If you find yourself having to choose between a Dalstrong knife and a Shun knife, the good news is you know you’re going to have a high-quality kitchen tool regardless of your choice. Not only that, but both companies offer a variety of products to choose from in order to satisfy just about every culinary need.
But which of these companies offers the best selection, and the best overall product? With their broad range of stylish and beautifully manufactured knives, as well as exciting approach to innovation and customer engagement... we’re giving Dalstrong the edge. (Get it?)
- Dalstrong And Shun Company Overviews
- Dalstrong Knives
- Shun Knives
- Dalstrong Vs. Shun: Differences And Similarities
- Dalstrong Vs. Shun: Pros And Cons
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Dalstrong And Shun Company Overviews
When it comes to the world of high-end kitchen knives, there’s a certain quality threshold where you pretty much can’t go wrong. Companies that reach that level of prominence and acclaim do so because they hold their products up to a high standard, and you know that you’re going to be getting an incredible product regardless of who you go with.
Today, we’ll be looking at two of these respected brands: Shun Cutlery and Dalstrong. Both of these knife-makers have garnered acclaim for their premium kitchen products that combine style and performance, making the act of cooking a much more pleasurable experience for both professional chefs and home cooks.
Before we get to the nitty gritty of what makes one brand superior to the other, let’s take a moment to delve into each company’s history and trajectory. This will help us understand their differences a little better.
Shun Cutlery: History
Shun Cutlery is a relatively young brand within the world of knife-making, but their origins date all the way back to the early 20th century. Shun is owned by the KAI Group, which is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, creating all sorts of cutlery such as folding knives, razors, and kitchen knives.
Though the company has been in operation for over 100 years, the Shun brand itself was only introduced to the Western market in 2002. Over the course of the last couple of decades, the brand has established itself as a producer of high-quality knives, hand-made by skilled artisans in Seki City, Japan.
Shun knives have been recognized at events such as the annual Blade Show in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as receiving the 2005 iF Product Design Award. So Shun knives come from a long KAI Group tradition of creating premium kitchen products and the company has established itself as a force to be reckoned with within the industry.
Dalstrong is a much younger company than Shun, but in the short time they’ve been around they’ve made a considerable splash within the market. The company was founded in 2014 by David Dallaire in Toronto, Canada. Dallaire knew that the knife world needed a bit of a shake-up, and so his approach to knifemaking focuses on performance as well as presentation.
Indeed, one of Dalstrong’s trademarks is the often ornate, visually stunning design of their knives. While knives serve a utilitarian purpose, Dalstrong also sees them as objects of aesthetic value. For this reason, they ensure that their knives are exciting and beautiful from a visual standpoint as well as powerful performers in the kitchen.
Not only that, but Dalstrong has made it a point to offer a broad range of designs and knife styles; while some knife companies produce a couple different series, Dalstrong offers a veritable panoply of options for all different kinds of tastes (compare, for instance, the knives from the understated Shogun Series to the unique, futuristic design of the Shadow Black Series).
This variety extends to the types of knives they offer, producing both Western style knives and Japanese knives, with the best materials that each knife type requires for maximum performance.
Dalstrong knives are manufactured by expert bladesmiths in a state-of-the-art facility in YangJiang, China, a city with a rich knife-making tradition dating back almost 1500 years.
2. Dalstrong Knives
In its relatively short time in the market, Dalstrong has managed to make a name for itself as a company that produces powerful and sturdy kitchen knives that are as impressive-looking as they are ruthlessly sharp.
As we established, the company offers a variety of both Western and Japanese knives in various different series. One of their most well-known series of Japanese knives is the Shogun Series, which is a line of premium knives that are precision-forged from a single piece of ultra-premium Japanese high-carbon AUS-10V steel, featuring 67 alternating layers of SUS410 Damascus cladding. This provides the knife with extra stain resistance and durability for cutting.
In fact, the 8 inch chef’s knife from the Shogun Series is one of Dalstrong’s most popular products, and a great example of what they excel at when it comes to form and function.
But there are many more knives in Dalstrong’s arsenal, drawing inspiration from different types of knives through the ages. For instance, Dallstrong’s Valhalla Series is a fantastic example of Dalstrong’s aesthetic approach, not only packing the cutting prowess of a viking weapon with its ultra-sharp, wear-resistant, 5-layer stainless steel at 60+ Rockwell, but also sporting an incredible look, with a beautiful sandblasted finish.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to draw others’ eyes while they’re cooking, you’d probably be interested in the Shadow Black Series, a stunning collection of ergonomically designed kitchen knives whose unique geometry (inspired by the F-117 Nighthawk Stealth Fighter jet) and cooler-than-cool deep black titanium nitride coating (along with their cutting ability) makes them look like something straight out of a science fiction film.
If these knives all seem a little flashy to you, the good news is you’ll also have plenty of “classic” knife types with great cutting ability to pick from. For instance, the knives from Dalstrong’s Gladiator Series, which are precision-forged from a single piece of premium quality, high-carbon ThyssenKrupp German steel and hand-sharpened to 16-18 degrees per side. Simplicity and elegance are key here, with the knives sporting a timeless yet modern look.
We could go on and on -- the variety offered by Dalstrong is truly unparalleled, offering a tremendous array of collections. Knives can be purchased individually, of course, but if you want to quickly stock your kitchen with some of the best kitchen tools available, keep an eye out for great deals like knife blocks and packages..
It should also be noted that Dalstrong also offers BBQ cutting tools, additional cookware, and culinary utensils that you won’t find with Shun.
3. Shun Knives
Shun is a considerably more conservative company on two fronts: the variety they have available when it comes to knife types, and the designs of the knives themselves. Don’t get me wrong, they’re truly beautiful knives in their own right, but compared to some of the dazzling designs offered by Dalstrong, they can feel a bit slight.
Shun offers a number of Japanese style kitchen knives with different price ranges and uses. For instance, the Shun Sora series is the least-expensive, entry-level kitchen knife series they offer. Shun Sora knives are made of a 3-layer VG10 steel cutting edge, with Japanese 420J polished stainless steel on the knife’s upper section. This composite blade technology is used to keep costs down. It also features a plastic handle.
One of the most popular Shun series is the Shun Classic line, which uses Shun’s proprietary VG-MAX Super Steel for its cutting core. This core allows for a sharper and more durable edge that will hold for much longer, and it’s wrapped in 34 layers of folded Damascus steel on each side to improve its stain resistance. As opposed to the Shun Sora Series, the Shun Classic Series features ebony Pakkawood handles.
Among Shun’s most interesting knife series is the Shun Dual Core. The Dual Core blades are made by layering two different high-carbon steels (VG10 and VG2) giving it tremendous cutting ability. The interesting thing here is this blend will wear at slightly different rates, which will create micro-serrations along the blade and extend its performance and cutting life.
Probably the best of Shun’s knife series is Shun Hiro, which uses a high-end SG2 Japanese Super Steel, which is very hard but manages to be less brittle than either the VG10 or VG-MAX stainless steel. This means there’s less risk of chipping the thin blade. These knives are definitely in the upper end of the price range for a kitchen knife, as well.
4. Dalstrong Vs. Shun: Differences And Similarities
So how different are Dalstrong knives and Shun knives? Let’s take a high-level view of the companies and their products...
As I’ve said, there’s really no wrong choice here -- these two knife brands will provide you with years of use. But you will find some key differences that you should take into consideration.
The main difference between the knives produced by Shun and the knives produced by Dalstrong is their variety. While Shun knives stay within the world of Japanese Super Steel, with various configurations of Japanese steel, Dalstrong has a wide assortment of different materials that they use, from Japanese steel to American stainless steel and more. The type of knife determines the materials here.
Take, as an example, a Shun chef’s knife and Dalstrong’s Shogun Series chef’s knife from the Shun Classic Series, or their paring knife counterparts.
Of course, the downside to the steel used by Shin knives is that the edge is more prone to chipping after some cutting. Believe it or not, that appears to be the most common complaint people have about Shun knives. Of course, they are not fragile knives, but they aren't exactly workhorses either. Dalstrong’s wider variety gives you more to pick from in terms of what you want your knife to be made of.
Sure, this is a bit harder to measure. But there are considerable differences between both companies when it comes to their approach to customer service and community building.
Dalstrong is a young and hungry company. Their whole approach is disruptive. Their focus is on innovation and state-of-the-art design. Shun, on the other hand, as a company with a much longer history, has tradition built into its DNA.
In this matchup, we have a young up-and-comer with radical ideas vs. a tried-and-true elder statesman. Which of these resonates better will depend largely on your own personality, so you may have your own take on this that’s different from ours! Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time.
It should be noted that both of these companies produce extremely good-looking knives. No plain, generic kitchen knives here. Yes, function is a top priority for both manufacturers, but it’s clear that the resulting products are remarkably beautiful in both cases.
Dalstrong does have a wider variety of looks and styles. From the Nordic inspired aesthetic of the Valhalla Series to the clean, minimalistic look of the Crusader series to the absolutely gorgeous frosted look of the Frost Fire series… There is just so much to choose from when it comes to Dalstrong’s designs.
Maybe you’re a button-down type who prefers that their blades retain a certain level of seriousness (in which case, hey, more power to you -- there is a certain beauty to a “serious”-looking knife blade). But if you like your kitchen tools to also reflect your own individuality, you’ll have more design options with Dalstrong.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. With Dalstrong, there’s just a lot more to choose from, from designs to blade materials. Of course, this comes with its own set of disadvantages: if you don’t really know exactly what you want, for instance, the huge amount of choices may lead to choice paralysis, and you’ll be a bit overwhelmed with the amount of choices. Thankfully Dalstrong provide a handy Knife Finder Quiz to help with that.
However, with a little bit of guidance, you can find the exact match for your needs -- not just aesthetically, but also functionally. Even within the Series, Dalstrong gives you more variety, with bread knife, paring knife, brisket knife, boning knife, steak knife, and santoku offerings among many others. The huge variety of knife types offered by Dalstrong trumps Shun’s offering.
There are strengths to finding one niche and sticking to it. Shun’s Japanese knives like the Shun Premier or the Shun Kanso are among the best that money can buy. But if you want some Western style knives as well (including some truly unique knives) you won’t find that with Shun.
Both of these knife companies will cost you more than the standard knives in most people’s kitchens. That much is true. After all, you’re paying for premium products made with premium materials. But there is, in fact, a price difference between the two.
Shun knives are, on average, more expensive than Dalstrong knives (look at the price difference between both companies’ flagship chef’s knife). If you’re a home cook starting out in your high-end knife cutting journey, you may be scared off by some of the prices you find on Shun’s website. Comparable knives from Dalstrong tend to be cheaper, which also makes them more accessible to a greater number of customers.
Both companies offer limited lifetime warranties on their products, which is excellent. However, Dalstrong comes with a 100% satisfaction or money-back guarantee. Their customer service is renowned for being extremely attentive and helpful, making sure that any question customers may have is answered thoroughly. Shun’s customer service seems to lack this touch.
As a young company, Dalstrong know it is in their best interest to build a community that is excited about the products they release, and so they foster that community through continued communication with users about how they can bring their kitchen game to the next level.
Dalstrong makes an active effort to engage and excite their client base. See their social media accounts, for instance -- on their Facebook page, you’ll find them running polls, sharing memes, opening up dialogue, and overall sharing in the enthusiasm they have about their products with their customer base.
The Dalstrong user community is also given access to many resources, like newsletters and their chef blog, which is home to recipes, how-to guides, chef profiles, and more.
Meanwhile, Shun are a bit more reserved and somewhat impersonal, which may suit some home cooks better. This is in keeping with the long tradition of the brand’s parent company. Which approach you prefer will have a lot to do with your own personality as well.
5. Dalstrong Vs. Shun: Pros And Cons
Bullet points are great, and if you’re anything like me you skimmed directly to this section. So let’s break it down. What do you need to know about these two knife companies?
- An amazing assortment of high-quality, durable blades.
- Wide variety of blade materials and knife styles.
- Is presentation important to you? These knives are stunning, with blades featuring gorgeous designs.
- Extremely razor sharp edge right out of the box.
- Dalstrong is a safe bet: 100% satisfaction or money-back guarantee.
- Less expensive than comparable Shun knives.
- This is a brand that has received wide acclaim for their speedy and attentive customer service.
- Do you prefer a more understated look? Some of these knife blades are very flashy.
- Dalstrong is a younger company, still trying to figure out their own identity.
- So many options to choose from may lead to analysis paralysis (that said, you should look into using their nifty Knife Finder tool to find your perfect fit).
- A company with a long tradition of cutlery production.
- A more concise selection of available knives, which will make choosing much easier.
- Sharp and durable blades with great cutting abilities.
- The blade on Shun’s knives retain sharpness very well.
- Extremely high quality knives, painstakingly handmade through over 100 processes.
- Lacks the personal touch that Dalstrong puts into community building.
- Knives are considerably more expensive than Dalstrong.
- Not nearly as much variety as what Dalstrong offers.
- Knife designs tend to be more plain and conservative.
- There are common complaints about the knife blades chipping after some cutting.
We’ll keep saying this until we’re blue in the face: these two companies are absolute juggernauts when it comes to knife-making. You really, really can’t go wrong with either one. And which one you end up going with will ultimately depend on extremely subjective qualities (such as your opinions about the company’s attitudes, your aesthetic inclinations, and your own budget).
When it comes to the overall best choice for most home and professional cooks, we think Dalstrong offers the best combination of high-quality products and great value. Powerful blades, incredible performance, and a fantastic user community.
7. Frequently Asked Questions
Are Shun knives real Damascus?
Yes. Shun knives are made of Japanese stainless steel. Each Shun knife blade has a core surrounded by multiple layers of Damascus steel. You’ll be able to easily recognize the Damascus steel by its “wavy” design, present in most Shun knives.
Is Dalstrong a Chinese company?
Dalstrong is not a Chinese company. It was founded in 2014 by David Dallaire, who is based in Toronto, Canada. The company is incorporated in the US and Canada, with team members from all over the globe. Their knives are manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility in YangJiang, China, a city with such a renowned knife crafting tradition that it is known as the “China Capital of Knives and Scissors.”
Are Shun knives made in China?
Shun knives are made in Tokyo, Japan, the headquarters of Shun’s parent company KAI Group. Their blades are hand-made by expert bladesmiths.
What is the best Dalstrong knife to buy?
The fact that there’s so many series with their own unique strengths and use cases makes this a hard question to answer. But one of the most acclaimed Dalstrong lines is the Shogun Series, which marries powerful performance, durability, and stunning blade design. The chef’s knife from the Shogun Series is especially popular.
Written by Jorge Farah
Born on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.