VG10 Steel: Is it a Good Knife Steel?

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Have you been using kitchen knives made in Japan? If yes, then you have most probably used the VG10 steel blades. This steel is highly popular in Japan wherein it is widely used for making kitchen knives.

However, outside Japan, knife makers are also using it for making pocket knives, EDC knives, and tactical knives. It is not uncommon to spot a folder with a VG-10 stamp on its blade from esteemed brands such as Benchmade or Spyderco.

What is VG10 stainless steel?

KAN Core Chef Knife 8-inch VG-10 67 layers Damascus Ambidextrous (Hammered VG-10 Blade, G10 handle)
Also known as VG 10 or VG-10, VG10 refers to high-carbon Japanese steel made by Tafeku Special Steel. The name is a designation for a special type of stainless steel. The letter ‘G’ stands for ‘gold standard.’

So, what is this gold standard? The majority of knives have blades made using either stainless steel or carbon steel. Carbon blades are hard but take no time to rust. On the other hand, stainless blades do not rust quickly but are not as sharp or hard as carbon ones. However, the Japanese steel experts came up with an idea to obtain the best of both steel types. This resulted in VG-10 steel that contains both stainless and carbon constituents.

Due to its gold-standard quality, it got the name VG10, meaning V-Gold-10. At times, it is also referred to as V-Kin-10, as Kin in Japanese means Gold.

This steel has emerged recently after the Japanese steel experts made a lot of improvements to VG1 steel. Apart from making knife blades, it is also used in making amazing designs on the blades at the time of tempering.

Chemical Composition

The VG10 steel contains a high amount of carbon. Further, it has a sufficient amount of chromium, to be called stainless steel. Following are the components that make up this steel:

  • 15.5 chromium for edge retention, tensile strength, and improved resistance to wear as well as corrosion
  • 1.5% cobalt for an improved individual impact of all other ingredients
  • 1.2% molybdenum for better strength as well as manufacturing ability or machinability
  • 1.05% carbon for enhanced resistance to wear and corrosion and better hardness
  • 0.5% manganese for improved hardness
  • 0.03% phosphorus for boosted strength
  • 0.3% vanadium for enhanced hardness as well as resistance to wear

Hardness

VG10 is pretty hard as compared to other stainless-steel variants. This is due to more than 1% carbon in its chemical composition. When the Japanese makers produced VG1, they composed it such that it became a bit softer. VG-10 is not soft at all.

The hardness rating ranges between 56 and 60 because of high carbon content. The exact rating differs from one maker to another as per the heat treatment process used. The blade material’s hardness determines its ability to keep abrasion as well as rust at bay. Further, it impacts the ability of the blade to retain the sharp edge.

VG-10 Stainless Steel Properties

Spyderco Dragonfly 2 Lightweight Signature Folding Knife with 2.3" VG10 Steel Blade and High-Strength Orange FRN Handle - PlainEdge - C28POR2

The chemical composition of this stainless steel governs its properties. Following are its most significant properties that you can expect from VG-10 steel knives:

  • Good Edge Retention: This is one of the big benefits of this steel. It can retain the sharp cutting edge despite using its edge for a long time. This is attributed to the presence of carbon, cobalt, chromium, and molybdenum whose joined functioning ensures impressive edge retention. There is no need to sharpen the edge after every few days of use!
  • Excellent Resistance to Corrosion: This is another big benefit you get from this steel. The credit goes to its high amount of chromium, which is up to 15.5% to render it as high-carbon stainless steel. Thus, VG-10 can easily keep rust or corrosion at bay when in use in aquatic or humid environments. Well, this is only possible if you take care of the blade by keeping it dry. This is because it may not be completely corrosion-resistant.
  • Superb Wear Resistance: VG10 is a high-end steel variant. It has sufficient chromium and high carbon, due to which it is admired for its power of great wear resistance.
  • Sharpness: Due to the high level of hardness, many people wonder whether the VG10 steel is easy to sharpen or not. Well, you can easily sharpen a knife blade made up of this steel. Although hard, there is a good balance in its chemical composition that maintains sharpness.
  • Toughness: Toughness is the ability to endure impact and lateral forces responsible for chipping or breaking. The more the hardness of steel, the lower is its toughness. Although this is a rule, it does not hold up well in the case of VG-10. Although hard, this steel has a good toughness level to uphold its performance in tough conditions.

VG10 vs Other Knife Steel Options

ZHEN Japanese VG-10 67-Layer Damascus Steel 8-Inch Slicer Chopping Chef Butcher Knife/Cleaver, Large

VG10 vs S30V

Both these steel variants rank the same for corrosion resistance, similar performance for sharpening ease. However, when it comes to toughness and edge retention, S30V ranks higher.

CPM-S30V vs. VG-10

VG10 vs S35V

VG10 is harder than S35V. Apart from that, both compete closely in terms of ease of sharpening, edge retention, and corrosion resistance.

VG-10 vs S35VN

The latter option belongs to the category of premium steels and is an enhanced version of S35V. It is a bit better at sustaining a sharp edge than VG10. However, VG10 is a bit easier to sharpen. Both get the same score for resisting corrosion at bay.

CPM-S35VN vs. VG-10

VG10 vs D2

VG10 wins the race when it comes to ease of sharpness and resistance to corrosion. However, D2 is tougher than VG-10 due to its higher carbon content.

D2 vs. VG-10

VG10 vs SG2

Both of them come from the same steel maker. Known as Super Gold 2, SG2 has more chromium and vanadium, hence better at resisting wear as well as corrosion better than VG10.

VG-10 vs VG1

While VG10 is commonly used for making work tools and knives, VG1 is commonly found in collectible knives and swords. VG1 is a lot tougher and harder, due to which it is also more brittle. Further, it is not a type of stainless steel, as it does not have a sufficient amount of chromium.

While the performance is not as good as VG10, VG1 blades are comparatively more expensive. If you choose to buy one, you end up paying more for less performance satisfaction. Thus, it is better to choose VG-10 over VG1.

VG10 vs AUS 8

Both the steel options are made in Japan. The AUS 8 steel belongs to the category of lower-tier – upscale midrange, hence affordable. This affordability is also attributed to its edge retention ability, which is not as good as that of the VG10 stainless steel. Moreover, AUS 8 is also not as corrosion-resistant as VG10. However, both these steel variants have similar toughness.

VG-10 vs. AUS-8

VG10 vs CTS BD1N

Also known as BD1 in which nitrogen substitutes vanadium, BD1N resists corrosion effectively as well as sustains a sharp edge well. However, VG-10 takes the crown for both these factors. In terms of ease of sharpening, both have an equal rating.

VG-10 vs ZDP-189

This may not seem a truly fair comparison. This is because ZDP-189 belongs to the ultra-premium group of steels. With a rating of up to 66 HRC, ZDP-189 is better at sustaining a sharp edge but is quite difficult to sharpen. In fact, it is one of the most difficult steels to sharpen right now.

Despite having 20% chromium, this steel is also not that resistant to rust or corrosion. This is because most carbon combines with chromium, leaving hardly any free chromium to fight against corrosion.

Top VG10 Stainless Steel Knives

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So, is VG10 a Good Steel Material for Your Knives?

VG10 is a good knife steel option for those who are looking for an ideal mix of wear and corrosion resistance, great edge retention, ease of sharpening, and balanced hardness and toughness. It is a good choice for working in a humid setting. For its quality, the price of VG10 steel knives is reasonable.

You can consider it as a strong candidate for your kitchen knife blade. Professional chefs have already been relying on it for years. It is also a good choice for tactical, pocket, and camping knives.