Written by:
Michael

Updated
03/21/2021

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If you've made it to this page, than you've probably heard. Damascus steel knives are all the rage in kitchen cutlery these days. But is this just a hype? Is there some validity to the appearance and functionality of these blades?

Well, that's the question we're here to answer.

Below you'll find a detailed guide to what separates Damascus steel from your everyday kitchen knives. We've also outlined a list of the best Damascus chef knives to date.

If you'd like to skip to the product reviews, click here.

Enjoy!

Related Article: Best Kitchen Knife Sets

Our #1 Pick

The Enso Damascus blade is made of high quality VG10 steel, sustaining an incredible Amazon rating of 4.9 / 5 stars with over 300 reviews (as of 01/07/2021). The unusually high amount of reviews, reasonable price, high quality materials and included sheath made this our favorite Damascus blade.

Top 3 Compared


Preview
Best Overall
Enso Chef's Knife with Sheath - Made in Japan - HD Series - VG10...
Highest Quality
Enso SG2 Chef's Knife - Made in Japan - 101 Layer Stainless Damascus...
Budget
[8-Inch]Chef Knife FANTECK Professional Damascus Chef Knife High...
Title
Enso Chef's Knife with Sheath - Made in Japan - HD Series - VG10...
Enso SG2 Chef's Knife - Made in Japan - 101 Layer Stainless Damascus...
[8-Inch]Chef Knife FANTECK Professional Damascus Chef Knife High...
Blade Length
8 inch
8 inch
8 inch
Steel
VG10
SG2
VG10
Handle Material
Micarta
Micarta
G10 (Fiberglass)
Hardness
61 Rockwell
63 Rockwell
60 +/- 2 Rockwell
Prime
-
-
Price
Price not available
$299.95
$59.99
Warranty
Lifetime
Lifetime
Lifetime
Best Overall
Preview
Enso Chef's Knife with Sheath - Made in Japan - HD Series - VG10...
Title
Enso Chef's Knife with Sheath - Made in Japan - HD Series - VG10...
Blade Length
8 inch
Steel
VG10
Handle Material
Micarta
Hardness
61 Rockwell
Prime
-
Price
Price not available
Warranty
Lifetime
Details
Highest Quality
Preview
Enso SG2 Chef's Knife - Made in Japan - 101 Layer Stainless Damascus...
Title
Enso SG2 Chef's Knife - Made in Japan - 101 Layer Stainless Damascus...
Blade Length
8 inch
Steel
SG2
Handle Material
Micarta
Hardness
63 Rockwell
Prime
-
Price
$299.95
Warranty
Lifetime
Details
Budget
Preview
[8-Inch]Chef Knife FANTECK Professional Damascus Chef Knife High...
Title
[8-Inch]Chef Knife FANTECK Professional Damascus Chef Knife High...
Blade Length
8 inch
Steel
VG10
Handle Material
G10 (Fiberglass)
Hardness
60 +/- 2 Rockwell
Prime
Price
$59.99
Warranty
Lifetime
Details

Top Rated Products

4) Zelite Infinity 8" Damascus Steel AUS-10 Stainless Steel Chef Knife - Best AUS-10 Stainless Steel Damascus Blade

5) KYOKU Daimyo Series 8" Damascus Steel Japanese VG10 Chef Knife - Best VG10 Stainless Steel Damascus Knife

6) KYOKU Daimyo Series 8.5" Damascus Steel Japanese VG10 Chef Knife  - Best 8.5" Blade Damascus Knife (compared to the usual 8")

9) Fanteck 8" Damascus Steel 67 Layer Chef Knife w/ Ergonomic Blue Handle - Best Damascus Steel Knife w/ Blue handle (BUDGET ITEM)

10) Ytuomzi 8" Chef Knife w/ Damascus Steel 67-Layer High Carbon Blade - Best Budget Damascus Steel Knife Overall (BUDGET ITEM)

Damascus Steel Vs. Other Chef Knives


Damascus
Blade

Typical
Blade

Before making the decision to purchase one of these blades, it's important you understand the difference between "Damascus Steel" and other processes of making knives.

First off, nothing that we see today will likely resemble the traditional Damascus steel.

The unique Damascus steel manufacturing process dates back as far as 600 BC, giving us plenty of time to muddle things up. With that said, there are a few common traits that we've MAYBE been able to reverse engineer.

Damascus steel is created by layering (or folding) steel with a mixture of metals (predominantly high-carbon based), followed by acid etching to encourage a visual distinction in the steel elements, giving rise to the well-known swirling designs on the blade.

While knife enthusiasts may gasp at this oversimplification, after much research, this seems to be the only common qualities we can all agree on. 

DIY Easy Crafts made an awesome clip that takes you through the Damascus steel manufacturing process. In contrast, here's a video of how your ordinary, everyday chef knives are mass produced

The Most Common Customer Complaint


Also, very importantly, there's really no current label restraints on the term "Damascus Steel." After reading a substantial number of customer reviews, the most common negative customer response was...

"This isn't authentic Damascus steel!"

Well, if you've somehow managed to obtain more knowledge than some of the world's most renowned historians, hats off to you. But truth be told, even the experts are speculating on the original manufacturing process.  

In todays world, the Damascus steel that any knife enthusiast would be proud to own is a knife layered (folded) with high quality stainless steel, and possesses an attractive swirled design.

A sharp, resilient blade and a good balance between blade and handle are also important qualities, but personal to each person's taste. We've included these qualities with each knife below to help you find the right one for you.   

Qualities to Look For


  • Blade Swirl Designs

Highly Recommended: For each knife, go to the reviews and look through the customer pictures. Looking at customer photos will help you see if there are any differences between the advertised company images, and the knife you'll receive. A lot of buyers complained that the blade swirls weren't as distinct as the company images suggested. 

  • Steel Type

While all Damascus blades will have folded steel, it's important the steel is made of high quality, strong, durable material. The three materials the knife community are unanimously happy with are SG2, VG10, AUS-10 steel. If the company vaguely says Damascus steel without specifying which type of steel, this can raise some red flags (not always an indication of a bad blade though).

  • Handle Material

Most handle materials will do you just fine. If you're in the market for a knife handle that will last a lifetime, G10 fiberglass is incredibly durable. The majority of the Damascus knives below will have a G10 handle. Micarta is also a common handle material and offers similar advantages to G10. 

  • Case

Most of the Damascus blades below will come with some kind of storage case. You'll find a style range that extends from cheaper plastic cases, all the way up to extravagant bamboo cases that turn into a cutting board

Type "case" into the Amazon questions tab and see what other reviewers had to say on each knife page. This will help you get a leg up on the quality of the case. You can use this tactic for all qualities of the knife. 

Best Damascus Chef Knives


1) Enso Chef's Knife with Sheath - Made in Japan - HD Series - VG10 Hammered Damascus Stainless Steel Gyuto - 8" Blade with Saya Cover

As far as price, quality and customer consensus, there's no other Damascus blade we've found to be more suitable for the everyday cook. Enso has proven to be a superior knife company, sticking close to traditional Japanese manufacturing techniques. 

With over 300 Amazon ratings, Enso's Damascus knife has sustained a 4.9 / 5 star review (as of 01/16/2021). Not only the highest reviews in terms of Damascus chef knives, but some of the highest reviews we've ever seen.

The 37-layer VG10 steel blade with a Rockwell hardness of 61 makes this knife a precision tool. With such a relatively high toughness rating, this blade can slice through meat and vegetables with absolute ease.

Keep in mind, knives with this kind of hardness aren't designed for cutting through thicker, harder materials (like bones). Stick to malleable food material and you'll find this blade can last a lifetime.

Our rating:

5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "Perfectly balanced with great weight for extended periods of cutting."
  • "Blows German knives out of the water."
  • "A true form Japanese blade forged and made in Japan."
  • Made for precision cutting

Cons

  • Rare complaints of deformities (contact company if this happens)

2) Enso SG2 Chef's Knife - Made in Japan - 101 Layer Stainless Damascus Gyuto, 8"

Most knife enthusiasts would agree that Enso creates some of the highest quality Japanese knives available. While there are surely knives that compete, nothing quite compares to the quality you get for the price.

The majority of the high caliber, Japanese knives will run you upwards of $500-$1000. Obviously prices can breach this upper limit, but for purposes of everyday cooks, this is the higher class price range for those looking for the real deal.  

The most noticeable component that separates this blade from every one below it is the steel material. If you look up SG2 steel on the web, it won't take you long to find a forum of knife enthusiasts raving about how good it is.

SG2 stands for Super Gold 2. It's created using powder metallurgy which allows manufactures to create a very high alloy steel. While higher alloy steels tend to have poor toughness, the lower chromium carbide content helps to balance this out. 

You can knock yourself out with the endless forums regarding the best blade material. We've followed many rabbit holes trying to get to the bottom of it. We've found that high reviews coupled with a steel material that knife enthusiasts regard as "one of the best," is enough for most of us.

Here's a few links to get you started on the right path:

VG-10 vs. SG2  

What is Powder Metallurgy?

With just over 5 Amazon ratings, this Damascus steel knife has maintained a 4.8 / 5 star review (as of 01/05/2021). While there aren't a lot of Amazon reviews yet, you can take a look at Cutlery and More to get a better idea of how well these knives review. 

Our rating:

5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "This is not some Chinese re-brand with Japanese steel."
  • Very sharp
  • "The balance is amazing."
  • "It also feels really nice and comfortable in the hand."

Cons

  • "This knife is for precision, NOT chicken bones."
  • Tougher, but more fragile

3) Mikarto 8" Gyuto Japanese Damascus Chef Knife with Hammer Finish

Mikarto makes a beautiful knife...

Plain and simple.

And while the beauty is enough to captivate any knife enthusiast, the real attraction comes from the qualities the knife foster.

The Mikarto chef knife blade was manufactured with VG10 steel, marveled as the "gold standard" material for its ability to resist rust and hold an edge. Mikarto boasts, and customers enthusiastically verify, the knife requires little maintenance compared to other blade material. 

The blade also has a hardness of 62+ with 66 layers of high-carbon metal making it a durable, fine-tuned work horse. The final nitrogen-cooling step of the knife-making process lends itself to a rust-free, corrosion resistant kitchen knife.

The upper portion of the knife features a hammered finish which gives it a sleek, medieval-looking appearance. You'll find the subtle folds of steel create a nice contrast to the monotonously smooth look of typical chef knives.  

With over 190 Amazon ratings, this model has sustained a 4.6 / 5 star review (as of 12/2/2020). Customers repeatedly touched on the sleek look, sharp blade, and ergonomic handle. There were a few complaints regarding the handle being too heavy, but this is subjective. 

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "Beautiful, yet deadly sharp."
  • Solid customer service
  • Balanced, yet slightly handle-heavy
  • Beautiful storage box

Cons

  • Some complain of too much weight in the handle
  • Complains of it dulling over time (not with proper sharpening)

4) Zelite Infinity 8" Damascus Steel Chef Knife AUS-10 Stainless Steel Blade Lasts a Lifetime

It's always a breath of fresh air to find unanimously positive reviews for a product. There's usually always some degree of deception in advertising, but it makes it all the more sweeter when you find a company who actually lives by what they preach.

The Zelite Infinity 8" chef knife (and the miscellaneous other knives) are the most reviewed Damascus knives on Amazon. With over 2,600 Amazon ratings, Zelite's knives have sustained a 4.7 / 5 star review (as of 12/4/2020). 

We usually wait until we've touched on the product features to reveal the customer reviews, but the simple fact of the matter is, this knife's reviews are nothing short of spectacular. Go onto Amazon and take a look for yourself. People were overjoyed with the quality of the knives (chefs and amateurs alike).

Now for the features...

The Zelite blade showcases 67 layers of high carbon Japanese AUS-10 stainless steel. Manufactured using the 3-step Honbazuke Method (a traditional Japanese knife-sharpening/edge retention tactic) ensures this knife shows up to your doorstep with a blade that'll cut through food like butter. 

The handle is a G10 military grade design (a high strength fiber-glass like material) that customers insisted made the balance slightly "handle-heavy." This is an important factor to consider before heading in this direction. Most reviewers like this quality, but there were a few complaints from others saying it was too heavy. 

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "The handle is very smooth, yet has a tactile quality that lets you know it will not slip out of your hand."
  • "The shape is perfect for the chef's-preferred pinch grip."
  • Great responses concerning customer service
  • The customer reviews are ecstatically positive!

Cons

  • Some complain of the handle being too heavy (subjective)
  • Layers may not be as distinct as their pictures suggest

5) KYOKU Daimyo Series 8" Japanese Chef Knife VG10 Steel Core Hammered Damascus Blade 

Kyoku's catchy slogan is "Inspired by tradition but not bound by it." Taking the useful tactics of the past and honing them with our advancements in knowledge and technology...

a mantra we can all get on board with.

Designed with VG10 Japanese steel and 58-60 HRC (a hardness scale; usually ranging from 54-64 with higher numbers being harder metal), makes this a premium kitchen knife. Harder steel generally retains a better edge but is more difficult to sharpen, and softer steel loses its edge quicker but is easier to sharpen.

A 58-60 HRC means the knife falls right in the middle of these two extremes, creating a highly practical knife with average maintenance required. 

The handle is made with G10 (tough fiberglass-like material) with a full tang that allows for a comfortable feel and unwavering strength with its cuts. The bolster also features a gentle slope for you thumb to make the knife feel like a natural part of your hand. 

With over 240 Amazon rating, this knife has sustained a 4.6 / 5 star review (as of 12/5/2020). People continually spoke on the sharpness of the blade, and the comfortability of the handle. There were also a lot of positive remarks with customer service. There were some complaints about the "Damascus layering" not being as pronounced as the images. Something to keep in mind if this is important to you.

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "This knife is incredibly sharp."
  • "Meat slicing hurts my hands but the grip of this knife eased the pain."
  • "It's thick and heavy like my German knives, but has an edge like my Japanese knives."
  • "Their customer service was great I was able to contact the company and from there they were very understanding and willing to hear out the problems that I had"

Cons

  • Dark and light layers not as dinstint as pictures imply
  • Heavier

6) KYOKU Daimyo Series 8.5" Kiritsuke Chef Knife 8.5" - Japanese VG10 Steel Core Forged Damascus Blade

Unsurprisingly, another Kyoku made it on our top 10. You'll find that this knife shares the exact same manufacturing processes of the Kyoku model above, with the exception of a few important qualities...

This blade is 8.5" long instead of the usual 8" standard chef knife.

Also, while most chef knife's come to a point somewhere in the middle of the height of the blade, this knife has its point at the bottom. This makes longer cuts far easier, while making puncturing cuts a little more difficult. 

If anything, we recommend this knife to be used in addition to a standard 8"-blade chef's knife so you can have some additional versatility in the kitchen. 

Just like the Kyoku above, this model features VG10 Japanese steel with an HRC of 58-60, It has an ergonomic, full tang, G10 handle for strength and comfort, and it has a 8-12° bevel on both sides of the blade to cut through food smoothly and effortlessly.

With over 80 Amazon ratings, this knife has sustained a 4.6 / 5 star review (as of 12/5/2020). Customers repeatedly spoke on the magnificent look and the ease to which this knife cuts through anything. There were no common customer complaints. One person complained of the difficulty in sharpening the blade but this is contrasted by the unanimously positive responses from the majority. 

Our rating:

5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "The patterns of damascus looks like many small bubbles and I like it more than the straight pattern on Shun Classic."
  • "I can chop and cut easily with no pressure on my wrist."
  • "I have never owned a chef's knife of this quality and craftsmanship before."
  • "Not only does the knife far exceed my expectations with chopping, slicing and dicing, but the packaging was created with thought."

Cons

  • No common negative responses
  • Not a lot of reviews

7) Master Maison 8" Damascus Steel Executive Chef Knife AUS-10 Japanese Stainless Steel Edge Guard Cover, Sharpening Stone, & Gift Box Holder Included

We call this here the shark tooth blade. The layered metals (Damascus waves) weave their way through the blade to make a beautiful spiked design. The only one of its kind, this kitchen knife is a force to be reckoned with.

Created from one block of high carbon AUS-10 Japanese stainless steel, one of the company's many selling points is how long it takes to make this knife. While this is difficult to validate, it's hard to argue with the customer reviews. 

With 9 Amazon ratings, this knife has sustained a 5 / 5 star review (as of 12/5/2020). While the review count is low, a perfect score is hard to beat. The majority of the reviews are also a few paragraphs of overly enthusiastic words.

The company recommends hand washing only and drying promptly which is always a good indication of the integrity of the company. Companies who say their knives are dishwasher safe are usually offering promises they can't stand by. Dishwashers are overall damaging no matter how well maintained the blade is. 

The blade has an HRC of 62 which is on the harder side of the scale, meaning it will stay sharp for long periods of time, but will require a good sharpening down the road. Equipped with a sharpening stone, sheath and a cloth, there's really nothing extra you need in order to successfully care for this knife. 

Our rating:

5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "It took some time getting used to because it is just so incredibly sharp that there is little to no resistance cutting through most things."
  • "The blade is so incredibly sharp and beautiful to look at."
  • "It's packaged in this nice wooden block, that comes with a beautiful towel and a knife sharpener!!"
  • "When holding the knife it overall feels balanced, light, and just feels really good on the grip."

Cons

  • "The handle itself I felt is a little unnatural to hold."
  • "You kind of have to adjust the sheath/angle the knife or sheath to fit in the box with the blade fully covered."

8) Four Mogils 8" Damascus Steel Chef Knife & Wooden Cutting Board/Storage Case Kitchen Set 

There are a few reasons the Four Mogils chef knife stood out to us.

Firstly...

The knife actually looks as advertised. One of the most common negative customer responses for Damascus knives are that the knife layers are not as distinct (or stand out) as much as the company images suggest.

Go ahead and scroll to the bottom of the Amazon page. You'll find that several customers took photos and the knife looks exactly the same as the company advertises. In other words, you know exactly what you're getting.

And...

If for some reason you don't get what you expect, the company has fantastic reviews in regards to customer service

The 58-60 HRC lends itself to a blade smack dead in the middle of the hardness scale, meaning it should hold an edge with moderately consistent sharpening. Unfortunately, this is another company who doesn't advertise what the core steel is made of. VG-10 and AUS-10 are the usual standards, but the fact that the company doesn't say it, is a little disheartening. 

The bamboo box is a really fantastic idea and the overall customer response was really positive. With over 70 Amazon ratings, this knife has sustained a 4.6 / 5 star review (as of 12/6/2020). People continually spoke on the nifty bamboo cutting board/travel box and the beauty of the blade. 

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "The bamboo box is a really cool idea and is a great way for me to store the knife since I've got 4 little ones around."
  • "it has cut my prep time down substantially."
  • "The knife has really good balance and has a good weight in my hand!!"
  • "It's kept a very good edge."

Cons

  • May need to sharpen often (one customer says)

9) FANTECK 8" Professional Damascus Chef Knife High Carbon Ultra Sharp VG-10 Damascus Stainless Steel 67 Layers 

So it appears that Fanteck strictly sells their knives through Amazon. While this might compel some of us to think less of the company, let us defend their honor.

The perks of strictly selling through Amazon means there is less overhead with company expenses. Less overhead means the company can sell their products for a lower price (not all the time, but usually).

Even though we can't say it for sure, the facts are right there. Fanteck sells their knives for just over half the price of most of the competition, and yet their reviews are surprisingly positive. We encourage you to look into this for yourself. Type "Fanteck knives" into the Amazon search bar and look at the star ratings of all their products. They usually average out at around 4.6 / 5 star reviews.

Pretty remarkable if you ask us!

Like its competitors, this knife blade is made of the favorite, VG10 Japanese stainless steel. The 10-15° edge angle lends itself to a very sharp blade. Also like many of its more expensive competitors, the handle is made of G10 material (fiberglass-like) which is artificially designed for comfort and longevity. 

With over 250 Amazon ratings, this knife has sustained a 4.7 / 5 star review (as of 12/5/2020). The most common customer responses were the sharpness and resiliency of the blade. There were a few complaints about this blade potentially not being true "Damascus." Again, this is hard to verify. If you're looking for very distinct "Damascus" lines, we would steer clear of this knife. 

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "This knife comes boxed in a very attractive sleeved box that makes it perfect for a gift."
  • "I have had this knife for about 2.5 months and use it daily. It has quickly become my go-to chef's knife."
  • "Razor sharp out of the box."
  • "With VG 10 steel it has a really sharp edge & retains sharpness longer."

Cons

  • Could potentially not be Damascus steel some report
  • Handle is on the heavier side

10) Ytuomzi 8" Kitchen Knife VG 10 Damascus Steel Knife High Carbon 67-Layer Chopping Knife

Ytuomzi does not have a company website (to our knowledge), however, Ytuomzi knives are sold by some of the most well-known chains out there including, Amazon, Sears, and Walmart. While not the greatest reflection of the product's value, these stores are notorious for selling goods for a fraction of competitor prices.

Yes, we know it's cheaper and usually, cheaper means lower quality.

But based on the current Amazon reviews, we believe this knife to be worth far more than the the price it requests. With over 50 Amazon ratings, this knife has sustained a 4.8 / 5 star review (as of 12/5/2020), making it the second highest rated knife on our list. 

Here's what it has to offer:

The 67 layer Damascus steel boasts a hardness (HRC) of 60 plus or minus 2, which means it stands somewhere in the middle of the scale between soft and hard steel grades. This is the nice middle ground that allows for easy sharpening without the edge dulling too quickly. 

The G10 fiberglass grip and the finger guard allows for a comfortable and ergonomic feel while chopping/slicing. The blade features rugged bumps that transition into fine lines, which transition into a smooth edge.  

Our rating:

4.5 / 5 Stars

Pros

  • "Knife was very sharp out of the box."
  • "The handle is comfortable, and the knife is well balanced."
  • "This knife has unique wavy and mottle pattern, which is incredibly beautiful."
  • "The knife looks so nice, I like this design."

Cons

  • No common customer complaints (yet)

Concluding


The looks alone make Damascus steel worth considering. When the style is coupled with high-end manufacturing techniques, it's a match made in heaven. We hope this guide was helpful in finding you the right Damascus blade. 

At the very least, we hope you learned something 🙂

Leave a note below if you have any questions or comments.

Cheers,

Michael

Founder of Robust Kitchen

About the author

Michael spends his days eating, drinking and studying the fascinating world of food. He received his Bachelors Degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis and spent much of his time at the school brewery. While school proved to be an invaluable experience, his true passion lies in exposing the hidden crannies of food for the cooking laymen.


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