VG Max steel is Japanese super steel under the VG steel line manufactured in Seki, Japan by Shun. It is manufactured following the formula of the successful VG-10 steel, but this time with an increase of the quantities of the elements in its alloy making it a MAX.
Shun VG Max steel additional elements are as follows:
- Higher amounts of Carbon increasing strength and durability
- Increased Chromium improves corrosion resistance and wear resistance
- Additional cobalt enhances strength
- Increased tungsten makes it fine grained, increasing the ability to get a very fine edge
- More molybdenum improves corrosion resistance
- Increased Vanadium lead to the formation of extra vanadium carbides that enhance the sharpness and edge retention.
These properties make it a truly MAX steel, as indicated by the name. VG-MAX stands for V-Gold-Max. Because of its properties and performance, this steel is recognized among the finest steel used in the cutlery market globally.
Below is the full chemical composition of VG Max steel.
VG Max stainless steel Chemical composition
- Carbon C 1.10%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
- Chromium Cr 16.00%: Chromium Increases hardness, tensile strength and toughness of the blade by forming chromium carbide. The higher than 13% Cr is what makes VG Max steel “stainless”
- Molybdenum Mo 1.50%: It improves machinability and hardening property.
- Vanadium V 3.00%: Increase wear resistance and toughness, it also improves corrosion resistance.
- Cobalt Co 2.50% Improves hardness of the blade as it increases the martensitic transformation temperature of the alloy, it also increases corrosion resistance of steel.
- Tungsten W 3.00% Improves wear resistance and hardness, mostly added to tool steel.
Properties of VG Max
VG Max steel Hardness
The hardness of VG Max steel is 60-61HRC as per the Rockwell hardness scale. This is associated with the high carbon in its composition.
With this hardness level, you can be sure that knives made from this steel will not break easily under pressure or during sharpening.
VG Max Steel Edge retention
Shaun VG Max steel remains sharp for a very long time, even with everyday usage. This property is associated with the high amounts of carbon, molybdenum, chromium, and cobalt in its composition.
Therefore, if you are shopping for a knife that will not require frequent sharpening, look into the varieties of VG Max knives.
VG Max Toughness
Toughness is the ability to resist impact and pressure. As a rule of thumb, steel can either give you hardness or toughness.
VG Max stainless steel is hard steel; you must be expecting it to have the worst toughness, but this rule does not apply to this steel because it offers good toughness.
You can trust knives made from this steel not to break or chip easily when subjected to tough environments, you will find some boning knives made of this steel.
VG Max Corrosion resistance
VG Max is stainless steel; this is another admirable property as it offers excellent corrosion resistance abilities. Being an improvement of VG-10, which does not stain, we expect more of this.
With increased Chromium in its composition, this steel can be used in humid, wet, and marine environments without worrying about stains or corrosion.
To enhance its corrosion resistance, simple maintenance like cleaning and drying after use are necessary.
Ease of sharpening VG Max steel
Being hard steel, there are so many questions about the ease of sharpening this steel. Contrary to your expectations, VG Max stainless steel is relatively easy to sharpen.
The composition of this steel allows it to be hard without compromising how easy it is to sharpen it.
You will love this steel because it retains a sharp edge for a very long time. It is worth noting that it is not much different from VG 10 ease of sharpening
VG max vs other steels
VG Max vs VG 10 steel
Shun VG Max steel is an improvement of VG-10. It contains more carbon, Chromium, and Vanadium hence offering better edge retention, corrosion resistance, and toughness. This makes it better than VG-10 steel in all aspects.
The difference between the two types of steel is however not night and day, you will only get a slight increase in performance over VG10 steel.
Is VG Max good knife steel?
VG Max stainless steel is one of the highly recognized, advanced, and efficient Japanese knife steels today. VG-10 is still very popular, but with the performance of VG Max, it is on the road to overtaking VG-10 in terms of popularity.
VG max offers all the qualities you are looking for in a knife. It offers excellent edge retention, outstanding corrosion resistance, good toughness, and it is relatively easy to sharpen.
What’s more, it features high amounts of Vanadium, which gives it good wear resistance, meaning that it will serve you for a long time.
The only disadvantage is that knives made with this steel just like VG 10 are costly but worth it considering the quality of the blade.