WE Knives occupies an interesting space in the hobby. They’re generally attractive, well constructed, and moderately overpriced. Such were my thoughts upon receiving this new model, the 715 “Ignition.” It’s one of the few debuts clinging to their star-drive fasteners, a known enemy of disassemblers. So, can a $126 knife armed with nothing more than VG-10 ignite my passion? Spoiler: The answer is “Yes.”
As with all WE’s I’ve reviewed, this is a demonstration model sent to me as part of a pass-around. My time with it was a bit shorter than I’d like, but that’s the nature of this particular beast. It was an interesting stay, brief though it may have been.
I’ll be honest – I wasn’t exactly excited to receive this knife. I have several other blades on my review table, all of which were more interesting than the Ignition. Well, on paper at least. Opening the box and firing the flipper tab prompted a rapid shift in thinking. Here are the stats.
Overall Length: 7.875”
Blade Length: 3.375″
Blade Thickness: 0.12”
Handle Thickness: 0.48”
Weight: 3.14 oz.
The 715 is the smallest WE model I’ve handled. Its closest comparison would be the 704, which itself reminded me of the Zero Tolerance 0450. But where the 704 was bested by the ZT, the Ignition scores some rather surprising wins.
First and foremost are the ergonomics. While the 0450 fits acceptably into my medium/large hand, the Ignition feels like it was made for me. The index finger cutout and nicely jimped thumb ramp offer excellent purchase, and the texturing on its G-10 is marvelously subtle. The pocket clip is a beauty, and the lanyard hole is perfectly integrated into the design. Even the ridges on the backspacer are well done. They’re just grippy enough to provide traction on your palm while operating the flipper tab.
Like the 0450, the Ignition belongs to the family of titanium flipper framelocks. But while the ZT can feel cold and clammy under certain conditions, the WE’s stonewashed titanium has a warmer texture that I really appreciate.
Let’s talk about the thumb holes. At first glance, you’d expect them to function in the same way as those on a Spyderco. Nope. If you can perform a safe, single handed open without using the flipper tab, you’re a better person than I. What they do offer is an easy pinch point for two handed deployment.
There’s also the color combos. While this particular tester comes armed in orange and black stonewash, WE also offers blue and black models. These are available with clean blades, as well, if the two-tone finish is too art-house for your tastes.
Aesthetics aside, each Ignition features a drop point, hollow ground blade wrought in VG-10 steel. I’m a bit disappointed that WE chose not to go with D2 here. It’s less stainless, sure, the difference in edge retention is nothing to sneeze at. This is another win for the ZT, by the way – S35VN trumps VG-10 in pretty much every way.
There are other issues here, as well. For all its excellence in action, the flipper tab features some moderately aggressive jimping. It’s not enough to tear you up, but I’d probably give it a pass with a Sharpmaker stone if this were my knife. There are also those darned star-screws. They’ve been a point of contention on each WE I’ve reviewed, and I’m not about to change my tune. They’re the single biggest problem with the Ignition, resulting in a full -1 on the score. If they don’t bother you, then take my complaint with a grain of salt.
3.5 stars out of 5
The big question I have with most WE models is this – Has their priority on Form inherently limited the knife’s function? While models such as the Sea Monster fall into this art-piece trap, I have no such complaints with the Ignition.
Let’s start with the deployment. The ball bearing setup works wonderfully here, rocketing the rather light blade into place. The titanium lockbar emits a solid and somewhat unique snakt when dropping into place. It’s difficult to describe, but I’ll see if I can capture it in the video below.
Working with the Ignition is a straightforward affair. The blade came sharp, and its grind is just thin enough for standard slicing tasks. I wouldn’t want to spend all afternoon doing food prep with it, but it’s certainly capable of cutting through paper, cardboard, and cordage. The VG-10, while not the world’s most durable steel, takes a nice edge and offers better than average rust resistance.
Another surprise – This works fairly well as a small outdoors knife. My orange tester specifically seemed almost built for the woods, thanks to its high-viz scale and lightweight ride. I wouldn’t go batoning with it (or nearly any folding knife), but it served as a nice compliment to my primary fixed blade. Sure, the bearings will gunk up more readily than washers, but the fine tip and excellent ergos will make it worth the added maintenance.
4.5 stars out of 5
As mentioned in my WE 706 review, the company does have an American team covering warranty issues. You can read about the company coverage here, or contact them directly if you have any questions. It’s a solid backing plan, garnering no real complaints.
The deficiencies reflected in the score come from the knife itself. I’ll discuss my issue with VG-10 below, but my biggest concern is the star screws. While WE does include a disassembly tool, they’re generally difficult to work with. You can sharpen VG-10 with ease, even if it’s more often than you’d like. But strip out one of those screws, and you’re in for a hassle.
I still like this knife as a user, though. The titanium feels good, and the overall construction is solid. This is a stylish piece with a decent variety of color options. I’m giving this a decent down-the-road score, despite its somewhat needy personality.
4 stars out of 5
Okay. (Deep breath.)
Okay. This is a strange, strange knife when viewed from a value standpoint. It’s using VG-10 steel, which I’d be shocked to find on a $100 blade, let alone a $126 one. You’re also stuck with those damned star-screws, placing disassembly somewhere between bothersome and total pain in the neck. Or, y’know, other portions of your anatomy.
But here’s the thing – There’s a part of me that would still pony up for this knife. I like the shape, weight, action, and even the oddball thumbholes. Almost every aspect of the design speaks to me, especially skinny ride and satisfying deploy. The blue model is seriously calling my name.
But if you’re not into the form of this piece, there’s nothing on the functional side to warrant your purchase. It’s a nice knife, sure. But you can certainly do better for the money. If this were available in D2, the score would be significantly higher.
2.5 stars out of 5
Let’s close with a story, just to put things in perspective. When I was in college, there was a tiny, dingy delivery restaurant that opened each night at 5 PM. Their food was cheap, salty, and utterly devoid of nutritional content. But the bars back home close at 2 AM, and this place stayed open all the way until last call. Nothing, nothing was as tasty as a soggy burrito and cheese fries from this dorm room dive. They closed shop a few years back, but I still know the phone number by heart. And I may or may not call it every now and then, hoping against hope for a greasy voice on the other end of the line. I would, without exaggeration, pay $50 for just one more burger or burrito from this place.
In some ways, this is also how I feel about the Ignition. While I’m enamored with its look and feel, the not-so-premium materials and $100-plus price tag are enough to give me pause. At $80, it would be an almost perfect knife. As it stands, it’s kind of a guilty pleasure. My hand and heart say yes, but my brain secretly knows better.
I can say this – Of the five WE knives to come across my desk, this is the one I’m saddest to send on. I’ll be keeping an eye on the 715 over the next few months, on the off chance it goes on sale. If you’re into the styling and don’t mind the maintenance hassles, give the Ignition a look.
And if you know a place that delivers soggy burritos at two in the morning… Well, please let me know.