Making an integral folding knife is not easy. In case you are not familiar, an integral knife is one that has a single piece of material for the handle scale. No other screws are needed to make the handle stay together because it is all one single piece. The WE Knife 702 “The Integral” is yet another Chinese produced high quality integral folder that has made an effort to produce a production model at a relatively affordable price. What makes the WE Knife 702 a standout hit is the value when compared to ANY other integral knife we have ever seen.
Buy It: BladeHQ
We can happily tell you that the first integral design from WE Knife is both a beautiful and affordable flipper that in our opinion is the best deal in the market for an integral folder. If you have ever wanted an integral flipper folder, I would strongly suggest you buckle down and keep on reading… this may just be the knife you have been waiting for. Let’s get into some of the specifications…
- Blade Length: 3.9″
- Overall Length: 8.9″
- Closed Length: 5.0″
- Weight: 5.1 oz
- Blade Material: M390
- Handle Material: Titanium
- Locking Mechanism: Frame Lock
- Deployment Mechanism: Flipper
- Country of Origin: China
- Price Range: About $300
This knife is not done justice by looking at the numbers, except for the sub 300-dollar price tag stat. The MSRP is about 350 bucks. In fact, we got our model for 268 dollars so you can often find some great pricing on these models. It is one of those knives that really should be felt in hand and seen in person.
In truth, we ordered the WE Knife 702 “The Integral” as an impulse purchase. We had not necessary intended to review it. However, once we received it and opened her up, we could barely believe what we were looking at. The 702 Integral is absolutely stunning. It is like the Aston Martin of Integral knives. It is contoured everywhere and has a black finish on the entirety of the titanium handle. Accents include the classic WE pivot screw design in gold, and a 3D sculpted gold pocket clip. The color combination really works (our model was the 702B).
The shape of the knife is very nice indeed and is ergonomically wonderful in hand. It is also a lean looking knife design, and that makes the WE 702B stealthy in appearance. Added in the appearance is the partial line design cutout on the front handle that has 3 small holes for additional design aesthetic.
The blade also looks fantastic. It reminds us of how the Sebenza gets finished. It almost looks like unfinished titanium from a distance, yet the M390 clip point flat grind blade is perfectly satin finished.
The 702 is by no means a lightweight knife. It is about 5.13 ounces, but at a blade length of about 3.875″ we more than feel the slight weight gain from the integral design handle.
Feel in hand
Unlike some other Integral flippers, we find this knife to be excellent ergonomically. It has a mild milled line pattern that provides very thorough traction in the hand. It is a thin handle that is fully contoured but is relatively long so it will accommodate most sized hands. It feels extremely solid in hand. Additionally, the pocket clip sits rather close to the handle, and connected with a single customized screw.
The flipper tab is not very large. It works well and when deployed the knife flies right out. The ceramic ball bearings and pivot system are excellent. Overall it’s a very good flipper. The frame lock is also well executed. The long satin blade falls freely when the lock-bar is disengaged. It is also nice to note that the added steel lock bar insert assists in making sure that the lock-bar has absolutely no stick whatsoever.
We flipped this knife open, closed, and open again seemingly a thousand times since we received it. We love the feel of the knife in every way. The sound is also interesting in that it is very muted. After all those flips, the blade remains perfectly centered. The 702B also has this nice looking arrow style point at the end of the blade spine.
Overall, the feel of the knife is among our favorites of any production or custom knife. It’s that good, providing a solid feel and a heft that reassures.
Real world testing
The obvious initial thought about an integral folder is that it is more sturdy and hard use capable when compared to standard screw connected folding knives. This however is likely an incorrect assumption. Though the handle itself is certainly more rigid and will take much more abuse, as a single piece of titanium it is also harder to affix the elements the blade needs to stop and lockup as easily. We are specifically referring to the stop-pin. The so-called Achilles heel of any knife is its weakest point. We would argue that point is indeed the stop pin. Less room to work means that it is harder to get parts in or out of the handle.
Most integral designs handle these issues in different ways. In the case of the WE Knife 702B The Integral, they seem to have created space by drilling or boring out an area visible on the back side of the integral handle scale. You will notice additional gold accent anodizing extending toward the flipper tab of the knife. This area was used to add the stop pin the blade sits against when deployed. This one piece in fact is the only thing that keeps the knife from stopping and staying in place when the knife is opened and used with pressure upward against the blade.
WE Knife has approached this differently then we can recall with others. We personally think it does not detract from the look, but rather we wonder if it may ultimately affect the overall hard use potential of this knife. Generally, for reasons like this we personally do not consider integral knives any more hard use than other more standard 2-piece handle scale construction folder knives. With all that stated, we carried this knife for well over 2 months on and off as our primary carry when used. We did not consider this a hard user, and therefore only standard tests were performed. Such tests all proved that the WE Knife 702B The Integral can handle itself under most general EDC conditions.
Though no formal testing was performed, we cut lots of stuff with this knife. From cardboard to plastic, this knife could handle itself well. We will mention that as an EDC the pocket clip might be polarizing to some. It is a 3D sculpted clip that looks wonderful with a design line in the middle and three accent holes that make this look consistent with the front design of the handle scale. What can be annoying is the rigidity and stiffness of the titanium clip. It is a reasonably thick piece of titanium, and as a result it doesn’t benefit from conventional spring action. It can be a chore at first to get the knife in the pocket. Two hands are needed, but this is something that you get used to and becomes second nature over time.
Removal of the knife, a far more important task is much smoother, and with some minor resistance come loose from the pocket as one would expect. It stays nicely firm in the pocket as well, which is of course a very good thing. Sadly, like many higher end production knives, the WE Knife 702B The Integral is geared toward the right-handed folks. Lefties would certainly have some issues with this design, and pocket clip. This is far from unusual in the world of integral production folders. We can’t think of any production integral flipper that has a left hand option. Perhaps this will be rectified in the future.
As for cutting, we can recall cutting cardboard to process it, and our hand slipping slightly of the handle. Though the handle scale offers machined milled lines that can assist with traction as mentioned above, the reality is that the handle scale is still very slick. The spine of the handle is very smooth and flat. Visually nice, but users with a sweaty hand should put on gloves. We did just that, and we were off and rolling. The knife shape proved excellent in the cardboard and box cutting arena. The longer handle allowed our hands comfort with gloves on, and we quite enjoyed how quickly we were able to make work of the tasks at hand.
For EDC use, we can certainly say that the knife holds up. The M390 blade is awesome, and the finish makes it look like it is new almost always. Simply clean after use and it will look like it did out of the box. As for the edge holding capability, we have not sharpened this knife yet. It came almost razor sharp, and has kept a wicked nice edge. We assume the combination of blade steel and well performed heat treat had much to do with this. The Rockwell hardness is listed at about 59-60 RC. Pretty standard but somehow the blade itself feels a bit stiffer – perhaps it is the integral element. Either way, we like the feel and that is very important in practical usage.
When looking for a high-end production Integral design knife, a few come to mind immediately. The nice part about the WE Knife 702 The Integral is that at a sub 300 dollar street price point, you might actually tend to use and EDC it. Regardless, here are some other options you might want to put on your shopping list when cross-shopping.
Spyderco Nirvana (Amazon) – This integral designed folder based off of Peter Rassenti’s custom model by the same name flaunts a titanium integral design, as well as a 3.74 inch S90V blade steel. Come for the integral design, stay with the S90V super steel. This is a spydie hole opening system, and not a flipper, but has been well received by those willing to spend about 450 bucks for a Spyderco. Sadly, it’s been recently discontinued but still available on the secondary market.
Custom Knife Factory Tegral (BladeHQ) – The Tegral (reviewed here), produced by Custom Knife Factory (CKF) offers great value and unique design cues. The overall design was created by Anton Malyshev, and enjoyed a limited production run almost 2 years ago. This knife can be hard to find these days, and variants of this model with customized engraving work can tend to raise the price quite high. However, if you can find one, you will enjoy a 3.66 inch M390 blade that resembles something of a modified sheepsfoot. The light weight of this flipper knife at about 4.8 ounces relative to most other integrals, along with the unique design may entice.
Value is an important thing. Usually value and integral knives are not something that can be easily put into the same sentence. In the case of the WE Knife 702 The Integral, we can say that these words indeed must go together. Under 300 dollars can now buy a wonderful looking integral with M390 blade steel that flips very well.
Though we look forward to seeing what new and surprising products are around the corner, the WE Knife 702 in our opinion represents the best value for any high end production integral designed titanium handle knife to date. If this is a sign of things to come by WE Knives, we wait in anticipation of what they will release for an integral folder next.
The Good: Stunning looks, excellent ergonomically, tremendous value for money
The Bad: Clip is a little too stiff, no left handed option
Bottom Line: You’ll struggle to find a better integral folder at this price point
Buy It: BladeHQ