Shun knives have exploded on the US market. With growth rates of in excess of 40% per year the biggest complaint from many is that they can't keep up with demand. Along with capacity issues there are a number of lines under the Shun label. This article will help give you some information on Shun Knives and our opinion on the relative strengths and weaknesses of various lines under the Shun umbrella. Our rankings list these lines in order of quality not cost.
The Shun Premier line is new and offers several advantages over the classic line. The knives have symetrical handles so they are good for righties or lefties. They also have a really attractive hammered damascus look and upgraded natural wood handles. A
Shun Pro 2:
This line was developed 2 years ago to compete with the proliferation and popularity in high end, traditional styled Japanese kitchen knives. Kershaw (the parent company of Shun) decided to make a top quality knife line with Japanese blade designs for people in the US. The Shun Pro II has a similar Pakka Wood handle as the Shun Elite but the blades are not made from powdered steel and we found they required more maintenance. Also, these knives are offered with a right handed beveled edge so they do not work well with left handed people and as far as we know they are not being offered in a left handed version. They are still amazing knives but for these reasons we give this knife line an A-.
The Shun Classic line is by far the most popular line, outselling all other lines combined. If you have a friend that has a Shun, odds are they own a Shun Classic. The Classic has an attractive Damascus pattern on the blade which looks a little like wood grain. They also have D shaped handles which means they have a right handed or left handed bias (you can order them both ways). This is a disadvantage for families that have left and right handed cooks. Fit and finish on these knives is good but they do not have the nice detail points of the Shun Elite or the Shun Pro II. We do like the polished edge which gives the knife a great aesthetic quality. These are excellent quality knives and are priced much more reasonably than the lines above. This line gets an overall score of B+ and is our Best Value Pick.
We had the pleasure of meeting Ken Onion and spoke with him about his development of the line that bares his name. Ken said that he wanted to build a kitchen knife from the ground up based on ergonomics, control and aesthetics. We think he did an excellent job overall. First he used the same steel as the Shun Classic. The shape of the blade is radically different in that the blade's spine is scooped on the top and the edge is also curved to enhance a rocking motion when you chop. Also, the handle is placed at the top of the blade to keep your knuckles away from the cutting board. We like these design elements but the knife does take some getting used to. We also found the bolster a little oversized and did not like the small gap between the bolster and blade. Overall we give this line a B and recommend it to those of you that are adventurous and would like to try something new.
We will review the Shun Reserve line shortly.