The Zwilling Pro knives are my pick because of the ease of maintenance of the half bolster blade
The Wusthof Classic is an exceptional line of knives that falls short of the Zwilling Pro because I found the full bolster made it difficult to sharpen
The Zwilling Pro and Wusthof Classic are two incredible knives that will surely please any serious home chef. Their striking similarities despite being made by different manufacturers made it hard to pick my favorite. Ultimately, I favored the Zwilling Pro over the Wusthof Classic line because of the simplified maintenance due to the half bolster blade design. In almost every other aspect however, the knives are comparable. So if you prefer a full bolster blade or are not bothered by extra sharpening difficulty, the Wusthof Classic is worth a second look.
X50CRMOV15 steel and Polyoxomethylene (POX) handle
X50CRMOV15 steel and Polyoxomethylene (POX) handle
Zwilling Pro vs Wusthof Classic: The differences
The Wusthof Classic has a full bolster, The Zwilling Pro has a unique curved bolster
The most significant difference between the Zwilling Pro and the Wusthof Classic is the bolster style. A knife bolster is the thick metal knuckle at the junction between the blade and the blade handle. The Wusthof Classic is known for its full bolster which means the bolster extends down the back of the knife blade all the way to its edge. Wusthos claims that this gives the knife better balance because it adds weight near the center of the knife and improves safety because your free hand moving food along the cutting board is more likely to be in contact with the dull bolster than the sharp blade.
The Zwilling Pro has what it calls a “unique curved bolster” in its marketing material. Traditionally, this style of bolster would be called a “half bolster” knife because it doesn’t extend to the blade’s edge. It’s to tell the difference by tracing the blade’s edge to the end by the handle. Is that end sharp like the rest of the blade? Then it’s a half bolster. If it widens up to a dull glob of steel then it’s a full bolster.
A lot of the difference between these two styles comes down to personal preference. The weight distribution is definitely different between them but neither one is objectively better than the other. The biggest objective benefit of the half bolster knife is that it is much easier to sharpen. On a full bolster knife, the bolster gets in the way of the sharpening process. Over time as the knife is sharpened and thin layers of steel are stripped of the edge of the blade, the bolster will start to stick out past the edge. After a while you’ll need to get a “bolster reduction”, a process where a professional knife sharpener grinds down the bolster. It’s not a dealbreaker but it is a step up in maintenance and can be a pain.
Most knife enthusiasts online recommend against the full bolster because of the sharpening difficulties and I tend to agree. It’s worth noting that despite Wusthof’s marketing around the benefits of a full bolster knife, most of Wusthof’s newer and higher-end product lines like the Crafter and the Ikon have half bolsters. Actions speak louder than words here and it’s clear that Wusthof is responding to customer preference for the half bolster style.
Zwilling’s signature FRIODUR ice-hardened blade
There’s not a lot of details on Zwilling’s signature ice-hardening process and it is difficult to separate tangible benefits from marketing copy but Zwilling claims that their knives undergo a proprietary process to harden the blades steel. I wouldn’t put much stock in this though as both knives clock in at a 55-58 on the Rockwell scale of hardness and both use the same type of steel.
Zwilling Pro vs Wusthof Classic: What they have in common
These two German knives have far more in common than they have differences. Here we discuss common factors that makes both knives so highly regarded.
Full tang blade
A blade’s tang is the metal that extends into the knife handle. The style of tang has a dramatic effect on the feel of a knife while cutting. The steel extends the full handle and follows the contours on a full tang knife. Such a knife will feel tight and uniform, like a single instrument that can be wielded with precision. Other tang styles are used to save the manufacturer money by using less steel but unavoidably cause the blade to jiggle while cutting, giving the sensation that the knife is not a single tool.
Stainless steel material
Coincidentally both knives use the same type of steel called “X50CRMOV15.” This steel is high in carbon and chromium which improves edge retention and rust resistance. This is a mid-grade steel common for knives in this price range but never on budget knives. Despite its quality, X50CRMOV15 is a step below ultra-durable, premium steel like VG10 or SG2 which are even harder on the Rockwell scale.
These two knives use a synthetic handle materials called POM which looks and feels a lot like wood but is more durable and water resistant.
Zwilling J. A. Henckels and Wusthof are German companies and both the classic and the pro are manufactured in Solingen, Germany: The City of Blades.
Forged blade construction expected in this price range and both knives deliver. The knife forging process involves heating up a piece of steel to extremely high temperatures and hitting it repeatedly with hammers by expert craftsmen. This forces the steel atoms into alignment to form a knife blade that is structurally stronger at a molecular level. Budget level knives are typically cut out from a large piece of metal in a process called “stamping.” Forged knives are several ounces heavier than their stamped counterparts.
Zwilling Pro vs Wusthof Classic: Verdict
The Zwilling Pro and Wusthof Classic are remarkably similar knives that are even manufactured within the same city. They use the same blend of steel for the blade and the same plastic for the handle, it’s hard to find much to distinguish these two excellent knives. So when deciding between these two knife lines, it’ll all come down to the design and whether you want a full bolster knife. I bought a set of Wusthof Classic knives before I knew much about knife bolsters and although I love them, I wish I bought knives without the full bolster. For this reason only, I recommend the Zwillling Pro over Wusthof Classic.