Steel type overview for kitchen knives

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This is a list of the most popular steel types for kitchen knives. I have not tried all steel types but the majority has been tested, used, and resharpened with a whetstone by myself. Everything that I have personally used and resharpened with a whetstone will be marked with an ”*”. The ratings of the knives that I have personally used is based on my opinion and testing. Every Sharpness rating after the steel types with an “*” marked is based on the sharpness after resharpening it with a whetstone. It is not a sharpness rating out of the box. The HRC is based on success rates by the manufacturer/ blacksmith. This means that for some steel-type they can reach a higher HRC but they don’t sell them anymore because of the failure rate (which would have increased the blade price).

Steel TypeRockwell (HRC)SharpnessEasy To SharpenEdge RetentionDurabilityRust Resistance
VG10*60-613/53/5 3/5 3/5High
VG-MAX*613/53/5 3/5 3/5High
VG1*60-613/53/5 3/5 3/5Medium
R2/SG2*63-644/53/5 4/5 3/5High
AUS10*60-613/54/5 3/5 3.5/5High
AUS8*58-592/54/5 2/5 4/5High
X50CrMoV15 (German Steel)*57-582/54/5 2/5 4/5High
Cromova 18
High Carbon
Shirogami White #1*63-65+5/54/53/51/5Very Low
Shirogami White #2*62-634/54/55/51/5Very Low
Aogami Blue #1654/54/54/52/5Very Low
Aogami Blue #2*63-654/54/55/52/5Low
Aogami Blue Super*63-644/54/55/53/5Low
Wusthof* (X50CrMoV15)583/53/52/54/5High
Global Sai* (Cromova 18)58-593/52/52/54/5High
Zwilling Pro S* (Friodur ice-hardened steel)573/53/52/54/5High
Victorinox* (Stainless Steel)563/53/51/55/5High
Miyabi MC63* (Rebranded R2/SG2)634/53/54/53/5High

*Based on personal experience after resharpening it with a whetstone.


Stainless steel is exactly as the word says it is. It ”stains” ”less”, great rust resistance, and can be exposed to water for a long period of time. Some stainless steel can be put in the dishwasher without rusting, however, this is inadvisable since it is not good for the steel and the edge. Long exposure to a salty water bath will rust no matter how good the stainless properties are.

List of popular stainless steel types:

  • VG10
  • VG-Max
  • AUS10
  • AUS8
  • VG1
  • R2/SG2
  • MC63 (Miyabi)
  • Cromova18 (Global)
  • X50CrMoV15 (Wusthof)
  • Friodur (Zwilling)

Japanese Stainless Steel

When it comes to Japanese steel and knives most people are afraid of the brittleness of the knives. They don’t want to chip or break the knife and usually don’t know how to sharpen the knives. Unlike the High Carbon, Japanese made knives those stainless steel types from Japan are very suitable for the domestic cook. Most domestic cook can now buy a precut boneless chicken thigh or other kinds of meat. They don’t have to debone anymore and therefore the Japanese stainless steel is a great knife for them. Unlike the Japnese high carbon, the knife stains less and is less brittle than a high carbon knife. As long as you follow the following guideline then you should be good, don’t twist the blade to break food open, don’t go through frozen food, cheese, hard bread, and bones. You will benefit from a noticeable longer edge retention and better sharpness.

List of Japanese stainless steel:

  • VG10
  • VG-Max
  • AUS10
  • AUS8
  • VG1
  • R2/SG2
  • MC63 (Miyabi)

Japanese High Carbon steel

The high carbon steel is recommended for people that know the ins and out’s of the steel-type. So ideally a knife enthusiast/nerd since they know what they can and can’t do with those knives. But with the western customers flocking to the Japnese knives they are starting to make high carbon knives catered to the western market and not only the Japanese professional cooks. If you know how to sharpen your knives with a whetstone then you are ready for a new adventure. The Japanese high carbon steel needs more attention and can’t be exposed to water since it will rust. For most busy home cooks with kids, this steel is not recommended.

Note: I’m not a knife seller but I do find it important to advise people that are looking for a Japanese knife, therefore, I will be honest and advice people that don’t know much about the Japanese steel-types but want a Japanese knife to go for the stainless steel options instead of high carbon. It is just an advice and only you can decide if you can handle it or not.

If you have some questions or want some help use the comment section below this page or visit my YouTube channel.

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