Choose wisely and the next knife set you purchase could be your last—a promise some manufacturers back with lifetime guarantees. Spending more generally gets you top-quality forged knives and long warranties, though you have to check the details because the terms often differ among brands.
A1 Zwilling, $290, was best overall, combining razor-sharp blades and ergonomic design in its seven-piece set. (Like most sets, it includes the block, honing steel, and kitchen shears.) Paying more for A2 Zwilling, $600, gets you an excellent nine-piece set that includes a santoku knife, a cross between a chef's knife and a cleaver that some cooks prefer for chopping.
From Wüsthof, A3, $400, and A4, $350, were excellent at slicing through tough soppressata, dicing carrots, peeling potatoes, and more. Plus the manufacturer has good open-stock choices, should you want to add a specialty tool, say, a cleaver or fillet knife. Like Zwilling, Wüsthof offers a lifetime warranty, so damaged knives might be replaced free.
Both manufacturers carry less expensive stamped knives, which can be more prone to bending: Check the model names carefully.
A5 Ginsu, $75, a CR Best Buy, gives excellent performance and has a low price, considering you get a forged eight-piece set with a santoku. It has a limited lifetime warranty.
Two other affordable cutters just missed our Select Ratings (available to subscribers) and are prone to corrosion: the eight-piece Ginsu Shoku, $130, and the 10-piece Wüsthof Silverpoint 2 #1510, $100
A8 Kershaw, $270, is also prone to corrosion, but the three-piece set forged from Damascus steel, with its distinctive undulating pattern, was able to compensate with exceptional cutting.