Being a knife maker is no easy business. And being a knife maker who has more demand than supply is even tougher. Fortunately for one-man-shop makers like Ray Laconico, many large scale knife companies offer their production services for designs created by knife makers. And WE Knife Company is one of the most common collaborating companies around. They make high end knives of their own design, but offer their manufacturing services to guys like Laconico, to bring us knives like the We Evoke. It’s an affordable way for makers and designers to keep their name relevant among the masses, while they work on making their own knives when the time allows. The WE Knife Evoke uses a standard titanium frame lock, 20CV blade steel recipe, but has a few fun tricks up its sleeve to differentiate itself from the absolutely massive catalog of knives they make.
Key Specs: WE Knife Evoke
The Evoke has a great, simple blade, that’s got some style to it. With a 3.5” blade length, hollow ground, CPM-20CV steel composition, swedge, dual thumb studs, and blackwash finish, this simple looking blade sure has a lot of describing features to it. And with a 1” blade width and a .13” thick blade stock, its well within parameters of an EDC blade’s goldilocks zone. Not to mention, WE Knives puts a great edge on their blades right out of the box. Dual thumb studs that match the bronzed titanium handle scales on the blade offer deployment from either side of the blade, and a front flipper that allows for a fun third option for opening the Evoke.
Jimping along the spine is finely cut, but chamfered in a way that gives purchase to your thumb when you need it, but doesn’t tear up the pocket. The blackwash finish leaves the blade smooth to prevent it from binding in cutting mediums. And WE gave the credit to Ray Laconico by laser etching “R. Laconico” on the blade, and none of their own naming spelled out on the blade. There’s also a hilariously small text that reads “CPM 20CV” on the blade right near the top of the handle, just in case you happen to be looking at your knife with a magnifying glass.
Deployment / Lockup
Knives are tools, not toys, right? Well yes, mostly. But knives have become pocket jewelry and many shoppers and users are always looking for the “fidget factor” in their next pocket knife purchase. And for those users, the Evoke is a great choice. The thumb studs are rounded, stepped, chamfered, comfortable, and stick away just far enough from the blade that they’re easy to get purchase on when you want to, but not cause discomfort or getting caught on pockets when pulling it out for use. The studs are great for the middle finger reverse flick, too. This also makes the knife easy to open with either hand, but alas, this is not an ambidextrous knife when it comes to unlocking or carry. The front flipper works incredibly well, too, and makes this knife really fun to snap open and closed while sitting on hold on a phone call, or kicking back on the couch.
With caged ceramic bearings, a great detent, and multiple deployment methods, the Evoke has a great action. The detent ball and blade hole match up perfectly, and allow for great blade retention while closed, and a quick, swift action to open. Lockup is honestly just perfect. No blade movement or play in any direction, even when really giving it a good push to test it out. Although this is easier with bearings than it is with washers from a manufacturing perspective, but We does an incredibly good job with their tolerances.
Unlocking the blade is just as comfortable as opening it, with enough room on the show scale to reach the lock bar, and great chamfering around the lock bar cutout. Once the frame lock is pushed over past the blade and detent ball, the blade will fall shut on the thumbnail, at least until the lock bar is released. Maybe not a true drop shut knife like a Holt Specter, but plenty free-falling for fidgety goodness right out of the box.
Features, Fit and Finish
As we’ve alluded to in previous segments of this review, the Evoke has incredible fit and finish. All the body screw heads sit flush with the scales, the pocket clip is angled just enough to sit perfectly half way between the lock bar and frame, the backspacer is flush along the scales, all the bronzed stonewashed titanium on the handle scales are smooth and chamfered around the edges, and the tolerances are nearly perfect. The pocket clip is narrow, and to mitigate side to side movement and to aid with strength, the titanium clip is drilled with 2 holes for screws, rather than the single screw that many other folders use.
The frame lock relief cut is on the outside of the lock bar, and has a 3-line cutout, for some added style rather than just one big cutout. The lock bar has a steel insert, screwed in from the outside of the lock bar, with a tab that faces the back of the blade to double as a overtravel stop. This is used on tons of folders, but some manufacturers still skip this simple step. The steel insert also allows for the blade and lock bar to wear evenly, instead of raw titanium that would wear out well before the blade tang.
Although WE Knives keeps their name off the blade most of the time, they don’t forget to put their logo on the pivot in a way that shows consistency in their production. The back side of the pivot has a collar around the screw, to give a slightly more elegant look to the bronzed hardware. The pivot collar, screws, and thumb studs all match the bronzed finish perfectly, which also compliments the bronzed stonewashed titanium handle scales. An added benefit to this type of finish is that it hides wear and common surface scratches really well, too. The Evoke uses a traditional blade stop, that’s mounted inside the handle scales, along the back of the handle. I personally like this type of blade stop style over the internal types, but again, just personal preference.
What good is a knife if it isn’t used? Well, arguably the Evoke could be a fidget toy that opens letters in the mail (probably 90% of the extent that most users will go to), but is it capable enough to handle some slightly heavier EDC tasks? The short answer is, yes. It’s great for that, too. After checking the out-of-the-box sharpness (RIP my arm hair), I like to check blade geometry and edge sharpness on an apple. The DLC finish on many folders causes a lot of binding in cutting things like apples, but the blackwash finish on the Evoke is quite different. It’s more of a stonewashed DLC that retains a level of slickness that prevents it from binding in the cut. The hollow grin along with a relatively thin blade stock, and a great factory edge, this knife only gets beat out in apple cutting by the likes of a Spydiechef or a true kitchen knife. The Evoke cuts well, doesn’t split the apple slices, and glides through the food with ease. Cutting cheese was decent, again not quite a kitchen knife level performance, but it does well enough if you’re one of us crazy knife nuts who use their pocket knives for everything imaginable.
One disadvantage to a polished edge in my experience, is cutting material like rope. My old 100’ sisal strand of rope is just about gone at this point from all my knife testing, but I had enough around to test out the Evoke on the work bench. It’ll cut the rope, but requires quite a bit of force and some back and forth movement to get the blade to cut all the way through. Some knives (like most Spyderco’s and Benchmade’s) have a much more toothy edge out of the box, and cut material like rope with a lot more aggression and bite. Grabbing a couple Amazon boxes from the corner of the garage, I let the Evoke put in a little time with cardboard mutilation. And it was great. The simple handle design, along with the flush screws and pivot, allow for a neutral grip to be used in just about any fashion.
I tend to grab the lock bar cutout with my index finger, and wrap my thumb over the pivot on the show side, to make most standard easy cuts. This grip worked great for me in breaking down the cardboard, and again, with very little resistance in long cuts due to the blade finish and geometry. The polished edge doesn’t seem to matter much in this type of cut, so I didn’t have any qualms in cutting these dirty brown squares down to 4×4” squares.
Carrying the Evoke is quite pleasant, too. The pocket clip design is well thought out, with a smooth ramp to allow it to pass over pocket seams, and just enough tension to keep it in place. The smooth titanium scales also allow it to glide in and out of the pocket without much resistance, and also without shredding the pocket material, as many folders can do. At 3.75 ounces, the Evoke is no Bugout lightweight, but for a titanium frame lock, it’s quite light for the sum of its parts. Once the knife is out of the pocket and in the hand, as we discussed in the deployment segment, it’s pleasant to open, use, close, and put away with one hand, and without much fuss. Cutting common EDC items like blister packaging, loose strings of clothing, and plenty of tape on packaging, the Evoke takes care of business and doesn’t look too menacing for most low-key settings.
All these knives available at BladeHQ.Spyderco is a company that has hundreds of models in many shapes and sizes. But to pull one knife from their lineup that compares well to the Evoke, the Smock is a great competitor. With a top flipper rather than a front flipper, the Smock has the fidget factor to compare to the Evoke. The Smock has a slightly shorter blade, at just 3.3” rather than the 3.75” on the Evoke, but they’re close enough to compare as an alternative. The Smock (designed by Kevin Smock of Smock Knives) uses CPM S30V blade steel, which is still plenty good for today’s standards, has a hollow grind, and a button lock that gives a frame lock a run for it’s money in terms of fidget-ability. The Smock also uses a carbon fiber overlay on top of G10 for it’s handle scales, and a thumb hole for a second method of deployment. The Smock is also within a $7 price difference of the Evoke ($219 for our bronze Evoke compared to $212 of the Smock), which makes it a true runner up in comparison.
Kizer is another Chinese manufacturer with tons of variety in their lineup, but pulling one that was designed by Justin Lundquist, the Feist is a good competitor to the Evoke. The Feist is a bit smaller and more affordable than the Evoke, with a 2.8” blade and a ~$165 price tag, and has a spear point blade rather than a more standard drop point. But, it’s a front flipper with dual studs, made by Kizer, designed by an American knife maker, with a stonewashed titanium frame lock, with a pocket clip and overall design that flows from Kizer to WE quite seamlessly.
Is the Evoke just another titanium frame lock dual studded front flipper with fidget factor and quality materials? Well, I guess it is. But it’s well done by a company with great tolerances, high end materials, designed by a respectable name in custom knives, with great fit and finish, along with satisfactory usability.
The bronzed finish gives it a touch of class, and allows it to stand out a little amongst the vast sea of frame lock flippers available today. The Evoke works well, is reliable, and looks good while doing it.