Dalstrong Knife Guide – Gladiator, Phantom and Crusader

Dalstrong Cutlery knife guide including Gladiator, Shogun and Omega

The Ultimate Dalstrong Kitchen Knife And Block Set Guide

Dalstrong presents a worthy alternative to brands like Wusthoff or Shun by having some of the best customer service in the industry, and knowing how to make all their knives easy to find and learn about. They used to be a budget brand, and there are more than a few professional cooks and chefs who still look down their noses at Dalstrong knives. But lately Dalstrong has pushed into the high-end cutlery world pretty aggressively and come out with some interesting stuff. The quality is decent enough, if a little inconsistent sometimes, but they’re always quick to answer questions and fix problems or send replacements if you get a bad set. On top of that, everything they make looks beautiful, from the white-box packaging to the mirror finish on their steel.

Dalstrong isn’t the best answer for everyone. There are more traditional brands for high-end sets, and if you’re looking for other styles in the reasonably priced range there are more options than you might think. But a set of Dalstrongs is a pretty safe bet because they’ve chosen the unique path of putting customer satisfaction over quality on their list of priorities. When you don’t like something, there’s a decent guarantee of getting a replacement or your money back if something goes wrong.

Make no mistake, this company has some marketing genius behind it, but they also understand that quality plays an important part in keeping us happy.

Here is the complete list of Dalstrong knife series and knife sets

 

Gladiator Series

The Gladiator series is currently the most expansive and low-cost in Dalstrong line up. The only series that might beat it for price are the Shadow Black series and the Crusaders, which are both still pretty limited in knife options and have vastly different ergonomics. The only other series that comes close to the same broad variety of knives is the Shogun series which which is up a tier in price. This is the tried and true base line option with Dalstrong.

Gladiator 8 Piece Set

Dalstrong cutlery Gladiator kitchen knife set.

Specifications
  • Set Includes: 8” Chef knife, 7” Santoku knife, 9” bread knife, 9” carving/slicer, 6.5” utility knife, 6” serrated utility knife, 3.5” paring knife, 8” Gladiator series honing steel.
  • X50CrMoV15 High Carbon German steel
  • Rockwell Hardness of 56
  • Full tang
  • Laminated pakkawood handles
  • Mirror polish
  • Solid Acacia Wood Block
  • Includes BPA-free Dalstrong PerfectFit sheath

Pros

  • Most budget-friendly series
  • Full basic set
  • Series offers the widest range of colors and knvives

Cons

  • Lower end carbon steel
  • A little too light for harder cutting

This set is kind of the default option of all the Dalstrong options. It’s from their cheapest series, and the general consensus is that these knives are fairly comfortable. A few people find some of the longer knives a bit unwieldy, but once you get used to the feel of them you don’t really notice. They also lean more on the light side, which makes it a little more difficult to cut harder vegetables, and that’s really not ideal in western-style kitchen knives. But I think it’s only fair to give some leeway to the balance in an 8-piece set that falls under $300. This set in particular includes a modestly-sized block made out of solid acacia, which is one of the big selling points for me. Of all the blocks on here, I think this one looks the best, and it’s small enough to fit easily into pretty much any kitchen.

The Gladiator series as a whole is also a good option if you want a particular color. Dalstrong is always changing their line up, but as of now you can get a Gladiator set in green, red, white, blue, and black.

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Gladiator Series Colossal Set

Dalstrong Gladiator Colossal Kitchen knife set.

Specifications
  • Set Includes: 8.5” Kiritsuke chef knife, 8” chef knife, 7” chef knife, 7” nakiri knife, 9” carving/slicer, 9” bread knife, 6” boning knife, 6.5” utility knife, 6” serrated utility knife, 5” sterak knives (6), 3.5” paring knife, 2.75” bird’s beak paring knife, 10” Gladiator series honing steel.
  • High Carbon ThyssenKrupp German Steel
  • Rockwell Hardness of 56
  • Full Tang
  • Hand, Satin Polish
  • Laminated Pakkawood Handles
  • Handmade Walnut Wood Block

 

Pros

  • Literally any knife you will ever want in the kitchen
  • Including steak knives. Let’s not forget the steak knives

Cons

  • It’s gonna take up a lot of space on the counter
  • Do you really need that many knives?

 

Same series as before, just more. A lot more.

The most important addition here is in the steak knife department. You have no idea how much I appreciate Dalstrong for bringing steak knives into this. As a heart-endangered pseudo redneck, I’ve always felt that steak knives are vastly underused by most other kitchen cutlery companies.

You get some other cool stuff in this set too, like that giant nakiri-style knife, and the kiritsuke chef knife. Again, the kind of stuff you don’t see a lot in other sets, so this covers pretty much any kind of culinary tradition you could think of, if you’re the kind to experiment.

But the steak knives. That’s where it’s at.

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Gladiator Steak Knife Set

Gladiator Steak Knife Set

The series makes a solid transition into steak knives with the high carbon steel and graton edges to help with food release. Dalstrong has also been kind enough to offer a few different options in this style: the plain-edge knives with black handles, the serrated edges with black handles, or the plain edge with white handles.

The white handles do come with a couple problems, though: they don’t offer any other Gladiator knives in white (yet), and the handle material is ABS plastic instead of G-10.

That means the white steak knives are usually about $10 cheaper, but they won’t have quite the same feel. Still a nice set either way, though.

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Phantom Series

If you’re more into Japanese style knives, the Phantom series should probably be the first place you look. Dalstrong also has the Shogun series which features Japanese style knives, but they’re much more expensive and it’s easier to find the Phantom series in a set right now. The only possible problem is they don’t make a huge variety of knives under the Phantom name, mostly having a strict selection of Japanese knives with a couple Western staples like chef and utility knives thrown in.

Phantom 6 Piece Set with Magnetic Stand

The Dalstrong Phantom kitchen knife set is a premium set. .

Specifications
  • Set Includes: 9.5” Kiritsuke chef knife, 8” chef knife, 7” santoku, 9” bread knife, 5” utility knife, 4” paring knife, Dragon Spine Double Magnetic Sided walnut knife block.
  • Full tang
  • Aus8 Japanese steel
  • Rockwell Hardness 58
  • Ice tempered steel for better edge retention
  • Tradition Japanese D-shaped handle
  • Laminated Pakkawood handles

 

Pros

  • Nicer steel
  • Efficient block design
  • Good balance and edge retention

Cons

  • Engravings make it a little harder to clean

This set only comes with 6 knives, but you get pretty much every kind of chef knife, plus paring and utility knives, so it’s not like it’ll leave you without all the tools you really need.

One of the most striking things about this set is the block, which can hold a total of 12 knives thanks to the double-sided magnetic design. It might take some getting used to. Just looking at it, I get a little confused and the shape probably won’t play well with small counters. Anyone who’s had to work in a very small kitchen can attest to the ergonomic nightmare that large round shapes can create with limited space. It gets points for being unique, though, and it gives you plenty of empty slots to build on your set.

The steel is the other interesting thing to me. I’ve seen Aus8 in a few other kitchen knives, but not a lot. Part of me wonders why not go all the way to VG-10 as long as you’re going Japanese steel, but I think this was a calculated compromise between hardness and price. With the steel being cooled in liquid nitrogen it seems likely that you won’t have too much trouble with edge retention.

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Crusader Series

These are unfortunately difficult knives to find as a set. Dalstrong’s intention with this design seems to be durability since they’ve used a softer X50CrMoV15 steel cooked to 58 HRC and ground the edges to 16 degrees while most of their other knives are 61 HRC with 12 to 15 degree edges. Either way, these are good tough knives that highlight minimalist design and easy maintenance.

The Crusader Series do not come in a set yet. They are sold individually with acacia wood sheaths.

Crusader Specifications

  • In the Series: 7” Nakiri knife, 7” Santoku knife, 6” Utility knife, Steak knives (set)
  • X50CrMoV15 High Carbon German steel
  • Rockwell Hardness of 58+
  • Acacia wood sheaths w/ magnet
  • Edges sharpened to 16 – 18 degrees per side

Pros

  • Very low cost option
  • Highly rust resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Wood magnetic sheaths

Cons

  • Not sold as a full set
  • Soft steel

 

There’s a lot about this set that’s interesting, and maybe a bit confusing.

First of all, they don’t come with their own block (yet), but in individual acacia wood sheaths with a magnetic strip inside to hold the knife in place. With that you could maybe build your own knife block after you get enough Crusaders and sort of stack them next to each other. From the look they seem to be designed to stand on their own, but I honestly couldn’t say how something like this will actually work out in practice.

The steel and the bare-bones design is probably a big reason why the price is so low on this series. It uses the same soft steel as the Gladiator series just without the pakkawood handles. Instead you get a stripped down stainless steel loop, which Dalstrong calls a “pure” design and attributes the name to that. History buffs will maybe see a good joke in that logic, but ultimately what Dalstrong has made here is a good series for people just starting out on the cook-at-home adventure, or someone on a tight budget.

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Shadow Black Series

The important thing to know about the Shadow Black series is that it’s probably the most comfortable series in the low-budget options. The hard-line geometry of the handles actually reminds me a lot of Zero Tolerance folding knives, which is pretty interesting to see on kitchen cutlery.

Shadow Black 5 Piece Set

The Shadow Black Series probably the most comfortable series in the low-budget options from Dalstrong.

  • Set Includes: 7” Santoku knife, 8” chef knife, 5.5” Utility knife, 4” paring knife, 7” cleaver.
  • High carbon German steel
  • G10 handles
  • Titanium nitride coating

 

Pros

  • Comfortable handles
  • Rust resistant coating
  • Low price

Cons

  • Budget steel
  • Owning one immediately reveals your mid-life crisis

 

Despite what the description on Dalstrong’s site might have you believe, no one is going to think you look more muscular using these knives. Their insistence on playing the Shadow Black series off as some kind of tactical kitchen option “inspired by the F-117 stealth bomber” distracts from its real appeal as the more comfortable alternative to their Gladiator and Crusader knives.

The 5-piece set belies the range of options offered under the Shadow Black series. Dalstrong has added quite a bit since they first released the series. It’s still not as many as what you’ll find in the Gladiator series, but it still offers a nice range of Western and Japanese knives. So it’s kind of a shame that they sell such a small set with no room for adding individual knives on. It still gives you the basics of what you need for heavy cutting and fine-tuned carving.

I haven’t seen anything that mentions what specific steel they’re using, but Dalstrong calls it “high carbon German steel” and lists the Rockwell Hardness at 58, so I’m assuming it’s the same thing in the Gladiator and Crusader series, just with a black coating.

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Shadow Black Steak Knife Set

The Shadow Black steak knife set from Dalstrong sports a modern design and the knives are made of quality materials.

Like the rest of the Shadow Black set, the handles are what really stand out on the steak knives. The difference is that other people besides yourself will be using them. Despite the weird angular look of these knives, they meant to be very comfortable. And even if your guests don’t like them, it will at least give them something to comment on during long awkward pauses in the conversation.

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Shogun Series

Dalstrong Shogun chef knife.

Specifications

  • AUS-10V steel with SUS410 cladding
  • 8-10 degree edge
  • Rockwell Hardness 62
  • G-10 handles
  • Full tang

 

Pros

  • Nice steel
  • Great edge retention

Cons

  • Pretty expensive
  • Hard steel also means brittle steel

 

Shogun is definitely one of their nicest series. They’re a fairly well done Japanese style with AUS-10V steel, which is getting into higher-end territory than most of their other sets. It’s a lot like VG-10, but in this case Dalstrong has layered it with a high carbon steel, so it comes out a lot harder than usual. That also means it’s going to be more brittle, and most of the blades in the series are made thinner for precision. You really have to cut clean and careful with these, but as long as you’re treating these knives right they will work beautifully.

They’ve also made a quite a few different types of knives in the Shogun series. I think there’s something close to 30 different knives in this series (including steak knives, by the way), so unlike their other high-end series, Omega, you can build a full matching arsenal in your kitchen with Shogun knives.

For now it looks like they sell two sets in the Shogun series: a 3-piece paring knife set, and a 5-piece set in an acacia wood block.

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Shogun Series X 5 Piece Set

The Dalstrong Series X 5 piece set shown outside the storage block on the left and inside the storage block on the right.

  • Set Includes: 8″ Chef knife, 7″ santoku knife, 6″ utility knife, 3.5″ paring knife, 8″ bread knife,
  • Hammer finished Damascus steel
  • Handmade acacia woodblack with stainless steel finish

Pros

  • Basically the same Shogun performance with a more interesting aesthetic
  • Better for food release

Cons

  • Limited block comes with all slots full

This is essentially the same as the regular Shogun series; they’ve just made the knives with a hammer finish. Usually when a kitchen knife has a hammer finish it’s not just an aesthetic choice. With Japanese knives it’s called a tsuchime finish, and while it does give a nice call back to how a lot of hand made knives looked coming out of old school Japanese blacksmiths, it also helps to reduce drag and stop food from sticking to the sides as you cut.

Ultimately, the steel, angle grind, and rockwell hardness are the same as regular Shogun knives, and Dalstrong is the kind of company that understands branding well enough that two sets with the same series name won’t have a vast difference in performance.

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Shogun Steak Knife Set

A Dalstrong Shogun series steak knife set of four with the knife sheaths and boxes.

Since the Shogun Series is mostly about Japanese cutlery, I think Dalstrong made an effort to make these steak knives slimmer than usual. That effort created a pretty stellar looking set alongside the Damascus steel. In some ways it’s on the opposite end of the aesthetic spectrum from the Shadow Black series. The real difference is in how the Shoguns cut, though, because this is the series where Dalstrong starts getting really serious about their steel, and refine the edges down to 12 degrees.

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Omega Series

It doesn’t look like Dalstrong has started selling the Omegas as a set, even though they’ve updated the series with enough knives to make one (including a steak knife set). Right now, if you want these as a set you’ll have to buy them all separately, but they should fit in nicely with the Shogun series knives if you want to mix and match with a block you already have.

The Dalstrong Omega series is a Damascus type kitchen knife.

Specifications

  • BD1N-V hyper steel
  • Rockwell hardness 63
  • Vacuum heat treatment
  • G-10 handles
  • Full tang

 

Pros

  • Very very sharp
  • Incredible edge retention

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Can’t buy whole set at once
  • Limited options

I hadn’t heard of BD1N-V steel before coming across these knives, but it turns out it’s not that uncommon among kitchen cutlery. In terms of composition, it’s about the same as 440C, just with some nitrogen mixed in. That combined with the right kind of heat treatment (and apparently Dalstrong’s vacuum heat treatment is pretty stringent) creates an incredibly hard steel. In fact, the only series that has harder blade material than the Omegas is the Infinity series, and you’ve gone to an extreme when you’re comparing things to ceramic blades.

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Omega Steak Knife Set

The Dalstrong Omega steak knife set shown with it's packaging.

As things stand now, this is as high-end as you can get with Dalstrong steak knives. They have all the wonders of the hard-cooked hyper steel in the Omega series, but the attraction for me is how thick the handles are. Dalstrong put a lot of effort into workshopping the balance of these knives, and the shape of the handles go a long way to creating a solid, comfortable grip. These are also just the most visually striking knives. There are so many little details the blend into each other really well, so the knives tend to have a profound effect when people see them for the first time.

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Quantum 1 Series

A Dalstrong Quantum 1 Series chef knife and santoku knife with their boxes and sheaths.

Specifications

  • BD1N-VX hyper steel
  • Rockwell hardness 63+
  • Vacuum heat treatment
  • G-10 and carbon fiber hybrid
  • Full tang

 

Pros

  • Razor edge
  • Super hard steel
  • Well textured handles with an interesting aestethic

Cons

  • High priced
  • Not offered as a block set
  • Thin handles aren’t for everyone

This series actually shares a lot of details with the Omega series: They run the same steel and hardness, and what sounds like basically the same heat treatment. Even the angle grind is at the same 12 degrees. But you take a step back from the microscopic details and you see the two series are very different.

Mostly noticeably, the handles of the Quantum knives are textured and have some carbon fiber running through them. Where the Omega knives fill the whole hand from the middle, the Quantum knives make the most use of space by widening near the top where you need the most grip anyway. When we start talking edge to food, the Quantum knives probably cut about the same as the Omegas, but shape of the handle might make you cut a little more delicately.

The one really big similarity, though, is that Dalstrong’s Quantum knives aren’t sold as a set. It’s still a fairly new line, and it’s very high priced so I doubt we’ll see a Quantum block set anytime soon.

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Frost Fire Series

The Dalstrong Frost Fire chef knife and bread knife side by side.

Specifications

  • 10Cr15MoV steel
  • White resin handle with aluminum mesh
  • Individual knives come with PU leather sheaths
  • Sandblasted finish to reduce food sticking
  • 60-61 Rockwell hardness
  • Full tang

Pros

  • Highly corrosion resistant steel
  • Unique aesthetic
  • Leather sheaths are an interesting touch

Cons

  • Not sold as a set (yet)
  • Odd lines to knives might throw some people off

If you really like contouring, then you’ll probably like the Frost Fire knives. Dalstrong went a little crazy with the lines in this series, but there’s no denying it made these knives memorable. Besides the extreme contouring of the handles, the blades of many of their Frost Fire designs have extreme ways of tapering at the tip or swooping along the spine that might make the overall balance and ergonomics a little different from what you might be used to.

The name is in part a reference to the white color theme, but it more functionally refers to the sandblasted finish on the blade, which, according to them, gives it a “frosted look to enhance non-stick properties”. That non-stick feature is a really good feature to have for these, because a lot of the knives are pretty tall, and would otherwise be frustratingly prone to a build of vegetable trimmings.

The leather sheath might seem like a weird accessory to add. I’ve never personally seen someone wear their chef knife in a sheath when they’re cooking, but maybe that’s just because they were never given the option. Regardless, Dalstrong is going to send you one with these knives whether you like it or not.

Ronin Series

Dalstrong Ronin Series knives with sheaths and boxes on a white bacjground.

Specifications

  • AUS10V steel laminated for stain resistance and durability
  • Single bevel grind
  • G-10 Octagon handle
  • Knives come with magnetic wood sheath

Pros

  • Great for butchering fish and cutting sushi
  • Premium steel
  • Tough and comfortable handles

Cons

  • Series currently has a very small selection
  • Very hard steel makes it more vulnerable to chipping

This is a much more traditional series than we’ve typically seen from Dalstrong so far. Between the octagon handles, the blade heavy balance, and the single bevel grind, the Ronin series looks well suited to Japanese cuisine. It certainly takes a harder line than their Shogun series, which has some premium knives in its line up, but definitely leans more toward the Western style.

The VG-10V core on the blade is laminated with a pattern to reduce drag and add toughness, but some of the designs, like the Honesuki, have such a high grind, the steel layering isn’t likely to add much more than aesthetic appeal. For the sushi knife though, it should be more than enough to prevent food sticking at the very least.

Infinity series

The Dalstrong Infinity ceramic knives are ery light.

Specifications

  • Set Includes: 6.75” chef knife, 3.75” paring knife,
  • Ceramic blades
  • Doesn’t rust or leave an aftertaste
  • BPA free
  • Ultra light

 

Pros

  • About as sharp as you can get
  • Great edge retention
  • Comfortable handles

Cons

  • Super brittle
  • Too light for those unfamiliar with ceramic

 

Ceramic knives are kind of a niche thing because they’re so brittle, so they probably present a tricky problem for Dalstrong’s ever-vigilant customer service. If you don’t understand ceramic knives, you will almost certainly end up breaking them.

But if you’re going for sharpness and edge retention, the Infinity knives will give you more of both than any other series. They also look quite a bit different from other ceramic knives I’ve seen. Usually you’ll see fun solid colors, but Dalstrong opted for either mirror finishes or stone grey, which I kind of like. This set is particularly good in terms of price. Getting a chef knife and a paring knife for under $50 is as good a deal as you could hope for, and their lifetime warranty makes it a pretty safe purchase.

It’s not the kind of thing I would recommend to most people, but if you’re into ceramic kitchen knives, I’d be willing to put Dalstrong up next to Kyocera.

Update: It looks like the Infinity series has been discontinued. We are leaving this section in the guide in case Dalstrong brings it back. Hopefully they do, because they are one of the few companies to create an affordable ceramic knife that competes with Kyocera.

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