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What is SG2 Steel? - knife Insight

What is SG2 Steel?


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Professional chef cuts vegetables with a sharp knife from damascus steelA fascinating thing about the steel industry is that there are tons of amazing varieties that don’t really make it big for one reason or another. Despite the many benefits they were designed to provide, they’re unable to reach the heights they have the potential for. One good example of this is the SG2 steel.

Also known as the SGPS, the SG2 is hailed as a super steel that is comparable to the VG10. Unfortunately, it didn’t get as popular as the latter. It is still widely used by many Japanese knife makers.

Want to know more about it? Below is a closer look at this steel grade.

What is SG2 Steel?

high-carbon stainless steelThe SG2 steel is a high-carbon stainless steel that was developed by Takefu Special Steel, the same folks who made VG10 super steel. Many also consider it as such and believe that the name stands for ‘Super Gold’. It’s a newer creation, tracing its roots to 1991.

What sets the SG2 steel is that it’s produced through powder metallurgy which is why it’s also sometimes called ‘SGPS’ noting that the steel grade is a powder steel. It’s one of the older powder steel varieties which makes it quite impressive since it has a great microstructure and excellent toughness.

Like the VG10, the SG2 steel is also often laminated when used. This helps add protection to its surface, making it more scratch-resistant.

The Takefu Special Steel doesn’t seem to be manufacturing the SG2 steel anymore but they can still be bought from other steel makers. They’re still not as widely available as other super steels but there are now lots of sources for the raw steel and SG2 knives.

Common Uses of SG2 Steel

The SG2 is actually developed for knife making so it’s most commonly used for such purposes. It’s most widely used to make different kinds of kitchen knives, especially the following:

  • Chef’s knives
  • Steak knives
  • Slicing knives

SG2 Steel Chemical Composition

SG2 steel is one of those grades that feature high levels of nearly everything, designed for high performance. There’s still a good balance among its components, however, leaving no room for compromise.

  • Carbon, 1.25-1.45%
  • Chromium, 14-16%
  • Molybdenum, 2.3-3.30%
  • Vanadium, 1.8-2.20%
  • Manganese, 0.40%
  • Silicon, 0.50%
  • Phosphorus, 0.03%
  • Sulfur, 0.03%

Carbon, 1.25-1.45%: As a staple component of steel, carbon can be expected in the SG2. Its high amounts, however, is notable. These levels allow this particular metal to be quite tough and strong – capable of handling rough use.

Chromium, 14-16%: SG2 is classified as stainless steel due to its relatively high chromium levels. This makes it highly resistant to corrosion and rust. This amount is still not too high, however, in order to keep the steel from getting brittle.

Molybdenum, 2.3-3.30%: Since the chromium levels of the SG2 isn’t as high as some might like, a good amount of molybdenum is added for additional rust and corrosion resistance. This component also enhances the steel’s edge retention, tensile strength, and hardenability – a great plus for a promising metal.

Vanadium, 1.8-2.20%: Adding vanadium in certain steel grades tends to up their performance in various ways as it can significantly strengthen the metal even in small amounts. Its addition also results in increased toughness.

Manganese, 0.40%: Manganese is also added in small amounts to steel as it enhances strength, toughness, and wear resistance.

Silicon, 0.50%: Silicon is primarily added to steel production to remove oxygen in the mix but it also has an added benefit of boosting the strength and hardness of the metal.

Phosphorus, 0.03%: Small amounts of phosphorus can further boost the strength and corrosion resistant of steel.

Sulfur, 0.03%: Sulfur increases the machinability of steels but as it also increases brittleness, it should only be added in small amounts.

SG2 Steel Hardness

What makes the SG2 impressive is its great hardness. It can reach up to 64 HRc in the Rockwell scale, making it an extremely hard steel. This is made possible by its powder metallurgy and its high chromium content.

Does SG2 Steel Rust?

With its high chromium and molybdenum content, the SG2 steel is classified as stainless steel. This means that it’s resistant to corrosion and rusting. It’s also worth noting that the SG2 is more rust resistant than many other high-end stainless steel grades like the VG10.

Properties of SG2 Steel

Best SG2 Steel KnivesWhat are the key features of the SG2 steel that makes it a super steel? Here are the things it has to offer:

Toughness

The SG2 is a pretty tough steel grade and can handle rough use without easily breaking or shattering. It’s more likely to bend, deform, or chip than completely break.

Hardness

Being a powder steel, the SG2 offers high levels of hardness as its Rockwell scale rating would note. This promises excellent resistance to friction and abrasion, guaranteeing that it can handle the tasks that knives are frequently subjected to.

As mentioned several times above, the powder metallurgy of the SG2 helps make it very hard. This also gives it a unique edge, quite literally, because of its fine microstructure.

Wear resistance

Thanks to its high levels of hardness, the SG2 steel is also very resistant to wear. As most folks will know, regular wear and tear can shorten the lifespan of just about anything. This is very true for metals and knives, especially since they experience both adhesive and abrasive wear.

Being a hard metal, the SG2 is less likely to transfer material when it gets in contact with other objects. This helps minimize wear.

Edge retention

The combination of SG2’s hardness and wear resistance make it highly capable of retaining its edge. This means that its edge won’t easily deform or go out of shape. It can stay sharp for very long periods of time so users don’t need to sharpen SG2 knives very often.

Corrosion resistance

As a stainless steel grade, it should be expected that the SG2 can resist corrosion and rust effectively. Its combination of high levels of chromium and molybdenum aids greatly in this area.

Easy to sharpen

Despite the high level of hardness, powder steels are not very hard to sharpen due to the kinds of materials they use. They also offer fine sharpness, thanks to their fine microstructure. This can promise impressive performance.

SG2 Equivalent Steels or Alternative

As a super steel that is widely used by big Japanese knife manufacturers, it can’t be helped that the SG2 is often compared with other steel grades. It also doesn’t help that over the years, a lot of its counterparts and alternative versions gained quite a bit of popularity.

So to best introduce the SG2 steel for knife newbies and enthusiasts would be to compare it with other popular metals. Here are some that are closest and most frequently pitted against this particular super steel:

SG2 Steel vs VG10

As what many readers would’ve noticed already, the SG2 is heavily compared to the VG10 mostly because they’re made by the same manufacturer. The VG10 is possibly one of the first creations of the manufacturer, some believing it was created around 1959, just a few years after the company was established.

With its exceptional qualities, the VG10 is deemed as the “gold standard of Japanese stainless steel.” It’s said to make up about 60-70 percent of the kitchen knives made in the country.

Performance-wise, however, the SG2 can hold a candle to its more famous predecessor. It’s even harder and more corrosion resistant so some knife fans prefer it over the other.

SG2 Steel vs S30V

Another premium steel with a similar composition to the SG2 steel is the CPM S30V. This is a very popular metal and expensive metal that some even consider it to be the “absolute best blade steel” there is.

Both the SG2 and S30V are powder steel with high carbon, chromium, molybdenum, and vanadium content so they can resemble each other in terms of features. However, the latter has a higher vanadium content so it promises better toughness and hardness at the same time.

The main difference between the two, however, is that the SG2 is seen more as a slicer because of its finer edge. This detail should play a huge role for those who are trying to choose between the two.

SG2 Steel vs ZDP-189

Rounding out this list is the ZDP-189, another high end steel that is used for some of the sharpest and most highly coveted knives in the market. What makes it special is its high amounts of carbon (3%) and chromium (20%) which makes it extremely tough and hard.

Aside from its promised top-notch performance, the ZDP-189 is also notable for its relative rarity. It’s not highly machinable so only a few expert knife makers can work with it. As a result, buyers are promised great quality and superior construction.

Is SG2 Steel Good for Knives?

As mentioned above, it’s said that the SG2 steel was developed for manufacturing blades so it can be said that it is meant to be used for knives. With this, it can also be assumed that it’s a great material for knives.

As most applications for the SG2 steel today are for knife products as well, many might agree that it is a good choice for making said tools.

Pros & Cons of SG2 Steel

Pros
  • Easy to maintain since it’s highly resistant to rust and corrosion
  • Great toughness
  • High hardness but not difficult to sharpen
  • Holds its edge for a very long time
  • Has a very fine sharpness which will suit very particular tasks
  • Scratch-resistant so it can look brand new for longer periods of time
  • Often comes with a beautiful damask pattern
Cons
  • Can get quite pricey
  • Has several equivalents from other manufacturers so it can be a bit confusing
  • Some SG2 knives can get microchips due to the very fine edge but it doesn’t affect the performance

Best SG2 Steel Knives

After getting to know the technical details of the SG2 knives, some might want to learn about how it fares as a blade material. For this, here are some of the best SG2 steel knives in the market that can effectively showcase its impressive qualities:

#1: Miyabi Mizu SG2 Chef’s Knife (8-inch)

Quick Specification
  • HRC: 63
  • Blade Finish: Tsuchime
  • Blade Length: 8″
  • Construction: Welded CRYODUR
  • Edge Type: Honbazuke Edge
  • Handle Material: Micarta
  • Handle Style: D-Shaped with mosaic pin
  • Tang: Concealed full
  • Care: Hand wash only
  • Origin: Japan

One of the things that SG2 knives are best known for is their sharpness. This is why it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Miyabi Mizu SG2 Chef’s Knife (8-inch) has an incredibly sharp edge. Its 9-12 degree angle is definitely something noteworthy and an important detail for potential buyers to know about.

Since this is an 8” chef’s knife, it can be a good starter piece for those who are looking into building a decent kitchen knife collection. It can handle all of the basic tasks – dicing, mincing, shopping, and slicing meats and vegetables. It promises great precision, thanks to the angle of its blade.

Pros
  • Handcrafted in Japan
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Highly versatile
  • Durable material
  • Solid construction and build
  • Beautiful aesthetics
Cons
  • Quite pricey
  • Not recommended for cutting frozen meat or really hard stuff

#2: Enso SG2 Prep Knife

Quick Specification
  • Blade Length: 5.5″
  • Overall Length: 10¼”
  • Blade Height: 1⅝”
  • Weight: 3.1 oz
  • Spine Thickness: 1.9mm at heel
  • Hardness: 63 Rockwell
  • Blade Angle: 12°
  • Edge: Double bevel
  • Made In: Japan

The next item is the Enso SG2 Prep Knife. Designed for heavy and versatile use, this item sports a 12 degree angle for great precision.

Some might not recognize the brand right away but it’s an exclusive brand by Yaxell for select partner retailers. They offer the same level of craftsmanship and quality of materials, so Yaxell fans might find it a suitable option as well.

A notable feature of this item is its handle design that is meant to be gripped comfortably using either hand. This makes it a lot more versatile and can be a solid option for lots of cooks.

Pros
  • Handle made for comfortable left and right hand use
  • Handmade in Japan
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Meant for heavy duty use
  • Good handling
  • Very versatile and functional
Cons
  • Normally needs some sharpening upon opening
  • On the pricey side

#3: Enso SG2 Kiritsuke Knife

Quick Specification
  • Blade Length: 8″
  • Overall Length: 13⅜”
  • Blade Height: 1⅞”
  • Weight: 7.7 oz
  • Spine Thickness: 2.3mm at heel
  • Handle Material: Stainless Steel
  • Hardness: 63 Rockwell
  • Blade Angle: 12°
  • Edge: Double bevel

Often included in many round ups of the best Kiritsuke knives online is the Enso SG2 Kiritsuke Knife. Made using a combination of traditional and advanced techniques, it promises amazing craftsmanship.

Built with durability and versatility in mind, the Enso Kiritsuke knife can handle all sorts of tasks that one would throw at a chef’s knife. It might even be a more preferable tool for some for certain tasks as it has a straight edge.

Like the other SG2 steel knives above, this Kiritsuke knife is also equipped with a 12 degree angle to achieve precise cuts and slices.

Pros
  • Promises great precision
  • Handcrafted in Japan
  • With a lifetime service warranty
  • Made with expert techniques
  • Versatile design
  • Comfortable handle will work for both left and right handed users
Cons
  • Quite expensive
  • Might need sharpening upon arrival

 

Conclusion

To conclude this SG2 review, it’s worth mentioning again that the said steel grade is quite an impressive one. As one of the earliest powder steel options, it was engineered to wow and provide great performance. SG2 steel knives can definitely be considered as investment items, especially the ones made by highly reputable manufacturers.
Got more ideas and information on the SG2 steel? Sound off in the comments!

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