The Ultimate Dalstrong Kitchen Knife Guide from Mid-range to High-end Sets
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 easy to learn about. They used to be a budget brand, and there’s more than a few professional cooks and chefs who still look down their nose at Dalstrong knives. But lately they’ve 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 are a pretty safe bet because they’ve chosen the unique path of putting customer satisfaction over quality on their list of priorities, so 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. So let’s see how they tread that line.
- Gladiator Series – Review
- Gladiator Series Colossal Set – Review
- Phantom Series – Review
- Crusader Series – Review
- Shadow Black – Review
- Infinity Series – Review
- Shogun Series – Review
- Omega Series – Review
- 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
- Most budget friendly series
- Full basic set
- Lower end carbon steel
- A little too light for harder cutting
This set is kind of the default option of all the Dalstrong sets. 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 generally 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.
Gladiator Series Colossal Set
- 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, handmade walnut block.
- Literally any knife you will ever want in the kitchen
- Including steak knives. Let’s not forget the steak knives
- It’s gonna take up a bit 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.
- 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
- Nicer steel
- Efficient block design
- Good balance and edge retention
- Engravings make it a little harder to clean
If you’re more into Japanese style knives, the Phantom series should probably be the first place you look. They have another, much more expensive Japanese series which we’ll get into later, but this is the only one you can get as a set right now. It 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 obviously 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. The shape also 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.
- 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
- Very low cost option
- Highly rust resistant
- Easy to clean
- Wood magnetic sheaths
- Not sold as a full set
- Soft steel
This is their newest budget set so it doesn’t have a lot of pieces yet, and the only type of knife you can buy as a set is the steak knife. There’s a lot about this set that’s interesting, though, and maybe a bit confusing.
First of all, they don’t come with their own block (yet), but instead 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 barebones 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. Something Dalstrong calls a “pure” design and attribute 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.
Shadow Black Series
- In the series: 7” Santoku knife, 8” chef knife, 5.5” Utility knife, 4” paring knife, 7” cleaver.
- High carbon German steel
- G10 handles
- Titanium nitride coating
- Comfortable handles
- Rust resistant coating
- Low price
- Budget steel
- Not widely sold as a set
- Owning one immediately reveals your mid-life crisis
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.
The other important thing to know is that, 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.
I haven’t seen anything that says what the specific steel is their using, but Dalstrong calls is “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.
- AUS-10V steel cladded with SUS410
- 8-10 degree edge
- Rockwell Hardness 62
- G-10 handles
- Full tang
- Nice steel
- Great edge retention
- Pretty expensive
- Can’t buy as a whole set at once
- Hard steel also means brittle steel
This is one of the Dalstrong series that they don’t sell as a set yet, but I keep hearing rumors they’re going to release it as a set with a knife block soon. That will be pretty cool, because 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 really build a full matching arsenal in your kitchen with Shogun knives. Just not all at once.
- BD1N-V hyper steel
- Rockwell hardness 63
- Vacuum heat treatment
- G-10 handles
- Full tang
- Very very sharp
- Incredible edge retention
- Can’t buy whole set at once
- Limited options
Again, this isn’t sold as a set, partly because Dalstrong doesn’t have a lot of knives out in the Omega series yet. There are four, as of this writing: the Kiritsuke chef knife, the santoku, a boning knife, and a paring knife. 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.
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.
- Set Includes: 6.75” chef knife, 3.75” paring knife,
- Ceramic blades
- Doesn’t rust or leave an aftertaste
- BPA free
- Ultra light
- About as sharp as you can get
- Great edge retention
- Comfortable handles
- Super brittle
- Too light for those unfamiliar with ceramic
Dalstrong doesn’t push the Infinity series as much these days, but it’s still worth checking out. 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.
It looks like the Infinity series has currently 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.