Review WE 903 Bishop, blue ano'ed version

Wave Man

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Here is my review of the WE Bishop, this review is long overdue as I have had this knife for several months. Why I waited so long to review this knife is because upon buying the knife I was disappointed in the flipping action (while it was OK it was sluggish and not on par with the best flippers I own) and so I asked WE, though True Talon if they would be able to fix the issue. Long story short is no WE was unable to strengthen the detent and so I have to live with it. I will admit I am a little disappointed in this result.

What the company says
WE Knives - 903 BISHOP - M390 Blade and Carbon Fiber & titanium handle.
The 903 BISHOP knife features sculptured carbon fiber inserts (both sides) with an anodized titanium handle. It's lightweight handle is paired with a stonewashed finished, 3.45 inch, Bohler M390 blade with a drop point style, flat ground blade. This is a perfect EDC sized carry knife. Check its weight - only 110 grams. It's very light to carry.
There are 3 versions of the knife - grey, blue, and bronze anodized finish.
Comes in a storage pouch with cleaning cloth.
Flipper, ball bearing assisted action. Lock Insert.

Stats
Knife Name: Bishop
Item #:903
Overall Length:7.9”(201mm)
Blade Length:3.45”(88mm)
Blade Thickness: 0.16”(4mm)
Blade Material: Bohler M390 Blade
Blade Hardness:HRC59-61 (LTK from YouTube has tested this model for HRC and the result was HRC 58.7)
Blade Grind:Flat
Handle Length: 4.45”(113mm)
Handle Overall Thickness:0.54”(13.7mm)
Handle Material: 6AL4V Titanium with Inlay Carbon Fiber
Clip Material: 6AL4V Titanium
Back Spacer Material: Carbon Fiber
Screws Material: 6AL4V Titanium
Pivot Cap: 6AL4V Titanium
Washers Material: Ceramic Ball Bearing
Weight: 110g / 3.88oz
Lock Type: Frame Lock
Designed By WE KNIFE TEAM

Pricing from True Talon is $360

WE 903 Bishop M390/titanium and carbon fiber bolster lock flipper
The Bishop was shipped to me in a box containing a propitiatory WE zippered plush lined case, with the knife encased in a plastic sleeve and microfiber cleaning cloth.


The knife features partial open design with a short carbon fiber backspacer (featuring jimping and lanyard hole) secured with three body screws (the body screws are titanium as they aren't magnetic, pivot and body screws screws, pocket screw, lockbar insert are T8 torx), contoured anodized stonewashed titanium and carbon fiber handle slabs (blue in my knifes case, Tony lists other options as well on his site) and stylized, keyed (?) pivot which is ano'ed black with silver edges and features WE's mark on it. The handle has not been internally milled as the CF inlets serve as all the weight reduction the knife needs (as it is quite light for its size). All edges on the knife's handle have been chamfered and the fit and finish on these knives is quite simply near perfect.
The lanyard hole works as it should and easy allows non gutted paracord through, and I added a snake knot and blue ano'ed WE proporitory ti bead to the knife.
The bolster has had a stonewash finish applied and then anodized, and I like this as this finish wears well and hides scratches and marks well. The pocket clip is also stonewashed.

The bolster lock has an integrated steel lockbar insert and over travel stop. Access to the lock has been aided by the top edge of the lockbar rising above the frame line, something I wish was done on all frame locks.
Lock up is around 30% (the full width of the lockbar insert), giving plenty of lock confidence.

The flipper tab has jimping and the knife functions as a light switch flipper. The flipping action is disappointing and a little sluggish and while this knife fires reasonably well I have found if you do not pay attention and perfectly execute the lightswitch action the knife will fail to deploy properly sometimes. I put this down to a softened detent strength.
WE has fallen into the trap of trying of have multiple deployment options and made the detent strength softer so you can use both the flipper tab and hole-in-the-blade deployment effectively, and thus compromised the detent. I will never use the hole-in-the-blade deployment and am very disappointed that they could not tune a knife for flipper action only. I wish they simply forgot about the hole-in-the-blade deployment (still have the hole there, it looks good and makes a handy thumb ramp) and went with a stiffer detent and made the Bishop a dedicated flipper. Other companies have shown you can still have stella flipping action and multiple deployment options (Maxace Corvus to name one)

The milled titanium pocket clip is set up for right or left hand carry, tip up carry, and the clip is secured with two screws screw. WE has basically perfected the milled ti pocket clip and is IMHO one of the best available presently,
The knife goes in and out of the pocket easily. It is reasonably deep carry and as the knife is close to the perfect size for EDC'ing it rides very well in pocket.
As I said previously the fit and finish on the knife is at WE's usual very high standard and the Bishop has nearly flawless fit and finish.

The blade is a drop point blade with a high flat grind (it does have a radized spine and bevels cut on the very top of the spine) that features a sharpening choil and tear drop shaped hole-in-the-blade. There is jimping on the thumb ramp. A very pleasing and practical heavy stonewash has been applied to the blade (and the bolsters and pocket clip). The blade is perfectly centered. There is zero blade play and no lock rock. There is absolutely no billboarding on the blade, and the M390 (blade steel) mark is miniscule and almost impossible to see without a magnifying glass (it is on the lock side down near the flipper tab just above the bolster)

The knife performed very well slicing cardboard, and proved to be a good slicer (despite its 4mm spine thickness the flat grind did its job and thinned out the behind-the-edge geometry). The Bishop fits my large hands well any I didn't find any hotspots during any of my cutting tests.

You will note I didn't mention keenness, the knife arrived from the factory shaving sharp. The cutting I did didn't seem to affect keenness all that much and it only took a few passes on the SharpMaker and a stropping to make it shave again after my cutting tests. I would also mention that the stonewash finish does very well at hiding wear and marks, even after my cutting tests there was little to no residue (from the sticky tape and cardboard) left on the blade and it only took a quick rinse in some water to remove what was there. This is one of the best finishes I have seen so far in this regard after testing dozens of knives.















 
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Wave Man

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Conclusion
I am of two minds with the Bishop, on the one hand WE made a very classy looking knife, using top of the line materials and executed near flawless fit and finish that is close to perfect in size and design for a EDC knife and then went and stuffed it by compromising the flipping action by softening the detent. If they stiffened the detent and made it flip like many of their other knives then I would say I had found the 'one', it truly is that good in all other regards, it is just let down miserably by the sluggish flipping action. They almost got it right.

Note on the HRC testing, I will also say I am also a bit disappointed in the HRC of 58.7 that one Bishop scored when tested by LTK (youtube) and wish WE would run their M390 at HRC62+ to realize its true potential. At 58.7 HRC you will realistically be only getting S35VN levels of performance in edge retention (and it would not be as tough as S35VN at that same HRC). M390 hits a sweet spot at HRC62+ and delivers its legendary edge retention and is capable of having this high HRC and remain ductile.

1-5 star system 1 star poor/fail 2 star below average 3 star average 4 above average 5 star excellent
Hands on/Ergos 4 stars (sluggish flipping action)
Materials/Features 5 stars
Build Quality/Fit and Finish 5 stars
Value/Price point 5 stars
Aesthetics 5 stars
Overall rating (average of all above) 4.8 stars


For full disclosure I would also add I have XXL hands, and that must play in to my review process, and the readers should keep that in mind when reading my reviews and recommendations.
Lastly I ONLY use folding knives for light cutting duties, so I will not do 'hard use' cutting tasks with any folder, that's what I have fixed blades for, so cutting tests consisted of cutting paper, cardboard, packaging, paracord, some food prep (again, not a task I use folders for for the most part) and other duties a stay-at-home-dad would use a cutting tool for around the house.
 
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barra650

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I like the term " Billboarding " that you used . I've often looked at cars over the years and the tacky look they have with all the " Billboarding " as you call it, on the rear of the vehicle . I don't really care if it has 16 or 32 valves with epp and awd and etc etc , Ha. Enjoyed your review of the Bishop . A good looking folder .
 

Wave Man

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Yiks $350.........
and to be honest mate about $50 better than every other manufacturer. $350 is a lot to spend on a pocket knife but in reality you get a REALLY good folder made of top of the line materials, in a near perfect EDC'able package that is about as good as it gets in folding knives, just wish they had made the flipping action spectacular.
 

Howling Dingo

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and to be honest mate about $50 better than every other manufacturer. $350 is a lot to spend on a pocket knife but in reality you get a REALLY good folder made of top of the line materials, in a near perfect EDC'able package that is about as good as it gets in folding knives, just wish they had made the flipping action spectacular.
Cool bit of kit I will stick to my Buck 110..
 

Randall

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Cool bit of kit I will stick to my Buck 110..
Through the 70's and eighties those 110's were copied by so many different manufacturers. I never knew of the original at the time. They are a definite landmark design in style and function. They've actually gone backwards in the steel used though, which is a pity - it used to be 440c now it's 420hc. It's great that they still make them. Actually, I just looked, you can get a custom one made in S30V; you can even choose a drop point. $132 au but then you have to add delivery; around $150 au? Oh, you can change the handle scales too, the elk looks awesome! I'd go nickel, elk horn, s30v drop point :) . But the price goes up again. I have one of dad's ancient cheap chinese copies in my drawer. It's terrible steel, but I sharpened it so that it is useful. Just coincidence - found a review on a similar 110 setup I'd like.
 
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Howling Dingo

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Through the 70's and eighties those 110's were copied by so many different manufacturers. I never knew of the original at the time. They are a definite landmark design in style and function. They've actually gone backwards in the steel used though, which is a pity - it used to be 440c now it's 420hc. It's great that they still make them. Actually, I just looked, you can get a custom one made in S30V; you can even choose a drop point. $132 au but then you have to add delivery; around $150 au? Oh, you can change the handle scales tone so, the elk looks awesome! I'd go nickel, elk horn, s30v drop point :) . But the price goes up again. I have one of dad's ancient cheap chinese copies in my drawer. It's terrible steel, but I sharpened it so that it is useful. Just coincidence - found a review on a similar 110 setup I'd like.
Going a bit of topic again (as you do) and hope wave man will not mind. I got mine because it a classic but would not mine a more up to date flipper knife as well..But yes really set the stage of a lot of later knifes and much copied.

I was thinking of making camel scales and rawhide sheath for my buck 110..Just call me Uncle Randy..

 

Wave Man

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the mention of steels is quite apt as a couple of the older, more established knife companies are lagging behind steel wise and have failed to keep up with the current super steels. Even s30v and s35vn are getting dated now (I am not running either steels down mind you, both are excellent steels within their own right and capabilities) as the newer super steels easily supersede them.
 

Howling Dingo

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the mention of steels is quite apt as a couple of the older, more established knife companies are lagging behind steel wise and have failed to keep up with the current super steels. Even s30v and s35vn are getting dated now (I am not running either steels down mind you, both are excellent steels within their own right and capabilities) as the newer super steels easily supersede them.
Fast moving market with a lot of big dollars being spent with collectors wanting "the new thing"...I can't really keep up with all that stuff myself. I am happy to have last year's hot knife at a big discount. But then again I eat my bananas with a Buck 110, cutting it into slices while leaning on a gum tree..

Keep up the videos Wayne they are helping me stay up to date. I would suggest a bit more editing with some shots of the knife being used. Maybe make the background a bit more interesting that just a chair.
 

Wave Man

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I have a cutting board now, and am using that as a background. Concerning use, my vids are more of an overview rather than a review, I like to keep them short and sweet, and I post proper reviews (with cutting info) on both here and ABF (and link ABF in my vids descriptions) Cutting demo's with a particular knife are a bit of a hit and miss as far as I am concerned, I have different parameters and things I prioritise and gauge cutting performance differently.
 
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