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Apr 15, 2011 09:53 AM

Masamoto VG question

For the knife nuts out there:

I recently bought a Masamoto VG gyuto from the Korin store in New York. Since buying it, I have discovered from forums on something that many of you probably already knew -- the VG series is no longer made with VG-10, but rather the mysterious "Hyper Molybdenum Vanadium" steel. I now realize that Korin's website makes this clear, but you may be interested to know that despite the fact that this change apparently occurred some time ago, in the store there is a large display next to the knife series advertising it as being VG-10. Now I haven't had the knife for long and I'm pretty happy with it so far, but I'm wondering if I have been ripped off or duped, paying top dollar for a non-VG-10 knife that was advertised as being VG-10. I guess what I'd like to know is if anyone has an opinion on the quality of the steel on these current knives and whether it is worth making a stink over this. I mean, what is hyper molybdenum vanadium anyway? Is it any better than the CrMoV found on a Wusthof? Is it VG-5? VG-1? Is there any way to know? Most importantly, is there enough of a difference from VG-10 (in terms of sharpness and ability to hold an edge) that I should demand a refund and purchase a VG-10 knife from another maker (which I should be able to get for the same cost)?

Any opinions/insights are appreciated.

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  1. Danny,

    I have to agree with you. I always thought the Masamoto VG series is one of the most confusing name. The Japanese style Masamoto VG knives are indeed made with a VG-10 core, but the Western style Masamoto VG knives are not. It is made of entirely of "hyper molybdenum vanadium ". explains this:

    "what is hyper molybdenum vanadium anyway?"

    No one knows. Well, I don't anyway, and Masamoto intentionally is not telling.

    If you honestly are unhappy and bought the knife under the impression of a VG-10, then you probably should ask for a refund or an exchange. I am sure the "hyper molybdenum vanadium" is a good steel, but I have no idea how it actually compare to a real VG-10.

    1. danny, I was able to find this for you:
      Scroll down to entry #4 from boar_d_laze. (The short answer: it appears to be a very nice knife; easier to sharpen & more durable than VG-10, but you may have to sharpen it once or twice more each year than a VG-10 blade.)

      Part of the answer depends on what YOU want. Did you REALLY want a VG-10 knife? If you feel disappointed in any way, then there's a good chance you'll aways feel disappointed, regardless of how much others like the knife. If, ultimately, the blade material is not as important to you as the "entire package," then you may have stumbled across a good deal.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Eiron

        Incredibly helpful, thanks Eiron.

      2. Good catch Eiron.

        Just to add a couple things - like others have said, the simple fact that a knife isn't VG10 doesn't mean it's bad - VG10 is a well known steel, and Masamoto may have just been trying to capitalize off that, but there are other similar stainless steels that are as good or better depending on how you use the knife. That said, I understand being a little annoyed and feeling like you're being jerked around.

        I don't know what 'hyper molybdenum vanadium' steel entails - that's a marketing term, not a name of a steel. I can tell you that VG10 contains molybdenum and vanadium, as does VG5. VG1 does not contain vanadium. The CrMoV steel used by Wusthof obviously also has vanadium and molybdenum in it, but is actually (I believe) 440c or something like it, hardened to 56-58 HrC - I doubt that Masamoto would use this on a gyuto, and find Boar_d_laze's guess of VG5 far more likely,

        VG10s main characteristics: it sharpens fairly easily and takes a very good edge for a stainless steel without too much fuss. It has good stain resistance. It is usually tempered to 60-62 HrC, and has good resistance to edge warping or folding. In a kitchen knife, its Achilles heel is usually toughness - there is a tendency toward microchipping, even in normal use without an absurdly low edge angle.

        As others have said, whether or not to make a stink depends on how you feel it measures up to VG10 steel and characteristics. You may even find, depending on your usage and sharpening, that this steel is a better match for you. Or not. Can't help you much further without trying it myself.

        1. In case anyone is interested in the follow-up to this issue: I went into Korin, where their display sign still described the VG series as being made of VG-10. I explained that I was unhappy that I had been made to believe I'd bought a VG-10 knife that they knew full well was not in fact made of this steel. After talking to the knife master/partner, I do believe that the failure to make this change to the display was a genuine oversight. He actually claims that he himself spoke to Masamoto when it was using VG-10 and said that there were problems with the alloy and urged them to improve the steel they were using, which he said they did. He claims that the current steel is better than VG-10. Now I have no way to verify this story (I should say it contradicts what I'd heard elsewhere, even from other people at Korin) or to vouch for the quality "hyper molybdenum vanadium" as compared to VG-10, but I will say that Korin offered to give me a full refund for the knife based on the misunderstanding, despite the fact that it was very obviously used. They also took immediate steps to change the display for the VG knives. I took this to be a sign of Korin's professionalism and commitment to honest customer service, and I thought I would share that with the Chowhound community, for whatever it's worth.

          6 Replies
          1. re: dannynyc

            Two things:

            1) It sounds very positive from the perspective of dealing with Korin. I don't think anyone could reasonably ask for any more than what they've offered. WRT "hmv" steel being "better than VG-10," that would be completely dependent on which characteristics are important to the person making the comparison, right? The Korin knife master/partner may value ease of sharpening & edge toughness over edge retention & highly acute edge angles. That would argueably make "hmv" a "better" steel than VG-10 to him.

            2) What did you get to replace it?

            1. re: Eiron

              I was convinced enough by their explanation that I decided to stick with the Masamoto. Unbelievably, they agreed to let me switch for a longer knife of the same model, I guess because they felt bad about the miscommunication.

              1. re: dannynyc

                "Unbelievably, they agreed to let me switch for a longer knife of the same model"

                That is an odd choice. You did think if the problem is misreprentation or miscommunication, then they should offer you a DIFFERENT model of knife for the same length -- like a real VG-10.

            2. re: dannynyc

              Thanks for the follow up, dan. How have you liked using the knife so far? Please also let us know after you've sharpened it how it seems to perform for you.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                I had it sharpened by Korin's resident "master" and I'm very impressed with the knife so far. This is my first japanese knife, so take this with as many grains of salt as you like, but to me this cuts like a dream. I'll update you guys in a few months and let you know how it holds up with repeated use.

                1. re: dannynyc

                  Hey, how has it been? Thinking of buying the same knife from Korin soon.