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Messermeister or MAC?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Years ago I used the original Messermeister kitchen knives, then moved on to F. Dick. I had a brief fling with MAC, but didn't give it much of a chance. I'm trying to decide now if I should get a Meridian Elite chefs or Pro Mighty.


My criteria does not involve the relative weights of either, I can go heavy or light. Rather I'm more concerned with the merits of their durability and cutting prowess, as well as the best way to sharpen each. I'm also quite aware after reading the threads here for the last month that if I go MAC, that will probably lead later to a Kikuichi or Konosuke, etc. Big committment, that.


While I don't think stones are my thing, I would definitely consider an Edge Pro with Choseras or Shapton Glass for the MAC. The Messermeister and Chef's Classic Trizor XV is what I'm looking at if I jump that way. I currently have on hand a DMT Duosharp fine/coarse stone and stand and a DMT Super Fine diamond steel, as well as an unused leftover Rollsharp and brand-new Idahone ceramic steel.


I'm just a home cook looking for the best way to accomplish simple, low-volume food processing. I'm also a gearhead, so having good equipment is important to me. But honestly, for the life of me, I don't know which way to go at the moment so some non-psychological counseling would be much appreciated.

post #2 of 25
Assuming the Messermeister have the same geometry as the Burgvogel, as they are known in Europe, I would say, there is a problem. They are thick behind the edge ('ballig' in German), but have a V-edge. I would rather prefer a thin blade with a convexed edge. It's all about production costs. They cost considerably less than the Wüsthoff, Zwilling Henckels e.a.
Maintenance of a Burgvogel is rather unpleasant. In order to recover decent performance you've always to thin a lot behind the edge, and it won't ever become a thin blade unless you have a grinder.
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 

Interesting point that's never been brought up in any of the Messermeister reviews I've read. So their edge geometry is a long-term problem? I've had a few Wusthof Classics pass through here, too, and wonder if their new PTEC edge will cause similar concerns. I understand about thinning, but the MAC edge is not as finicky?

post #4 of 25

Messermeisters are thinner then most German knives behind the edge and sharpened to 15*, instead of 20*.  They also use an alloy with slightly more carbon and which is slightly harder than most other German knives.   I believe the factory belt-finishes the edges, and that the knives ship with "convex edges." 


I wouldn't worry a great deal about whether a factory edge is convexed or not, since sooner or later it will end up with whatever you sharpen.  The knife face is another story, since convexed faces tend to be less sticky, but that's another issue. 


If you sharpen with a slack-belt sander, or use the "mousepad trick," your edges will be convex.  If you use a CC "Trizor," you'll get a triple bevel -- which is a lot like "convex."  If you freehand on stones or on strops you'll get edge geometry which is basically flat but shows slight convexing as an inevitable result of angle bobble. 


Messermeister German production is nominally hardened to 56-57RCH, MAC Pro to 58-59.  The relationship of strength/hardness to blade design is frequently misunderstood and overrated, except perhaps as it applies to the gross differences between European and Japanese made knives.  And, in this case, the distinctions between blade and edge properties are exactly what you'd expect. 


MAC Pros are thinner an lighter than Messers.  They are fairly stiff as Japanese knives go, but nowhere as stiff as a Messer.  While MACs aren't at all chippy (again, as far as Japanese knives go) and are not shrinking violets, they aren't German-tough.  If you have a MAC you will want a heavy duty knife as a back up -- at least for splitting chickens.  Messers are more rugged.  Both knives can (and should) be profitably maintained with a knife steel.


MACs take and hold a better edge than Messers.  In my opinion the MAC profile is better, and more "French."  It's better suited not only for "push cut" chopping (straight up and down), but for the "French" forward gliding action as well.  The Messermeister profile is are made to "rock chop."  I think the Messermeisters have too much belly.  I.e., "too German."


As German knives go, Messermeisters occupy much the same niche as Wusthof Ikon, but retain the typical German shape.  In the greater scheme of modern knife making you could say that Messers are German knives with an eye on modern Japanese production.  MACs are typical of the high end of Japanese made, western style knives.  But of those, they're probably the most "European" because of their stiffness and toughness.


Personally, I'd take the MAC over the Messermeister for the weight, thinness, edge properties and profile, but to each his own. 


Hope this helps,


post #5 of 25
The least I can say is that the Messermeister is than very different from the Burgvogel we know in Europe. I hope I didn't cause too much confusion.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

No confusion. Rather, it kinda snaps things into focus. I appreciate the great insights.

post #7 of 25
Originally Posted by Benuser View Post

The least I can say is that the Messermeister is than very different from the Burgvogel we know in Europe. I hope I didn't cause too much confusion.

FWIW, as Benuser said Burgovogel owns the Messermeister brand. 


"Messermeister" is the name Burgovogel uses in the US (and possibly some other countries), but not in Europe.  I have no idea whether or not the Messermeisters sold here are any different from the Burgovogels sold there, suspecting that anything sold here is also sold there.  I am familiar with several of the Messermeister lines and the "objective facts" I wrote about edge angles, geometry, alloy (X55CrMoV15, by the way) and hardening are published in multiple places online and easily verified.  For instance, Knife Merchant sells Messermeister and supplies much of the information on its website.  Here's another link showing the equation between Krups 4116, aka DIN 1.4116, aka X55CrMoV15.


Most of the people I know who like Messermeisters like them because they think that without a full finger-guard they're easier to sharpen than "classic" European knives which do have full finger guards -- like Henckels and Wusthof for example.  Personally, I don't think finger guards are that big a deal.  I also think Messermeisters -- like nearly all "high end" German and European made knives -- are heavy, old fashioned, made from outdated alloys, and not worth the money.  But hold on to some perspective.  Zillions of great meals have been prepped by happy cooks using those sorts of knives, so even though they're not as good cutters as some of the new stuff coming from Japan, the US, and wherever... they're extremely durable, extremely well finished, and obviously plenty good enough for huge numbers of really good cooks making really good food to like the heck out of them. 


I don't know about any of you, but I'm not about to tell Norman Weinstein he shouldn't like Wusthof.



Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/23/13 at 7:05am
post #8 of 25

I use Mesermeister. That's just because of my preference, I like a heavy, well-balanced knife. My only gripe with it is my knuckles hit the cutting board from time to time, and the edge doesn't quite hold as long as I'd like. But it sharpens excellently, and I use it for just about everything I prepare, except veal and lamb racks. I've tried some of the Japanese knives, like Shun, sharpest knife I've ever held, but waaayyy too light for me. It's really all about preference. 

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 

What's the best way of sharpening a Meridian Elite? Messermeister sells a fine and ceramic steel for honing, but for sharpening, unlike other manufacturers, they don't list/recommend any manual pull-throughs but do push their branded stones. No mention, either, of Chef's Choice electrics.

Edited by rsp1202 - 1/23/13 at 9:23am
post #10 of 25

Best way?  It depends on what type of system you want to use, and how much you're willing to spend. 


My first choice for Messermeisters and other knives made from similarly tough alloys, balancing efficiency, cost of materials, and edge quality (sharpness off the stones + durability), would be a set of oil stones consisting of:  Norton coarse India; Norton fine India; Hall's soft Arkansas, and Hall's "Surgical Black" Arkansas.  Not that it matters, but that's my oil stone kit. 


If you've got knives made from stronger and harder alloys, you'll want water stones for those; and if you're only going to have one set of bench stones, get water stones.  Water stone choices are VERY budget dependent and without knowing more about how much you're willing to spend, I'm loathe to make a recommendation.   


If you're intimidated by the idea of learning to sharpen on bench stones to the point where you feel it's not worth the effort, AND you've got the bucks -- go for an Edge Pro Apex; or possibly the Wicked Edge system. 


If you choose to use a manual or electric pull through, remember that Messermeister knives are set to 15* bevel angles.  That reduces your choices somewhat.  The Minosharp Plus3 is one of the few, consistently good manual pull-through sharpeners, I can't think of anything which does a better job at 15*.  The Wusthof Ikon (14*, which is close enough for government work) pull-through would also work, and so would the Fiskars/MAC (15*) Rollsharp; but the Wusthof is inconsistent and the Fiskars sharpens too coarse an edge for my taste; but I'd still rate it as good enough to be the best cheap choice.  Chef's Choice electrics are the obvious calls for electric sharpeners, they make four sharpeners which sharpen to an "Asian" 15*.  


Messermeisters need A LOT of steeling.  I recommend the 12" Idahone "fine" (aka "1200")  ceramic rod hone as one of the best "steels" on the market at any price, and it's very low priced to boot.  I use two steels, depending on how much polish is left on the edge and how far it has to come to be brought back; i.e., a Hand American borosilicate + a worn-down Henckels extra fine.  But if, like sane people, you feel one hone is enough go for the Idahone. 



Edited by boar_d_laze - 1/23/13 at 10:09am
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 

Boar, I have a MAC Pro Mighty chef in-house, as well as a Rollsharp and Idahone, all unused at the moment. Reading your previous posts convinced me to take the chance. You are a silver-tongued devil, you know. smile.gif I was considering the Messermeister as a chef de chef, as you've discussed in other threads, just to have something sturdier to tackle the occasional squash and chicken from hell. I've used the original Messermeisters (pre-Asian style) as well as F. Dicks and Wusthof Classics, so there's some familiarity there. I just didn't want to wreck any of them with my ham-fisted attempts at stones -- I'm a slow learner, I've learned. Too bad, really, since the Shapton Glass stones, the Choseras, and a couple of the CKtG stone combos really sound appealing. I do have an old Forschner/Victorinox to practice on before taking stone to knife . . .


The Edge Pro sounds like something I could pick up more quickly; it would certainly go a long way toward belaying any worries about keeping the right angles. My budget is limited, so I'd have to save up for the Apex and then purchase aftermarket EP stones bit by bit. The Minosharp sounds like the better pull-through between it and the Rollsharp, so that could be an interim solution. A CC Trizor XV electric I would only consider on the German, and that, too, I would have to budget for. I still have to get a good cutting board and some other kitchen essentials, but knives, sharpener and board are my first priorities right now.


I'm sure I'll figure this out eventually, hopefully without breaking the bank. In the meanwhile, I sure do appreciate your advice.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by boar_d_laze View Post

. . . If you have a MAC you will want a heavy duty knife as a back up . . .


Would you suggest something like the Tojiro DP Western Deba? (I just spotted this on CKtG.) Reads like lotsa bang for the buck with few of the downsides mentioned on German knives.

post #13 of 25

I don't like western debas, they're usually made from alloys which don't stand up to the kind of abuse which is the bread and butter of a heavy duty knife and too heavy to be agile enough for multi-tasking.    



post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 

Okay. It was just a thought.


I gave a friend my circa-'90s F. Dick 9-inch chefs, the one that has more of a French profile then their later bellied blades. I can't in good conscience ask for it back now, which is too bad since it might have filled the bill. I do have a Victorinox Fibrox chefs that I was going to use for practice if I got stones. It doesn't strike me as being particularly heavy duty, but perhaps that might fill in.


I did finally get ahold of a Messermeister factory rep and asked about their recommendations for sharpening a Meridian (I posted here after not getting a response from them). Kind of a put-off when I was told the knives are 20 degrees and their pull-through sharpeners are 15. I told the rep what I'd read about it being the opposite, but she was insistant. Oh, well. She did encourage me to use the factory sharpening service, though I noticed on their website that they now have their branded version of a Norton tri-stone w/station, as well as a China-sourced combo stone in 2k/5k grit.


My current thinking: get a Minosharp 3 and use that and the Idahone on the MAC Pro for now; budget for the Edge Pro later. Start with the EP stones then go for Choseras or Shapton Glass. Get the Messermeister as backup, the Norton India and Arks (boil off the oil), practice on the Victorinox.

post #15 of 25

Originally Posted by rsp1202 View Post


 Oh, well. She did encourage me to use the factory sharpening service, though I noticed on their website that they now have their branded version of a Norton tri-stone w/station, as well as a China-sourced combo stone in 2k/5k grit.

FWIW, you look at their form to fill out to send in a blade that is an F Dick SM-160 shown being used. Flap wheel, water cooled belt sanding, and polishing wheel.


A serious industrial machine with appropriate sticker shock costs.



post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 

I was encouraged to use the factory sharpening in order to "keep that polished edge." Well, okay, I know it's a big selling point for them but it's not one of my priorities. Funny about that photo.

post #17 of 25

In sharpening jargon, "polished" doesn't just mean shiny, it also means smooth.  For most knives -- including yours -- some degree of polish is a very good thing. 


I'm not sure where you want to go with sharpening.  That is, whether you want to buy the stuff necessary to do a good job and learn to use it, or whether you want to have your knives professionally sharpened by someone else.  A lot depends on how sharp you need your knives to be in order to be "adequate."  If you're demanding you'll need to sharpen so often that sending them out to the factory for sharpening would mean you'd lose their use for several months every year.  I don't know about you, but that would make me nuts.



post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 

I'm going to learn to do my own sharpening. Nice to know about factory backup, but I'd feel better knowing I can take care of my own. I'm pretty much settled in my mind now to go with the EP.

post #19 of 25

The EP is a very good choice.



post #20 of 25
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I feel confident I can work with the EP.


Just so I understand correctly, what heavy-duty backup do you recommend to go with the MAC Pro? I'm not necessarily wedded to the idea of the Messermeister, though my previous posts might have indicated so. I apologize for any confusion I've created.

post #21 of 25
Just so I understand correctly, what heavy-duty backup do you recommend to go with the MAC Pro?

I'm not recommending any one particular knife other than to say buy anything which is up to the task and which you think you'll enjoy using.  There are a lot of fun, versatile and relatively inexpensive possibilities.


For awhile I had a decent quality machete.  I use my Forschner Cimiter a lot -- even though it isn't what you'd call heavy it's cheap enough at $30ish that if it gets wrecked I'm not out much, and besides I'd rather have it with a Rosewood handle.  I've got an old (okay very old) Chicago Cutlery cleaver which I hardly ever use; and a 12" Sabatier au carbone which I actually use quite a bit. 


But for now I'm using my carbon Richmond Ultimatum and wondering when it will meet a task it can't master.  So far, no problem.  Not only does it laugh (ha!) at the tough stuff, it's got the same, silent-gliding profile as a Sab; slick enough to chop hotel-pan size loads of mignonette.  On the other hand, it's not inexpensive; just under $200 in 19C27 or 52100 (like mine), and just over $200 in Bohler 390.  JKI's Zakuri, an even slightly mightier gyuto, and made up in AS, looks useful and entertaining -- but also not cheap at ~$300 for a 240mm. 


If you can live with carbon, take a look at the 10" and 14" Old Hickory butchers knives made from 1095 by Ontario.  They cost next to nothing (~$10 for the 10", $12 for ther 14"), take and hold a damn good edge, and are as rugged as a crowbar.  They may have been crowbars in previous lives. 


Okay, you get the idea. 



post #22 of 25

BDL, one retailer (knives plus) has mentioned that Old Hickory has changed the thickness of their knives in the recent years, does that factor into your recommendation?

post #23 of 25

"Changed the thickness" is a piece of it.  Old Hickory knives were extremely inconsistent in a lot of ways including thickness for a generation or so.  It's true that lots of them were too thick (some weren't), but thickness was just one aspect of really bad QC.  Some of the knives were so thick, so poorly ground, and with edges so crude, they could not be sharpened without significant profiling.  A few years ago, Ontario retooled its Old Hickory line, made a LOT of changes to the knives, and they're much better all around. 


Try to remember though that while they're effective, take a good edge, and hold it well, Old Hickory knives are crude.


The recommendation includes all of the improvements, as well as the ridiculously low price and the fun that comes with using primitive tools.  It's not often you find anything worth sharpening that cheap. 





post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 

I've gone back and read your reviews of the Ultimatum. I had no idea it was so sturdy, and I never considered a Wa handle before either. Certainly it's a whole lotta knife for my current skill level. I know you're not pushing it over anything else, but its attributes certainly seem to cover my requirements. I'm not ready to take on carbon care, so I'd appreciate any comments on the differences between M390 vs. 19C27 steel.


Getting the Edge Pro or stones becomes more of a priority so I can take care of whatever I get.

Edited by rsp1202 - 2/1/13 at 8:19pm
post #25 of 25

I am no guru on knives.  That is why I need a suggestion.  We are incorporating smoked meats into our menu(pork butts, ribs, brisket, chicken) and I need a couple of good knives for trimming meats, slicing brisket, cutting chicken, and chopping veggies.  What would you suggest?

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