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Dalstrong Shogun and Shogun X

Discussion in 'Kitchen Cutlery & Tools' started by apophasis, Sep 13, 2018.

  1. apophasis


    Dec 8, 2008
    Hi folks, been lurking for a while, thanks for all the info! I thought I'd share my recent experience with Dalstrong... Got a 9.5" Shogun Chef's knife on sale for under a hundred bucks. Was curious about the quality, after reading a lot of five-star reviews, and some one-stars...

    The packaging is sort of impressive, or at least excessive. They've tried to take a page from Apple's packaging playbook or something, with a thick cardboard box-in-a-box, magnetic clasp, very high-quality color info booklet, and even a little pot-metal Dalstrong medallion you can pin to your lapel or whatever... Some people seem to like the packaging, but I'd prefer little to none.

    After finally getting to the knife itself, it comes in a hard plastic sheath, with a little peg to hold it in. Releasing the knife, I was immediately disappointed. It looked little like the knife pictured on Amazon. The "damascus" pattern is not dramatic, and appears to be a faux finish of some sort. The lion on the butt is wonky and off-center.

    Dalstrong makes much of their "Honbazuke 3-step" sharpening method, and a painstaking "60-day" production time for each knife. The spine is supposedly hand-polished. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. My knife came quite dull, not able to shave hair even with some pressure. The spine was roughly run across a grinder, the edges are sharp, not even broken, let alone polished. The blade edge was v-beveled on a machine with medium-fine stones, and the grit of the grind is visible to the naked eye. It's not even sharp, let alone polished, 3-step sharpened, whatever.

    The blade was slightly s-shaped, sighting along the spine. I found no evidence of lamination along the spine or heel, which there should be if the blade is really laminated Damascus. What I think is going on here is maybe that Dalstrong is actually using laminated steel as they claim, like somewhere along the way it was laminated, but the final finish is etched, lasered, or something. There's a big dramatic line near the blade where supposedly the lamination stops, but nothing elsewhere... Hmm. There also appears to be a masking line by the handle, evidence of how the finish was produced. The finish is not the result of anything like a San Mai lamination process. I'd like to see somebody do a destructive metallurgical test, grind this thing down and find out what it is once and for all...

    The handle was square, wonky, and poorly finished, with gaps where it met the steel of the tang. The knife in the photos has a nicely rounded handle, whereas the one I received is totally different, slab-sided.

    The blade rocks wrong at the heel end, so you hit your knuckles trying to chop.

    All in all, it looks and feels like a very cheap department store knife with some "fancy" and rather cheesy cosmetics. I'd prefer more basic quality and less "flair."

    I sent back the knife and wrote an email to Dalstrong. Nancy responded with an incredibly floral series of emails, and at the end of it, I am convinced that Dalstrong is not fundamentally legit. Nancy was extremely evasive, gave a detailed description of the lamination process and then said, wait, sorry, that's wrong, and didn't give me the correct info... Claimed different origins for the steel... Nancy kept refusing to answer specific questions, instead claiming that I have to believe that Dalstrong is trustworthy because of their amazing reputation, and the fact that they're a "family business." Uh, that's funny, because I thought they were a new company trying to build a rep... And if they're a "family business" then isn't any company with a human owner and foreign factory workers a "family business" as well?

    She insisted that some rare mistake had been made with my knife, and it had somehow been sent out unsharpened. That's exactly what she told everybody on Amazon who complained that the knife wasn't actually sharp. Lots of "mistakes" for a supposedly super high quality shop. Hmm.

    Nancy asked if I'd like to receive another knife for free, so I said sure. She sent me a top-of-the-line Shogun X 8" chef's knife. I thought they might send me a super nice ringer this time, but nope. Like the 9.5" the 8" X is also very much unlike the version pictured on Amazon. The pattern on the blade is again not very dramatic, and appears to be faux. Again, the handle is actually slab-sided, and not very nicely finished. The spine of the blade is roughly finished and square, not rounded, let alone polished. The blade is halfway sharp, and will barely shave, but is not mirror-polished. Nobody spent any time on this knife; it's a cheap Chinese factory product. The blade is crooked, and I bent it back straighter with my bare hands, making me question the steel. I could not do that with my low-end Henckels, but then again I wouldn't need to, as even a cheap Henckels is at least perfectly straight... Since I got this X for free, I'll keep it and see how it cuts, but I would not pay for it, let alone pay what Dalstrong is asking.

    I am now in the market for a couple real kitchen knives. I'll be taking my time, and insisting on quality. I'd love to hear recommendations for max value and quality at different price points.

    IMO, Dalstrong is all hype, spending a lot of money on advertising and photos of custom, pretty knives, and then sending out much lesser knives to actual consumers.
  2. jc57

    jc57 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 28, 2012
    There seems to be a lot of that in the kitchen knife market these days. Lots of bling, imitate the decorative damascus-patterned cladding popular on some more legit knives, and then use social media marketing and fake reviews to boost sales.

    By the way - congrats on your first post after 10 years of lurking.

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