For my first review of 2021, I figured it would be fun to court controversy by taking a look at Dalstrong knives, Specifically the Shogun Series X 10.25″.
Now to some of you sitting at home who haven’t heard of Dalstrong knives and remain blissfully unaware of the vitriol that has spewed forth when these types of knife manufacturers are brought up, fear not for I shall stir the pot and start off with the obvious point of contention, China.
Now Dalstrong is one of many companies who maintain a western corporate presence whilst having a fully offshore production line- hardly new in the knife world (Real Steel, Kizer, etc. come to mind), but what rubs people the wrong way is that those companies have the annoying habit of dancing around the topic of provenance.
Chinese knives made in China. Nothing wrong with that as the Spyderco Tenacious will attest, but the point of contention comes into play when companies use ambiguous terms like “made overseas,” “produced by skilled artisans in the far east,” etc. etc.
It’s disingenuous and frankly – in the case of Dalstrong knives – not needed.
Hot take folks: I like this knife. I don’t care where its made.
Bang for buck, it’s a solid winner, but I do understand why the marketing is jarring for so many of you.
Right off the chopping block, the dimensions are pretty ridiculous. It’s a chunga with 10.25″ of slicing oomph.
The weird thing compared to my regular kitchen blades is the shape of the blade – it’s almost the bastard love child of a gyuto and a western chef’s blade.
A significant amount of belly that is luckily kept in check with an above average tapering. Super impressive and whilst it has felt a smidgen unwieldy, the real problem was my lack of experience with a knife this big – not the knife itself.
It’s obvious from the onset that aesthetics played a big part in the design of this knife. Definitely leaning towards the function following form, but weirdly, I have to be honest and admit to enjoying how over the top the design and construction is.
That cool hammered finish, ridiculous pommel (I’ve seen survival knives with less) and those G-10 scales that are polished to perfection.
The finish itself is decent – definitely good for the $130 price point with no obvious issues (besides one, more on this later).
The seams are seamless and the pin is not my taste, but then again Dalstrong knives seem to embrace the too much gene with gusto.
Before talking about the performance, I should mention it comes with a neat sheath.
Nice to have if travelling (do people travel with their kitchen knives?), but personally I always find that individual sheaths to take up too much space compared to just throwing your blades in a knife block.
But that’s me folks. At least Dalstrong gives you the option, which is more than I can say for some other brands.
Alright, so the hammered finish: not my first time seeing it, won’t be the last. My personal take on this is that it’s pretty, but basically quasi useless.
Food sticks regardless folks, and a quick swipe deals with that issue. People have mentioned that the hammered finish makes it harder to clean, but my experiences don’t reflect that. It’s like all my other kitchen knives, but with more bling thrown in the mix.
It came out of the box super duper sharp. Not surprised, as it appears to have the superior Asian grinds (lean) of 8-12 degrees and a decently(ish) polished edge. It’s not a Misono, but then again, it’s not trying to be.
AUS-10V blade (very cool) with a SUS410 Damascus cladding, 67 layers apparently.
I shan’t comment beyond saying it looks dope and the blade is hardened to 62+. It has yet to dull after a month of use, so I suspect the descriptions are on point.
Any slicing performance foibles seem to be my fault only, as I mentioned earlier in the review. A more experienced hand could no doubt make some Instagram worthy super thin slices out of the box.
All in all, performance gets a solid tip of my hat. I suspect those who decry it have more of an issue with the marketing than the knife itself.
Above you will see the only defect that I have spotted, and trust me folks, I looked all over for something objectionable I could bring to the review so that I could bask in self righteousness, but sadly the only problem was the tip being clipped when undergoing its hand sharpening on a wheel. I’ve done it myself many times and when the tip is so thin it’s not a hard mistake to make.
That said, I would have liked for them to spot this before sending it out, but then again, it’s a very blingy all singing, all dancing knife with good materials and over the top flourishes, so the price is a factor, and it’s clear that they sell to normal folks who want a cool knife with super neat “features” like the Damascus cladding, hammered finish, shiny pommel etc.
The marketing babbles on about 60 days of manufacturing time etc. whilst waxing poetics about Shogun “do or die” mentality.
Personally I hate this kind of marketing, the reality is that performance is rarely pretty (Victorinox Forshner as a prime example), but at the same time I reluctantly really love the way this knife looks.
I often catch myself checking out the reflections when I am cutting or showing it off to the 2 people who are in my circle and thus can come visit (curse you, Covid).
It’s easy to feel dismissive over gaudy branding. It’s much harder to admit that you kinda like it. The performance is excellent, the price is decent and the “AliExpress alternatives” are not even close to comparable.
I can’t fathom a scenario where anyone would handle this monster and not gush.
Are there better knives? Yeah, of course.
Could you buy a cheaper knife with equivalent performance? Maybe, but at the end of the day Dalstrong is targeting people who want a good performance knife that looks like an insane performance knife.
I get it. I like it.
Well, thanks for the review but waxing poetic while doing so seems typically . . . internet . . . of you. Having used knives old ( some very old ) and new from all over the world I am reminded of the old saying – “There is nothing new under the sun.”. Indeed.
All knives are a series of compromises. Optimize those for your own use pattern and proceed. You pays your money and you takes your chances just as with everything else. Marketing knives is also a series of compromises – usually between reality and imagined reality. In this case the reality is the knives are fairly well executed pieces of pedestrian quality that will likely end up in the kitchen utensils bins of the local thrift store being sold for much closer to their actual worth than the suggested retail price. Those that buy them new will have rewarded deceit in marketing while withholding their money from those who make superior products with no deceptive marketing practices.
The choice is yours but I, for one, will not be buying any Dalstrong ( is that name also part of the attempt to decieve? ) knives. Thanks, c.
Not one mention of the origin of the steel. Japanese or German? The front point is ridiculous. If its Japanese steel its likely to break off that steel being more brittle. I love my Myaki knives. I think they are also Shun
Thomas Xavier says
AUS steel is Japanese, its not made in Germany. Both countries have steels with various degrees of brittleness, that said the general rockwell hardness of Japanese consumer knives tends to lean towards the upper end as opposed to the German equivalents. Cultural differences I suppose.
Thomas Xavier says
To be honest, as a collector of shiny sharp things its a tough sell when it comes to talking about the topic- companies need to crank out new models to keep the business alive but innovation is sporadic at best due to being constrained by a base, primitive design. A knife is a sharpened piece of steel. Some are expensive, some are cheap. Its very difficult to objectively review anything in that world these days without waxing poetics because ultimately if it cuts, it works.
Its a bit of a conundrum and one I don’t really know how to mitigate. I have maybe 70 odd knives I have bought over the past couple of years and haven’t review and frankly I don’t really have a solid way of offering a good argument for purchasing x in light of the newer items being for all intents and purposes the same as the previous generations.
Tojiro would be a good rival brand for Dalstrong without the over-hyped marketing. Tojiro makes a great knife as well. I have a gyuto in their DP line with VG10 and a shirogami (white paper) petty. I have tried the Dalstrong stones in 1k, 3k, 6k and 8k. They definitely aren’t Chosera or Shapton quality but they get the job done on non-PM steels. I will add that the grit rating on the Dalstrong stones is not consistent with any other stones that I have used and they seem to be much coarser than any other stones that I have used as well. I can go straight from a 120 grit stone to the Dalstrong 1k. I just wanted to add a little bit more input to a wonderful review on the Dalstrong line
Thomas Xavier says
I like Tojiro knives! Very solid for the price and consistent to a fault. I think Dalstrong is targeting a difference audience though.
Looks great for sure. Being old and cheap I’ve never spent that much on a single knife, a full set, yes! Still if it lasts the rest of my days it might be worth it!
Thomas Xavier says
Paradoxically I have spent a lot of money on knives and I would say I barely use them when averaged out. Its an odd position to be in (as a collector) because I own maybe 2 dozen bushcraft blades and objectively I have never had a single one as a constant companion…or even close. Just a never ending rotation.
My first thought was “That’ll be a bitch to sharpen, if it hasn’t dulled after a month of use”….but after reading up on Aus10 it seems it’s relatively easy to get the edge back.. maybe the high carbon content ?
Anyway, I’d be interested in an update, when you’ve sharpened it….
My knowledge/experience of steels is limited to just a few that I’ve owned…but having struggled badly to sharpen D2…less so on 1095 and not at all on 01 Carbon tool steel or the stuff that Victorinox uses, I’ll take an easy-to-sharpen steel any day of the week.
But Aus10 is reported as having excellent edge retention, without the sharpening process being a total ball ache :) As I say…It’d be nice to hear your opinions in it.
All the best……J
Thomas Xavier says
I am a pretty bad person to ask about these things as I own a full size belt grinder, a worksharp, an obscene amount of water stones, diamond plates etc. So for me its never an issue to sharpen *any* steel. Its just a question of time and tools at hand. AUS-10 isn’t particularly difficult to sharpen (in my opinion), a solid waterstone will work just fine. I would say its comparable to VG-10.