The high brow way to say it is I am epicurean...but 'round here I am just a knife slut and yet again someone was kind enough to offer me a one night stand with one of their beauties.
jsgillis86 has allowed me to try out his Masamoto KS. It is truly humbling the kindness he and so many others on this forum have extended to me. Thank you!
It is hard to say anything new about the KS. It is also somewhat useless to say much more about the KS since it is apparently gone the way of the dodo. And that is a shame because the KS is a really remarkable knife that accomplishes something few knives can...singularity.
There are so many outstanding knives on the market we often fall into an arms race of hyperbole trying to draw distinctions between them. The Anryus, Masakages, Gokos, AS Lasers, Tanakas, etc, etc all offer variations on a common, and very good, theme. The KS though stands apart from most every other knife I have used in some magnificent ways.
The KS is most notable for its profile. "The KS profile" is a thing that we use to describe knives now. The Artifex and the Ikeda come to mind. The profile is awesome in that the tip is extremely nimble for delicate tasks; the edge profile is flat, ideal for push/pull cutters and choppers; the length is long which is prefered by many enthusiasts with confidence in their technique; and the height at the heel is relatively short which is somewhat divisive, but it does mean the hand is close to the product for a high degree of control.
The profile may miss my favorite part of the knife once it was in hand. The distal taper on the knife means that the highly acute tip angle is matched by a similar thinness while the belly and then heel are progressively thicker giving the knife much more substance and power than true lasers can muster. My closest knife, profile wise, to the KS right now is probably my Rodrigue Mid-Tech. The Mid-Tech is a uniformly thin laser, not unlike a Kono HD. The Mid-Tech is excellent in the tip but when working with hardy stuff there is no muscle to be found on the blade. The KS has muscle. If you need to drive through something, move your product toward the heel, need a scalpel, the tip is only a few inches away. The only draw back to this excellent distal taper is it may not work for all cutting styles equally. I pull cut a lot so as I pull through an ingredient I am pulling from the thick of the blade toward the thin meaning my cut meets decreasing resistance. If you push cut, the increasing thickness of the distal taper couples with the increasing thickness of the grind to make the knife "wedge".
Now wedging is an overstatement because the grind of the knife moves very well through product and it telegraphs what is happening well enough that I was never surprised by resistance. In fact the only knife that comes to mind with a grind I like better is the Kono Fujiyama Wt#2 and that is high praise as far as I am concerned.
My one night stand is not enough to say anything about the steel. When it arrived it had an excellent, toothy edge. After three or four meal preps it could use a touch up. It lost a touch of that peak performance but even now the edge does just fine by me.
The fit and finish are hard to comment on as this knife has been well loved but there are two things I would like to say on that matter: 1) as a used knife it is safe to assume the knife had better FnF when new and it is gorgeous now so it must have been exquisite out of the box; and 2) this thing has taken wear, and not just the patina, in a way that speaks highly of jsgillis' ownership and the knife both. The knife is like grandma's perfectly loved, perfectly seasoned, decades old cast iron cookware, or grandpaws tools with handles worn glassy smooth by hard work by tough hands. I love the look of this knife, right now, as it is. Now as a matter of perspective, I do think the Fujiyamas are nicer in this category but I think that is just looking for something to downplay.
I truly get the love affair people have with this knife. I do not like short knives, and though this knife is not tall, I would own one in a second. Besides the height there are only two other issues I can think of that I had with the knife: 1) the push cutting was not ideal because of the distal taper, as mentioned; 2) because the handle is lengthy, the profile flat, and the height short I was often in the position that my forearm was raised and the handle was braced against it. This arrangement locked the knife and my arm in a specific posture that prevented any articulation of my wrist. Since I the knife does not lend itself to rock cutting it was largely a non issue, but I did notice that several times.
Trying to capture the patina:
The patina again:
The knives most similar to the KS, IMHO: Fuji Aogami #2 funayuki, Rodrigue Mid-Tech: