Global is a fairly new brand, started in the 1980s. They have some interesting features not seen in other Japanese kitchen knives, with a lot of German influence on the technology. This isn't uncommon, but in Global's case, the influence makes them a real Japanese/German hybrid.
We look at the Global knife lines and product offerings and discuss history, design, blade quality and performance, pros and cons, who these knives are best for, and more: everything you need to know before you buy.
Global Knives Recommendation
Global knives are thin, light, and sharp. They have softer steel than other Japanese brands, making them an excellent introduction to the world of Japanese knives: they hold an edge well, but are easy to sharpen and maintain (making them the best of both worlds).
Like most Japanese knives, Global knives are not designed for hard foods, but a pleasure to use for everything else. We think they are best suited to people with small hands, as the handles are shorter and narrower than other knife brands (but try one before you decide).
Highly recommended as a sharp, high quality knife.
Global Knives at a Glance
Global makes three lines of kitchen knives, although their Classic line has subsets which we explain in the detailed reviews below. We list the Global Classic Forged lines as a separate category in the table (and in the reviews below) because it's different enough that it should be a separate category.
Somewhat confusingly, you will find all the Classic lines together on the Global website, without much explanation as to how they're different. They will even sometimes mix G and GS Classic lines together in sets.
For this reason, pay close attention to the model numbers when buying, or you may end up with a knife you didn't want.
All Global knives are made in Japan and have a guarantee to be free from defects.
NOTE: Global also has a Ni line (see it on Amazon) that is no longer on their website, so it's probably been discontinued. The Ni stock numbers begin with "GN."
-Cromova 18 steel blade
-G has straight handle, GS has triangular or contoured handle
-GS knives have shorter blades than G knives
-15 degree edge
-Hollow handles filled with sand to balance the knife
-Hardened to HRC 56-58
-Stainless steel handle with dimples for grip
-8" chef's knife app. $90.
-Cromova 18 steel blade
-15 degree edge
-GSF knives have shorter blades than GF knives (same handle)
-Hollow handles filled with sand to balance the knife
-Hardened to HRC 56-58
-Stainless steel handle with dimples for grip
-8" chef's knife app. $165.
-3-ply blade: 18/8 wrapped around Cromova 18
-12.5 degree edge, hand-hammered finish
-Hardened to HRC 56-58
-Stainless handle w/thumb rest for comfort
-8" chef's knife app. $225.
-Cromova 18 steel blade
-15 degree edge
-Thicker blade than other Global lines
-Hardened to HRC 56-58
-Stainless handle, thumb rest (both sides), dimples for grip
-8" chef's knife app. $140.
Global is a Japanese company founded in 1985 by two Japanese men, Mino Tshchida and Komin Yamada. Tsuchida was a master craftsman in the cutlery industry; Yamada was an industrial designer. They set out to make a knife unique in both design and functionality that combined the best of Japanese and German traditions.
Global is owned by the Yoshida metal industry, headquartered in Tsubame, Japan. Global knives are manufactured in Niigata, Japan.
You can read the story of Global knives on their website.
Global's Unique Knife Construction
Global knives really are made differently than any other kitchen knife on the market. Here are the features that set Global apart from other knives.
The blade thinness probably sets Global apart more than any other characteristic (along with their special edge grind, see below). Global Classic blades are about 2mm thick, making them one of the thinnest blades on the market.
In comparison, Shun knives range from 1.5-5mm thick, and Wusthof knives are about 5mm thick.
The thinness of the blade has pros and cons. It allows the knife to be light and nimble, which you may or may not prefer (some people like heavier knives, and they are definitely the better choice for hard foods).
The thinness also makes the blade a bit fragile, although the steel is softer than on other Japanese brands which helps keep it resistant to chipping (more on steel below).
The Global "Edge"
This diagram from Global's website shows the difference between their blade edge and the grind found on pretty much every other kitchen knife brand:
This excerpt from the Global website explains it best:
The most important feature of any knife is its edge, and the GLOBAL edge is truly its signature. The majority of the Global knives are sharpened or ground on both sides of the blade, just like Western style knives. However, their edges are ground steeply to a point as illustrated [above left] and to an acute angle. This is in contrast to Western or European knives that use a beveled edge [above right]. The straight edge results in a dramatically sharper knife which stays sharper longer. The edge on a Global knife is so large and prominent that it is easily seen with the naked eye and extends a quarter of an inch or more up from the tip of the knife.
This Global grind is really just longer and thinner than that seen on other kitchen knives, and is what allows the knife to hold an edge longer because as it wears down, there's no curve to ruin the sharpness. This means longer periods of sharpness and fewer sharpening sessions, even though the steel is softer than that found on other Japanese knives.
It's important to mention here that Global knives also have a "unique convex edge" which they list as a feature of most of the knives on their website (and on Amazon and other retailers). This may sound contradictory, but all it means is that the edge is finished on a belt grinder, which creates a tiny convexity on the blade--so small it's hard to see. The convex edgenhas little or no effect on the sharpness of the blade, or its edge retention.
Unless you have a belt grinder, that "unique convex edge" will go away the first time you sharpen a Global knife (or any other knife with a convex, or beveled edge, which is most of them), and it does not affect the sharpness or performance of the knife. (In fact, we're not sure why Global goes to such lengths to mention their unique flat grind and then say in every knife description that the knife has a "unique convex edge." It's confusing, which is why we included this information here.)
Stainless Steel Handle
Global was the first knife to use stainless steel for the handle. It's made from two pieces of steel welded together (then welded to the blade), creating a hollow handle. The handles have dimples to aid grip.
Steel handles give Global knives a strikingly modern appearance, as well as keep the knives light. In fact, the handles were so light that some people found Global knives unbalanced, so Global began adding sand to the hollow handles to counterbalance the blade perfectly. Today, Global knives are some of the most well-balanced knives on the market.
Most Japanese kitchen knives have a steel hardness of 60-62 HRC, while German knives have a hardness of 56-58 (with some lower quality brands even softer).
Global knives have a hardness rating of 56-58 HRC, putting them solidly in the German camp.
This is unusual for a Japanese knife brand, and we're not sure why Global went with a softer steel, especially since most people buying Japanese knives prefer harder steel. It could be that Global thought the softer steel would sell better in the Western market, or it could be that they liked the softer steel for their thin blade because it made it more durable.
Whatever their reasoning, the softer steel actually does make Global knives a better choice for many home cooks, in particular: softer steel is less prone to chipping, which is a trait most home cooks prefer (thus the popularity of German knives). And even though it needs to be sharpened more often than most Japanese steels, the softer steel makes the knives easier to sharpen.
And by the way, a rating of 56-58 HRC is by no means a soft steel. It is actually a pretty hard, durable steel. It's just softer than the steel used on most Japanese knives.
We get into more about Global steel in the next section.
Stamped, Not Forged
Other than the small Global Classic Forged line, Global knives are stamped out of a piece of metal rather than forged, like the majority of Japanese knife brands.
The stamped blade is then welded to two other pieces of steel that make up the handle.
Being stamped doesn't make Global knives unique, but stamped knives are uncommon among premium Japanese knives. This is changing, with brands like Global and Mac. But Global was the first to make high quality stamped Japanese knives.
What Steel Do Global Knives Use?
Global uses a proprietary steel for their blades called Cromova 18. It is a highly rust resistant stainless steel with 18% chromium, plus molybdenum and vanadium (thus the name).
The high chromium content is rare in knife steel; most knife steels use around 14% chromium. This means that Global steel is extremely corrosion resistant--more so than most other kitchen knives.
According to the knivesfromjapan website, molybdenum increases strength, hardness, toughness, and harden-ability (meaning the knife can be hardened to a higher HRC rating) Vanadium, when added to steels that contain chromium, increases strength, wear resistance, and toughness.
Cromova 18 has a hardness rating of 56-58 HRC, which, as we said, is soft for a Japanese knife, though still quite hard. This hardness means the blade is more durable and less prone to chipping, but also means the knife will wear down faster than other Japanese knives and require more sharpening. But the good news is that a knife of this hardness is pretty easy to sharpen using regular tools (harder Japanese knives can require professional sharpening tools to get a proper edge).
Cromova 18 is considered a premium steel, but in comparison to other Japanese steels, it's right at the bottom of the pack. Some people consider Global knives an "entry level" or "starter" Japanese knife brand, and we think that's a pretty good description.
This doesn't mean Cromova 18 is bad quality or that you shouldn't buy a Global knife. Quite the contrary, in fact: it means that Global knives are more durable and easier to maintain than many other Japanese knife brands, making them an excellent choice for people who want high quality Japanese steel but don't want the headache of caring for it (it can rust and chip) and maintaining it (it's hard to sharpen).
Do Global Knives Stay Sharper than Other Brands?
This is one of Global's claims, but it's only partially true.
Global knives do not hold a blade better than harder Japanese knives. The softer steel makes this impossible.
However, Global knives do hold a blade longer than many German knives with the same hardness rating. This is because of the thinner blade and flatter grind.
If you've read differing opinions on knife forums about how well Global knives hold an edge, this is why. They are the Japanese knife with the German steel, so they have characteristics of both. So it really depends on what you're comparing a Global knife to when you form an opinion about them.
The good news, though, is that Global knives are pretty easy to sharpen when they do need it because of the softer steel. This makes them an excellent choice for a first-time Japanese knife buyer who wants all the cool features of Japanese steel, but without most of the headaches.
Who Are Global Knives Best For?
Knives are a personal choice, so it's hard to say exactly Global knives will work for. But we think these knives are best for:
- People who want a thin, light knife
- Beginner cooks looking for an entry into Japanese knives
- People who want a high quality knife but don't want to spend too much
- People with small hands (because the handles are small and narrow)
- People who won't use the knives on bones and other hard foods.
There will be exceptions. The Global G2 was Anthony Bourdain's favorite chef's knife, and he did not have small hands, nor was he a beginner cook or new to Japanese knives. He must have loved the lightness of the knife and the thinness of the blade, which really makes these knives feel almost like razor blades.
Finally, if you just like the looks of Global knives, don't be afraid to try one out. It might work for you even if you aren't a beginner cook or have large hands (like Anthony Bourdain).
Pros and Cons of Global Knives
What to Look For in a Kitchen Knife (A Buying Guide)
Here is our basic buying guide for kitchen knives, with specific information about Global knives.
First: Set or Individual Knives?
Our recommendation for buying knife sets is a lot like our recommendation for buying cookware sets: if you need several knives at once, then a set can be the right choice. But buy a smaller set that you can add to as you discover which knives work best for you.
Think about it: what if you buy a large set, only to realize that they're not the right knives for you? Then you're stuck with knives you don't like, and you'll feel guilty buying more because you've already invested so much money.
One good thing about buying sets is that you often get a honing steel, which is an essential tool for all knife owners. But interestingly, Global has very few sets that include a honing steel. To get one, you have to buy a really large set, like this 10 piece Takashi set.
And for Global, and most Japanese knives, no set will have everything you need, because unless you're a vegetarian, you'll need a heavy, durable knife to cut through bone and other hard foods (squash, for example). German knives are best for this.
Steak knives are the one exception: a nice set of steak knives is a great purchase (again, unless you're a vegetarian). They also make great gifts.
Which Knives Do You Really Need?
Most cooks really only need three knives: a chef's knife for general prep work, a paring knife for small jobs like coring and peeling, and a serrated bread knife for, well, bread.
With these three, you can do just about every cutting task there is.
But this doesn't mean they're the only knives you need. They're just a start.
Depending on what you like to cook, you might want a carving knife for serving meat; a boning knife for separating raw meat from bones; a utility knife for jobs in-between a chef's and a paring knife, a cheese knife for serving guests; a set of steak knives.
And maybe you'd prefer a santoku to a chef's knife for some jobs. Or a nakiri (Japanese vegetable knife). Or a heavier German chef's knife instead of the narrower, lighter Japanese chef's knives.
The options are almost endless. You can really get lost in the world of kitchen knives (and it can be a lot of fun).
Global makes just about every type of knife you'll need, particularly in their Classic line. The only thing they don't make is a heavy duty chef's knife that you can slice through bone with (though they do make cleavers that will work).
For a look at all the types of kitchen knives available, see our article How to Choose the Right Kitchen Knives.
Or, for a look at the difference between Japanese and German knives, see our article Japanese Knives: Better than German Knives?
Opinions differ on how much you have to spend to get a good quality knife. Some people say $30, others say $100, still others say $300.
You can find decent quality knives even at lower price points as long as you're willing to live with lower quality handles (e.g., molded plastic rather than resin or wood), stamped blades rather than forged, and steel that will need more frequent sharpening than more expensive knives.
We think the price point of a decent quality kitchen knife starts at right around $100 for an 8-inch chef's knife.
This puts Global knives right at the bottom of "good quality," because this is right around where their chef's knives start. Small paring knives start around $40 and small sets start right around $140.
These are really affordable prices for Japanese knives.
Does this make Global a "starter" knife brand? It depends who you ask. If you want "real" Japanese steel, Global is not it because it's too soft--but that softness means Global knives are easier to sharpen and more durable than harder, more brittle Japanese steel.
But yes, a lot of people consider Global a starter knife. Even so, it's a good quality knife at a fair price point.
Steel is probably the most important consideration when buying a knife, and is the main factor in what makes a knife cheap or expensive.
You can spend a lot of time learning about all the different steels used to make knives. And while a lot of it is interesting and helpful to know, having an overview of knife steel is enough to make a good decision, and to know what you're paying for.
The overview is that there are two kinds of knife steel: German and Japanese.
In general, German steel is more durable, but softer--HRC 54-58--so you need to sharpen it more often. But because it's soft, it's easy to sharpen.
Japanese steel is harder--HRC 60-62. It holds a blade extremely well, but the steel is brittle, so it can chip and break more easily. (Yes: softer steel is more durable, odd as that may sound.)
At one time, Japanese steel was more prone to rust because of the higher carbon content (which is what makes steel hard), but that is no longer the case. Today's Japanese steels have a high carbon content for hardness, and a high chromium content, for rust and corrosion resistance. Many also have vanadium and molybdenum as well, which enhance corrosion resistance.
Global uses Cromova 18 steel (discussed in more detail above), which is a high chromium Japanese steel, yet has a hardness of 56-58HRC like most German steels. Since Global blades are narrow, the softer steel helps to keep it more durable, so it's a good combination of steel and design.
Many people consider Cromova 18 to be inferior to harder Japanese steels, but it's an excellent design, which allows you a super thin, razor sharp blade that's surprisingly durable.
The only downside to Cromova 18 is that it won't hold a blade as long as other Japanese steels, so it needs more sharpening--but no more than a high quality German blade (such as Wusthof).
Blade Shape and Size
If you prefer a rocking motion when cutting, you need a chef's knife, with a blade that curves up to a tip, allowing you to rock the knife on the cutting board.
If you prefer a flatter motion, then the flat blade of a santoku or nakiri is the right choice.
But hese are all chef's knife options. Paring knives, bread knives, and utility knives are all standard shapes, with small differences among brands. Since you don't cut with any of these knives the way you do a chef's knife, the blade shape is not dependent on the cutting motion.
As for size, we recommend going with the standard sizes: 8 inches for a chef's knife, 7 inches for a santoku, 3.5-4 inches for a paring knife, etc. You may prefer something larger or smaller, but starting with the most popular size is a good approach.
If you're new to knives, how do you know what you like? Well, you don't--so you have to try different styles and sizes and see what fits. Luckily, Amazon and Williams-Sonoma both have a generous return policy, so if you're buying online, you can try several easily.
And if you're buying in person, even better: most kitchen stores have a butcher block and will let you take any knife for a test run.
Global offers knives in many different shapes and sizes, especially in their Classic line, so you can choose from a wide variety.
Most knives sold in the Western market (US) have a bevel of 14-20 degrees on each side. Most Global knives are right in that range, with a 15 degree bevel on each side. Their SAI line has a 12.5 degree bevel on each side, making it one of the thinnest blade edge sold in the Western market.
A thinner edge can make a knife sharper, but more fragile and prone to chipping, so there's no "best" type of bevel. Most people have to experiment with different edges to see what they like.
However, Global knives are unique in their thinness. They are thinner than most other kitchen knife brands in the Western market, Japanese or German. This thinness, plus the narrow edge, gives them a particularly sharp feel that a lot of people fall in love with.
Knife hardness is rated on the Rockwell scale and designated "HRC." German knives have a typical hardness rating of about 54-58HRC, while Japanese knives have a rating of 60-62HRC.
Harder might sound better, but the harder a knife is, the more brittle it is, and the more prone to chipping and breaking. Softer knives are more durable, but need to be sharpened more often.
Both German and Japanese knives have good and bad traits, and there is no right or wrong answer here.
Global knives are Japanese, but have are rated 56-58HRC. This makes them more durable than other Japanese blades, which helps, because they're also thinner. Overall, Global knives are thin enough and sharp enough to cut through food effortlessly, yet soft enough to resist chipping.
Many people find this an excellent combination--though because of the thinness, they can chip more easily than other knives with a similar hardness rating.
Balance refers to how the knife feels in your hand: does it feel light and forward-moving, or does it weigh you down and require a lot of effort to use? Or something in between?
Balance is a tricky thing to get a feel for, but when you use a knife that fits your hand just right and almost feels like an extension of it as you use it, you've found a knife with good balance.
Global knives are some of the most well-balanced knives on the market. They add sand to the hollow handle to provide perfect counterbalance to the blade.
This doesn't mean they're the right knife for you, as you may prefer something heavier or something with a thicker blade. But we certainly recommend trying them.
Forged Vs. Stamped
Forged knives are hammered out of one piece of steel and have varying thicknesses along the blade (for example, the bolster, where your fingers hold the blade, is thicker than the blade itself).
Stamped knives are cut out of a piece of steel and are all one thickness (except, of course, where they're ground into a blade).
Global knives are stamped, with one small line, the Classic Forged, forged. The blades are then welded to the two pieces of steel that make up the handle. This construction helps keep the Global prices lower than other premium Japanese brands.
Forged knives were once considered superior to stamped knives. But today, there are many high quality stamped knives on the market, of which Global is one.
Some people believe forged knives have better balance, while others prefer the lightness of a stamped blade. But there is no right or wrong answer and it really has to do with your preferences.
If you pay attention to steel quality and don't care if a knife is forged or stamped, you can find some great knives at lower price points.
Handles (Shape, Size, Material)
Handle material is important for comfort, hygiene, and durability.
You want a handle that's comfortable to hold, not too heavy or light, and conforms to your hand.
Most knive handles are made from wood, plastic, or wood/plastic composite. Global knives are unique in that they're made from stainless steel.
The steel handles not only give Global knives a unique appearance, they are also one of the most hygienic handle materials around as they are completely resistant to bacteria.
As for comfort, there are a lot of mixed opinions. Some people love the Global handles, while others find that they dig into their hands and can even cause blisters from prolonged use. The narrow blade can get uncomfortable. There are also complaints about the handles getting slippery when wet or greasy.
In our testing, we found that people with smaller hands tended to like the Global handles, while people with larger hands found them uncomfortable. So if yu have large hands, Global may not be the brand for you.
Some people prefer heavy knives because they cut through food with less pressure from the user.
Others prefer light knives that can be easily manipulated.
Still others (probably most people) prefer heavy knives for some tasks and light knives for others.
As with so many knife factors, there's no wrong answer here.
Global knives are some of the lightest, most nimble knives on the market. This makes them great for many tasks, but not the best choice for cutting through bones or other heavy foods.
Among Global lines, the Classic Forged blades are the heaviest, the Classic and UKON are about the same weight, and the SAI are the lightest. However, the differences among all the lines aren't more than a few ounces per knife.
If you want a light, nimble knife, Global Classic is one of the best choices on the market.
Any good quality knife should have a good warranty. This means at least 10 years, and preferably life.
All Global knives have a limited lifetime warranty.
Global Vs. Shun
Shun knives (see our Shun review) are a premium Japanese brand, while Global is considered a slightly inferior brand, though still good quality.
Shun knives are made from harder steel, typically with a hardness rating of 60-62 HRC. Global knives are made of a softer steel with a rating of 56-58 HRC like German knives.
Shun blades have a 16 degree double bevel, making them thicker than Global's 15 degree bevel (and 12.5 degree bevel on the SAI line). Global blades are some of thinnest, lightest, narrowest blades sold in the Western market.
Global knives are made from their proprietary Cromova 18 stainless steel. Shun are made from a variety of steels, including their proprietary VGMax steel.
Global knives are considered by many to be a "starter" level Japanese knife, while Shun is geared more to serious cooks and professionals.
Shun knives have intricate Damascus design on many of their blades, while Global knives are plainer.
Shun knives are, in general, more expensive than Global.
There are lovers and haters of both brands, and they are designed to appeal to a different user.
Sharpening Global Knives
Global knives have a hardness of 56-58HRC, which makes them fairly easy to sharpen. Using a honing steel regularly keeps the blades aligned and free of tiny irregularities, which should mean you'll only have to sharpen your knives a few times a year, depending on how much you use them.
This video shows how simple it is to keep your Global knives sharp.
Do you need to use Global knife sharpening tools? No, probably not, as long as you can keep the angle at 15 degrees when sharpening (or 12.5 degrees for the SAI line). This can take some practice--and angle guides are a great help if you're using a whetstone--but it's not hard to do.
Global Classic Knife Review
About $40-$200 dollars for individual knives; sets vary from about $100 up to about $700.
The Classic line actually consists of 4 subsets of lines, all quite similar. They are:
G: Standard Classic line, stamped, with the standard blade lengths and straight handle. Most popular Global series. Versatile line and good for most hands and most cutting tasks.
GS: Shorter blades, with triangular or contoured handles. Best for smaller hands and lighter duty jobs.
GF: Forged Classic series. Heavier blades, partial bolsters, but otherwise identical to Classic. Best for heavier jobs and preferred by many professional chefs for increased durability.
GSF: Forged Classic with shorter blades and smaller handles. Best for smaller hands but heavier jobs.
Global Classic G and GS lines are often found mixed in sets (like this one), so it can be confusing and hard to tell what the differences really are. The major differences are found between the stamped series (G and GS) and the forged series (GF and GSF), and they are big enough that we review the forged series separately in the next section.
Classic is Global's original line and still their most popular. They have nearly 70 buying options on their site, with several different sets to choose from, including standard butcher block sets and modern steel "block" sets.
The knives are beautifully balanced, with sand added to the hollow handle to counterbalance the blade perfectly: these are some of the most well balanced kitchen knives you'll find.
The thinness and lightness makes these knives not ideal for every kitchen task, and not everyone wants a knife this thin and light. But if you do, Global Classic is an excellent option.
Features of G and GS Classic lines:
Cutting Performance and Ergonomics
The Global Classic has become a truly classic blade because of its fabulous performance. The blade is razor sharp and thin enough to slice through tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, chicken, and beef with ease. It is an excellent kitchen knife, as long as you don't use it on bones or other hard foods, which could cause the thin blade to chip.
The paring knife has an excellent feel and peels and cores small veggies with ease, especially if you have small hands: because the handle is so thin, it may feel awkward in large hands.
The balance is superb, and the lightness makes these knives a pleasure to use.
There are some issues with this knife, though. The blade is so thin, it can become uncomfortable in your hand after awhile, though this shouldn't be much of a problem for home cooks unless you routinely prep for hours at a time. And the handle, as you might guess, can get slippery if your hand is wet or greasy. This wasn't as much of a problem as we thought it would be going in: it's not hard to keep your hands dry and free of grease in most knife-using situations (especially if you're not hacking up carcasses, which is not what these knives are for).
Probably the biggest issue with this knife is its sharp heel. The combination of the super thin blade and having no bolster means that the heel of the knife is really sharp. Two of our testers accidentally poked themselves when picking up the knife, and both got nasty cuts.
You will learn quickly to respect this knife, so this isn't a big deal. But if you're used to knives with full bolsters--which protect your fingers from the blade--it's something to be aware of. And even the people who got cuts said the knife performed so well that it was well worth the initial learning curve.
We did not test any GS options, but we can safely say that the triangular handle is best for smaller hands; otherwise, the performance should be identical.
The Global Classic G2 was Anthony Bourdain's favorite knife for its sharp edge and light, nimble cutting. If you want a light knife and don't mind that you can't use it for hard foods, the G2 is an excellent blade. It has won several design awards and gets overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon and elsewhere.
If you want a chef's knife and a paring knife, this 2 piece set is a great choice.
The 3 piece set (chef's, utility, paring knives) is also an excellent choice, or the 5 piece Teikoku set (chef's, utility, serrated bread, and paring knives) is an excellent set if you want a block, as are the G-835 6 piece set and the Hiro 7 piece set (all pictured below).
However, there are so many options to choose from, you should check the Amazon and Global links below to see the full line of Global Classic knives (almost 70 options to choose from).
You will have to buy a honing steel separately (and we strongly recommend that you do):
Pros and Cons
Pros: Razor sharp blade, light and nimble, more affordable than comparable Japanese knives, great looks, lots of buying options.
Cons: Blade is thin and can chip on hard foods, the handles are small and can be slippery when wet or greasy, the sharp heel can poke your hand if you're not careful.
If you want a light, nimble Japanese knife that's razor sharp and easy to maintain, Global Classic is it. If you want a shorter blade, or a triangular or contoured handle, go with Global Classic GS.
Buy global classic knives:
Global Classic Forged Knife Review
About $45-$190 for individual knives (4 steak knife set about $170).
The Classic Forged is a subset of the Global Classic line, or actually two: GF and GSF, with the GF line being standard blade size and the GSF having shorter blades. Both are thicker and heavier than the G and GS lines, so are best for heavier jobs. The GF line is preferred by most professional chefs for its heavier more durable blade that still feels lighter and more nimble than most other knives on the market.
As you can tell by the name, these knives are forged rather than stamped. Other than the partial bolster, the knives look identical to the Classic line, are made of the same steel, and have the same flat ground, 15 degree edge angle.
The forged line has the same three-piece construction as other Global knives, including the lack of a tang.
If you want the forged line, be sure to buy a knife designated "GF" or "GSF." Classic and Classic Forged are often mixed together in Amazon listings, so the easiest way to tell them apart is by the stock number.
You can also tell the forged knives by the small bolster and, typically, the higher price.
Features of the Classic GF and GSF lines:
Cutting Performance and Ergonomics
Having the same blade as the Classic line, the cutting experience is very similar: the super sharp blade slices through foods easily. We tested the GF chef's knife on tomatoes, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and chicken breast (boneless), and we have no complaints about this super sharp blade.
The GF line is slightly heavier than the G line, but the difference is so small you would only notice if you'd handled both knives extensively. Both are lighter than a German knife of comparable size, and lighter than most Japanese knives, as well.
The knife was incredibly well balanced, making it feel like an extension of your hand when using.
The heavier blade makes this knife a slightly better choice for heavier kitchen work than other Global knives, but you should still use caution with hard foods.
The same issues with the G and GS lines also apply here: The handle is on the small side, and some users found it slippery when wet (or greasy). But if you are careful with the knife, this shouldn't be an issue. And even though this knife is forged, it only has a partial bolster, so watch out for the sharp heel.
There aren't a lot of buying options for the Classic Forged line. You can see the whole line at Global, or see a few options on Amazon (be sure to check the stock number, as the forged knives are mixed in with the Classic knives).
As far as we can tell, there are no sets except for the 4 piece steak knife set (see the GSF steak knives at Global).
You will have to buy a honing steel separately (and we strongly recommend that you do):
Pros and Cons
Pros: Heavier blades than other Global lines, making them more durable yet still razor sharp.
Cons: More expensive than Global Classic knives and slightly heavier (which some people might consider a pro), the handle is a little thin and small and could strain larger hands, can be slippery when wet.
Global Classic Forged knives are slightly heavier and more durable than Global Classic, but they have the same flat-ground razor sharp blade. If you want the Global sharpness in a slightly more durable knife, the Classic Forged line is the way to go.
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Global SAI Knife Review
About $130-$240 for individual knives (3pc set about $300).
The SAI line is similar to the Classic line in that they are both stamped, both lightweight Cromova 18 blades with a flat grind and stainless handle.
The SAI differs from the Classic line in that it has a hand-hammered blade that contains 18/8 steel (upper blade) and Cromova 18 (blade edge). The 18/8 steel protects the harder blade steel from chipping (harder steel is more brittle), while the hammer marks help food to release more easily than from a smooth blade.
Probably the biggest difference is the cutting edge. The SAI blade is ground to a 12.5 degree angle (each side), so is narrower than the 15 degree edge on Global and UKON lines. This makes the SAI knives sharper, but more fragile--so SAI knives are impressively sharp, but should be used with care (no hard foods or bones that could chip the thin blade).
The SAI line also has a curved steel handle modeled after samurai swords, with just 7 dimples (rather than being covered with them). The dimples represent the moral codes of the samurai warriors. The handle is supposed to be more comfortable than the straight handle on the Classic and UKON knives, but we didn't notice a huge difference.
If you're left-handed, note that the thumb rest is only on the left side, so this knife is designed exclusively for right-handed users. Because of the design, a left-handed person could experience significant discomfort using this knife.
Global SAI features:
Cutting Performance and Ergonomics
The SAI knife is incredibly thin and sharp. It glides through meats, onions, carrots, mushrooms, bell peppers, and tomatoes with ease. In fact, it's so sharp, it's a little bit intimidating to use.
We particularly liked the paring knife. It was comfortable in the hand and cored and peeled beautifully. Though the blade is clearly thinner and sharper than the Global Classic line (fantastic for peeling), we didn't find the handle any more comfortable. If you have large hands--or are left-handed--this line is probably not right for you, especially the smaller blades.
We tested the chef's knife with wet hands, and found it to be a bit more slippery than the Classic line. The curves are supposed to take the place of all the dimples, but we didn't think they helped all that much. The knife isn't unsafe, but we recommend you use great care when cutting with it, especially if your hands are wet or greasy.
As with the Classic line, the handle and blade are thin and may strain the hand if you use it for long periods, and the sharp heel is also an issue.
Overall, SAI performance is light, nimble, and razor sharp. It's a perfect choice for people with small hands.
The Global SAI line is small, with just 18 options on their site and no sets (though there are some sets on Amazon and Williams-Sonoma, we're not sure why).
As with all kitchen knives, we recommend individual knives or small sets. We like the 8" chef's knife, the 7.5" santoku, the 3 piece set (santoku, utility knife, paring knife for about $300), and the 5 piece set with stainless block (chef's, utility, bread, paring, plus block).
You will have to buy a honing steel separately, as none are available in any Global SAI sets.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Extremely sharp 12.5 degree edge, hammered edge for better food release, contoured handle with thumb rest (left side only), great looks.
Cons: Good only for right-handed users, handles are a little small and don't have enough dimples to help improve grip. Narrower blade can also be more prone to chipping than the other Global lines if not used with care.
Global SAI knives are beautiful and razor sharp. They're thin, so they require care when using or you'll chip them. We think they're best for someone with small hands--and you have to be right-handed, as well, because of the one-sided thumb rest.
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Global Ukon Knife Review
About $100 - $220 for individual knives (8" chef's knife about $140, 3pc set about $250)
According to Global's website, "UKON" means "the union of the traditional and the new" in Japanese. The blade is thicker than the Global Classic and SAI lines, which adds strength (and weight, as well), but the blade edge is just as sharp, with a flat-ground 15 degree edge. This means razor sharp cutting power in a more durable design.
Though the UKON and Classic knives are similar, the UKON line is higher priced, probably because of the thicker blade (more steel = more money).
Only the Global Classic Forged line is more expensive, and also slightly heavier than the UKON knives.
Global UKON features:
Cutting Performance and Ergonomics
We tried out the UKON chef's knife, paring knife, and 7" santoku, and cutting performance was impressive. These knives are razor sharp and glided through beef, chicken, carrots, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes with virtually no pressure needed. The handle is more comfortable than the Global Classic handle, probably because it's got a bit more heft (no skinny spine to dig into your hand). The thumb bolster adds to the comfort--and because it's on both sides, no worries about lefties having trouble using the knives.
The paring knife, like the Classic paring knife, has a fabulous feel in the hand, almost like an extension of your hand, as it cores and peels.
Though heavier than the Classic knives, the differences seem small during use; it could matter if you're using the knife for long periods, but for standard meal prep, the weight should be a non-issue for most people (and remember, the Classic Forged series is heavier than the UKON).
As with the Classic line, the blade is very thin and may strain the hand if you use it for long periods, and the sharp heel is also an issue to watch out for.
UKON is a small collection compared to the Classic line, with just 11 buying options on the Global website. This includes an 8" chef's knife, a 7" Asian chef's knife, two hollow ground Santoku knives (5" and 7"), two serrated knives, a Japanese vegetable knife/nakiri, and a paring knife.
There are no UKON sets with honing steels, so if you want one, you'll have to buy it separately.
Pros and Cons
Pros: Very sharp steel, thicker blade is more durable than other Global lines, ambidextrous thumb rest.
Cons: Limited buying options, sharp heel, the handle is a little thin and small and could strain larger hands, handle could be slippery when wet.
The Global UKON is a heaver knife than Classic and SAI, with a thicker, more durable blade. But it's still razor sharp and thin, so if you want sharpness in a slightly more robust package, UKON is a good choice.
Our favorites in this collection are:
3 piece basic set (chef's knife, serrated utility knife, paring knife, about $250)
The 6 piece set with a block with a block (bread knife, chef's, santoku, paring, serrated utility) is also a nice set, but doesn't include a honing steel, so you'll need to buy that separately.
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Global Knife FAQs
Here are some common questions about Global knives, answered.
Which Global Knives Are Best?
The Classic line has the most buying options, while the SAI has the thinnest, lightest blade but not a lot of buying options. The UKON is very similar to the Classic but with fewer dimples on the handle and fewer buying options.
The Classic Forged is probably Global's most durable knife, but also the heaviest.
It really depends what you're looking for, but Classic is probably the right choice for most cooks who like Global knives.
Where Are Global Knives Made?
All Global knives are made in Niigata, Japan.
Are Global Knives Forged or Stamped?
Except for the Classic Forged line (designated by "GF"), all Global knives are stamped blades. These blades are then welded to the two pieces of steel that make up the handle
Are Global Knives Made From One Piece of Steel?
Contrary to popular belief and several websites, Global knives are not made of one piece of steel. They are actually made of three pieces: the blade (Cromova 18), and two handle pieces (probably 304 stainless steel). The three pieces are welded together and polished to remove the lines (though if you look carefully, you can see the line where the blade meets the handle).
This construction does not affect the strength or durability of Global knives in any way. But it's good to fully understand how Global knives are made.
Do Global Knives Hold an Edge Well?
You will find many differing opinions on how well Globals hold their edge. As with so many knife factors, your opinion really depends on the types of knives you're accustomed to working with.
Contrary to what the Global site says, Global knives probably do not hold an edge "longer than any other brand." However, the thin blade and flat grind do allow Global knives to remain sharp longer than other knives with the same hardness (56-58 HRC).
So, Global knives tend to stay sharp longer than other German knives with a similar hardness rating, but not as long as most harder Japanese brands.
Are Global Knives Single Bevel?
No. Global knives have a double bevel, as do the majority of Japanese knives sold in the Western market.
Are Global Knives Expensive?
You will find a lot of differing opinions on whether Global knives are expensive. It probably depends on what knives you already own and what you paid for them.
Global is considered a premium brand, but--perhaps because most Global knives are stamped--they are less expensive than many other premium brands of Japanese knives. They are kind of at the bottom of the premium brand ladder, and are priced accordingly: lower than many other high quality brands, but higher than many more cheaply made brands.
If you want to get into the upper echelon of kitchen knives, Global is one of the most reasonably priced options available.
Are Global Knives Dishwasher Safe?
No. You should never put good quality kitchen knives in the dishwasher; always wash them by hand (and dry them, too, if you want to avoid getting rust spots). But Global knives are particularly non-dishwasher safe, and if you put them in the dishwasher, it voids the warranty. This is probably because of the sand-filled handle.
Which Global Knife Sharpener Is Best?
It depends on your level of experience.
Every cook needs a honing steel, and should use it at least a couple of times a week before using a knife. You can find diamond, steel, and ceramic honing steels. Which is best depends on your knives and your preferences, although ceramic is an excellent all-around choice for kitchen knives.
As for sharpening, which will need to be done probably a few times a year depending on use, the options get more complicated. If you're a novice knife sharpener, a wheel sharpener is probably the best choice because it's safe and it aligns the blade so you can't really get it wrong.
A whetstone is also a common choice, and is better for experienced users. If you want to learn to use one, be sure to practice on your inexpensive knives first.
Will Global Knives Rust?
Yes; all knives will rust eventually if you don't take proper care of them. The Cromova 18 stainless steel used in Global knives is 18% chromium, which makes it extremely resistant to rust. But the truth is that all steel can rust, so you really want to make sure you wash and dry your knives after use to prevent rust from happening.
Do Chefs Use Global Knives?
Some chefs do, including the late, great Anthony Bourdain, who loved the Global G2 chef's knife. However, Global is considered by many pros to be an entry level Japanese knife because of its softer steel, which makes it a sort of hybrid Japanese/German knife. Some cooks find the handle uncomfortable after long uses, as well, which probably makes Global a better brand for home users.
Final Thoughts on Global Knives
Here's what sets Global knives apart from other Japanese knives sold in the Western market:
- Flat grind down to blade edge for extreme sharpness and excellent edge retention
- Narrow blade, even compared to most other Japanese knives (just 2mm thick)
- Hollow stainless steel handle, filled with sand to create exceptional balance
- Lighter than most other knife brands, German and Japanese
- Stamped blade (when most knives at this price point are forged).
Global is kind of a hybrid Japanese/German knife, in that the steel has a hardness of 56-58HRC, which is standard on German knives, but softer than a typical Japanese knife, which is about 60-62HRC.
This softer steel means it won't hold an edge as well as a standard Japanese knife, but the narrowness of the blade and long, flat grind compensate for that--meaning that Global knives will hold an edge longer than a typical German knife, but are still easy to sharpen when necessary.
Global handles are on the small side, and because they're thin (and steel), they may not be a good choice for people with large hands. As with all knives, you should test them for awhile before deciding if they're right for you.
Global knives are also extremely sharp, all the way down to the heel--so be careful when using these knives for the first time.
Finally, there is the unique Global design, which is sleek, modern, and eye-catching. If you love the look of Global knives, you probably won't regret going with this brand. It's a great knife for most home cooks.
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