VG-10 steel is a designation used for a very particular type of stainless steel often used in knife blades. The G stands for “gold”, which refers to the “gold standard” that this level of stainless steel is considered to have met. This steel is produced in Japan, and it is the Japanese cutlery market that has traditionally made the most use of this particular type of steel in its knives. However, it isn’t just kitchen cutlery that has put VG10 stainless steel to good use over the years since the designation was officially created. Many top of the line pocket, hunting, and tactical knives have used VG-10 steel.
Because of how well VG10 holds an edge and its ability to withstand rust, VG10 has became the most popular steel for professional chefs and cooking enthusiasts. VG10 also has an amazing ability to have designs created into the blade during temperament. The photo below shows a master knife maker, Mr. Nagao from Japan, with his VG-10 chef’s knife. (See our review of butterfly knives).
VG 10 stainless steel is also a high carbon steel, even though carbon only makes up a relatively small amount of the total material of the blade. VG 10 stainless steel is a mixture that contains roughly 1% carbon, 1% molybednum, 15% chromium, .2% vanadium and 1.5% cobalt. All of these relatively small amounts of other metals give the VG 10 steel its unusual properties, such as its ability to hold an edge, and the sheer durability of the steel in question. It is one reason why the VG 10 label has been so highly prized among so many people, ranging from chefs to knife collectors.
VG 10 stainless steel shouldn’t be confused with VG 1 stainless steel, either. Though both of these varieties of steel are used by manufacturers in Japan and elsewhere, VG 10 is considered a higher quality metal. It’s for that reason that finding VG 10 knives for the kitchen and for work tools is fairly common, but finding the steel being used in more collectible or display items, such as swords, is considered fairly rare. VG 1 steel on the other hand is much more commonly found in knives and swords from a variety of different dealers and merchants, and it can be found in a wider variety of different products. It’s because of the relative proliferation though that the confusion can be easily made between the two types of steel. Not good, especially if a customer is paying the VG 10 steel price for a VG 1 steel blade.
If you are looking for a good knife, consider buying one with VG10. It would be expensive compared to lower end metals like 440 steel but it is well worth it. With VG10 you get the hardness of a carbon steel but the corrosion resistance of stainless. This makes it great for cooking knives as well as knives that will be abused a lot (such as EDC knives). VG10 is never used in machetes.
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