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 into 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.
Related Article: Best Kitchen Knife Sets
Our #1 Pick
The Enso Damascus blade is made of high quality VG10 steel, sustaining an Amazon review of 4.9 / 5 stars with over 300 ratings (as of 01/07/2021).
Top 3 Compared
Damascus Steel Vs. Other Chef Knives
It's important we all understand the difference between Damascus Steel and other Knife-making tactics. First off, nothing that we see today would likely resemble the traditional Damascus steel.
The unique manufacturing process involved dates back as far as 600 BC, and 2500 years is plenty of time for us 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 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.
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 outsmart some of the world's most renowned historians, our hats off to you. But at this point even the experts are speculating.
But for the rest of us living on planet Earth, we're happy with a knife that is layered (folded), uses high quality stainless steel, and reveals a nice swirling design after acid etching.
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
We encourage you to do a little extra research. For each knife, go to the reviews and look through the customer pictures. These pictures 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.
While all Damascus blades will have folded steel, it's important the steel is made of high quality, strong, durable material. The two 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).
Most handle material 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.
Most of the Damascus blades below will come with some kind of a storage case. You'll find a 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 no the web.
The 37-layer VG10 steel blade with a Rockwell hardness of 61 makes this 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).
5 / 5 Stars
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 allow 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 rabbits 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 on the right path...
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.
5 / 5 Stars
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 this knife fosters.
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 a subjective.
4.5 / 5 Stars
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 2600 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.
4.5 / 5 Stars
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 an edge better 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 little 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.
4.5 / 5 Stars
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.
5 / 5 Stars
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 hard 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 dry 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.
5 / 5 Stars
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 use.
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 look exactly the same as the company advertises. In other words, you know exactly what you'll get.
If for some reason you don't get what you see, 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, 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.
4.5 / 5 Stars
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 of the price of most 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 hard to verify. If you're looking for very distinct "Damascus" lines, we would steer clear of this knife.
4.5 / 5 Stars
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 pricing.
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 being lost 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.
4.5 / 5 Stars