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Is VG 10 steel a good knife steel ? Detailed VG 10 Steel Review

What is VG10 Steel?

VG 10 steel is premium steel made in Japan. The G in its name stands for Gold, meaning that the steel has attained Gold standards for stainless steel. It is high carbon steel designed by the Takefu Special Steel Company under the V line series of steels including  V series line of steels including V1, V2, V-Toku1, V-Toku2, and V-Gin1.

Due to VG 10 edge retention capabilities and high rust resistance, vg10 stainless steel is popularly used to make kitchen knives. It is also used to make hunting, tactical, and pocket knives. It is widely used to make chef’s knives in Japan. The Japanese Santoku knives have heavily relied on this stainless steel type.

What’s more, this steel has remained popular in making professional kitchen knives because it allows the knife makers to create different designs on the blade during temperament.

VG 10 stainless steel composition

  • Carbon C 1.05%: Increases the edge retention, hardness and tensile strength. It also improves steel resistance to wear, abrasion and corrosion.
  • Chromium Cr 15.50%: Chromium Increases the hardness, tensile strength and toughness of the blade by forming chromium carbide. The higher than 13% Cr is what makes vg10 “stainless”
  • Molybdenum Mo 1.20%: It improves machinability and hardening property.
  • Vanadium V 0.30%: Increase wear resistance and toughness, it also improves corrosion resistance.
  • Cobalt Co 1.50% Improves the hardness of the blade as it increases the martensitic transformation temperature of the alloy, It also increases the corrosion resistance of steel.
  • Manganese Mn 0.50%: Increases Hardness and brittleness.
  • Phosphorus P 0.03%: Improves machinability and hardness.

VG 10 steel properties

VG10 Steel Hardness

VG 10 steel has a Rockwell hardness of 56 to 60 HRC, depending on the type of heat treatment used. The high level of hardness is contributed by the carbon, cobalt, and vanadium levels in its composition.

With this type of hardness, VG-10 knives exhibit wear resistance and abrasion at admirable levels. The combined Chromium, Molybdenum and Vanadium elements form hard carbides that increase abrasion resistance.

VG 10 Edge retention

VG10 steel is known for its outstanding edge retention. The Vanadium, cobalt, chromium, and carbon in its composition blend well to give blades made from VG10 knife steel high edge retention due to the formation of hard carbides.

VG-10 stainless steel edge retention is on par with other steel like N690 Knife steel, CPM 154 steel and CPM 3V knife steel. It is however slightly less compared to other premium steels like S30V steel and S45VN Knife Steel.

VG 10 Toughness

Do not assume that since a knife is hard, it must be tough, hardness and toughness are different properties in blade steels that are hard to achieve. Toughness refers to the ability of a knife to withstand impacts and tough applications which would otherwise break or chip it.

The rule of steel is, that the higher the hardness, the lesser its toughness; however, VG10 knife steel offers a decent level of toughness irrespective of its high hardness. At 60 HRC VG 10 steel toughness is better than most knife steels. Its toughness is similar to the likes of Elmax Knife steel.

VG 10 Steel Corrosion resistance

The high levels of chromium in the VG-10 steel composition make it rust resistant but not rustproof. You can confidently use your knife in humid, wet, marine environments without the fear of rusting.

However, regular care and maintenance like washing and wiping the knife dry after use is essential to keep it rust free.

Sharpening VG 10 Steel

VG-10 stainless steel is easy to sharpen despite its high wear resistance. The chemical composition of this steel is balanced to give it a high hardness without making it too hard for sharpening.

Vanadium carbides that occur during the formation of the steel enable this Japanese steel to hold a sharp edge. You will love the fact that the knife is easy to sharpen and retains the edge for long.

A look at VG 10 Steel

VG 10 steel equivalent

Za-18 stainless steel by Aichi Steel Corp is VG10 steel equivalent. Za-18 steel was developed as a direct competitor to VG10 stainless steel. It has a bit more improved alloy composition offering better edge retention and corrosion resistance but their performance is almost similar.

VG10 vs D2

VG 10 steel is stainless steel with about 15% chromium elements in its alloy composition while D2 is non-stainless steel with 12% chromium elements in its alloy composition. VG 10 knife steel will thus perform better than D2 knife steel in corrosion resistance.

At a Rockwell hardness of 60 HRC, VG-10 steel offers better toughness than D2 Steel. VG10 steel hardness is a better option for tough applications compared to D2 steel as it is less likely to experience chipping and cracking on the edge.

D2 knife steel is high carbon steel, it offers a higher Rockwell hardness compared to VG 10 as it contains more elements of carbon. The higher Rockwell hardness enables D2 steel to outperform VG 10 steel in edge retention and wear resistance. A D2 knife will hold an edge longer than a VG 10 knife.

440C vs VG10

VG-10 steel has added Cobalt and Vanadium elements in its composition. Compared to AISI 440C Steel, it offers excellent wear resistance, offers more strength, and is tougher.

Both VG-10 steel and 440C steel offer the same level of corrosion resistance and edge retention. However, at a higher Rockwell hardness, The high levels of Vanadium content give VG 10 knives a better edge than those made of 440C knife steel.

VG10 vs S30V

S30V steel is a powder metallurgy steel with better alloy composition and better performance than VG 10 Steel. It has higher carbon content at 1.45% compared to the VG 10 steel’s 1.05%. This carbon content gives it higher  Rockwell hardness and wear resistance while enhancing its edge retention properties over VG 10 Steel.

The Crucible Particle Metallurgy production process results in a finer microstructure with uniform distribution of carbides, which greatly improves S30V knife steel toughness over those of conventionally produced steel like Japanese VG 10 steel. 

S30V steel blade is most comparable to a VG-10 steel blade in terms of corrosion resistance. They offer the same level of corrosion resistance, for this reason, you will find most pocket knives and Everyday Carry (EDCs) are made of VG 10 steel and S30V steel.

VG 10 vs VG 1

Both of these steel come from Japan, however, one is not a replacement for the other. VG10 is premium steel of higher quality as compared to VG1. A VG-10 steel knife will have better properties than a VG 1 steel knife which is more prone to chipping.

See also: 10Cr15CoMoV Steel Review, Chinese steel comparable to Japanese VG10 Steel

Is VG10 steel good for knives?

Yes! VG10 steel has all the desirable features of good knife steel. It has high corrosion resistance; it is easy to sharpen, tough and holds an edge for a long time. What’s more, the prices of knives made from VG 10 blade steel are affordable considering the quality of the steel.

An added advantage for bladesmiths is that with VG-10 steel, one can create unique custom designs. A Damascus vg10 knife steel will be stronger due to the overlapping of multiple steels, Damascus blade hardly bends and are difficult to break.

Is VG10 Stainless?

VG10 is stainless steel with 14.5% to 15.5% chromium elements in its alloy composition. It also contains Molybdenum elements at 1.2% which boosts its corrosion resistance.

VG 10 blade steel corrosion resistance is better than most stainless steel in the market at par with CPM S30V and AISI 440C stainless steel.

Is VG10 Damascus steel good?

VG 10 Damascus steel is good knife steel due to its impressive corrosion resistance, good edge retention and decent toughness. The aesthetically pleasing Damascus Pattern of VG10 Damascus steel is an added bonus, especially for kitchen knives and pocket knives. A layered VG 10 Damascus may increase the toughness of the blade.

Conclusion

If you are on the market for a quality Japanese knife, survival knife, or kitchen knife you can never go wrong with VG-10 steel knife varieties. VG 10 blade steel offers the hardness of carbon steel and corrosion resistance of stainless steel.

You will realize that the price of VG-10 knives is higher than other steel, but the quality and performance you will get are worth every coin,

It offers cutlery grade stainless steel at a competitive price. VG 10 is worthy of the gold standard in clad steel. I have used a premium VG10 Nakiri kitchen knife before and I can’t compare it to any other. A well-polished knife will last for decades without losing its performance aspects.

Also check out my review of Japanese High Carbon Steel types ( white steel, blue steel, Shirogami, Aogami) and Ginsan steel review.