At present, cobalt is the most commonly used binder material in tungsten carbide based hardmetals. Current research on sliding wear performance of these cemented carbides, however, reveals promising results for nickel binder as well. Test samples of WC-Co and WC-Ni hardmetals have been machined and surface finished by wire-EDM and grinding. From comparative dry sliding pin-on-plate experiments on wire-EDM’ed, ground and polished grades, correlations are derived between wear volume loss and friction on the one hand and contact pressure, sliding distance, binder phase and microstructure on the other hand. The lowest wear levels are encountered with polished cemented carbides. The EDM induced surface modification turns out to deteriorate wear resistance, especially during the running-in stage of sliding. These findings are in agreement with Xray diffraction measurements of the residual stress level in the WC phase.