I’ll be honest – I have a thing for sword-like knives. It’s probably a consequence of playing so many video games as a kid. And apparently, the folks at WE Knives are wise to my weakness. They recently sent over one of their 704 models for review, a gorgeous blade featuring great materials. Here’s what I came up with over the course of its stay.
Before jumping into the review, there’s something I need to make clear – I’m not a fan of the star shaped screws. As I wrote in my WE 706 review, I think they add an unnecessary cost on both the production and purchase end of the company’s knives. That being said, I’m not going to ding them too much for it here. It’s fine as a stylistic choice and (spoilers!) I feel that this is a style-first knife. Plus, WE is planning to release some of their new models with torx screws. I do have one other quibble we’ll discuss below but, for the most part, I’m ok with the 704’s fasteners. On to the review.
The WE 704 is perhaps best described like this – It’s as if someone took the ZT 0450 (with its sharp lines and athletic build) and sent it to finishing school. Sure, it gained a little bit of girth through the hips, but it’s become a sharper, more refined knife in the process. We’re going to come back to the 0450 several times throughout this review. I mean, just look at the photo above. I think the comparison is warranted.
Let’s talk stats. The centerpiece here is the gorgeous trailing-point blade, composed of 3.5-inches of Bohler M390 steel. Its 0.16-inch width tapers down in a flat grind, flanked by an elegant flipper tab. The handle adds 4.625-inches to the package, resulting in an overall length of just over 8-inches.
I’ve mentioned how wide it is through the hips. The combination of its titanium back spacer, handle scales, and liner measure 0.58-inches across. This makes it a little odd in the hand, like I’m holding something that’s closer to round than flat. Still, the heft of all this titanium is fairly negligible, with an overall weight of just 3.46-ounces. Ceramic ball bearings provide the action, nestled between WE’s signature pivot logo on the presentation side and its star screws on the reverse.
As with the 706, the pocket clip here is spectacular. It pairs nicely with the knife’s diminutive height, allowing it to ride quite comfortably in the pocket. Its color matches the blade and liners, too. My particular tester came in green, but WE offers several other attractive colors.
Overall, this feels like a well-executed design. More on the grip later but, for now, it’s certainly a looker.
4.5 stars out of 5
Like its larger sibling, the 704’s blade swings effortlessly with a press of the flipper tab. It’s also fall-shut capable, with that same piece of metal providing a nice stop for your fingernail. I’m not sure how M390 stacks up against D2 in weight, but WE has produced a pretty good action considering how light this blade must be. As nice as it is, however, it lacks the satisfying metallic “click” of the ZT 0450. This won’t be important for some (and lockup is still excellent), but it’s something I noticed.
As a cutter, the 704 outperforms the 0450. Part of this comes from the full flat grind which, unlike the swedged and sabered blade on the ZT, passes through material with relative ease. It’s not as attractive, perhaps, but score one for WE on the utility front.
Speaking of utility, I have a couple qualms. As discussed in previous posts, I prefer my EDC knives to be capable of the occasional heavy-duty feat. Sadly, the 704 doesn’t strike me as a hard-use knife. Medium and light duty tasks posed no problem, however, and I’m generally pleased with its performance. The blade is fairly thick, so delicate slicing is something of a chore. But with its edge wrought in M390, you’ll have plenty of chances to make the perfect cut.
A note about grip – As mentioned above, this knife doesn’t fit my hand very well. This caused some discomfort during testing, due in part to the almost ovoid shape of the handle. The large forward finger choil helps, but I think this is probably where my anxiety comes from. If I can’t get a good grip with a medium task, it’s hard for me to trust it under more stressful circumstances. This may be more of an indictment of my hands than of the knife. And, like I said, this appears to be intended as a dress/fashion knife with high quality materials. On that front, it succeeds.
4 stars out of 5
Remember when I mentioned one remaining quibble with the star screws? Here it is: They make this knife difficult to take apart. Part of the issue is with the included tool. While I’m very grateful that WE provides the device, its small diameter and height are pretty unpleasant in the hand. I actually stopped my take-down process partway through due to difficulties with some of the screws. If this was my knife and not a tester from WE, I may have persisted. But as this isn’t really mine, I didn’t want to risk damaging it.
What this means is that this knife will be difficult to maintain. As it’s not a heavy-use tool, that’s not exactly prohibitive. It shouldn’t require cleaning all that often, unless you take it out of its intended element.
But what if you decide you do want to beat on it? In that case, you’ll still be in good shape. M390 steel is incredible, and the titanium chassis will take a beating. The fine tip may not last under strenuous work, but I have no doubt that the 704 will perform up to expectations.
4 stars out of 5
This knife generally retails for around $250, making it the most expensive blade I’ve tested. And while I’m a fan of several aspects of its design, I’m not quite sold on that price point. M390 and titanium are great, but the action and ergonomics suffer in comparison to the $160 ZT 0450.
Here’s the crux of this whole review – I don’t feel that the 704 is designed as an everyday cutting tool. Don’t get me wrong – It’s certainly made to be carried, and it will perform its basic function. But if we’re saying the ZT 0450 is more jewelry than tool, the WE 704 is even further down that particular rabbit hole. I’m trying to make these points without being too negative. This is a very nice knife, and I’m sure there are lots of folks who would be willing to pay $250 for its attractive design and coloring. But if I’m going to spend that kind of money on a knife, I expect it to be as good in the hand as it is in the pocket or display case. So, it’s not exactly my cup of tea in a functional sense.
Still, I can’t argue with the quality of its materials or construction. This is also one of the cheapest options if you’re interested in M390. So, if your usage situation is different and you like what you see, this could be a really nice option. My score for “Finance” is more of a personal choice, and your number could be much higher.
3 stars out of 5
This one was a bit of a struggle. I like so many aspects of the knife, including its materials and aesthetics. But over the course of its stay, I’ve come to realize that it’s not the knife for me. It doesn’t fit my hand particularly well, and it lacks some of the mechanical oomph I’ve found elsewhere.
Don’t let my personal qualms dissuade you, however. The fit and finish here are wonderful, and there’s no denying the quality of its steel. WE’s wide range of color options are really cool, and it’s excellent as a fashion/light duty blade. If you’re swooning over the photos, just buy the knife. While the 704 may not be the WE for me, it could definitely be the WE for you.
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