VG-10 Steel Review
Do you have a kitchen knife made out of VG10? Or maybe you recently got a folding knife from a reputable brand such as Spyderco or Benchmade and it is stamped VG-10.
Some of my favorite Japanese kitchen knives are made with vg10 steel as well as quite a few high quality folding knives I have used.
After carrying and collecting knives over the last 40 years, I have had a chance to use many different knives made out of this steel. It has held up well in a variety of uses, from daily use at work to chopping onions at home, VG-10 has seen a wide variety of uses in my hands.
In this review, we take a look at VG 10 steel, a high carbon stainless steel that was originally made for Japanese chefs. VG 10 is a cutlery-grade steel that is well known for its excellent edge retention and corrosion resistance. In this article, we focus on the properties of VG 10 steel and after covering that, we also feature some of our favorite knives made of VG 10 steel.
What is VG 10
VG 10 is a high carbon steel that originates from Japan. The name VG10 is a designation for this specific type of stainless steel that often used in knife blades.
VG10 is manufactured by Takefu Special Steel in Fukui, Japan. The G stands for “Gold” indicating that the VG 10 has attained the “gold standard” level.
VG 10 is a popular knife steel in Japan and is one of the most used stainless steel in the traditional cutlery market of Japan. However, VG 10 stainless steel is not popular in the kitchen alone. The steel is also popularly used on premium-grade hunting, tactical, and pocket knives.
It is one of the more common steels used in professional kitchen knives by top chefs. It is also popular among the Japanese as it allows for the creation of amazing designs onto the blade during tempering.
VG-10 Chemical Composition
VG 10 is made of high levels of carbon, Molybdenum, Chromium, and Cobalt.
- 1% Carbon
- 15.5 %Chromium
- 1% Molybdenum
- 0.2% Vanadium
- 1.5% Cobalt
- 0.5% Manganese
Properties of VG 10
The popularity of VG10 steel comes from its high edge retention ability, rust resistance, and is also quite easy to sharpen. VG-10 provides a fairly well-rounded steel profile. While it does not truly excel at any of the key steel performance traits, the balance of traits attained with this carbon steel has earned it a solid reputation in the knife world.
This is one of the greatest reasons why many people love VG 10 stainless steel. One of the more important traits of a quality knife is its ability to hold a keen edge. This is an important factor as to why VG 10 has become such a popular steel for kitchen knives, survival knives, and high-end pocket knives over the last few decades.
The combination of carbon, molybdenum, cobalt, and chromium allows for this knife to sport an impressive edge retention capability while still being relatively easy to sharpen and maintain good corrosion resistance. The combination of these elements has created one of the best stainless steels to come out of Japan.
Hardness is one of the key factors that helps determine a steels wear resistance and how well it will hold a sharp edge during use.
The normal hardness of VG 10 is between 56 and 60 HRC. With a reasonably high Carbon content in this stainless steel, it can achieve very good levels of hardness depending on the heat treatment used. The Vanadium in this carbon steel helps create Vanadium Carbides which are extremely hard particles within the steel that really help it hold a sharp edge. during normal cutting use.
Along with Hardness, Toughness is one of the key traits of a high end knife steel. While hardness is usually tied to how well a life holds its edge, toughness is the steels ability to withstand impact and lateral forces that may chip or break the knife blade.
With a hardness that can get up as high as 60HRC or even higher depending on the heat treatment used, you may expect that VG-10 may be quite brittle. While it is true that many steels usually become more brittle and have lower toughness at higher hardness, this steel does quite well at maintaining toughness at higher hardness levels.
With a 15.5% chromium component, this steel is a good example of a high carbon stainless steel that holds up well to regular use in wet or humid climates. Although the knife is not fully corrosion-resistant, you can expect a high level of corrosion resistance on knives sporting the VG 10 steel blade.
The chemical composition of the VG 10 creates a hard steel without compromising on the sharpening ability of the blade. VG 10 blade steel is relatively easy to sharpen and its wear resistance means it holds a good level of sharpness fairly well.
Is VG 10 A Good Knife Steel?
Yes! Thanks to its high edge retention capacity and rust resistance, it is hard to go wrong with a knife that uses VG 10 blade steel. The price for vg10 steel blades is reasonable for the quality, and that explains why they are used lesser as survival knives and more in sophisticated kitchen work.
One of the reasons why they are so well suited to kitchen use and has become so well known in Japanese knife circles is that it has all the main qualities you want in a high end kitchen knife. With higher levels of Chromium, it has great corrosion resistance and is very rust resistant.
It holds a sharp edge very well in normal kitchen use and is also relatively easy to sharpen for a knife with such good wear resistance. The vanadium in the vg10 steel alloy helps it resist wear and stay sharp but at the overall moderate hrc levels of this steel, it still sharpens quite easily.
VG 10 Equivalent Steels
There are a few different steels that are often compared to vg 10 stainless steel. Although there are many similarities in some of these types of special steel, vg10 steel is one of the best overall performers when it comes to a better quality stainless steel knife.
S30V is the knife steel most often compared to vg10. S30V is a high quality steel that originates from America. Just like VG 10 stainless steel, S30V has amazing edge retention and rust resistant qualities. However, S30V is more often seen in folding pocket knives and EDC knives than it is in a Japanese knife in your kitchen.
SG2 is another Japanese steel often compared to VG10. SG2, or Super Gold 2, is another steel also made by Takefu Special Steel and is a powder steel with a very fine microstructure and excellent toughness. SG2 also has a high level of Chromium and Vanadium and has excellent corrosion resistance and wear resistance.
My Favorite Knives Made With VG-10 Steel
The Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife
This is a highly popular premium fixed survival blade that exudes quality, and dependability. As sophisticated as the knife feels, the Fallkniven A1 serves the simple purpose of being a high-quality bush knife.
The VG 10 steel used on the Fallkniven A1 is laminated to ensure that you experience durability with the knife.
Standing at 11 inches long, the Fallkniven A1 has a drop-point 6.3-inch plain edge blade that has great strength and is extremely high quality for the price. The knife is slightly heavy, weighing 12 ounces but it is in line with similar products.
The blade sports a generous belly and swedge, which works wonders in giving the knife a strong tip for penetration purposes. The vg10 steel has its usual rust resistant qualities and stands up well to hard jobs that the blade is designed for.
The only case against this premium knife is that some users may find it a little large for general use, being that it is slightly longer than typical survival knives. The knife may not work well on larger tasks such as clearing brush or chopping branches, but its gracefulness is appreciated when being used for making feather sticks or dressing game.
Spyderco Dragonfly 2
The Spyderco Dragonfly 2, being a small knife, is one of the reasons why there is a sharp divide between the lovers and haters of this knife. While most people prefer knives with longer blades, this pocket knife proves convenient in both carrying and use and can still find its way into my pocket every now and then.
The Spyderco Dragonfly 2 is 5.56 inches long when open with a 2.25 inches long blade and a 3.13-inch-long handle. The Spyderco Dragonfly 2 has a wide blade that is serrated near the base of the blade to allow for more versatility in the usage of the knife.
The Dragonfly 2 vg 10 steel is really hard and although the edge retention is great, sharpening it may need some level of experience to do it. In addition, the serrations can be difficult to sharpen without the proper tools and experience. If you need to learn how, you can check out my article about how to sharpen serrated blades here.
The knife also comes with a reversible wire clip to keep it safely locked while in your pocket. You can reverse the clip to allow you to use the knife in your left hand.
The handle is a fiberglass reinforced nylon that is not only super light but also strong. The handle gives a firm ergonomic grip and the front finger choil on the base of the blade ensures that your hand remains in place while using the knife.
If you are out on a hunt for a great and versatile knife that will hold its edge and withstand a considerable amount of abuse, VG 10 knives are a great place to start. Although they are considered slightly expensive compared to other steels, the hardness, corrosion resistance, and edge retention are totally worth it.