I've owned almost half the stones on your list, and used a few more.
For your current knife kit, a Norton coarse India -- whether in the form as a standalone -- or as the coarse side of an IB8 is certainly adequate. The upside is no flattening, the downside is that coarse oil stones tend to scratch the face of the knife unless (a) you keep them very clean; and (b) sharpen very carefully. I've use a coarse India for years on my carbon Sabs and Forschners and currently have an IB8 in my oil stone kit which also includes a Hall's Soft Arkansas and a Hall's Surgical Black Arkansas.
They do indeed come pre-loaded with oil, but if you don't want to use oil it comes out with a ride or two in the dishwasher. Whether you use oil, soap, soap and water, water, or go dry... you're going to have to use HOT, soapy water to keep the swarf out of the "pores" and keep your oil stones' surfaces clean.
Otherwise, the Naniwa SS 400, Chosera, Sigma Power (if it's the hard one) and Bester 400 and 700 are probably pick of the litter. Depending on how much serious profiling and repair you do, the 700 might be enough; it's more than adequate for ordinary thinning and functions both as a coarse stone and as a first, "ordinary" sharpening stone. Besters require a long soak and are rather hard, but still give good feedback. The Bester 400 and 1200 are a great one-two punch; and so are the Bester 700 and 2000.
You don't need anything nearly as fast as an SS 220 for your knives, it's more appropriate for re-profiling super tough tool steels. The SS 400 is an excellent stone, soaks very quickly, but has some maintenance issues of its own. It needs frequent flattening and careful drying after use.
The hard Sigma Power is an excellent stone, but doesn't provide much feedback; the soft one does, but it dishes too quickly
I think the Chosera is probably the best stone on your list, but is over priced. Either Bester would be a better choice if you're on a budget. One of the current new faves among sharpening aficianados is the coarse Gesshin, which you can only get through JKI (in the US) and costs a mint.
DMT XC and XXC are very expensive and wear very quickly. As in "very quickly." Their best use is for flattening other stones, IMO.
I disagree about flattening on sand paper, it's slow and very messy; flattening on dry wall screen (whatever they call it in Europe) is significantly better and just as cheap if not cheaper. Your best choice from an efficiency standpoint is a coarse diamond plate like the DMT XXC; but tres cher.
FWIW the two coarsest Shapton Pro stones are pointed towards either carbon or stainless, but not both. I'm not sure about the 320. I've owned five or six Pros, and let me tell you Shapton is prone to weirdness. Shapton GS (glass stones) are okay, were "flavor of the month" for a couple of years a couple of years ago; and some people still swear by them, but their popularity has waned. They're very fragile, difficult to flatten, and require a stand. I think Shaptons of either persuasion function best within a kit of the same type. Unlike nearly anything else they're not mix and match.
IMO the King -- a very popular stone -- dishes too fast and is too slow. Ditto for most of the other low-fired clay binders. Not bad for the price, though. Speaking of clay, you don't have a Norton 400 on your list -- too fast, too slow, AND too expensive. Very consistent thought.
I use a Beston 500 as the coarsest stone for my water stone kit. You'd think there would be some way to get it to Europe. But... a lot depends on the rest of your kit since you're going to be using your coarsest stone (when you do use it) as a lead in to your next stone.
What else do you have?
What's your current first resort for simple sharpening when you don't need to thin or repair?
Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/22/11 at 9:56am