No recent knife making company has created quite as much of a stir as Dalstrong. Since entering the scene, they’ve committed to making knives in both traditional and innovative styles, using the same top quality materials as competitors. Yet somehow, they’re offering their knives for crazy cheap prices — leading some knife enthusiasts questioning their quality.
I’m here today to clear up some of the confusion surrounding Dalstrong’s knives. After using and comparing them with my favorite “old guard” brands, I’m convinced that Dalstrong has something unique to offer at-home chefs. So in this Dalstrong knife review, I’ll break down the good, the bad, and the ugly before giving you my final verdict on who should buy these knives, and who should pass.
Dalstrong Knife Series, Reviewed
Despite the very “creative” names, most of Dalstrong’s kitchen knife offerings stand up to close scrutiny. From their affordable Shogun series to their luxury Omega knives, I’ll detail which ones deserve a place in your kitchen and why.
Each knife in Dalstrong’s flagship Shogun series goes through a 60-day manufacturing process. This ensures that they’re made to the highest quality standards possible, with Damascus steel blades and military grade G-10 synthetic handles.
The Shogun series knives are designed as a direct competitor to more well-known Japanese knives from Shun, Miyabi, and Kamikoto. And from my experience, they offer nearly the same performance as their more expensive counterparts. The Shogun 8 inch chef knife is particularly nice, with a tsuchime finish that prevents food from sticking to the blade while you cut.
The Phantom series is my favorite of all Dalstrong’s offerings. By doing away with many of the flourishes of more expensive Japanese knives, the Phantom blades emphasize the minimalist aspects of quality kitchen knives. And as a result, they’re much less expensive than other knives made with the same materials and crafting processes.
Each knife in the Phantom series uses a traditional Japanese D-shaped handle, combined with a more modern half bolster design for excellent balance. Beginner chefs may find this type of handle harder to use — but with a little bit of practice, you’ll find that it offers an incredible degree of control and maneuverability for your knives.
The Gladiator series is Dalstrong’s competitor to German knife brands like Wusthof and Zwilling. Each of the knives in this series features a heavyweight, robust design with a protective full bolster. But since they’re offered at half the price of similarly designed knives, they’re an excellent alternative for home cooks on tighter budgets.
I’m not a huge fan of the chef knife from the Gladiator series, as the full bolster gets in the way of using the entirety of the blade. But the Gladiator 7 inch meat cleaver is spot on! It’s a heavy duty kitchen tool that’s perfectly suited to chopping up chicken, beef, lamb, or pork.
Though they look quite stunning, I consider Dalstrong’s Crusader series to be a design misstep in almost every case. No matter how many times I’ve tried to hold the Crusader chef’s knife, the hollow handle just doesn’t feel right; the balance is off, and it doesn’t provide a firm grip. For most knife choices, I’d recommend going for one of Dalstrong’s other knife series.
Oddly enough, there’s one knife that the Crusader design is perfect for: A paring knife. In fact, the Crusader paring knife’s lightweight construction makes it easy to use for small, precise cuts. They’re incredibly hygienic, too, and have a perfect rating from the National Safety Foundation.
If you couldn’t decide between being a ninja or a chef as a child, Dalstrong’s Shadow Black series has the perfect knives for you.
And honestly, though they look quite gimmicky, the materials used for the Shadow Black series knives are top notch. They’re certainly not my cup of tea, but I can’t ignore how affordable they are given their impressive sharpness and durability.
Once again though, the handle shape on these knives is strange. The geometry of the handle is meant to give comfortable grips for a wide range of hand sizes, but in my personal experience it tends to create uncomfortable pressure points. If they appeal to you though, Dalstrong has a generous 60-day return policy that would let you test the knives out for yourself before deciding.
As the name implies, Dalstrong’s Omega series knives are the culmination of their craft — and their most expensive blades, to boot. Each knife is forged from a proprietary “hyper steel” blend, whose added nitrogen increases hardness and sharpness without decreasing durability. And with a precision-carved “liquid metal” pattern on each blade, you’ll notice significantly less drag on each cut.
Are the Omega series knives worth it in comparison to similarly priced knives? While I’d like to give you a straight answer, I’m honestly on the fence about it. Until I’ve had more time to use one of these knives, I’ll have to reserve a final judgment. But in the meantime, I can say that they’re easily as good as other Japanese knives at this same price.
At this point, if you’re considering buying a Dalstrong knife, you’ll want to do two things. First, decide which knife from Dalstrong would be best in your kitchen. Then, compare it to prominent competitors to be absolutely sure which knife is right for you.
Type of Knife
Each of Dalstrong’s knife series makes a whole range of knife styles available to you. Are you looking for a knife for a specific job, or just a well rounded selection to get started with? That’s the first choice you’ll have to make before investing in a new Dalstrong.
When I’m considering buying a knife from a new company, I always look at their chef’s knives first. Why? Because a solid chef’s knife will take care of 80-90% of the cuts you make in your kitchen. If the chef’s knife from a certain series doesn’t suit you well, chances are the rest of the knife styles in that line won’t either.
If you don’t already have a chef’s knife, Dalstrong has strong offerings in the category. But if you’re looking for a more specialized knife, their wide range of styles will have something to offer as well. And if you’re still not sure what type of knife you really need, I’d encourage you to check out my guide to the essential kitchen knives every at-home chef should have.
One of the biggest draws for buying Dalstrong’s knives is the material they use for their blades. High carbon steel is the gold standard for kitchen knives at this point, and they use it for both their German and Japanese style blades. This means that, dollar for dollar, Dalstrong’s knives significantly outperform their competitors.
You’ll also want to decide whether you need a straight or a serrated edge for your knife. In most cases, a straight edge is the preferred option. It gives you the greatest variety of applications, from slicing and dicing to mincing and chopping. If you’re looking for a knife to slice bread or tomatoes with, though, a serrated edge is a better choice.
A knife’s tang is a hidden indicator of its quality and durability. Knives made with a full tang construction — including all of Dalstrong’s blades — have one piece of steel that extends from the tip of the blade to the butt of the handle. This makes the knife much stiffer, and almost impossible to break from applying too much pressure on a cut. Full tang construction also gives Dalstrong’s knives a pleasant weight and balance, making them a real pleasure to use.
Handle shape and size is one of the trickiest areas to get just right on a knife. What feels good in one chef’s hand might be out of place in another’s.
So how can you choose a handle that feels great in your grip? I always look for three things in a knife’s handle:
- It should be made of a dense material. This not only gives you a solid platform to grip — it also helps to balance the weight of the blade. As a result, all of your cuts will take less effort from your hand and wrist.
- The shape of the handle should be designed with comfort and grip in mind. Ergonomically shaped handles make it easier to hold onto the knife, and don’t have any uncomfortable pressure points.
- It should be slip resistant. Even if you’re only making a few cuts, a little bit of moisture can make handling a knife unexpectedly dangerous. This goes hand in hand with an ergonomic shape to make sure that you always have a firm grip on the knife.
Unfortunately, without testing out each of the handles on Dalstrong’s knife series in person there’s no way to know exactly which handle is right for you. As you gain more experience with kitchen knives, though, you’ll develop your own preferences for handle shape and design.
Care & Maintenance
Generally, higher quality knives require more specialized care and maintenance. This can include oiling the blades and handles to prevent corrosion and damage.
But as part of their mission to make top quality kitchen knives more accessible to home cooks, Dalstrong’s knives are designed to require very little specialized care. As long as you fully dry them after each use and store them safely between uses, these knives will last for many years to come.
And because Dalstrong uses high quality steel for all of their blades, on average you’ll only need to sharpen their knives every 6 months to a year. Even their most affordable knife series have excellent edge retention, so you won’t feel bad about taking them to a professional sharpener when the time comes.
But while those competitors make their knives in Germany or Japan, Dalstrong outsources their production processes to Yangjiang, China — a city with much lower costs, but an equally impressive history of knife making traditions. By doing this, Dalstrong is able to sell knives made to nearly the same quality at a fraction of the price.
So are Dalstrong’s knives better than the competition? In my honest experience, no. But they’re so darned close to the quality and attention to detail of major brands, that I consistently recommend them to cooks on tighter budgets. Dalstrong’s knives can give you a real taste of traditional knife craftsmanship without emptying your wallet.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dalstrong Knives
Before we wrap things up, I’d like to address some of the most common questions about Dalstrong knives. This should help clear up any lingering confusion about their knives, including where (and how) they are made.
Why Are Japanese Knives Expensive? Are They Worth the Price?
Take a look at most Japanese knife brands, and you may be inclined to forget about buying one altogether. Often selling for more than $100 dollars, the finest examples of Japanese knives can cost well over $300.
Why? It’s only in small part because of the materials used. That’s evidenced by Dalstrong, who uses the same quality materials as other Japanese knife manufacturers, but sells their tools for a fraction of the price.
The actual reason that some Japanese knives are so expensive is because of the craftsmanship involved. Individual knife makers might spend their whole lives practicing their craft, resulting in knives that truly are works of art. So for many Japanese knives, you’re paying for the skill and experience of the craftsperson rather than the knife itself.
Where Is Dalstrong Manufactured?
All of Dalstrong’s knives are made in Yanjiang, China. This has been cause for some chefs to criticize the company, implying that their knives are mass-produced with inferior methods. Does this hold up to further scrutiny, though?
The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. Dalstrong uses the same quality of materials as major knife brands, and Yanjiang has a centuries-long knife making history. So while their knives may be less expensive, they’re still made to exacting specifications.
What Is the Best Japanese Knife Brand?
Before you can answer which Japanese knife brand is best, you’ll need to ask yourself two questions:
- What do you want out of a kitchen knife?
- How much do you have to spend?
For general purpose use — chopping vegetables, meat, seafood, and herbs — any Japanese chef’s knife or santoku will do.
But if you’re keen to get into the specifics of Japanese knives, the sky’s the limit. A premium brand like Shun or Miyabi will offer precision-forged blades with impressive sharpness and durability. But even beyond that, custom made knives from one-off producers will be better than any branded knife.
In short: The best Japanese knife brand is the one that matches your experience, needs, and budget. And if you’re a relative beginner, with general purpose kitchen needs and a small budget, Dalstrong is an excellent choice.
Are German or Japanese Knives Better?
The knife world debate between German and Japanese knives is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. Some chefs swear by the precision and sharpness of Japanese blades, while others prefer the weight and ruggedness of German steel.
For the home cook, it’s a bit simpler. Inexperienced owners will usually find German knives easier to handle, while anyone with practice knife skills will usually gravitate towards Japanese knives. In the end, though, the choice will come down to personal preference and individual ergonomics.
Are Dalstrong Knives NSF Certified?
The National Safety Foundation (NSF) is a major governing body in the area of food safety and preparation. Any knife with the NSF seal of approval is designed to a high standard of cleanliness and slip resistance. Thankfully, many of Dalstrong’s knives are NSF certified, including their most popular knife series. A few of their more specialized knives are not, though, owing to their oddly shaped handles that are not slip resistant.
Which Knives Should I Have In My Kitchen?
Okay, so after all of that discussion you may be left wondering — what knives do you really need for your home kitchen? And does Dalstrong have those knives? To answer your questions:
Getting a chef’s knife and a paring knife is the best way to start your kitchen knife collection. From there, check out my guide to the essential knives every at-home cook needs to know to plan out your next purchase. Dalstrong has excellent examples of each of these types of knives, available at reasonable prices.
When you get past the gimmicky names and knife designs, Dalstrong’s core products are really solid. And at the price they’re offered at, I’d happily recommend them to anyone looking to get their first few high quality knives for a home kitchen.
The Phantom series knives are my absolute favorite thanks to their no-frills design and super low price. But if you’d like to invest a little more for a fine Japanese style knife, the Shogun series has a lot to offer for the price.