Top 7 Best Shun Knives And Knife Sets: Which One Is For You?

By Ryan Leavitt •  Updated: 11/10/20 •  17 min read

Used by master chefs and highly respected by connoisseurs all over the world, Shun is one of Japan’s greatest exports.

If you are thinking of upgrading your tools to match your newfound kitchen chops, go for this Seki-made cutlery.

They have nearly a dozen different series offered, some extremely pricey and others unbelievably cheap for their quality. And we’re listing down some of their best.

Read on to find out more about these amazing knives and see why you should start saving up on one.

Reviews Of The Best Shun Knives And Knife Sets

* Featured Product *

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/16/2022 02:44 pm GMT


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.

Product Reviews

1. Shun Premier 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best Overall)

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 durability.

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.

Our scores:



Related reviews:

2. Shun Sora 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best for Professionals)

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/16/2022 03:45 pm GMT

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.

Our scores:



Related review:

3. Shun Classic 8″ Chef’s Knife (Best for Home Cooks)

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.

Our scores:



4. Shun Classic 8-Piece Student Set (Best for Beginners)

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.

Our scores:




5. Shun Premier 15-Piece (Best for Versatility)

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Next up is a very complete set and arguably one of the best Shun knives 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.

Our scores:



6. Shun Kanso 6-Piece (Best Bang for Your Bucks)

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.

Our scores:




7. Shun Sora 6-Piece (More Budget-friendly Choice)

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.

Our scores:



Related guides:

Shun Sora Vs Classic: Which Is Better And Why?
Victorinox Vs Zwilling: Which Choice Is Better And Why?
Cutco Table Knives Vs Steak Knives: Which Is The Better Option?
Shun Classic Vs Wusthof Classic: Which Choice Is Better?
Can I Sell Kitchen Knives On eBay?
Top 7 Best Henckels Knife Sets: Which One Would You Choose?

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.

You can read a more in-depth guide about Shun Sora vs Shun Classic here.

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.

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.

The Classic line is the company’s most popular variant. Made from the proprietary VG Max and then clad with 34 layers of steel, this has the beautiful wavy Damascus pattern which will look impressive when displayed on your wall magnet.

If you’re ready to spend on a basic chef’s set, go for the Classic 8-piece with a rolling bag.

If you just want to give this a try but don’t want to spend over $500 on that set, go for just one good piece: the Classic 8-inch Chef’s knife. A multi-purpose blade, it can do so much for you in the kitchen.

Still can’t shell out over a hundred bucks for a piece? No worries. Shun’s Sora has the same 8-inch Chef’s knife under $100. This may not be flashy as the Classic but it’s just as incisive.

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!

Further reading:

25 Skills Every Cook Should Know

What it Takes to be a Chef: Hard and Soft Skills You Will Need

Ryan Leavitt

Hi my name is Ryan Leavitt a Marine Corps Veteran and currently an over the road trucker (Long Haul). I am no expert chef but am enjoying preparing my own meals on the road and testing all the different knives.

Keep Reading