Chinese knives have come a long way in the last few years. Many companies have gone from making cheap knockoffs to producing high quality, designer blades. One such group is WE Knives, makers of the gorgeous 706 you see here. Having little experience with the new Chinese products, I eagerly assented when they offered to send one my way. Here’s how it stacked up.
The 706 makes a strong first impression, due at least in part to its overall size. With a blade length of 4-inches and a handle spanning five, this 9-inch monster fills your entire hand. The handle itself is 0.58-inches thick, with a blade width of 0.16-inches at the apex of its flat grind. This beefy chunk of stonewashed D2 swings on ceramic ball bearings, concealing itself between steel liners and nicely textured G-10 handle scales. The aft portion is held together with a titanium back spacer above a reversible pocket clip, both finished in anodized blue titanium.
Yet despite its size, the 706 is one of the most ergonomic knives to pass through my collection. It’s really a two horse race between this WE and the Spyderco Native5. No matter how you hold it, the 706 contours perfectly to the hand. Even its pocket clip is an ergonomic delight. On a reverse grip, it nestles itself against my middle finger while providing purchase for my index. Very nice.
And speaking of the pocket clip, boy, does the 706 have a good one. This is my favorite pocket clip on any knife I’ve used, period. Its coloring and position blend perfectly with a pair of jeans, providing a deep ride and excellent camouflage. Unless someone is specifically eying your pockets, the blue of the clip disappears against the denim. This allowed me to carry this large knife in an office setting, without the worry that accompanies such behemoths as the Ontario RAT Model 1. That’s… that’s just incredible. Even the branding on the clip is excellent, with a carefully etched WE logo.
In fact, let’s touch briefly on WE’s design decisions on that front. Put simply, they’re all good. The WE logo on the presentation side of the pivot is gorgeous, and the blade is incredibly clean. There’s just one mark – a small “D2” printed on the reverse side of the flipper tab. The amount of restrain shown here is excellent. They’ve been clever enough to design a uniquely WE-branded knife without cluttering up the handle or blade. Gorgeous work.
4.5 stars out of 5
First and foremost, the flipping action on this knife is quite good. The large, heavy blade swings out with authority, producing a 20-30% bite on the liner lock; not quite as much as I’d like, but acceptable. The flipper tab appears to prefer a button-style press over a light switch flick, but the knife opens either way.
Once deployed, the 706 is a beastly tool. Its long, straight edge will make quick work of most heavy tasks, though the thickness of its blade hurts its ability as a precision slicer. While I’m not usually a fan of the tanto style, the added angle at the joining of its sharp edges is great for opening boxes. The thickness of the main tip should also stand up to moderate piercing tasks.
Let’s talk about the closing, which is my favorite aspect of the 706’s action. Once the lockbar is pushed out of the blade path, the blade drops shut with surprising smoothness. I’ve spent more time than I’d care to admit opening and closing this knife. The snap of deployment and the clink of its closure is a thing of beauty.
There are a couple bad things here. First, this knife can be shaken open. Not easily, mind you, but it is possible. The detent is strong enough to keep it from opening in your pocket, but a strong shake will send the blade arcing out. So, be advised. Second, the blade just isn’t suited for delicate cuts. Yes, the grip is excellent, but the sheer size of the knife will hinder you when it comes to surgical accuracy.
Finally, there’s a part of me that’s not sure how to use the 706. Is it a thick, hefty tool for rugged work? Or maybe a slick-ergo’d piece of man jewelry? Believe it or not, I’d opt for the former. And I’m not positive that the internal bearings and fine G-10 finish would hold up on the jobsite. But it’s one of the largest knives I can comfortably carry in my situation, so that counts for a lot.
4 stars out of 5
Here’s another way in which WE is putting itself ahead of its Far East brethren. Unlike some Chinese companies, they have a stateside team tasked with addressing warranty issues. How do I know this? Because I talked with them, and they were incredibly helpful. The warranty itself is good, and you can read about it here. It certainly adds confidence when considering a purchase.
That being said, owners of this particular knife should take care. While certainly tough enough for EDC use, D2 steel is known to be rather vulnerable to rust. You should be fine, so long as the blade gets a coating of mineral oil every now and then.
Of greater concern are the star-shaped screws. While WE does include a tool to help take the knife apart, the general consensus in the knife community is that these aren’t as strong as your average torx. We’ll talk a little more about that below but, for now, it does affect the score.
3.5 stars out of 5
I waited to look up this knife’s price until after I’d carried it for a couple days. So, what’s the cost of entry? As of now, $100 – certainly a pleasant surprise. I expected a much higher price tag on a knife with this much blade and such quality materials. Decent steel, G-10, solid flipping action, and excellent aesthetics and ergonomics? I’m sold.
But, hey, WE – You know how you could probably drive the cost down a little more? Lose the star-shaped screws. Think about it. You’ll have less warranty claims due to stripped fasteners and, even better, you won’t have to ship a specialized tool with every knife. It’s a win-win!
Screws aside, I’m going to give this a very good rating. It’s not perfect, but it’s a damn fine knife for the price.
4 stars out of 5
The 706 is an excellent introduction to WE Knives. In many ways, it’s been an eye-opening addition to my EDC lineup. Take its size, for instance. Before the 706, I didn’t believe it would be possible to carry a 9-inch knife into an office without earning a visit from HR. But with its deep ride and blue pocket clip, this WE model drew not so much as a second glance. Then there’s the blade. Though I’ve carried tantos in the past, I was never a fan of the style (and, to a large degree, I’m still not). But the lines of this particular tanto resonate with me. Lastly, there’s the action. Yes, I’m aware that there are better actions out there, but this is my first drop-shut capable knife. And lest you think I’m lacking in points of reference, a Zero Tolerance 0450 arrived the day after the 706. It too has a great action, so I’ve been able to make at least one comparison.
Would like to see better steel? Sure. At $100, I’d be much happier with something like S35VN. But D2 isn’t a bad steel, and there’s an awful lot of it here. And yeah, the star screws aren’t my favorite. But overall, I’ve had a great time with this knife. I’ll definitely be checking out WE’s future offerings. And who knows? After I return this 706, another may just find its way into my permanent collection.