Steel or Steal?

Posted by Marc M. on 30th Oct 2017

So when shopping for new shears, you ask: 

“Are these Japanese Shears?"

The response that you get, may be something along the lines of:

"Well they are made from Japanese Steel"

The question is how do you really know where shears are made and from what kind of steel shears are made from. The truth is, you may never know. Many companies will tell you that the shear is made in Japan or Korea but they are not. Unfortunately some manufacturers put "Japanese" on a shear simply because they can, since the scissor industry is not regulated at all and they are never checked for accuracy. In my visits to scissor factories in Asia I was told that I could have anything I wanted printed on the scissor. 

Japan and Korea are the best scissor makers, but just because a shear is made there there is no guarantee that the quality is good. Today, there are scissor makers buying raw scissors from China (lower quality) and doing the finish work in Japan or Korea.

The Hitachi steel company in Japan makes some of the highest quality steel. Once again the problem is that companies have Hitachi put on their shears but Hitachi steel is no where to be found inside that scissor. Hitachi only makes 2 classes of steel today. ATS314 & 440C. (Be aware that there are many levels of 440C.) You will hear these types mentioned by scissors sellers: 

The better steel is from the top down. 

  • ATS-314
  • V-10 Cobalt
  • V1
  • 440C
  • 440A

The list goes on. Quality steel is comparable to gold. The better the steel, such as Hitachi, is like buying 24 carat gold. Hitachi makes their steel from purities. Many scissor companies say they use Hitachi but don’t. Lesser quality steel may be named the same but it’s made from scrap steel. Same steel but different price. Buyers beware!

So how do you try to assure yourself your buying a quality shear? Simple. Find a company that has been in the business a long time. Is this company experienced? Most of the better shear companies have been around for 20-30 years. Look for scissor people not sales pitches. Too many companies sell a concept instead of a shear. Better yet, ask your fellow stylist about their shears.