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.