Global Knives Review: Are These Classic Japanese Knives The Best?

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in Cutlery

I remember the first time I saw a Global knife. The unique metal handle and simple, no-frills design made a pretty big impact on me. I was even more shocked to discover that the spartan grip was incredibly comfortable in my hand. I had assumed that the hard, porous exterior of the grip would react harshly to my skin. I was wrong. Instead, I witnessed a well-designed kitchen tool that somehow managed to weave together unique aesthetics with all of the comfort and usability you’d expect from a high-end chef’s knife.

Today, I’ll frequently suggest Global kitchen knives to people who ask about them. I don’t think that Global knives are the best brand around. Instead, I think that they’re high-quality, affordable, and good looking enough to warrant your careful consideration. Global knives don’t have the Damascus blades that you’ll find on Shun and Dalstrong knives, the wonderful balance of a Wusthof, or the fancy 60+ HRC high-carbon steel blade that a connoisseur of ultra-sharp knives might demand.
 
Instead, they offer a good blend of durability, looks, and effectiveness that puts them in an ideal spot for most home cooks. Global knives have fantastic edges that are incredibly easy to maintain, won’t get damaged by normal kitchen activity, and will stay incredibly sharp with just a little bit of work.
If this sounds good to you, here are some of the best Global knife sets around:

Global Knives Review

* Global Knife Set

This no-frills three knife set features three bolster-less knives. It comes with a chef’s knife, a utility knife, and a paring knife for less than the cost of a single premium knife from some top brands. It’s a brilliant way to put three of the most important knives into your knife drawer without spending a fortune. Most importantly, however, these knives exhibit a perfect blend of sharpness and durability for casual home use.
 
Let me explain what I mean. These knives are made from a steel that’s called CROMOVA 18, which is quite comparable to 440A stainless. This sort of steel isn’t the most premium stuff around, nor is it the best at holding an edge. Instead, it’s very slightly worse than steels like 440C or VG-10 when it comes to sharpness and edge retention. The tradeoff, however, is that it’s much more resistant to corrosion and much less likely to chip or break.
 
In other words, it’s absolutely perfect in a home kitchen. If you’re not using your knives for several hours at a time, you simply won’t notice the slight reduction in edge durability. You might want to touch the blade of your chef’s knife with a honing steel an extra time or two each month, but even if you don’t, the edge will still stay sharp for months at a time in before it needs the attention of a whetstone. The easier maintenance and worry-free use and storage more than make up for a few minutes of additional honing steel use each year.
 
Of course, this is a downside if you want an “authentic” Japanese knife with a crazy sharp single bevel. This knife isn’t the knife for people who want to put a very sharp (less than 30 degree) bevel on their knife or another high-performance custom knife. Instead, it’s a brilliant knife for any chef who wants an incredibly forgiving, low maintenance tool.
 
One thing that I find very interesting when it comes to these knives is the lack of a bolster. It’s not easy to find a Global knife with a bolster at all, despite the fact that their knives are very clearly made with lots of careful metalwork. Nevertheless, this hardly impacts the balance at all. These knives have jsut the right amount of heft to dart nimbly around a cutting board. They’re not necessarily as pleasant to hold as a top end Wusthof, but they’re still very pleasant to use.
Years ago, I thought that the oddly textured metal handles on Global knives would negatively impact their comfort. I was wrong. These knives aren’t the most comfortable knives I’ve ever used, for sure, but they’re quite comparable to many wooden-handled knives. In fact, I think I prefer Global’s dimpled steel handles to the traditional D-shaped wooden handles that Shun seems to prefer. You won’t have any problems using these knives for hours at a time, especially not in the comfort department.
 
The cost of this knife set makes it very easy to justify. You get three high-quality, low-maintenance knives at a price that’s quite competitive when compared to other top brands. If you’re looking for a small knife set to fill out your drawer or plug some holes in your knife block, this Global set is a great way to do that.

* Global Knife Block

This more expensive knife set comes with several additional blades. You get a bread knife, an additional utility knife, and a nakiri knife as well as a stylish wooden block. The bamboo block features clear sides that show off the cutting edges of your knives while they rest elegantly on your counter.
 
As far as the knives themselves go, this set is very, very similar to the set above. You get the exact same low-maintenance steel that still offers incredible performance in a home kitchen. The blades are just as comfortable, durable, and well balanced. The big differences here are the addition of three extra knives and the inclusion of an ultra-modern bamboo block.
 
Again, this is a block that I’m keen to recommend to anyone who’s looking for knives that are durable and easy to maintain without sacrificing a lot of performance. This is an incredibly forgiving set of knives that will withstand drops, scratches, misuse, and even the occasional run through the dishwasher if you absolutely must.
 
It is, however, a bit more expensive.
 
I’m quite happy to forgive the increased expense due to the sheer usefulness of the additional knives. You don’t get a puny vegetable peeler and a dwarfish utility knife. Instead, you get a fairly big nakiri that’s ideal for chopping vegetables, a big bread knife to save the edge on your non-serrated blades, and an additional utility knife for tasks where the full-sized chef’s knife is just too big. In other words, you get twice as many useful knives as the set above.
 
So should you buy it? In my opinion, this is a perfect starter set for a less-serious home chef who wants a few extra style points. It’s got plenty of useful blades, an incredibly stylish knife block, and some of the most unique and distinctive knives around. While you might find yourself upgrading to a fancier set of knives made from fancier metal if you decide to get ultra-serious about cooking, you’ll always appreciate having this set of Global knives to use as a backup.

Wusthof vs Global

Global knives are pretty impressive, but how do they compare to an industry titan like Wusthof? Quite well, actually. While Global knives are a bit worse than several Wusthof models in several discrete ways, they tend to be cheaper, too. This means that you frequently get much more knife for each dollar you spend when you choose Global.
 
Of course, this depends on what attributes you’re looking for in a knife. In general, if you spend many hours each day in a kitchen, Global knives will be a bit worse than a more expensive Wusthof in terms of edge retention, comfort, and balance, although these attributes will vary with the exact Wusthof you choose. By contrast, if you’re a more casual cook who isn’t quite as careful with their knives, Global will actually outperform Wusthof in terms of stain resistance, durability, and ease of maintenance, although this again will vary based on the exact knives you choose.
 
The most important difference is going to be the cost. At the time of writing these reviews, Global’s 7″ chef’s knives are much, much cheaper than an 8″ chef’s knife from a premium Wusthof line. In some cases, you can pick up two full Global knives for less than the price of one Wusthof. Online sales vary a lot, however, so be sure to check the prices on a couple knives before you make a final decision.

Bolster

There are a few important features you can find in Wusthof knives that you can’t find in Global knives. The first is a bolster. Not every Wusthof knife has a bolster — only the more expensive forged models — but it seems very difficult to find a Global knife with this extra bit of metal. Bolsters improve the balance, comfort, and safety of your knife by protecting your grip hand from the blade with a little bit of steel. They’re usually viewed as a positive sign when evaluating the quality of a knife.
 
Of course, bolsters aren’t universally loved. Folks who sharpen their knives at home often feel like they get in the way, while other chefs prefer a knife that’s a little bit lighter by virtue of not having this extra bit of metal. You tend to pay a pretty high premium for a bolster, too, especially when you’re upgrading from a basic stamped knife to a fancier forged blade just for this individual feature.
 
One practical upshot to the bolster is that it provides the knifemaker a simple way to adjust the balance of a knife. By thickening the bolster or making it thinner, companies like Wusthof can make very fine adjustments to the balance point of their blades. Since the bolster tends to sit right about where you want the knife to balance anyway, it’s a nice and simple way to make a knife feel a little bit more maneuverable in your hand. Overall, fancy Wusthof knives feel like they have better balance than Globals, although this is somewhat subjective.

Steel

The second difference is steel. Wusthof knives are made from a slightly harder steel that’s a little bit better at holding an edge than Global’s blades. Again, this varies per knife, but you’re usually looking at about 58 HRC in a Wusthof and about 54-56 HRC from a Global. This means that Wusthof’s blades can get a little bit sharper and will stay that way for a little bit longer.
To be perfectly clear, the difference in between the steel is NOT large. Instead, it’s like comparing a 300 horsepower car to a 350 horsepower car. Both vehicles are more than powerful enough for ordinary highway driving. When you really want to put your pedal to the metal, however, the more powerful engine will pull slightly ahead. As far as knives are concerned, this means that the Wusthof can maintain a sub-30 degree grind a bit better, can be honed slightly less frequently, and won’t need to be sharpened quite as often.
 
In the case of knife steel, however, the “inferior” metal actually comes with a few advantages. Global’s slightly softer steel is more resistant to stains and corrosion and less likely to chip or break than the harder Wusthof steel. Again, this difference is fairly subtle and isn’t something you’re necessarily going to notice over the lifetime of your knives. If you left a Wusthof and a Global immersed in water overnight, however, you might notice more rust on the Wusthof.

Warranty

The third difference, and perhaps the most important one, is the warranty. Global doesn’t have much of a warranty on their knives. In fairness to them, they hardly need to: their all-metal blades are practically indestructible in the context of a home kitchen. If you take a damaged Global to your local cutlery shop, they’ll probably be able to hand you back a polished, sharp knife for less than the cost of shipping your knife to Global and back.
 
Wusthof, on the other hand, offers quite comprehensive warranties on their knives. This means you’ve got a generous period of time to find any factory defects or even have Wusthof repair your warranty-covered mistake. Again, you probably won’t need to — Wusthof’s knives are almost as indestructible as Global’s — but it is a nice thing to have.

Global Knives: A Stylish, Durable Brand

Global’s knives don’t have super hard blades or super fine edges. Instead, they’re durable, stylish, and more than sharp enough for home kitchen use. These knives might not have a 20 something degree grind, but they’ll maintain their edge for months at a time with just the occasional brush up from a honing steel.
 
They’re extra durable, extra corrosion resistant, and absolutely perfect for any kitchen looking for a knife set that will last for years.

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Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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