Pros: Great handle. Stiff Blade. Sharpens easily. Holds an edge well. Stainless. Light. Agilie. The list goes on and on.
Cons: Not as robust as a typical European knife.
This is a wonderful knife. It's one of the few best choices for amateur and professional cooks looking to move up to their first high quality, Japanese knife. People joke about a camel as being a horse designed by a committee. The MAC Pro is the other side of the coin, showing how good things can be when a series of compromises comes together as a harmonious whole. If the same group that came up with the MAC Pro designed a horse, they would end up with Babieca.
Blade and Edge Profiles:
The blade profile is very wide (distance from heel to spine) for a Japanese chef's knife, while otherwise remaining typically French. That is to say the back of the knife is relatively flat and almost all of the belly comes as you approach the tip.
French lines, extra width, late drop to the tip -- the knife bears German, French and Japanese visual design cues; but like most Japanese gyutos operates very much as a French -- and not a German -- knife.
The factory edge geometry is a flat bevel, 15* on each side (2 x 15* edges = 30* included angle), with 50/50 symmetry.
For mavens only; Some edge profiling intracacies:
Of course the factory set may be adjusted to suit the user's preferences. The knife is capable of holding far more acute angles, extreme asymmetry, or pretty much anything else you can think of more conservative than a 5* chisel. That's one thing it can't hold.
For what it's worth, a 15*/10* double bevel with about 66/33 asymmetry is pretty close to ideal.
Wish I could tell you for sure, but MAC doesn't release the identity. A very good and somewhat educated guess is Takefu VG-5 hardened to around 60 RCH. It's worth noting that this is probably the same alloy at about the same hardness as the more expensive Masamoto VG.
As high end alloys go, it's not at all chippy, but that doesn't mean you can abuse it though. You still need a hardwood cutting board, and all of the usual "don't abuse" caveats apply.
Edge Taking and Edge Holding:
Not the absolute best as to any characteristic, just excellent all the way around.
Yes, Virginia, you can use a steel very effectively with this knife.
I've sharpened MAC Pros on my oilstone set and done pretty well; but you have to have excellent skills and a lot of patience. The knife can hold a high degree of polish -- say 10000# -- and works better with it. It's worth a first class sharpening kit.
That said, even though it's not going to extract the maximum performance of which the MAC is capable you can get away with using an electric Chef's Choice, still do pretty well, and not insult the spirit (or cost) of the knife.
Tied with some Sabatiers, some Wusthofs, and the Misono UX-10 for best in the business. Maybe even better. Big hands, small hands, men, women, pinch grip, Asian pinch grip, baseball grip... you name it; everybody loves this handle.
Did I say, "great handle?"
Surprisingly agile. It's not a Masamoto or K-Sab, but achingly close.
One thing that makes this knife so good and so very western friendly is it's stiffness. Most Japanese knives tend to feel "whippy" to people who aren't used to them. Not this one. The knife has no learning curve, it just makes everything easy.
As Japanese knives go, it's extremely robust. As western knives go -- not so much. Hold on to whatever you're replacing when you buy the MAC, and use that as your chef de chef.
It's worth repeating that the knife is as stiff as almost any western knife and this contributes to its overall feeling of strength, quality and familiarity. At the same time, it's as light as any other mass-produced, stainless, western-handled, Japanese manufactured knife.
Now "mass-produced, stainless, western-handled, Japanese manufactured knife" seems like a pretty small niche, but it's actually a very hot market segment. One where a lot of good cooks can and should congregate.
Why 4-1/2 Stars:
Hey. If this thing's so good, why not five stars?
Nothing's perfect. You can buy a knife that gets sharper, holds an edge longer, has a slightly better feel, or is superior in any one or two of a number of possible criteria. Unfortunately, the improvement will come at a cost in some other areas.
While not among my first choices for my own use, this is the knife I most often recommend as the best blend of price, value, edge characteristics, ease of maintenance, etc., etc., etc.
If all you know is that you want something really good... this is probably the knife for you.