Shun Hikari Vs Premier: The Shun Series Knife Comparison

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Seki in Gifu Prefecture is one of four towns in Japan known for their superb bladesmiths.

Katanas, the swords of the legendary samurais, have been made here for 800 years.

But when warriors were banned from carrying their weapons in 1876, craftsmen started making smaller blades instead, including household kitchen knives.

Saijiro Endo, the founder of Shun, was one of those craftsmen.

In 1908, he opened his first shop in Seki, selling razors and folding knives.

After seeing the need for sharper, more efficient blades at home, he also started forging kitchen cutlery.

Today, under the leadership of Endo’s grandson, Shun is a world-renowned brand.

And if you’re willing to spend a pretty penny, two of their best are Hikari and Premier.

Read on to know more about these.

Shun Knife Series Overview

The Premier is one of Shun’s more high-end series.

There are over a dozen different knives under this variant including the Kiritsuke, Nakiri, and Santoku, just to name a few.

This can also be bought as a set, starting with a two-piece carving pack to an 8-piece professional block.

When it first came out in 2010, it won the Kitchen Knife of the Year award in the prestigious Blade Show.

Hikari is the Japanese word for illumination.

And that is the perfect name for the crème de la crème in the Shun line, second only to their big-ticket Fuji series.

Like the Premier, this has won the same award in the 2016 Blade Show.

While this can be had for a set, it is best to choose the specific style you need because it doesn’t come cheap.

Steel Construction

Constructed with 69 layers of Shun’s proprietary super steel VG Max (HRC 61), The Premier promises long-lasting edge sharpness and corrosion resistance.

The blade’s face is given that Tsuchime or hammered finish which is both rustic yet elegant-looking.

The Hikari, on the other hand, has 71 micro-layers of alternating VG2 and VG10 (HRC 60).

This high carbon and high chromium stainless steel blend lends that woven-like ‘hornet’s nest’ pattern from the spine to the edge.

Both are handmade from forging to polishing.

Longevity of Sharpness

These two series are extremely sharp, with a 16-degree angle on each side.

Compared to the smoother bevel of the Premier, the Hikari has micro-serrations up to the belly which is supposed to make the sharp edge last longer.

According to Shun, and corroborated by many users, these variants can hold their edge for years without re-sharpening.

Daily honing would help with your daily chopping chores, though.

Design Elements and Functional Features

The Damascus style on both these variants isn’t just embellishments.

The hammered-out finish on the Premier and the crisscross pattern on the Hikari prevents drag while slicing, keeping the food off the blade.

Premier and Hikari both have full composite tangs which are quite distinctive of many Shun blades.

This means that the tang goes all the way to the end of the handle but is made of two parts that were only welded together.

But don’t worry since this still provides a good handling balance just like a regular full tang would.

The two have thick bolsters that do not go all the way down to the heel.

When it comes to the heel, Premier’s is straighter while Hikari’s is curved.

That particular design choice also matches the look of the handle.

The former is more cylindrical, its embossed head cap at the end of the handle straight and flat.

The latter has a slight curve in the inner side of the handle and its head cap is slanted.

The handles of most Shuns are made of PakkaWood, a wood and resin composite that is durable, impervious to heat, cold, and moisture, and resistant to bacterial growth.

The Premier has a walnut color while the Hikari has the lighter birch one.

The form and function of specific Premier or Hikari knives will depend on what kind it is – a Deba looks completely different from a Santoku; hence, individual knife styles – especially the shape of the blade – were not discussed.

Price and Warranty

As hinted at earlier, Premier and Hikari are two of Shun’s more expensive variants.

Let’s take the basic chef’s knife, for example, you can get the former for a little over $100 while you would have to shell out twice that amount for the latter.

But you’re getting a lot for your money.

Except for their entry-level variants like Sora, Kai, and Haru, all Shun knives are covered by a limited lifetime warranty.

Also, they offer cutlery re-sharpening for free! If you’re near a Shun store, you can bring your knife over, wait for them to finish, or pick it up the next day. If you’re not, you can ship it back to them.

Shun Hikari at a Glance

Pros:

  • The ‘hornet’s nest’ blade pattern is unique, hardly found in other brands
  • Extremely sharp, very durable
  • The curve on the handle makes it easy to grip
  • Has a lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • This variant has fewer kinds of knives
  • PakkaWood knives are generally not dishwasher-safe
  • Very expensive

Shun Premier at a Glance

Pros:

  • This variant consists of a dozen kinds of knives
  • The hammered finish is both beautiful and functional
  • Extremely sharp, very durable
  • Has a lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • PakkaWood knives are generally not dishwasher-safe
  • Quite pricey

The Final Verdict

Shun is a good brand.

Most designs they conceptualize – the Premier and Hikari included – get awards as soon as these are made public.

Perhaps the biggest thing that turns people off, or at least makes them turn towards other brands, is the price tag.

And no one is arguing this isn’t hefty.

However, it’s worth every penny.

If you can’t afford the whole block, choose just one piece first.

Most people go for a Deba (chef’s knife) or a Santoku since these can cut practically anything – soft fruits, hard vegetables, tough meat, you name it.

Whether that’s a Shun Premier or Hikari – will be a great addition to your kitchen.

Last Updated on March 31, 2021 by Andy Wang

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.