What is VG-10 Steel?

VG10 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.

VG10 is the Most Popular Kitchen 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).

VG10 allows you to create crazy designs on really sharp knives.

VG10 allows you to create crazy designs on really sharp knives.

Components of VG10

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.

VG10 vs VG1

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.

Conclusion on VG10 Steel

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.

Comments

  1. Are the knives made from X50CR15 VG10 really any good like the sellers claim?
    I find them in the $25 to $30 range and that seems too inexpensive for a quality knife.
    Or is it that the big-name knife makers are just over priced?

  2. Having owned a number of VG 10 knives as an amateur chef. My best tips are as follows
    1. They are expensive. So need looking after. The edges are brittle but very sharp. Never put them in a dishwasher. Never attempt to cut bone or any hard material with them.
    2. Always use on a wooden or a soft plastic board, if you need to use heavy choppers, buy a cheaper chopper from (Walmart for example) e.g pork ribs, beef short ribs etc.
    3. After using wash straight away as leaving it can cause staining and the risk of food hardening on the blade which increases the risk of chipping.
    4. Probably the best tip is to never emulate the TV Chefs after they have finished chopping with their expensive Japanese Knives to use the sharp blade to move the chopped to the pan, reverse the blade to the thick end and move the chopped to the pan. You virtually eliminate any chance of chipping that sharp edge you have paid so much for.
    5. Buy a good whetstone, never use a steel on a Japanese knife, I did once about 10 years ago and ruined a good Japanese Knife.
    6. Lastly safety, you and I know these Knives are fantastic for our enjoyment of cooking, but our kids do not (I would have a fit if I saw my 10yr old trying to cut a loaf with my 240mm Chefs Knife (Japanese) He might cut his own fingers off, so up high or in a secure drawer.
    7. I hope these tips have been helpful, I do not to be patronising in anyway. Happy Cooking 👍

  3. So VG10 is not a great pick for a combat or bushcraft knife. What would be a good steel for that type of work?

    1. Hey John;
      Thanks for the question. 1085/1095 steel is among the best for bushcraft knives based on the philosophy or idea that it is easy to sharpen, AND it is considered very resistant to chips and dings. It’s also inexpensive (so it’s accessible to the average outdoorsman). It is not very rust-resistant, but a light coat of oil is always in order to minimize corrosion and aesthetic degeneration.
      J.

  4. Richard is correct. Machetes are usually very thin and are of softer steel. They are designed to go through vegetation, not to do hard work. The trick is that they may chip or get dull but they are easily sharpenable in the wild. You can pick a rock out of a creek and sharpen a machete with it. There are a lot of new “machetes” coming out but they are better steel quality, not like what you get at Wal Mart. Think about what you want and what you’re going to do with it before you buy it.

  5. After reading this article regarding VG-10, I will from now on make sure any knife I purchase is made of VG10, except machetes of course. Already have one made of 440 – Not the best, but easy to resharpen.

    1. It’s because it is too brittle and not flexible enough. I’m a chef and use a wide range of steel types and knives on a daily basis. I have a couple that are VG10. Part of the appeal of VG10 for a knife used for culinary, is because it is such a hard steel. It will take an incredibly sharp edge for a stainless steel. But this also means it will chip easily if you were to hit a bone for example. In the case of a machete, you would chip the blade constantly from striking branches, rocks, etc.

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