When talking about Japanese cutlery, the Shun brand is often talked about in high regard.
And it’s easy to see why considering the sheer quality of knives that come from the brand.
But while it’s easy to say Shun knives are some of the best Japanese blades you can find on the market, figuring out which sets are the best is a whole other task.
To make things easier, we’ve compiled reviews of the best Shun knives and knife sets so you can figure out for yourself which ones suit your needs the most.
We’ve also included a couple more things you should know about Shun knives at the end, so keep reading to learn more.
- Reviews Of The Best Shun Knives And Knife Sets
- Shun Knife Steel
- Product Reviews
- 1. Shun Premier 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best Overall)
- 2. Shun Sora 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best for Professionals)
- 3. Shun Classic 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best for Home Cooks)
- 4. Shun Classic 8-Piece Student Set (Best for Beginners)
- 5. Shun Premier 15-Piece (Best for Versatility)
- 6. Shun Kanso 6-Piece (Best Bang for Your Bucks)
- 7. Shun Sora 6-Piece (More Budget-friendly Choice)
- Shun Hiro vs Premiere
- Shun Sora vs Classic
- Sharpening Shun Knives
- 1. Are Shun Knives Worth It?
- 2. Are They Real Damascus?
- 3. Are The Knives Full Tang?
- 4. Are They Made In China?
- 5. Are Shun Knives Single Bevel?
- 6. Are The Knives Carbon Steel?
- 7. How Do You Sharpen A Shun Classic Knife?
- 8. Do Shun Knives Have A Lifetime Warranty?
- 9. How Often Should You Sharpen Shun Knives?
- 10. Are Shun Knives Right Handed?
Reviews Of The Best Shun Knives And Knife Sets
Shun Knife Steel
Now that we’ve looked at reviews of the best knife sets and chef knives, it’s time we look at some features that make Shun such a popular brand, starting with the steel.
Their blades use a variety of steels and cores, and they are usually a choice between AUS-10, VG-10, VG-MAX, SG2, and Blue Steel.
Arguably the best choices among these steels are AUS-10, VG-10, and VG-MAX, these are the most durable and if taken care of correctly, the sharpest cores you can have in knives.
While SG2 and Blue Steel are still great options, they aren’t as durable and require more maintenance.
VG-10 and VG-MAX cores are usually what are used for the brand’s Damascus knives because of their hardness and durability.
Knives constructed with Damascus steel contain multiple layers of hammered steel over a very tough core which results in a very sharp, rust-resistant, and durable blade.
1. Shun Premier 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best Overall)
- Premier 8-inch Chef’s knife will quickly become the most used knife...
- Razor-sharp edge of blade is perfect for slicing, dicing and chopping...
- Contoured, walnut-colored PakkaWood handle rests comfortably in any...
The first item on our list comes from the Premier series, which is known for knives that are steeped in tradition.
This blade is used using the traditional Japanese Kasumi style.
The result of this technique is a knife that has a unique look, some enthusiasts describe the aesthetic of this knife as “misty” since the finish of the blade gives it a soft and smooth appearance.
The knife has an extremely sharp edge and is made of VG-MAX steel at the core, which gives it a lot of durabilities.
On top of that, it’s also very easy to sharpen and doesn’t require too much effort.
Placed on top of the core are 37 layers of high-carbon stainless steel that help maximize the stability and strength of the knife.
Since it’s a premium knife, it also has a full-tang construction, which should be a requirement in this price range.
The handle is made of Pakkawood, which is treated to be resistant to water and gives it a glossy finish which makes it feel very comfortable in the hand.
It’s one of the more expensive models that Shun has to offer, but makes for a great professional chef knife.
- Sharpness: 9.5/10
- Handling: 9.5/10
- Ease of maintenance: 9.5/10
- Has a tough VG-MAX core
- Constructed with 37-layers of Damascus steel
- Very sharp edge
- Comfortable Pakkawood handle
- “Misty” design
- Is one of the more expensive models
2. Shun Sora 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best for Professionals)
- The must-have kitchen knife - handcraft in Japan
- Steel: proprietary composite blade technology; VG10 san Mai cutting...
- VG10 is clad with one layer of stainless steel on each side to create...
If you aren’t too keen on shelling out a lot of money, this model might be the one for you.
The Sora line is known to boast products that retain a lot of the key features of their signature and top-tier knives while being more economically friendly and affordable.
This blade is made out of VG-10 steel, which isn’t as strong as VG-MAX, but it is thinner, so these knives, if cared for properly can actually be sharper than VG-MAX products.
The Shun Sora is made using the San Mai technique, which is basically pressing two softer layers of steel on either side of a tougher core.
It’s a technique that was used to make Samurai swords that gives the blade a shiny finish while also making it resistant to rust and corrosion.
While the blade is still up to par with some of the most premium knives on the market, the handle of this model is where it falls short.
It only has a plastic handle with a single rivet, which makes it less durable than other models, and it doesn’t feel as comfortable in the hand as a wooden handle.
But given how well the blade of this model is made and how affordable it is, this is a flaw that’s very understandable that one can actually turn a blind eye to.
- Sharpness: 9.5/10
- Handling: 9/10
- Ease of maintenance: 9/10
- Very sharp blade
- Made with high-quality steel
- Has a plastic handle
3. Shun Classic 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best for Home Cooks)
- VG-MAX steel is a formula exclusive to Shun with extra tungsten for a...
- Handle is ebony PakkaWood; PakkaWood is a hardwood infused with resin...
- For proper slicing, push the knife forward and down while cutting...
Shun’s classic line is one of the best they have to offer, and this chef knife would make a great addition to any professional’s arsenal.
This is one of the best Shun knives you can get your hands on besides the Premier 8” chef knife.
It has a VG-MAX steel core and 34 layers of Damascus steel on top of it.
The result is a beautiful finish and a strong, reliable, flexible, and incredibly sharp blade.
And if that wasn’t enough, this model has an incredibly beautiful handle made out of Ebony Pakkawood.
Wooden handles are definitely a much better option, especially when you’re looking at professional or premium chef’s tools.
And this specific one is moisture resistant, feels very comfortable in the hand, and gives the knife a stunningly elegant look.
As is to be expected in this price range, this model has a full-tang blade, which makes it very easy to control and would really speed up work in the kitchen with its ergonomic and functional design.
If you’re on the hunt for a premium, sharp, comfortable, and well-crafted chef knife, then this might be one of the best picks out there.
- Sharpness: 9/10
- Handling: 8.5/10
- Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10
- Made of high-quality Damascus steel
- VG-MAX core
- Water-resistant Pakkawood handle
- Balanced and easy to use
- Relatively expensive
4. Shun Classic 8-Piece Student Set (Best for Beginners)
- Shun Classic 8-Piece Student Set comes with essential kitchen knives...
- Includes: Shun Classic 8-inch Chef’s Knife, 3.5-inch Paring Knife,...
- Aspiring chefs benefit from using best-in-class knives; attention to...
We’ve reached the point in our list when we’ll be talking and reviewing knife sets, and kicking this off is a set that would be ideal for students and beginners.
The knives in this set are an ideal place for beginners and those starting to build their knife collection to start.
It has an 8” chef knife, a 3.5” paring knife, a 6” utility knife, a boning knife, a 9” bread knife, and a hollow edge slicing knife.
On top of that, it also comes with honing steel and a nylon knife roll.
All the blades in this set have a VG-MAX steel core with 68 micro-layers of high-carbon stainless steel on top of it to give them sharp edges and a lot of durability.
Aside from those features, it also gives the blades an elegant Damascus finish.
They all have Pakkawood handles that allow chefs to have a very comfortable grip on the knife while also being resistant to moisture and other things that could damage the handle.
This is a great set if you’re trying to learn and master the basics of professional cooking, or even if you’re a simple home chef looking to improve your knife collection.
- Sharpness: 8.5/10
- Handling: 8.5/10
- Ease of maintenance: 8/10
- Well-made knives
- Comes with a honing steel and knife roll
- Constructed with a VG-MAX core
- A complete collection of the basic kitchen knives
- Ideal for students and beginners
- Doesn’t come with a knife block
5. Shun Premier 15-Piece (Best for Versatility)
- Shun Knife Set Includes: 4" Paring Knife, 5.5" Nakiri Knife, 6" U2...
- VG-MAX steel core, Damascus clad with 34 micro-layers on each side of...
- Hammered Tsuchime finish, helps release the food from the blade easily...
Next up is a very complete set and arguably one of the best Shun knife sets you can get your hands on today.
That being said, a top-tier collection of blades demands a pretty high price, so this isn’t a recommended option for those on a tight budget.
The set includes a 4” paring knife, 5.5” Nakiri, 6” U2 Ultimate Utility knife, 6” Gajuko or boning knife, 6.5” utility knife, 7” Santoku, an 8” chef knife, 9” bread knife, 9.5” slicing knife, and four 5” steak knives.
As a bonus, you also get a 9” honing steel and a 17-slot knife block.
All of these products have a VG-MAX core and 34 micro-layers of Damascus steel.
And since these are all models from the Premier series of Shun, they also have Pakkawood handles and have a non-slip finish.
Right out of the box, these blades will arrive incredibly sharp as they are hand sharpened on both sides to a 16-degree angle, which is perfect for any kitchen.
This collection will give you just about any tool you need to make Japanese cuisine, and will also allow you to cook in a variety of styles with a lot of precision and speed.
A great combination for any professional or serious cooks out there.
- Sharpness: 8.5/10
- Handling: 9/10
- Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10
- Very sharp
- Premium knives
- Comes with a knife block
- A very varied selection of blades
- Comfortable Pakkawood handles
- One of the most expensive sets out there
6. Shun Kanso 6-Piece (Best Bang for Your Bucks)
- The Kanso 6-piece block features five kitchen must-haves and a...
- The blade steel is Japanese AUS10A—highly refined, high-carbon,...
- Each Shun Kanso knife has a contoured, tagayasan handle; this dense,...
The Kanso series from this brand is known for being a great mid-grade option for home chefs and professionals alike.
This set contains 4 knives, a 3.5” paring knife, a 6” utility knife, an 8” chef knife, and a 5.5” Santoku.
It also comes with honing steel and a 6-slot woodblock, giving you the option to store two extra blades with the set.
These blades are made with Japanese AUS-10 steel, which is a very good option, but they are admittedly not as strong as VG-MAX options.
All the knives are full-tang, giving you a lot of balance to accompany the sharpness they have right out of the box.
The types of blades included in this set will help you accomplish any kitchen task out there, but it’s far from the most complete set you can get.
- Sharpness: 9/10
- Handling: 8/10
- Ease of maintenance: 9/10
- Comes with a knife block and honing steel
- Sharp right out of the box
- Made out of high-carbon stainless steel
- A great mid-tier option
- A slightly limited selection of blades
7. Shun Sora 6-Piece (More Budget-friendly Choice)
- All precision cuts are handled with the 3.5-inch Paring Knife...
- 6-inch Utility Knife combines dexterity with power, capable of smaller...
- 8-inch Chef’s Knife is an all-purpose knife, known as a gyuto in...
Capping off our list is one of the best budget options out there when it comes to knife block sets.
The blades in this collection are all knives from the Sora line, which as we stated earlier, contains most of the qualities and features of the best chef knives out there while also cutting costs to make them more affordable.
So they all have VG-10 cores, composite blades, double bevels, and plastic handles.
These features don’t exactly make for the highest quality blades, but they do produce some very good knives that would suit any kitchen.
Included in this set is a 3.5” paring knife, a 6”utility knife, an 8” chef knife, kitchen shears, honing steel, and an 11-slot bamboo block.
So while it only comes with three knives and shears, the block allows you to store more of the tools in your collection safely.
This is arguably one of the best sets for home chefs out there as all the blades are of very high quality while still remaining relatively affordable.
- Sharpness: 8/10
- Handling: 8.5/10
- Ease of maintenance: 8.5/10
- Comes with a honing steel
- The 11-slot knife block allows you to store a lot of tools
- Made with a VG-10 steel alloy
- Comes with herb shears
- Not the most premium option out there
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Shun Hiro vs Premiere
Next up we have the Hiro versus the Premiere.
At first glance, it’s easy to see that both of these knives have a lot of similarities.
For starters, they both have well-finished Pakkawood handles that work with both right and left-handed people, which is common in Japanese kitchen knives.
They also both have a Damascus steel finish that may look identical, but upon closer inspection, they are actually very different.
The Hiro knives have an SG2 core, which is a bit different from the VG-MAX core of the Premiere.
Generally, Hiro knives are seen as the more premium option, mainly because SG2 cores tend to be tougher than VG-MAX ones, but the difference can barely be felt.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your preferences and how practical it would be to get a certain knife.
Hiro knives are more recommended for professionals, but the Premiere series also offers a whole lot of blades that can do the job extremely well.
Shun Sora vs Classic
The last comparison we have on this list puts up the most affordable Shun series (Sora), versus their most popular one (Classic) to see how the budget option holds up.
These knives don’t share a lot of similarities, but they are both made with close attention to detail by master craftspeople in Japan, and come out of the box very sharp.
They use different materials in their construction, where the Classic has a VG-MAX core and Damascus steel, the Sora uses a composite blade with a VG-10 core.
The Sora also has a single-riveted plastic handle, which isn’t the best material for handles but can help cut costs and produce more budget-friendly models.
As mentioned earlier, the knives in the Classic line have ebony Pakkawood handles that make them very popular amongst home chefs and professionals alike.
If you’re looking to save some money but still want a high-quality blade, then the Sora line would probably suit your needs better.
However, if you’re willing to shell out the money for a more premium option, then we highly recommend you go for blades in the Classic line.
Sharpening Shun Knives
As these are thinner and sharper than Western blades, these knives require a lot of attention when sharpening, and we’ll take a look at the best ways to sharpen a Shun knife in this section.
The first option is the easiest one, and it’s having the blades professionally sharpened by Shun.
You can do this for free by mailing the knife to their facility in Oregon along with filling in a form that you can find online.
All you have to spend for this option is the shipping fees, but it’s a small price to pay to get your knives professionally sharpened.
However, if you’re a professional and prefer to do it yourself, you can always use a whetstone in your own kitchen.
This requires a lot of skill and practice, so we only recommend this method if you already know to use a whetstone, else you might risk damaging your knife in the process.
One of the best features of Shun knives is their limited lifetime warranty.
However, it should be noted that the warranty is only applicable to the original owner and is non-transferrable.
Just like with most policies, the warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and tear damage caused by improper usage or maintenance, and loss or theft of the knife.
1. Are Shun Knives Worth It?
While they are pretty expensive, these knives are very high-quality, which makes them very deserving of their price tag.
If you’re looking for a well-crafted, sharp, and ergonomic blade, you can expect to spend some money, and since Shun is one of the most trusted brands in the culinary world, they are worth every penny.
2. Are They Real Damascus?
Yes, the knives are constructed with real Damascus steel with high-quality and very tough cores.
This is one of the reasons their knives ask for such a high price and why they are well worth the price.
Damascus steel is made by layering different types of steel over a very hard core to produce a tough, rust-resistant, and sharp blade.
3. Are The Knives Full Tang?
Yes, most Shun knives out there are full tang.
A full-tang knife is one where the blade runs throughout the entirety of the knife, including the handle.
This allows for a more balanced grip and easier cutting, slicing, and dicing.
4. Are They Made In China?
No, all Shun knives are handcrafted in Japan.
These blades are constructed with very close attention to detail and with top-tier craftsmanship.
They are made in the city of Seki, but the wooden sheaths that come with some of their products are made in China.
5. Are Shun Knives Single Bevel?
This will depend on the type of blade you get.
Shun Classic and Premier blades are double-beveled, so you have to sharpen both sides.
That being said, some of the Shun products out there have a single-bevel which means they can be sharper and more precise but don’t have the same ambidextrous qualities of double-beveled blades.
6. Are The Knives Carbon Steel?
Yes, all Shun knives are made with high-carbon stainless steel.
7. How Do You Sharpen A Shun Classic Knife?
To sharpen a knife of this quality you will have to use a whetstone and be extra careful as not to damage it.
If you aren’t experienced with a whetstone though it’s recommended you get it sharpened professionally instead.
8. Do Shun Knives Have A Lifetime Warranty?
Yes, all of them come with a limited lifetime warranty.
9. How Often Should You Sharpen Shun Knives?
It’s recommended to sharpen your knife with honing steel after and before every use.
On top of that, you should also service your knife with a whetstone monthly to keep it in tip-top shape.
10. Are Shun Knives Right Handed?
Since a lot of Shun models are double-beveled, they work with both right-handed and left-handed chefs.
However, if you are looking at a single-bevel option, make sure to check which side it is ground to see if it’s a right or left-handed knife.
And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to the top Shun models out there.
While a lot of these models share some similarities, they also have their own differences that will cater to different people.
Finding the right knife for you requires you to understand your own needs as a chef or cook.
But once you figure that out, choosing the right set will come very naturally, and before you know it, you’ll be using your very own Shun kitchen set in your own home.
Everyone has their own tastes and preferences, which is part of the reasons there are so many options out there, and the only thing you have to do is figure out which ones serve your needs the best!
Last Updated on July 22, 2021 by Andy Wang