Regarding the Masamoto VG alloy, it's not VG10. There was quite an issue about this a few years ago, which resulted in Masamoto changing the "cobalt" claim on the knife's engraving -- which indicated VG10 -- to "hyper molybdenum vanadium" because they [ahem] "discovered" there was no cobalt in the alloy.
You're not confused about what I said in terms of VG2. To clarify further, Masamoto uses a "proprietary" alloy which is very much like VG2. As a practical matter, Masamoto's proprietary alloy differs from VG2 to about the same degree as Henckels' proprietary alloy differs from X50CrMoV15.
In most cases, for the practical purposes of kitchen knives, VG2 is a better alloy than VG10. VG10 is stronger and -- everything else being equal (which it never is) -- has slightly better edge taking properties. VG2 is tougher and has less tendency to chip. Nearly all VG10 knives are chip prone, and chipping is a huge problem. Taking a knife to its sharpening limits, whatever they are, is something very few sharpeners can do -- and not a big concern of most cutters. So, even though VG10 was the alloy which was going to save the world a few years ago and VG2 was plebian... VG2 done well is probably the better choice.
13C26 IS AEB-L -- at least to the extent of alla time same same. Even the origins aren't very different. 13C26 is made by Sandvik and AEB-L is made by Uddeholm, but the iron ore comes from the same Sandvic pit. The alloy was formulated as a "strip steel," that is to come from the steel maker to razor blade makers ready for mass production.
19C27 is another Sandvik stainless, but not formulated as a strip. I believe 19C27 came to the market before 13C26. 19C27 might be slightly tougher than 13C26 in some universe, but between such similar alloys used for kitchen knives, wear and the tough/strong balance is a product of hardening.
In terms of knives, the three (two, really) alloys, given appropriate hardening and knife geometry, will perform about the same. It would be a mistake to choose one knife over the other because one was AEB-L and the other was 19C27.
The Ultimatum's profile is copied from Masamoto/Sabatier. The Ultimatum has a wa handle, the VG has a yo. The Ultimatum is made in the USA, the VG in Japan. The Ultimatum is lighter and presumably thinner than the VG, I've never compared them but the Ultimatum is a clone of the Masamoto KS and the KS is thinner than the VG. The Ultimatum is available in a choice of premium alloys, the VG is VG2. In any alloy, the Ultimatum is slightly harder. The Masamoto is a Masamoto -- which means a lot if you're Japanese or heavily into the ethos of Japanese knives, but otherwise not so much.
In terms of the alloys, as used in the particular knives. The VG's VG2 (or, like, whatever) is hardened to 58-59RCH. It is tough, and more prone to impact deformation (aka rolling, waving, getting dinged out of true, etc.) than the 60-61RCH Ultimatum's 19C27. However, the VG can be better trued and otherwise tuned with a steel than the Ultimatum. Neither knife is chip prone. Both are easy to sharpen on decent stones.
I'm a huge Masamoto fan, but would choose an Ultimatum over a VG for myself without hesitation. That said, I'd choose a good laser over an Ultimatum.
I've never used the Gesshin 400. Everyone I know and respect who has says it's not only a great stone but that it's the best coarse stone at any price. It is quite expensive though, especially for a stone you'll only use a couple of times a year. I use a Beston 500, which is not only a very good stone, but nearly perfect as a lead in to the Bester 1200.
If I had the money I would have bought Gesshin 400, 2000, and 8000 all at once.
Well yes. I already have a Gesshin 8K and can afford to replace my Beston 500, Bester 1200 and Chosera 3K with the Gesshin 400 and 2K if I want. But, "can afford" and want to throw out three perfectly good stones for something only slightly better is another story. It's something I think about, but don't lose sleep over. I'll wait til the 1200 wears out.
I've talked about some of my knife and stone choices in terms of comparison and recommendations, but mostly just to give some context. Remember, you are the subject of this conversation.
Hope this helps,
Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/13/12 at 9:08am