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Global UKON vs. Global Classic: What’s the Difference?

Global is one of the top cutlery brands in the world, and two of its most popular collections are the UKON and Classic.

But what’s the difference between the two? What criteria should you consider before buying?

In this comparison of Global UKON vs. Classic kitchen knives, you’ll learn how they measure up in terms of materials, construction, design, available options, price, and more.

Read on to learn all about their similarities, differences, features, and more.


Use the links below to navigate the comparison:


Global UKON vs. Classic: Comparison Chart

Global UKONGlobal Classic
Where It’s MadeJapanJapan
Blade ConstructionStampedStamped, except for the Classic Forged mini-series
Blade MaterialCROMOVA18CROMOVA18
Handle Material   Stainless SteelStainless Steel
Blade DesignThick blade with no bolsterThinner blade with no bolster
Handle DesignStraight with a taper towards butt end, 3 rows of slip-resistant dimples, ambidextrous thumb restStraight with a taper towards butt end, 9 rows of slip-resistant dimples coving entire handle
Weight of 8-inch chef’s knife6 ounces5.5 ounces
Edge GrindStraightStraight
Edge Angle10° to 15° per side10° to 15° per side
Blade HardnessBetween 56 and 58 on the Rockwell scaleBetween 56 and 58 on the Rockwell scale
Products Available12over 60
WarrantyLimited LifetimeLimited Lifetime
Price$$$$ (view on Amazon)$$$ (view on Amazon)

Similarities Between Global UKON and Classic Knives

Global UKON and Classic knives share many of the same features. This section offers an in-depth look at the many similarities.

Where It’s Made

Global Cutlery has a history that traces its roots back to some of the oldest steel-working traditions in Japan, and they’ve held to these high standards since the company’s founding in 1985. 

Both the Classic and UKON collections are made in the Niigata, Japan, factory, featuring Global’s proprietary technology and award-winning eye for detail.

Blade Material

Global crafts both its UKON and Classic knives from high-grade CROMOVA 18 steel. This proprietary Global metal blend reigns at the highest end of the stainless steel quality spectrum.

Global blade steel CROMOVA18
Global blade steel CROMOVA18

The stainless steel is made from a patented combination of Chromium, Molybdenum, and Vanadium, all of which offer the best qualities to the blades.

The steel’s high chromium content (18% instead of the standard 15%) produces a uniquely corrosion-resistant knife, while the Molybdenum and Vanadium support a highly durable, razor-sharp edge.

Handle Material

Unlike most traditional Japanese knives, which utilize handles made of either wood or synthetic materials, Global’s UKON and Classic collections have hollow stainless steel handles filled with fine sand.

Global knife straight handle

That unique feature provides the blades with a superior balance and a sleek, modern look and feel. Each knife appears to be one seamless steel piece, but they’re actually welded from three pieces of metal using a process you can watch in this quick video.

Global knife handle and blade welded

Edge Grind

While most kitchen knives have a beveled edge, Global’s knives boast a straight-angled edge that enhances the blade’s sharpness. Both the UKON and Classic collections feature this straight-slanted edge grind.

Global Knife Edge Grind
Global Knife Edge Grind. Photo credit: GlobalCutleryUSA.com

A beveled edge means that the blade comes down at a “slope,” which then angles into a point right before the edge. A straight-edged blade means that there is no gradual slope — the edge goes “straight” into a sharp, narrow point. Even with moderate use, a beveled blade will dull significantly over time and require frequent resharpening to “re-angle” the edge.

On the other hand, a straight-edged blade doesn’t dull as quickly and will remain sharper for longer.

Blade Hardness

Global Classic and UKON blades score between 56 and 58 on the Rockwell Scale, which measures hardness. This score means these knives maintain an ideal balance between durability and edge retention.

Global blades are softer than most Japanese blades, such as Shun, which scores 61 on the Rockwell Scale. The advantage of softer steel is that the blades can absorb more abuse without chipping. But the downside is that it requires more frequent sharpening to maintain the perfect edge.

Warranty

All Global knife collections come with the same limited lifetime warranty, which you can learn more about via the website’s Warranty And Returns page. It’s worth noting that this warranty only applies to knives damaged before being unpackaged by the consumer and does not cover user error.

Differences Between Global UKON and Classic Knives

Now that you’re familiar with the similarities between Global UKON and Classic knives, it’s time to review several key differences that may impact your purchasing decision.

Global UKON versus Classic_differences
Global UKON (top) versus Classic (bottom)

Blade Construction

Knives are either stamped, meaning they are cut from a single sheet of metal, or forged, meaning they’re crafted by heating a steel block and pounding it into shape.

Forged blades are generally thicker, more durable, and hold their edge longer (but are more expensive).

The blades of Global UKON and Classic knives are stamped, but the Classic collection includes an additional mini-series called the Classic Forged. As the name suggests, this mini-series features knives with forged blades.

Weight

While both the UKON and Classic blades share the same profile, the UKON blades are thicker and more durable.

Thanks to the thicker blade construction, knives in Global’s UKON collection are slightly heavier than those in the Classic collection.

For example, the UKON 8-inch chef’s knife weighs 6 ounces, while the Classic collection’s version of that same knife weighs only 5.5 ounces. A half-ounce may not seem like a lot, but that’s a 20% difference, enough that you’ll feel it.

The Classic Forged mini-series is heavier than both UKON and standard Classic. The Classic Forged 8-Inch Chef’s Knife weighs 9.6 ounces.

So, if you’re looking for the lightest and most nimble knives, go with Classic. If you want ones with the most heft, go with Classic Forged. And if you prefer something in the middle, UKON is the best option.

Handle Design

The Global Classic and UKON collections differ significantly in handle design.

The knives in both collections feature a signature stainless steel handle with slip-resistant dimples that enhance the blade’s grip and maneuverability.

The difference is that Classic knives have a fully-textured handle design, 100% covered in dimples on both sides.

UKON knives have a half-textured handle with a sleek, ergonomic thumb rest made of smooth stainless steel.

Global UKON versus Classic_handle design
Global UKON (top) Classic (bottom)

Compared to many other brands on the market, Global handles are a bit on the smaller side. For example, the five-inch handle length on the Global Classic 8-inch chef’s knife is shorter than the six-inch handle featured on Shun Classic 8-inch chef’s knife.

Edge Angle

There is some debate over the precise angle of the Global blades. According to the company’s customer service representatives, both UKON and Classic knives are sharpened to a 15-degree angle on each side.

However, the company website advertises the UKON collection’s knives as being “10% sharper” than those in their other collections. Either way, the knives in both collections are incredibly sharp.

Knife Selection

With over 60 products to choose from, the Classic collection is, by far, the most extensive.

The UKON collection is a newer line developed in partnership with Williams-Sonoma and currently only includes 12 knives and sets.

If you value a broader range of options and appreciate the potential to expand your cutlery collection over time, the Classic collection makes an ideal choice.

Price

Global is a premium cutlery brand, and both collections are priced accordingly.

Of the two collections, UKON knives tend to be slightly more expensive than Classic knives. However, the Classic Forged mini-series is the most costly.

To get a better idea of how these collections compare, refer to the price chart below. These prices are pulled in real-time from Amazon. Learn more about each product by clicking the prices.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Bottom Line: Should You Buy Global UKON or Classic Knives?

Now that you’ve been thoroughly acquainted with both the Global UKON and Classic collections, you should be ready for the next step: deciding which option is best for you.

The truth is, Global Classic and UKON knives have a lot in common.

Both collections share the same country of origin, the same proprietary blade and handle materials, the same edge grind, and similar hardness. They also share Global’s brand-wide limited lifetime warranty.

But they also vary in many ways, including:

Construction: The Classic Forged mini-series sets itself apart via a forged-steel construction. The other options are all stamped construction.

Weight: Thanks to its thicker blades, knives in the UKON collection are slightly heavier than those in the Classic collection. However, the Classic Forged series is heavier than both.

Handle Design: While both collections utilize slip-resistant dimpled handles, UKON knives have fewer dimples and feature an ambidextrous and ergonomic thumb rest.

Product Selection: The Classic collection is Global’s original product line and therefore offers a large variety of products (60+), whereas the UKON collection offers only 12.

Pricing: While prices vary, it’s safe to say that the UKON collection tends to be more expensive than the Classic, except the Classic Forged mini-series, which is pricier than both.

Ultimately, Global is one of the best kitchen knife brands in the world and both collections are excellent options. The best one for you depends on your culinary needs and your design preferences.

I recommend the Classic collection for a few reasons.

First, I like that it has a more textured handle. The additional dimples provide more grip, making Classic knives safer.

Second, the Classic collection has everything you need, from chef’s knives to boning knives and cleavers. The UKON collection is a bit more limited. 

Finally, the knives in the classic series are lighter and easier to maneuver. Although hefty knives have their place in the kitchen, I love the nimbleness of Global Classic, especially for slicing vegetables, fruits, and other ingredients that require some precision.

Whichever collection you choose, feel confident in your decision because you now know all the important differences.

You can learn more about Global Classic and UKON knives by reading other reviews on Amazon 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’s been studying consumer buying behavior for over a decade and has managed marketing campaigns for over a dozen Fortune 500 brands. When he’s not testing the latest home products, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn or via email.

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