adamas was the assisted version, would that have changed your mind, or was it simply the clip that put it over the top for you?

  3. Blaine B. says:

    Jim, technically the “assisted” version of the Adamas is an Auto (since it’s activated via a button). Unfortunately, not legal in my jurisdiction. Even if it were, the auto version is more expensive so that plus the clip would still make me favor the ZT.

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