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Today we’re reviewing the eagerly anticipated WE Knife 610 “Battleship”, complete with S35VN modified tanto blade, tapered titanium handle and oh so smooth ceramic ball bearing pivot action.
Key Specs: WE Knife 610
WE Knife Co. is not your ordinary new Chinese knife manufacturer. They did not pop-up overnight to try capitalizing on the recent success of other Chinese production knives either – Quite the opposite actually. WE Knife Co. is one of the oldest and most successful knife and tool companies in China. They have been around for well over 15 years, and have gained acclaim and respect within the Chinese community from which they have primarily sold product geographically. The point is, these guys know how to make mid to high end production knives, and have been refining and iterating on the process for years now.
So for the avoidance of doubt, WE Knife Co. is a company operating out of, and manufacturing from China. They are not a cheap knock-off brand, and they produce some of the highest quality knives that come out of the Pacific Rim altogether. Most importantly, they have been around in the USA for about a year, and from the look of it, they are going to be very successful, if the pieces we have are any indication of their median quality and design levels. So without further ado, let’s get to the meat of this review as we focus our sights directly on the WE Knife Co. model 610.
Some products take time to get used to. The WE Knife 610 was not one of those types of products for us. From the moment we looked at the model 610 we knew it was right in our wheelhouse. The all titanium (6AL4V) frame lock design, custom titanium pivot and screw hardware all looked great together.
Between the slight ornate visual elements such as the gold anodized hardware, the useful but decorative jimping on the scales, and the tumbled raw titanium handle scales, this knife looked really striking in an industrial way. I would not go so far as to call this steampunk, but if some more elements had been added, it might have been able to be part of that grouping as well… For us it is a good thing they kept it simple. The understated nature of the 610 makes it all the more appealing in our eyes.
We held the knife, focusing on the wedged shape that comes to a slight point at the rear of the knife. It felt substantial but not heavy. We really liked the look of the custom hardware; a really nice touch for a knife, but also one that with other knives had proven to be more of an inconvenience than a true advantage. But unlike some other brands (cough…Microtech), WE Knife Co. actually provided the tool that mated with the hardware to be able to service it. It is safe to say that from our initial impressions, we felt very eager to run this knife through everyday carry and perhaps some extra-special tasks as well.
Though we already mentioned that the knife felt substantial, we did not mention that it felt extremely well weighted. This knife is a bit heavier than 4 oz and because of the partially integral backs-spacer (also titanium) it manages to feel almost perfectly balanced, but with a slight weight favor to the rear… just the way we like it.
The knife has a flipper tab that is fairly pointed compared to some other knives, but is positioned right by the pivot screw allowing for excellent action. The first time we flipped the knife open we were immediately impressed. It opened with a smooth sweeping fly that would be considered medium speed. If felt very well to engage, and extremely reliable in terms of repetition. Close of the blade was equally as smooth. Like a guillotine, the knife closed with a slight downward motion of the wrist once the lock bar had been disengaged. The cut-out relief to get to the lock-bar was well thought out, and milled perfectly with just enough relief area to have extremely comfortable operation. The 610 is a very well executed frame-lock design.
The knife handle, with its smooth tumbled titanium scales felt comfortable, though the handle was not specifically contoured to fit the grooves of the hand. Rather, it was designed in a flat and straight manner, not unlike the Sebenza 21 in that regard. Personally, the straight style of a handle scale always seemed to be the most versatile to us, allowing for multiple types of grips without issue. The 610 was not different in this case, and standard as well as reverse grips felt very good.
Perhaps we skirted past the fact that the blade was perfectly centered. The lockup was also exactly as we would hope, at about 30 percent when engaged. As for the business end itself, this was a very straight style tanto blade that was extremely sharp to the touch. CPM S35VN steel has truly remarkable performance. The flats were machine satin ground, while the remainder of the blade appeared to have a tight stonewashed application. The tanto style blade was well executed and will certainly appeal to tanto-lovers.
As we held the knife and continued to look at it throughout the week we carried it as our primary EDC blade, we kept noticing a similarity between this WE Knife 610 and the Rike Knife 1507s that we have in our current carry rotation. Though the Rike is a kwaiken style with clip point blade folder, elements seemed similar. Due not misconstrue these words as attempted statement of implying copying of design. These knives are actually quite different. However, something about the style and feel in hand had a similar flavor to them. In our opinion, that is a very good thing. Perhaps we would give the edge to the WE Knife 610 it we truly had to be pinned down to one versus the other in a contest. I will hold off further comments until we get to the competitive offerings section of this review.
Real World Testing
For those new to our review format, we evaluate folding knives over the course of at least one week (generally), and in most cases two weeks. Over that length of time we get a feel for the knife, and carry it every day as either a primary or backup EDC pocket knife. We use it in normal everyday scenarios as well as try to put it through some stress-based testing when we feel so inspired. This knife received one full week pocket EDC carry time, and was used as the primary EDC carry during that duration. This time allows us to live with the knife and get a real idea of how practical, functional, and usable the knife is under real world, everyday conditions that any of us might face.
We carried the WE Knife 610 in the right pocket side of our jeans and slacks every day for 7 complete days. The first item worth discussing is the pocket clip. This 3D sculpted milled titanium clip looks and feels more like a pen clip than a standard pocket knife clip. It is extremely well executed in machining and design. More importantly, it functions pretty well. It required a two-handed entry into the pocket which is kind of a bummer. But the retention was firm and solid, and did not ever feel as though it was in danger of accidently falling out of the pocket. The clip also allowed for single hand removal of the knife in the tip up position. Sorry left-handed folks, seems like this is another example where lefties will want to either carry on the right side, or look for more compatible options as the clip is not swappable to the other side of the handle.
As for cutting tasks, throughout the week we put some real pressure on this knife. We had a chance to get some final preparations for winter performed while some warm weather persisted. It is safe to say we exhausted the medium sized tanto, and put it under semi-extreme conditions of use. Let’s talk on this for a while.
Ever cut a rubber tire and inner-tube with your pocket knife? Well, me neither… until recently. The very first task we put the 610 through was to pierce and cut into pieces an old set of bike tires we had around the garage taking up valuable floor space. We pierced the first tire with the blade tip allowing the tanto knife to really shine. From that point, we cut down and boy oh boy we cut that thing like it was soft cardboard. Resistance be damned, this knife just went right through.
Long sweeping cuts through the thick and tough rubber continued as we made our way around the entire circumference. Like that, we just cut apart an entire tire and inner-tube. Surprised and impressed, we took a glance at the blade and tip to see if any blade folding had occurred. The S35VN blade held up like a champ despite a bit of black looking rub smudges on the blade to show that it had been through a chore. We continued the cutting with 3 more tires and all performed as the first did.
Let me remind you all, that when we use folding knives for these types of tasks, we tend to use work gloves. It is one way we minimize cutting ourselves, and also a way to evaluate how a knife feels when wearing work gloves. With the gloves on, the 610 still felt really good. Throughout our testing, when gloves were worn, we did not experience any traction issues, and because the handle scale is straight we did not have any bunching of the gloves. However, we did find that after some serious cutting tasks with repetitive motion, two noticeable hot spots were apparent. One was near the inner-knuckle of the pointer finger, and the other by the side of the hand nearest to the pinky finger.
We cut what seemed like a mountains worth of rope with the WE 610. Using twine rope to secure outdoor furniture and also to tie down items in the garage has been something we have done for years. We cut about 20 feet of twine rope throughout the week we had this knife. Keep in mind, the knife was never sharpened from the point we started using it. By the time we got to about 17 feet the knife was definitely getting dull. This is over a period of time, and other general cutting tasks were also handled throughout this timeframe in addition to the rope cutting. So after about 5 days of use, we stropped the knife… not the easiest task to perform with a tanto (as we don’t want to round out the tip). The blade shined up and was ready to go as new.
We avoided any food prep with this knife, the shape just did not appeal to us as a kitchen user, though we are sure it could be done. Just be careful with that tanto tip. We did however use it for a different culinary task – Jack-O-Lantern cutting. Yup folks, we threw serrated blade-centric knives to the side, and let the tanto 610 go to work. We are so glad we did… the knife tip broke the pumpkin flesh with ease, and the tanto edge worked well to allow smooth cutting of the pumpkin eyes, ears, and mouth. Very impressive! We repeated this with 4 more pumpkins. The WE knife 610 was definitely up to the challenge. In fact, it worked better than the serrated knife we had used in the past that was designed for pumpkin cutting. And with that came to the end of our WE Knife carry.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.At around $285 dollars the WE 610 is certainly not an economy folder knife. Price-wise it fits in the general zone of most other WE offerings that tend to be within the $250-350 range. Let’s take a look at some other offerings that stack up against this knife:
Rike Knife 1507S – Another Chinese brand with quality-a-plenty. Though Rike Knife does not have the experience and pedigree of WE Knife just yet, they are both relative newcomers to the North American markets. As stated in this review, the Rike 1507s is a Kwaiken design clip-point blade that has a very nice design esthetic. Like the WE Knife, the standard 1507S comes with 3.75” S35VN stainless steel, and machined 6AL4V titanium handles totaling about 4.10 oz. Also like the WE 610, it employs a slight wedge shape tapering into the hand from front to back. Also similar are the milled slatted lines in the titanium at specific grip points to assist with traction. The Rike also retails for about $285, putting it squarely in line with the WE 610. For those with a penchant for Kwaiken designs, the Rike is a nice alternative; however we personally slightly favor the WE Knife 610.
Reate Wave – By now we all recognize Reate as a real player in the production knife game, and one that has become a danger to the established players. Like Reate, WE Knife Co. may start to be regarded in the same manner. The Wave from Reate is a mid-level production offering that is catered to those who prefer a slightly more fashion forward knife. With a 3.75 inch M390 blade, and manageable 3.76 oz weight, those oz. counters might find this one really appealing. Like the WE 610, the Wave is a solid flipper with a frame-lock design construction. The new style ball-bearing pocket clip (borrowed from Todd Begg) makes for a nice and usable EDC. At about $375, this is likely a bit more costly when compared to the 610, but can also act as a double duty item with real dress-carry charm for those who are into that sort of thing.
Zero Tolerance 0220 – How things have changed. Only about 2 or 3 years ago ZT was defending the position of selling overbuilt 200 and 300 dollar knives. As an American made product, the premium for some was well worth it. For others, they sought alternatives in lesser known Chinese brands, or lower level alternatives from American produced sources such as Spyderco or Benchmade. But in today’s landscape, it is the ZT 0220 at about 225 dollars that seems to be the bargain of the bunch when compared to Chinese manufactured and produced knives. For those looking to save a few bucks, or for those patriotic soles yearning to keep the flow of cash contained with the red, white and blue, the ZT is a nice option. At about 3.5 inches of blade length, this titanium frame lock flipper is a Jens Anso-ZT collaboration that utilizes ZT/Kershaw’s exclusive KVT ball-bearing system. Thought it lacks a milled 3D titanium pocket clip, it has a utilitarian style that that can either be loved by some, or disliked by others. Budget conscience buyers should consider this a reasonable alternative to the 610.
Simply put – we like it. We were certainly impressed by the level of quality and machining that we see from this knife. Same goes for design, as these design styles we are seeing from WE Knife Co. are very attractive, and in most cases rather unique yet versatile and usable.
At just under 300 dollars, WE Knife Co. has made a product that exemplifies exactly what makes production knives so appealing in today’s day and age. With quality levels as high as we have ever seen them, and subtle touches such as custom pivot screws, the WE Knife 610 is destined for success … but only if USA buyers are willing to take a gamble on a relatively new name in town.
WE Knife Co. has a formidable road ahead if them to fully break into the North American market. But with efforts such as what we see with the WE Knife Co. model 610, it seems completely plausible. I for one can’t wait to try out another model from WE Knife. That is for certain!
- Impressive quality, striking design, action is smooth
- Some uncomfortable hot spots after prolonged use, strong clip needed two hands