Are you shopping for new kitchen knives and trying to decide between Wusthof and MAC?
In this comparison of Wusthof vs. MAC knives, you’ll learn how both brands compare in terms of offerings, production, design features, materials, sharpness, cost, and much more.
By the end, you’ll know which knife brand is best for you. Keep reading.
Use the links below to navigate the comparison:
- Wusthof vs. MAC: Video Summary
- Wusthof vs. MAC: Comparison Chart
- Difference 1: Design
- Difference 2: Company History
- Difference 3: Collections
- Difference 4: Construction
- Difference 5: Blade Materials
- Difference 6: Handle Materials
- Difference 7: Blade Hardness
- Difference 8: Sharpness
- Difference 9: Warranty
- Difference 10: Price
- Difference 11: Accessibility
- Bottom Line: Should You Buy Wusthof or MAC Knives?
Watch me break down the differences between Wusthof and MAC in this quick video.
You can also view this video on YouTube.
Here’s a quick side-by-side comparison of Wusthof vs. MAC.
|Where They’re Made||Solingen, Germany||Seki City, Japan|
|Product Offerings||9 knife collections||6 knife collections|
|Blade Material||X50CrMoV15 stainless steel||Molybdenum high-carbon steel|
|Handle Material||Synthetic resin or wood||Pakkawood, magnolia wood, or ebony|
|Construction||Forged blades primarily||Stamped blades primarily|
|Blade Hardness||58 on the Rockwell Scale||57-61 on the Rockwell scale|
|Blade Sharpness||14-degree angle per side||15-degree angle per side|
|Weight (8-Inch Chef’s Knife)||8.5 ounces||6.5 ounces|
|Price||$$$$ (view on Amazon)||$$$ (view on Amazon)|
Wusthof isn’t a flashy brand with bold statement handles or oddly shaped blades. It’s true to its design roots, which are steeped in Western culture.
First, a Wusthof knife features a thick, broad-faced blade, a hefty bolster, and full-tang construction. It has a curved belly, ideal for rock chopping. The wide blade makes it easy to scoop up chopped ingredients.
The handle designs vary. Some have a German-inspired design, while others exude Japanese style.
For example, the Classic Ikon collection features a sleek, black synthetic handle with a cylindrical shape more common to Japanese kitchen knives.
The Classic collection handles are iconic to German style. They are angular with triple rivets and a pronounced downward curve near the knife butt.
And if you look at the Amici collection, you’ll experience a rustic, natural charm. It features smooth-grained olive wood handles and a contoured shape.
Alternatively, MAC knives offer much more variety in blade shapes than handles. The blades are narrower than Wusthof, making it challenging to scoop up chopped ingredients. But narrow blades can also get into tight spaces, such as joints, so there are pros and cons.
Overall, MAC’s unique blade profile offers a flat edge with a subtle curve. This design is ideal for a rocking chop or push-pull cutting. So, it’s versatile.
MAC offers knives with more traditional Japanese aesthetics yet still have a heavy Western influence. In fact, the MAC blade style is a hybrid of Japanese and Western design — a blend of a Western chef’s knife and a Japanese Santoku.
The Professional knives offer welded bolsters. It’s a good addition for weight and balance since the knives are stamped.
The ever-popular MAC Mighty MTH-80 8-inch chef’s knife features dimples, known as a Granton edge, that help repel food while cutting.
In terms of handles, MAC’s are shorter than Wusthof’s — a possible comfort issue for home chefs with large hands.
You’ll also notice that MAC offers collections with uniquely shaped blades. Take the Original and Superior Series, for example. They both have narrow blades with rounded points and feature holes in the blade for hanging.
The handles across most MAC collections are similar in style and made from Pakkawood. You’ll get some variations of handle style and material with the Japanese Series, such as D-shaped handles and magnolia or ebony wood.
Since 1814, Wusthof has been a leading knife manufacturer in Solingen, Germany. Founded by Johann Abraham Wusthof, the company started out making scissors and grew into the globally recognized kitchen knife brand it is today.
Solingen, known as the City of Blades, is one of the foremost respected locations for knife making in the world.
The imprint, Made in Solingen, which Wusthof proudly displays, is only bestowed upon brands that meet strict quality, location, and manufacturing standards.
MAC knives launched in 1964 in Seki City, Japan — an area with an equally rich knife-making history as the famed Solingen. Seki City has an over 700-year history of knife making, from ancient Samurai swords to kitchen knives of today.
MAC is known for its unique blade design, lasting sharpness, and easy maintenance. It’s a trusted brand with over 25 million knives sold since its founding.
Wusthof currently offers nine knife collections. Here’s a quick overview of each collection.
- Amici: Forged knives with a custom-grained olive wood handle designed to rest naturally in hands of all sizes.
- Amici 1814: A limited-edition collection and the most expensive Wusthof offers. There are only 1,814 in the world. This collection has one knife — an 8-inch, forged chef’s knife with a stunning engraved floral pattern on the blade and custom-grained olive wood handles.
- Aeon: Forged knives finished with a black, Diamond-Like Carbon (DLC) coating and black handles made from bog oak that is 1,000+ years old. Each comes with a certificate of authenticity.
- Classic: This design dates back to 1886 and is called the original. Considered the iconic design of the brand, it’s offered in 91 different blade shapes, making it the most extensive knife collection globally, according to Wusthof.
- Classic Ikon: A forged collection with a sleek, comfortable, and durable Polyoxymethylene (POM) handle. It boasts a half-bolster for maximum sharpness on the entire length of the blade.
- Crafter: A forged offering with brass-riveted, smoked oak handles. These are multi-purpose, hard-working kitchen knives.
- Gourmet: Lightweight, stamped knives that are laser-cut and hardened for lasting durability. The POM handle is comfortable and resistant to fading and discoloration.
- Ikon: A forged knife collection with a luxury look and feel with African blackwood handles. Final honing for blade edges is done by hand for a custom result.
- Performer: An innovative offering with DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon)-enhanced blades that offers surprising resistance to heat, scratches, and damage. The blades are water-repellent. The handles feature a non-slip honeycomb pattern for enhanced control.
- Original: Stamped knives with a thin blade (1.5-2mm), rounded tip, and elevated Pakkawood handle to ensure enough space for your knuckles. A hole in the blade allows you to hang it up for storage.
- Superior: Thin, stamped knives (2-2.5mm), but more firm than the Original Series with sub-zero tempered steel for increased edge retention. It also features a rounded tip, elevated Pakkawood handle, and a hole for hanging.
- Chef: These stamped knives have a traditional Western shape, with a pointed tip and a Pakkawood handle aligned with the knife’s spine. The knives are lightweight and thin.
- Professional: The most popular stamped knife series from MAC, these knives feature a welded bolster for weight and balance. They feature a pointed tip, elevated handles, and most use sub-zero tempered steel.
- Ultimate: This series offers thin, stamped knives (2.5-3mm) with welded bolsters and sub-zero steel. Pakkawood handles align with the blade’s spine. Though stamped, the knives feel like balanced, weighted forged knives.
- Japanese: Within this series, there are four collections: Molybdenum Steel, Sub-Zero Steel, HO-Series, and SE-Series. Each collection is distinct; some are stamped, others are forged, but all feature a traditional Japanese style.
Wusthof’s forged knives are formed through a 40-step process. Approximately 300 skilled craftspeople and state-of-the-art robotic machinery touch each knife before reaching the store shelf or a shipping room.
During manufacturing, the high-quality stainless steel is cut into rectangles the size of the blade, then heated to approximately 2,200°F. The steel pieces are then precision-forged by Wusthof’s proprietary machinery into the shape of the blade.
The multi-step process also includes hardening the steel, reheating the blades, tempering them, grinding the edges, and finishing touches, such as adding the logo.
By contrast, Wusthof’s stamped knives (Gourmet collection) require a 14-step process to ensure quality and excellent performance. But all Wusthof knives endure stringent quality control before they can bear the famed trident logo.
MAC knives are mostly stamped. The brand doesn’t explain how many steps it takes to create its knives but claims that stamping improves a knife’s accuracy (compared to forging).
Most stamped knives are cut from a sheet of steel, and the blade is ground near the edge. For example, Shun and Global only grind halfway up the blade. But MAC stamped knives are different. They are ground and beveled on the whole side from the spine to the edge (a full V taper).
After stamping, MAC welds on bolsters for some knives. This process is labor-intensive. In some cases, even more so than some forged knives.
But not every MAC blade is stamped. Some collections in the Japanese Series are hand-forged (HO-Series and SE-Series).
As far as handles, both brands offer triple-riveted handles and some options without exposed rivets. Wusthof also offers handles with double rivets.
Wusthof uses X50CrMoV15 steel. It’s a high-carbon proprietary alloy and contains calculated amounts of chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium. Together, these elements make a hard and stain-resistant blade that holds its edge well.
Wusthof’s carbon content is 0.5%, while MAC’s is 0.95%. The increased carbon content of MAC’s knives enhances edge retention and sharpness but also makes them susceptible to stains without proper care.
MAC’s carbon-molybdenum alloy keeps the blade sharp but makes it susceptible to rust. For best results, you’ll need to wash and dry them immediately after use.
Some of MAC’s knives (Professional and Sub-Zero Series) undergo sub-zero tempering. They treat the steel with liquid nitrogen to make the alloy harder and give the blades better edge retention. MAC calls the sub-zero steel Superior Steel.
MAC’s HO-Series and SE-Series use white steel called Yasuki Shirogami. This steel is known for its excellent edge retention.
When comparing Wusthof vs. MAC in terms of steel maintenance, some customers complain that MAC blades are easier to stain. One of MAC’s representatives explained that the high-carbon content could promote rust if you don’t rinse and dry the knife immediately after cutting corrosive acidic foods, like citrus or tomatoes.
Wusthof knives do not have this issue. They resist stains well. Still, you can keep your MAC knife clean and spot-free with a bit of extra care.
Wusthof knife handles are either synthetic or natural wood.
Most synthetic handles use Polyoxymethylene (POM). It’s a tough plastic that resists heat and repels water. It’s also fade-resistant, so you can expect the handle to keep its look over time.
There is also a black, glass-fiber-reinforced polyamide handle on the Wusthof Performer collection that features a honeycomb-patterned grip.
The natural wood handles on Wusthof knives are stunning — they feature distinct shapes and intricate graining. Across the collections, you’ll find handles with a range of tones made from Calabrian olive wood, smoked oak, or African blackwood.
MAC knife handles are made of Pakkawood, a layered wood veneer mixed with resin. Pakkawood has a dark hue, is highly durable, and feels comfortable to hold.
MAC also has a few Japanese series knives with handles made of ebony (SE-Series) or magnolia wood (HO-Series). These knives also feature buffalo horn end caps.
Blade hardness, expressed as HRC, refers to the Rockwell Scale. The scale measures the toughness of the steel that has undergone a heat-intense process to achieve a measurable hardness.
Hardness impacts durability and performance. Softer steels will lose their edge (sharpness) faster but are more difficult to chip. Harder steels are more brittle and prone to chipping but have a longer-lasting sharpness.
Wusthof’s forged knives have a Rockwell score of 58 HRC, while its stamped knives rank at 56.
MAC’s blades range between 57 and 61 HRC. The most popular collection, the Professional, has a score of 59 HRC, making it slightly harder and more prone to chipping than Wusthof’s blades. In fact, in the insert that comes with the knives, MAC cautions against cutting bones, frozen foods, and hard squash.
That said, MAC knives maintain their sharpness better than Wusthof. The difference is minor but worth noting.
Double bevel knives are sharpened on both sides, while single bevel knives are sharpened on one side. Wusthof knives are double bevel, while MAC has single and double-bevel knives.
The lower the angle, the sharper the blade. Look for knives between 12.5 and 16 degrees per side for good sharpness.
Wusthof sharpens its knife edges to 14 degrees per side for a total edge angle of 28 degrees.
The brand also uses Precision Edge Technology (PEtec) on all its forged knives. It’s a process it claims makes the edge 20% sharper with an edge that lasts twice as long as comparable knives in the marketplace.
MAC knife edges, sharpened to 15 degrees per side, have a total edge angle of 30 degrees. MAC’s blade points are rounded or a slightly off-center V shape.
Right out of the box, both brands have sharp blades, but MAC’s blades are harder and don’t need to be sharpened as often. They also offer a paid sharpening service for convenience.
When you buy a Wusthof knife, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty. The warranty ensures you receive a defect-free knife and offers a comparable replacement if the knife fails to meet its high standards.
By contrast, MAC offers a 25-year warranty on its knives. This warranty extends to anyone who purchases a MAC knife in the United States (excluding Hawaii). But be sure to buy directly from MAC or an authorized reseller, or the warranty is void.
Overall, Wusthof forged knives are more expensive than most MAC knives. While MAC is not as pricey as Wusthof, it is not an inexpensive brand.
Both offer knife collections with a range of prices to suit a variety of budgets.
MAC’s Professional Series, the most popular collection, is one of the most expensive. Ultimate has similar pricing. The Japanese Series also features high-end blades.
If you are looking for more affordable MAC knives, check out the Original and Chef Series.
Wusthof has one stamped knife collection, Gourmet. It is the most affordable option.
Wusthof’s Amici, Amici 1814, and Aeon collections are limited edition and the most expensive. The Amici 1814 collection chef’s knife costs over $1,000, but only 1,814 knives exist globally.
Wusthof’s Classic, Ikon, and Crafter collections are mid-range, as are MAC’s Superior Series knives.
The chart below shows the current prices of both brands’ mos popular knives and knife sets. Click the chart to learn more about each item on Amazon.
|Knife / Knife Set||Price||View Details|
|MAC Knife Original Series 4-Piece Starter Set||Amazon|
|MAC Knife Professional Series 8-Inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|MAC Knife Professional 6.5-Inch Santoku Knife||Amazon|
|MAC Knife Japanese Series 6.5-Inch Vegetable Cleaver||Amazon|
|MAC Knife Superior Series 6.5-Inch Santoku Knife||Amazon|
|MAC Knife Chef's Series 10-Inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|MAC Knife Professional Series 5-Inch Paring/Utility Knife||Amazon|
|MAC Knife Chef Series 7-Inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic 11-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic Ikon 7-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic 7-Piece Set||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic Ikon 8-Inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Wusthof Amici 8-Inch Chef's Knife||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic 7-Inch Santoku Knife||Amazon|
|Wusthof Classic 3.5Inch Paring Knife||Amazon|
Wusthof is one of the most well-known knife makers in the world. You’ll find it at high-end retailers like Williams Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, Macy’s, Sur La Table, and other outlets.
MAC knives are not as widely distributed. You won’t find them in most stores, so you can’t see them in person or hold them before purchasing.
Bottom Line: Should You Buy Wusthof or MAC Knives?
Now that you’ve compared the differences between Wusthof vs. MAC knives, it’s time to decide which one is right for you.
Before I offer my recommendation, let’s recap the key differences.
- Wusthof knives primarily offer a Western-style design. MAC knives are a fusion of Western and Japanese designs.
- Wusthof has been around since 1814, so it’s more established and has a more extensive knife offering than MAC. MAC debuted in 1965 and has sold over 25 million knives since its founding.
- Most Wusthof knives are forged, but there is one stamped collection. MAC knives are mostly stamped, but there are two hand-forged collections.
- Both brands use carbon in their steel alloy, but MAC’s carbon content is higher than Wusthof’s. The higher carbon content makes MAC blades more prone to stains but gives them better edge retention.
- Wusthof offers synthetic and natural wood knife handles. MAC uses wood and wood veneer but does not feature any handles with synthetic materials.
- With a range of 57-61 HRC, MAC knives are harder than most Wusthof knives. They retain their sharpness longer but are also more brittle. Wusthof steel ranks at 58 HRC. It’s softer steel that is sturdy and not brittle.
- Both knife brands are sharp right out of the box, but MAC knives stay sharper longer.
- Wusthof offers a limited lifetime warranty, while MAC provides a 25-year warranty.
- Wusthof is a more expensive brand than MAC. Plus, its knives are much easier to find than MAC.
Bottom Line — Wusthof and MAC are top-tier knife brands. You won’t go wrong choosing a knife or knife set from either. Wusthof Classic and MAC Professional are two of the best collections I’ve ever reviewed, but I recommend them for different reasons.
If you prefer German-style knives with thick and hefty forged blades, go with Wusthof. The knives are sharp, well-built, and offer solid performance. The edges may dull slightly faster than MAC knives, but you’ll get ultra-durable and chip-resistant knives that will last for years.
Alternatively, MAC is the best choice if you want more nimble Japanese-style knives with thin blades, smaller handles, and a straighter edge that stays sharper longer.
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