Like many cutlery lines that are “food service” grade, Mercer Cutlery’s knives are not especially well known outside professional cooking circles. While most of us may never have heard of them, 90 percent of the culinary schools in the U.S. are said to require their students to use this one company’s blades. I’ve been around long enough to know that some of that probably has to do with Mercer’s giving the schools a good deal on kits for resale to a relatively captive market. On the other hand, I think it’s safe to assume that these highly respected chef training institutions would not sacrifice their reputations for something that wasn’t at the least of reasonable quality. With that in mind, I thought it was time Tactical Knives took a closer look at the brand.
Like most large cutlery companies, Mercer produces several different grades of culinary blades ranging from the basic plastic-handled work knives found in the average chain restaurant to the new premium line in VG-10 stainless steel. All of Mercer’s knives are made in Taiwan, and most seem to be of imported German X50CrMoV15 steel. With a little research, I found this to be a fairly low-carbon (0.55 percent), high-chromium (15 percent) alloy with small amounts of a several other ingredients mixed in to improve performance. While some foodies might instantly reject these as unusable, I’m not a steel snob, so I never make judgments of alloys in any place but on the kitchen cutting board.
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