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Are you in the market for new kitchen knives and trying to decide between Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro and Pro “S”? If you’re not sure about their differences and similarities and why you might want to choose one over the other, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, I provide an in-depth comparison of Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro vs. Pro “S” kitchen knives and show you how they stack up in terms of material, manufacturing process, design, functionality, price, and more.
Let’s dive right into it!
Use the links below to navigate this article.
- Pro vs. Pro “S”: 30-Second Summary
- What Are Their Differences?
- What Are Their Similarities?
- Bottom Line: Pro or Pro “S”?
At a quick glance, these two product lines from the world-renowned German knife maker Zwilling J.A. Henckels look almost identical.
The truth is, they are very similar.
Both Pro and Pro “S” knives are made in Solingen, Germany through the same manufacturing process, using the same specially formulated high-quality steel and they’re sharpened at the exact same 30-degree angle.
Their triple-riveted handles are made from the same black synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM) which is ultra-dense, durable, and fade resistant.
They both come with a limited lifetime warranty and are priced exactly the same.
Although they share many similarities, Pro and Pro “S” knives have important differences that are difficult to spot at first glance.
The biggest difference is in the design of their bolsters. The bolster is the part of the knife where the blade and handle meet and the steel of the blade widens. Pro knives have a uniquely curved half bolster while Pro “S” knives have a full bolster which also serves as a finger guard.
The half bolster on Pro knives allows you to sharpen their edges from the tip through the bolster and use the entire blade while cutting. With Pro knives, it’s easier to use the pinch grip which is when you pinch the blade with your thumb and the side of your index finger while cutting. Although you may not use it every day, this type of grip is highly utilized and highly recommended by professional chefs.
The full bolster on Pro “S” knives provides more balance and protects your hand from slipping onto the blade, however, it has two downsides. First, the full bolster prevents you from sharpening the heel (part of the edge near the bolster) of the blade. Secondly, since you can’t sharpen the heel, you can’t really cut with it either.
Besides their bolsters, Pro and Pro “S” knives have a couple other differences. The design of their blades and handles are slightly different. The blades of Pro knives have a pronounced curve on the edge side and a flat spine which makes rocking the knife easier. Pro “S” knives have slightly more tapering at the top of their handles.
Lastly, including individual knives and knife sets, there are 76 products in the Pro collection and only 30 in the Pro “S” collection.
It’s easy to confuse Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro and Pro “S” knives. They’re made by the same brand using the same materials and they look almost identical. Even their names are nearly the same.
Despite all that, there are key differences between the Pro and Pro “S” collections that you need to know before buying.
The most notable difference between Pro and Pro “S” knives, by far, is the fact that Pro knives have a curved half bolster while Pro “S” knives have a full bolster and finger guard.
To better understand what I’m talking about, check out the comparison below (Pro is on top, Pro “S” is on bottom). As you can see, the bolster on the Pro “S” knife covers the entire base of the blade from the spine to the edge.
The difference in their bolsters may not seem like a big deal, but it’s important for a few different reasons.
The full bolster on the Pro “S” knife adds more weight to the middle of the knife which makes it feel sturdy and well balanced. It also gives your index finger a flat surface to press against while cutting and prevents your hand from slipping onto the blade.
The smaller half bolster on the Pro knife is designed so that you can cut with the entire blade including the heel which is the part closest to the handle. The heel is the best part of the blade to chop hard vegetables like carrots and parsnips.
You can also sharpen Pro knife blades from the tip to the heel. Since Pro “S” knives have a thick full bolster that extends to the edge of the blade, you can only sharpen up until the heel, but not fully through it.
The curved half bolster on Pro knives is designed perfectly for the pinch grip (a.k.a. The blade grip) which, according to expert chefs, is the proper way to hold a chef’s knife. To use the pinch grip, wrap your hand around the handle with your middle finger resting on the bolster and your thumb pressing on one side of the blade while the side of your index finger is pressing the other side. Of course, you can use the pinch grip on Pro “S” knives but the thick bolster makes it less comfortable.
Due to their unique half bolster design, Pro knives won’t fit in most generic knife blocks, however, you can buy a special knife block designed specifically for Pro knives for cheap on Amazon.
Besides their bolsters, the next biggest difference between Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro and Pro “S” knives is the design of their blades.
Pro “S” knives have a traditional blade profile with a slightly curved belly and spine. The belly is the part of the edge that bends as you get closer to the tip and the spine is the dull side of the blade that faces the ceiling when you’re chopping.
Pro knives have a broader curve on the edge, or belly, side, and a straight spine. This redesigned blade profile provides more range during chopping, especially while using the rocking technique. The rocking technique is when you hold the tip of the blade on the cutting board and rock the knife up and down. This technique is best for chopping herbs or long vegetables like celery stalks and carrots.
If you like the bolster of Pro knives but prefer the blade design of Pro “S”, You can get the best of both worlds. Zwilling J.A. Henckels now offers a version of their Pro chef’s knife with a traditional blade designed exactly the same as Pro “S”. You can read over 700 reviews for this particular knife on Amazon.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro and Pro “S” knife handles are both secured with three steel rivets (triple riveted) with a full exposed tang. The tang is the part of the blade that runs through the but end of the handle.
On the portion of the handle where the black POM material meets the steel bolster, Pro “S” handles taper inwards more prominently than Pro handles. The difference is minor but it’s important to know since the ergonomics of the handle are often the deciding factor in the process.
If you take a couple minutes to read reviews on Amazon, both Pro and Pro “S” customers rave about the comfort of their handles. Clearly, they’re both ergonomic and comfortable but since the design is purely a matter of preference, you might prefer one over the other.
If you like having a wide range of choices, you might want to go with the Pro collection.
Including individual knives and knife sets, Zwilling J.A. Henckels offers 76 different products in their Pro collection compared to 30 products in their Pro “S” collection.
The chart below outlines the number of products that both collections offer in each product category.
|11 to 15-piece sets||1||0|
|15 to 20-piece sets||9||1|
|20 to 30-piece sets||1||1|
|Knives up to 3 inches||1||2|
|3 to 5 inch knives||7||3|
|5 to 7 inch knives||12||6|
|7 to 9 inch knives||14||5|
|9 to 11 inch knives||4||2|
|11 to 13 inch knives||0||3|
|See all products||Pro Knives on Amazon||Pro "S" Knives on Amazon|
Now that you understand the differences between Pro and Pro “S” knives, let’s take a quick look at their similarities.
Where They’re Made
Zwilling J.A. Henckels began manufacturing knives over 3 centuries ago in 1731 in Solingen, Germany where their headquarters remains today. They have operations all over the globe, but they still design and manufacture all of their knives, including the Pro and Pro “S” collections, in Germany.
High-quality kitchen knives start with high-quality ingredients. Pro and Pro “S” blades are both made out of the same specially formulated high-carbon stainless steel. Their special blend of alloys and elements ensure the blades are hard, durable, and resistant to corrosion.
Like the steel used for their blades, the handles of Pro and Pro “S” knives are made from a high-quality synthetic material called Polyoxymethylene (POM). POM has a tight molecular structure which makes it ultra durable and resistant to fading and damage from moisture. It’s the ideal material for kitchen knife handles because it’ll never break, chip, or warp and since its non-porous, germs and bacteria can’t penetrate the surface.
Zwilling J.A. Henckels has a unique manufacturing process in which they precision forge each blade out of a single piece of steel that’s heated to extremely high temperatures. Once heated, they’re formed into blades and hardened in a unique cooling process. You can take a look behind the scenes of their manufacturing process in the video below.
When it comes to kitchen knives, you need a set that’s sharp and retains its edge for a long time. Fortunately, both Pro and Pro “S” knives are sharpened and honed through Zwilling’s laser-guided system at an extremely sharp 30-degree angle (15 per side). Each Zwilling J.A. Henckels knife has a laser-controlled edge that’s durable and remains sharp after many uses. Eventually, all knives become dull and Pro and Pro “S” knives are no exception. To keep yours sharp, you can get a very affordable sharpener designed specifically for Zwilling knives on Amazon.
Cleaning and Caring
Although they’re extremely durable, Zwilling J.A. Henckels highly recommends that you hand wash Pro and Pro “S” knives with warm water, mild detergent, and a soft sponge. If you don’t have the time or energy to hand wash, you can clean these knives in the dishwasher but keep them away from other utensils that could bang into them and damage the edges. Also, to avoid damage in the dishwasher, keep the water temperature below 130 degrees Fahrenheit and use a mild detergent.
All Zwilling J.A. Henckels products, including Pro and Pro “S” knives, come with a full warranty that protects you against any defects in materials or craftsmanship. The warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and tear or damage resulting from misuse. So if you try to chop down a tree with your kitchen knives and they break, you’re out of luck. Check out all the details and fine print of their warranty on Zwilling.com.
Price is not a factor when comparing Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro and Pro “S” knives and that’s because they’re priced exactly the same. If you want to check the current prices, both collections are typically available at any kitchen supply store such as Crate and Barrel and Williams Sonoma. Throughout my research though, I’ve found the best deals for these knives on online on sites like Amazon. For your convenience, here are the links directly to Pro and Pro “S” knives on Amazon.
The differences between Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro and Pro “S” knives are easy to miss if you don’t look carefully. However, even though they appear similar at first glance, the differences in their bolsters, blade profiles, and handle designs make a meaningful impact.
So which collection should you buy?
Pro knives are ideal if you often hold your knives using a pinch grip which is the grip recommended by professional chefs. They’re also better for executing the rocking technique which most people use for almost every meal. Lastly, you have a much wider selection of knife sets and individual knives to choose from with the Pro collection. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced chef, you’ll find a set to meet your needs.
With their thick full bolster, Pro “S” knives feel sturdier and more well balanced and the finger guard ensures your hand will never slip onto the blade. Their traditional blade profile may not have as much range for rock chopping as Pro’s blade profile but, for those used to traditional western style knives, it’ll feel very familiar and comfortable.
After recently testing both collections, I strongly Pro “S” knives over Pro. I really like the heft and balance that the full bolster provides and having a full finger guard makes intense chopping much safer. Also, I have to admit, I hardly ever use a pinch grip when I’m cutting, so one of the major benefits of Pro knives doesn’t really matter to me. Lastly, I’ve used Wusthof knives for years so I’m used to the traditional blade profile of Pro “S” knives.
Even though I prefer Pro “S” knives, many customers have the opposite opinion as evidenced by the hundreds of positive reviews of Pro knives on Amazon. Whether you’re ready to buy or you’re still on the fence, I highly recommend checking out both of these collections on Amazon (link to Pro knives, link to Pro “S” knives). There you find the best deals along with dozens of customer reviews.
If you’re not completely sold on Zwilling J.A. Henckels knives, check out the recent articles below where I review other popular kitchen knives including a head-to-head battle between Zwilling and their biggest rival, German heavyweight Wusthof:
- Best Chef’s Knife Under $100: Top 5 Compared
- Wusthof vs. Zwilling J.A. Henckels: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Wusthof Classic vs. Wusthof Ikon: What Are the Differences?
- Wusthof Classic vs. Gourmet: Kitchen Knife Comparison (With Pictures)
- Shun vs. Wusthof: In-Depth Kitchen Knife Comparison
- Cutco vs. Wusthof: How Do Their Kitchen Knives Compare?
Which Knives Do You Like Better?
We want to hear from you! Have you ever used Zwilling J.A. Henckels Pro or Pro “S” knives? If so, what do you like or dislike about them? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment?
Let us know in the comments below.