The knife steel comparison - which is the best?

Knives are not all the same knives - you can often tell from the cutting quality and the price. But is that really the most reliable criterion? How to differentiate good from bad knife steel, what differences there are, and how to recognize them is explained in this article.

knife quality

What qualities should a good knife have? The most important criteria are:

  • sharpness
  • edge-holding
  • load-bearing capacity
  • stainless freedom
  • Good everyday use (for example, for the dishwasher)

It is important to know that you can seldom have everything. Not all properties are 100% compatible, at least not at the highest level. There is always a certain compromise necessary. The egg-laying woolly mild steel does not exist.

German, Japanese or American knife steel?

Basically, it can be run on a decision zwishcen German and Japanese steel. American steel plays only a very minor role. The most important difference: the Germans are concerned about freedom from rust, the Japanese, above all, sharpness.

Typical knife steels

A typical German knife steel is a steel with the material number 1.0434. Since chromium is added here (13%) it is - in combination with the low carbon content (0.46%) - considered to be chromium steel. Typical Japanese knife steels are for example Aogami and Shirogami.

Shirogami is a very good knife steel, it is unalloyed, very sharpenable and is very sharp, it is also very schneidhaltig. Aogami is low alloyed with a high carbon content (over 1%) and has a usable hardness of 64 - 66 HRC. By contrast, German steels only reach 50-56 HRC. Thus, Shirogami is - apart from the lack of rust-free and sensitivity - the best knife steel world.


The high hardness and cutting edge make Japanese blades even more sensitive, and they are not stainless. German (and American) blades, on the other hand, are usually chrome steels and are protected against corrosion. But they are a little less spicy, and a bit less crisp. So you always have to decide between these property categories in practice.

If you want insensitive and stainless knives, you should use German knives best. Individual abbreviations on the knife blade then also give indications of special properties:

  • X45 and X50 indicate optimal carbon content for good knives
  • CR can be found almost everywhere on German knives (chrome = rustproof)
  • Mo stands for molybdenum, and thus for the toughness of the steel
  • V stands for vanadium and thus for a slightly longer resistance of the blade

Tips & Tricks

The fact that you often have to compromise between very high sharpness and resilience, you can see clearly in the cooks: cooks have different knives for different cutting tasks.

Video Board: Top Five Blade Steels