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Dalstrong vs. Shun Kitchen Knives: 11 Key Differences

Are you in the market for new kitchen knives but can’t decide between Dalstrong and Shun?

Both brands make ultra-sharp and elegant knives, but which are better?

In this comparison of Dalstrong vs. Shun, you’ll learn how their knives stack up in terms of construction, materials, design, performance, price, and more.

So, if you want to know the key differences between Dalstrong and Shun kitchen knives, keep reading.

Use the links below to navigate the comparison:

Dalstrong vs. Shun: Comparison Chart

Before diving into the details, this comparison chart gives you a quick overview of Shun vs. Dalstrong. 

Where It’s MadeSeki City, JapanYangjiang, China
Blade MaterialSG2, VG10, VG-MAXGerman or Japanese steel (varies by collection)
Handle MaterialPakkaWood, Tagayasan wood, PP/TPEWood, synthetic, or steel (varies by collection)
DesignTraditional JapaneseModern and bold with Japanese and German influences
Weight of 8-inch chef’s knife (average)7 ounces7 ounces
Edge Angle Total32-degree angle16 to 24 degrees (Japanese knives), 32 to 36-degree (German knives)
Blade Hardness60 to 62 Rockwell55 to 63 Rockwell
Knife Collections811
WarrantyLimited Lifetime and Lifetime Free Sharpening100% Satisfaction Guarantee
Price$$$$ (view on Amazon)$$ to $$$ (view on Amazon)

Difference 1: Design

If you look at any of Dalstrong’s collections, the first thing you’ll notice is the brand’s bold, flashy designs and eccentric names.

Each collection features different materials and designs depending on its intended specialty.

A side-by-side comparison of Dalstrong’s Phantom and Shogun collections gives you a good idea of how varied these series can be.

Dalstrong kitchen knives review
Shogun (top), Phantom (bottom)

The Phantom collection has a sleek PakkaWood handle, smooth blade finish, and prominently curved bolster.

Dalstrong Phantom Series Chefs Knife
Dalstrong Phantom Series Chefs Knife

In contrast, the Shogun collection has a riveted composite handle with a stunning tsuchime blade finish.

Dalstrong Shogun Series Chefs Knife
Dalstrong Shogun Series Chefs Knife

Shun, by contrast, features more traditional Japanese-style designs. These knives are sophisticated and distinct but never overbearing.

The design of the Kanso collection is based on the “Zen” philosophy. It focuses on simplicity, ease of use, maneuverability, and uncluttered functionality.

The handles are made of tagayasan (or wenge), a durable natural wood that gives these knives a rustic look.

Shun Cutlery Kanso 8-Inch Stainless Steel, All Purpose, Durable, Essential, Handcrafted Japanese Gyuto Style Chef’s Knife; Scratch Resistant Heritage Finish for Kitchen Food Preparation Tasks at Home

Other collections are broad and versatile, with elegant designs that suit various tastes.

Shun Classic Chefs Knife
Shun Classic

Classic, Shun’s best-selling collection, features D-shaped PakkaWood handles.

Shun Classic PakkaWood handle
Shun Classic PakkaWood handle

The Damascus-clad blades feature a wavy pattern that adds elegance and prevents food from sticking.

Damascus pattern on Shun kitchen knife blade
Damascus pattern on Shun kitchen knife blade

Although the design is simple, it’s functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Premier is one of Shun’s most elegant collections. The blades feature a gorgeous hammered tsuchime finish with Damascus cladding near the edge.

Shun Cutlery Premier 8” Chef’s Knife; Lightweight, Agile, Extremely Comfortable Grip, Perfect for Slicing, Dicing and Chopping a Full Range of Foods, Beautiful and Versatile, Handcrafted in Japan

The walnut PakkaWood handles have subtle graining finished by a gold ring around the butt end.

Read my comparison of Shun Classic vs. Premier to learn more about these two popular collections.

Difference 2: Company History

When it comes to knifemaking, Shun has quite a legacy behind it. The brand’s parent company, Kai Corporation, has been making Japanese-style knives for over 100 years.

Shun continues to make their knives in the same city where its parent brand was founded – the legendary “knifemaking capital” of Seki City, Japan.

Dalstrong is a much younger company. The brand was created in 2014 by artistically-minded founder and current CEO Dave Dallaire.

The company began making specialized, aesthetically pleasing knives as an expression of Dallaire’s experiences.

The company continues to experiment broadly. Today, it offers an array of knife collections with unique and bold designs spanning Japanese and German styles.

Difference 3: Where It Is Made

Dalstrong manufactures its knives in Yangjiang, China, which prides itself on being “The Capital of Knives and Scissors.” In fact, this region accounts for 70% of China’s knife and scissors production.

Shun crafts its knives in historic Seki City, Japan. Seki craftsmen and artisans have been forging blades for seven centuries, and many of the techniques and styles date back to the pre-Meiji period of Japanese history.

Both locations add impressive credentials to Shun and Dalstrong, though Seki City’s knifemaking history is much older than Yangjiang.

Additionally, Japan is a global hub of premium cutlery production (along with Germany), while China is better known for low-cost manufacturing.

Difference 4: Collections

Shun currently offers eight knife collections, and here’s a quick overview of each. You can learn more about these collections on Amazon or in this guide to the best Shun knives.

  • Classic: This is Shun’s most extensive collection, with 33 different product options.
  • Classic Blonde: Identical to the Shun Classic collection, the Classic Blonde series features the same construction but with a lighter-colored wood handle.
  • Dual Core: This collection is named for the two kinds of steel (VG10 & VG2) used to make the blades.
  • Premier: This is one of Shun’s most attractive (and expensive) collections featuring blades with a hammered finish and walnut PakkaWood handles.
  • Premier Grey: This is the same collection as the Premier, but with grey handles instead of dark brown ones.
  • Kanso: The Kanso series is a Zen-themed collection featuring simple designs and clean, sophisticated lines.
  • Sora: This is a lower-cost collection that uses composite technology to craft reliable and affordable steel blades.
  • Seki Magoroku: Named for a legendary sword that originated in Seki City, this collection is bright, elegant, and versatile despite its limited product options.

Dalstrong comes out ahead as far as the number of collections, with eleven options in its lineup. Below is a summary of each collection. Learn more about these options on Amazon.

  • Shogun: With a traditional tsuchime finish, this Japanese-style collection is simple, elegant, and effective.
  • Gladiator: Maneuverable and comfortable to use, the Gladiator collection is designed for versatility.
  • Shadow Black: As the name indicates, this all-black knife series is crafted to look as intimidating as its keen blades, and it features a sleek, modern design.
  • Phantom: This collection is ultra-lightweight and perfectly balanced, providing a blade that “feels like a ghostly extension of your body.”
  • Crusader: With a decidedly sleek look and a unique hollow-handled design, the Crusader collection is highly stylized and surprisingly durable despite the handles’ thin frame.
  • Omega: This collection is military-themed with outdoor sports-relevant features, such as a military-grade handle and an American steel blade.
  • Frost Fire: The Frost Fire collection sports honeycomb-patterned handles and mixed cobalt blades.
  • Quantum 1: Built for durability, the Quantum 1 collection has a futuristic design perfect for the minimalist chef.
  • Ronin: The Ronin series features a traditional Japanese look, and each blade features a unique “liquid-kusari” pattern and an octagon-shaped handle.
  • Valhalla: Named for the fabled halls of Viking history, this dramatic collection features an eye-catching handle design and a clean, sand-blasted blade.
  • Delta Wolf: As an ode to the Special Ops force of the same name, the Delta Wolf collection is all-black and dramatic in appearance, and, as a bonus, part of the profit from this series supports the Wounded Warriors Project.

Between Shun and Dalstrong, consumers have an array of choices. Ultimately, the right one for you comes down to your aesthetic and design preferences.

Difference 5: Construction

Both Dalstrong and Shun offer only forged blades, which boast superior quality and durability than stamped blades.

But while Shun only makes Japanese-style blades, Dalstrong manufactures both German and Japanese-style blades.

Dalstrong’s Gladiator Series features German-style blades made from high-carbon ThyssenKrupp German steel. The other collections include Japanese materials and designs.

Japanese knives are generally extremely sharp and lightweight, thanks to Japan’s culinary culture and preference for thinly-sliced ingredients such as sashimi and crisp vegetables.

German knives, by contrast, are denser and bulkier — that can be credited to the Germans’ preference of eating plenty of meat and dense, heavy foods like cabbage and potatoes.

Additionally, Japanese knives often feature extensive layering of the blade’s steel and a San Mai edge. “San Mai” refers to a forging technique whereby the knife’s stainless steel blade is “jacketed” within layers of iron or steel on the sides.

You can learn more about the differences between Japanese and German knives in my in-depth comparison article.

The key point is that Shun knives stay true to Japanese traditions in terms of materials and construction, while Dalstrong offers Japanese and German-style knives.

Difference 6: Blade Material

Shun and Dalstrong use different types of steel to forge their blades, and the specific variety can impact the performance.

Shun makes its knives from several high-quality steel varieties, including:

  • VG10/VG2: This is the dual core steel variety used by Shun. It seamlessly combines the fine-grained, high carbon qualities of VG2 steel with the toughness of VG10.
  • VG-MAX: An erosion-resistant proprietary steel blend that brings together high carbon and chromium content with the fine, easily-sharpened grain provided by the addition of tungsten.
  • VG10: A “complicated” steel blend designed to be corrosion- and wear-resistant over time with vanadium added to achieve the best texture and the optimal grain for blade sharpness.
  • AUS10A: This is reliable Japanese steel with a reputation for durability and consistent, superior grain.
  • AUS8A: Another durable Japanese steel ideal for use in heavier blades such as cleavers.

All of these steels are premium varieties and engineered for knifemaking. The result is an array of resilient, high-quality blades.

Dalstrong also uses numerous steel varieties to make its blades. Let’s quickly review.

  • AUS8: This is an affordable but reliable Japanese steel blend that uses vanadium to improve hardness and chromium to enhance durability.
  • AUS-10V: A slightly improved version of AUS8 steel, this formula provides superior sharpness and hardness with more rust resistance.
  • ThyssenKrupp Steel: This high-carbon German steel is well balanced for both hardness and durability.
  • BD1N-VX: A fine-grained blend with good corrosion resistance and superior edge retention qualities, this steel is part of a new generation of nitrogen-added blends known as “hyper steels.”
  • 7CR17MOV-X: A low-end Chinese steel used for non-stick blades like those in the Dalstrong Shadow Black collection. It’s nitrogen-cooled for added durability and a keener edge, but it’s not nearly as durable as AUS-10.
  • 10CR15MOV: This is a high-carbon Chinese steel blend ideal for use in highly polished, thin blades that must be incredibly sharp and corrosion-resistant.
  • 9CR18MOV: A high-chromium steel that is firmly in the “mid-range” category. It is especially corrosion-resistant.

Dalstrong uses a wider variety of materials to craft its blades, and it includes German steel that is generally softer than its Japanese or Chinese counterparts. However, they also use some low-end Chinese steel, mainly to keep costs low.

With Shun, you know you’re getting high-end Japanese steel. With Dalstrong, you need to research the details because the quality varies by collection.

Difference 7: Handle Material

Dalstrong makes its knife handles from three materials: ABS thermoplastic, wood, and stainless steel. The material choice varies by collection, and the handle designs are also highly varied.

The Shogun, Gladiator, Shadow Black, Omega, Quantum 1, Ronin, and Delta Wolf collections all use variations of ABS plastic, which is highly durable, aesthetically pleasing, and heat-resistant.

Dalstrong Shogun Series ABS Polymer handle
Dalstrong Shogun Series ABS Polymer handle

The Valhalla and Phantom series uses a combination of resin and wood (PakkaWood) to create a highly unique and eye-catching design that is simultaneously functional and tough.

The knives in Dalstrong’s Crusader series feature handles made of high-quality stainless steel, which is shaped into a futuristic “hollow” shape.

DALSTRONG Chef Knife - 8" - Crusader Series - Forged Thyssenkrupp High-Carbon German Stainless Steel - w/Magnetic Sheath - NSF Certified

Finally, the Frost Fire series has handles made from a mix of resin and aluminum, the latter offering the collection its unique honeycomb surface.

Shun’s knife collections feature handles made from either PakkaWood — an engineered wood-and-resin material that provides the aesthetic appeal of wood and the durability of polymer resin — Tagayasan wood or durable PP/TPE polymer.

Shun PakkaWood handle
Shun PakkaWood handle

The high-end Classic and Premier collections boast PakkaWood knife handles, while the Kanso collection features more rustic and “natural” Tagayasan wood handles. The more affordable Sora collection features black PP/TPE handles.

Handle materials impact the weight, balance, and overall feel of a knife. Synthetic handles are the most durable but don’t offer the elegance of wood. Natural wood handles look classy but require more maintenance, and PakkaWood falls in the middle (durable and good-looking).

Difference 8: Sharpness

Shun knives are sharpened to a 16-degree per side, which is sharp enough to make clean slices but not so sharp that the edge is brittle.

Making thin slices with a Shun kitchen knife
Making thin slices with a Shun kitchen knife

Dalstrong’s Japanese-style knives are honed to an ultra-sharp 8-12 degree angle on each side, making them some of the sharpest blades on the market.

The brand’s German knife blades (ex. Gladiator Series) are sharpened to a 16-18 degree angle on each side, making them better suited for use in heavier applications like cutting squash and watermelon or breaking through bone.

Difference 9: Blade Hardness

The hardness of a knife’s blade impacts durability, sharpness, and flexibility. A blade that’s too hard is brittle and susceptible to chipping, whereas one that’s too soft dulls quickly.

The Rockwell scale is the rating system used to measure a metal’s overall hardness.

The hardness of Dalstrong blades ranges from 54 to 63 on the Rockwell scale.

Harder blades make for a keener edge. Therefore, Dalstrong’s sharper knives (ex. Shogun collection) are hardened to a 62+ on the Rockwell scale.

The Gladiator series features blades with a 54-56 hardness rating, making them softer but more durable and less likely to chip.

Shun’s knives fall within the range of 60-62 on the Rockwell scale, which is typical of traditional Japanese-style blades. That level of hardness results in razor-sharp edges that don’t need to be sharpened frequently.

However, blades as hard as Shun’s can chip if you slam the edge into a bone or hard surface. Shun instructs customers to make gliding cuts rather than hard chops to reduce the chances of chipping.

Difference 10: Warranty and Guarantees

Dalstrong knives come with a lifetime warranty and a 120-day risk-free guarantee. You can return your knives within that period and get your money back with no questions asked.

Shun provides limited lifetime warranty and a 30-day money-back guarantee. The warranty guarantees customers a lifetime of use and protection from factory or manufacturing defects. However, it doesn’t cover damage due to improper use or neglect.

Shun also offers a free sharpening service for life with every purchase. Whenever your knives become dull, you can ship them to Shun, and they’ll sharpen them for free (you pay for shipping). The service is limited to straight-edged knives and doesn’t cover serrated knives or scissors.

Dalstrong leaves sharpening to the customer and does not offer a service.

Difference 11: Price

Generally, Shun knives are more expensive than Dalstrong knives.

While both brands specialize in premium forged steel blades, Dalstrong cuts costs by manufacturing its knives in China and using lower-grade steel in certain collections.

The chart below displays the current prices of both brands’ most popular knives and knife sets.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Dalstrong or Shun Kitchen Knives?

Now that you have all the facts, it’s time to decide whether to buy Dalstrong or Shun knives.

Before I provide my recommendation, let’s recap the key points:

  • Shun has a much longer history, with its parent corporation, Kai Corporation, boasting a 100+ year knifemaking legacy. Dalstrong has only been in business since 2014.
  • Shun makes all of its products in the historic Japanese knifemaking capital, Seki City. Dalstrong manufactures in Yangjiang, China.
  • Dalstrong offers eleven unique knife collections, while Shun currently offers eight.
  • Dalstrong manufactures both Japanese and German-style knives, whereas Shun only makes Japanese-style knives.
  • Dalstrong has a wide variety of designs, many of which are highly stylized and flashy. Shun’s designs are simpler, more traditional, and focus on elegance rather than boldness.
  • Shun only uses the highest grades of Japanese steel in its blade’s construction. Dalstrong uses a mix of high and mid-grade steels from Japan, Germany, and China.
  • Shun’s handles are crafted from either PakkaWood, Tagayasan wood, or PP/TPE plastic. Dalstrong’s handles are made of wood, steel, or ABS plastic resin.
  • Shun’s knives are sharpened to a 16-degree angle on each side. Dalstrong’s edges vary by collection, ranging from 8 to 18 degrees per side.
  • Shun blades score 60-62 on the Rockwell scale, while Dalstrong’s score between 54-62.
  • Both brands offer limited lifetime warranties, but Dalstrong includes a risk-free 120-day guarantee, and Shun offers a free lifetime sharpening service.
  • Shun knives are more expensive than Dalstrong.

Ultimately, I recommend Shun knives if you have the budget. It’s a time-tested brand with a long history of making high-quality, artisan-crafted knives.

Shun knives are ultra-sharp, elegant, and high-performing. In fact, I named them the best Japanese-style kitchen knives after reviewing dozens of brands.

If Shun is over your budget, Dalstrong is a solid alternative. It’s an up-and-coming brand with a fast-growing fanbase and an array of collections. However, it hasn’t had time to earn a strong reputation, and the designs of some collections are a bit over-the-top and, some may say, gimmicky.

Read more reviews of both brands and compare the current prices at the links below:

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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