Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Cheaper/Better Katanas? Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Mon 23 Mar, 2009 10:28 pm    Post subject: Cheaper/Better Katanas?         Reply with quote

Here's something I've been wondering for a while now:
You can find a lot of different katanas under $100 that are said to be made of high carbon steel, though few Western swords. A few of the katanas less than $100 are even reviewed as quite good on SwordBuyersGuide.com. So, what I am wondering is can it be said that many of the katanas in the $50-$100 are actually usable (I.E. for light cutting and such), while the typical Western one of similar price sucks?

Basically, I am thinking of buying one of the katanas at TrueSwords (http://www.trueswords.com/swords-japanese-katana-c-4_46.html) and making a weird sort of custom sword with the katana blade and Western-like hilt. But although I am not too terribly concerned about it being a great cutter or whatever, I would like to make sure it doesn't sudden snap in an idle swing and put a massive divot in the wall, one of the cats, my foot, etc....
View user's profile Send private message
Bryan W.





Joined: 27 Oct 2007

Posts: 198

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 2:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You get what you pay for. Quality and consistency ultimately costs. There are some good buys for the money out there though especially when comparing pieces of reasonably similar price ranges. The questions become more what do you plan on doing with it and how good is "good enough"? If you don't care about how something handles and just want durability and a cheap enough weapon that won't break with abuse and you won't feel too badly about scratching that's very different than something you intend on practicing with and require something that handles reasonably well. Looks are another category as well. If you want all three (or in many cases even two) you're more than likely going to have to pay for it. If all you want though is something that looks cool and won't break if you swing it through the air then you probably don't need to pay ridiculous amounts for it. The SBG is a decent resource for that price range certainly but I'd take everything with a grain of salt and investigate what kind of construction a company uses, etc yourself as well.

Regarding your question though on why there's more "cheap katanas" out there that might be of higher quality compared to the western swords of the same price range I have a very biased opinion regarding the populations that tend to buy "swords" that includes economics and pop culture, anime (including Samurai Champloo ;-) ) and watching Morpheus cut through a car with his katana (as well as prevalence of eastern styled martial arts dojos in the western world). Now while there are some incredibly educated people regarding eastern style blades, the most educated aren't always buying 50-100$ swords. Suffice to say katanas are often the quintessential "sword" to many who don't have experience outside of TV and the movies and thus more companies want to cater to that and deal in (relative) volume. More companies breeds competition, etc etc. That's why you see so many replicas and one-offs of movie swords and anime weapons.
View user's profile Send private message
J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

... I train and teach a traditional Japanese sword art.

I certainly wouldn't use SBG to evaluate what is a reasonable or safe Japanese style sword.

I also pretty much with Bryan said ! The only point I would differ in is that these cheap swords are really quite dangerous. The odd swing in the air might be okay but they develop stress fractures at the tang, and the cheap plastic fittings and wrap are just way to dangerous to use in a dojo environment. These sword can quite easily snap and fly off.

Cheers

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Alexandria, VA USA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003
Reading list: 43 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 4,146

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 7:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I *highly* agree with Jason's point about those swords being a risk. No one ever seems to find the posts on various online fora that talk about those swords snapping, unfortunately, but they're definately out there.
Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
Joined: 20 May 2004

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 9:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe you will generally run into diminishing returns past a $250-$350 mark.

At $30 they will generally fall apart if you hit anything. At $65 I bought a full tang katana form Blade Matrix that is tough as nails but poorly balanced. At $250 I got one from Gen 2 that is well balanced with a 40-60 hardness. Between $300 and $400 you might get one with more attention to minor details. Past that you will get diminishing returns. Both a $300 one and a $700 one will cut tatami and water bottles to your hearts content. The handling and feel will be close enough so that you will either not not feel the difference or should be able to adjust to it. Even at the highest end weapons do have some variation and require adjustment. Then again, you might want to treat yourself to the $700 one. Well how much better do you think a $3,000 katana be? Or how about a $30,000 one. The more more you spend, the less return you will get for your money other then the feeling of owning a treasure. That is a different topic all together. At that point we are not talking about a tool of war but of men's jewelry. I'm not into jewelry.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address
Joel Minturn





Joined: 10 Dec 2007

Posts: 232

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would say that there are so many cheap katanas out there because there is a market for them, unfortunately. It is of course debatable if those are "usable" swords despite what the advertisement might say.

I am not a big fan of posting to links in other forums but this seemed appropriate. http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=79231; read the last page as well for a recap of what happened from the guy who was hit with the broken blade.

That was good reminder that damage to a sword blade can occur over time from abuse. Just because it doesn't fail now doesn't mean that what happened today won't cause it to fail later, usually at a bad time.
View user's profile Send private message
Bryan W.





Joined: 27 Oct 2007

Posts: 198

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 12:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Old but still amusing and highly relevant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m47NiCAfLLg

Yes I definitely agree many of these cheaper katanas can be incredibly dangerous. I don't think my previous post was at odds at all with Jason's subsequent one. :-D
View user's profile Send private message
J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 6:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis Tsafatinos wrote:
I believe you will generally run into diminishing returns past a $250-$350 mark.

At $30 they will generally fall apart if you hit anything. At $65 I bought a full tang katana form Blade Matrix that is tough as nails but poorly balanced. At $250 I got one from Gen 2 that is well balanced with a 40-60 hardness. Between $300 and $400 you might get one with more attention to minor details. Past that you will get diminishing returns. Both a $300 one and a $700 one will cut tatami and water bottles to your hearts content. The handling and feel will be close enough so that you will either not not feel the difference or should be able to adjust to it. Even at the highest end weapons do have some variation and require adjustment. Then again, you might want to treat yourself to the $700 one. Well how much better do you think a $3,000 katana be? Or how about a $30,000 one. The more more you spend, the less return you will get for your money other then the feeling of owning a treasure. That is a different topic all together. At that point we are not talking about a tool of war but of men's jewelry. I'm not into jewelry.


In my experience diminishing returns will begin at around $2500 - $3000 and I am certainly not talking about bling. The very best are very often very plain.

My $8000+ Shinken that I use for daily training is very plain to look at from an outsiders point of view. I would say that it is about 20% better in feel to the $2700 Katana that I had before. Having said that 20% difference in feel to me as an practitioner is massive to say the least.

It is important to realise that almost all of these sub $800 katana are crude reproductions that are made primarily for the target cutting market.

The geometry is different, they are often tip heavy to facilitate the cutting of a stationary target. Generally speaking they are hopeless for the student of a full Japanese sword art.

I have nothing against buying a clunker for test cutting and would probably spend around $500 - $1000 on such a sword.

I hope this doesn't come across snobby, I have been training for a long time now and saved and sold many items to have my dream katana made. A sword of this type was necessary for my progression in the arts I study.

more soon
View user's profile Send private message
J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryan W. wrote:
Old but still amusing and highly relevant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m47NiCAfLLg

Yes I definitely agree many of these cheaper katanas can be incredibly dangerous. I don't think my previous post was at odds at all with Jason's subsequent one. :-D


yep thats a cracker Laughing Out Loud

Your post was excellent, I started to write a long post about the huge market for these ultra cheap swords, then re-read yours
and deleted most of what I had written.

Nice one mate. I am certainly not at odds with any of what you have written.

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Alexandria, VA USA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003
Reading list: 43 books

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 4,146

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J Anstey wrote:
In my experience diminishing returns will begin at around $2500 - $3000 and I am certainly not talking about bling. The very best are very often very plain.


Once again, I very much agree. I've yet to see a $300 come close to any of my custom swords in fit, finish, functionality and form. (Hmmm... that was quite alliterative.)

Quote:
It is important to realise that almost all of these sub $800 katana are crude reproductions that are made primarily for the target cutting market.

The geometry is different, they are often tip heavy to facilitate the cutting of a stationary target. Generally speaking they are hopeless for the student of a full Japanese sword art.


Absolutely, and I think people need to understand that there's a reason why most Japanese martial arts do not allow many of these swords in their dojo. If you want it for your own purposes, that's all fine and well, just understand what you're buying.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,435

PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 8:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Reviews...any reviews, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Eventually most collectors and practitioners make enough mistakes to figure that out. Interestingly, when many people who have mileage in the hobby (much more experience than me) get asked their opinion, what they say often gets discounted in favor of a review that gives the answer the person asking for advice was looking for in the first place.

A review can serve as a guide point but you have to be very careful to evaluate it in the context of the author's experience and intent, or in many cases, lack of experience and intent.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
View user's profile Send private message
P. Cha




PostPosted: Tue 24 Mar, 2009 8:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"usuable" is in the eye of the beholder. There are some like Jason who believe that only the best of the best of the best will do. But you do not need to spend 8 grand to be a serious practioner. I know many very serious practioner who do with much less...but honestly speaking, using anything in the sub 300 market for the most part is for beginners. And some like he mentioned are horrible impoperly balanced (cheness I'm looking at you) to help facilitate the cut...which the longer I do this find to be a bad thing for beginners. That doesn't mean there aren't swords that are safe for use in the market either. Even in the sub 100 market, there are swords I would consider safe for use...but you have to be VERY careful as many are not. I know the SBG considers many masahiro swords to be good...I call them unsafe. Basically, zinc alloy tsuba? unsafe. The musashi $90 DH katanas are a good starting practice sword. It has iron fittings and everything is fitted fairly tightly. It has a fake yokote, but at least has a proper cutting geometry...and it is fairly decently balanced and weighted. I actually personally prefer it's weight and balance compared to much higher priced pieces...but that is personal preference and not what is actually properly ideal for the katana. But yes, compared to a 90 dollar euro sword...leaps and bounds better.

However, since the point of the OP was for just using the blade for a project...the sub 100 dollar ones are generally 1045 and rather soft. I would spend a bit more and get a 1060 TH blade for a project piece.
View user's profile Send private message
Taylor Ellis




PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 2:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
Reviews...any reviews, should always be taken with a grain of salt. Eventually most collectors and practitioners make enough mistakes to figure that out. Interestingly, when many people who have mileage in the hobby (much more experience than me) get asked their opinion, what they say often gets discounted in favor of a review that gives the answer the person asking for advice was looking for in the first place.

A review can serve as a guide point but you have to be very careful to evaluate it in the context of the author's experience and intent, or in many cases, lack of experience and intent.

Just to add to what Joe said, another thing to take into account is the age of the review, especially in regards to European swords. The Euro repro market is light years ahead of what is was 10 years ago, and is different to the Japanese side of things in that there are "production" lines (ie Albion and A&A) that put out a more historically accurate product than 90% of custom smiths.
View user's profile Send private message
J Anstey





Joined: 21 Jul 2007

Posts: 233

PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
"usuable" is in the eye of the beholder. There are some like Jason who believe that only the best of the best of the best will do. But you do not need to spend 8 grand to be a serious practioner. I know many very serious practioner who do with much less...but honestly speaking, using anything in the sub 300 market for the most part is for beginners. And some like he mentioned are horrible impoperly balanced (cheness I'm looking at you) to help facilitate the cut...which the longer I do this find to be a bad thing for beginners. That doesn't mean there aren't swords that are safe for use in the market either. Even in the sub 100 market, there are swords I would consider safe for use...but you have to be VERY careful as many are not. I know the SBG considers many masahiro swords to be good...I call them unsafe. Basically, zinc alloy tsuba? unsafe. The musashi $90 DH katanas are a good starting practice sword. It has iron fittings and everything is fitted fairly tightly. It has a fake yokote, but at least has a proper cutting geometry...and it is fairly decently balanced and weighted. I actually personally prefer it's weight and balance compared to much higher priced pieces...but that is personal preference and not what is actually properly ideal for the katana. But yes, compared to a 90 dollar euro sword...leaps and bounds better.

However, since the point of the OP was for just using the blade for a project...the sub 100 dollar ones are generally 1045 and rather soft. I would spend a bit more and get a 1060 TH blade for a project piece.


Nope you are wrong about me, I certainly don't believe only the best of the best of the best will do. In fact I would strongly recommend against this sort of spend for even my most senior of students.

Anyway here is how I look at it - decide what you want in this Japanese style sword.

1. Aesthetic appreciation
2. Martial art study
3. Occasional test cutting

or a combination of the above, keeping in mind that 1 + 2 + 3 = a lot more $$

Cheers

Jason
View user's profile Send private message
Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Wed 25 Mar, 2009 11:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well thanks for the replies folks, they certainly will be kept in mind.

One point I thought I'd mention: I mean to replace the hilt, thus zinc tsuba won't be a problem, as I will be putting on a stainless steel guard instead. I figured I would aim for a two-pegger and replace the pegs with brass ones, JB-wield everything in sight (I'm not a Samurai in a humid area, so I don't think I really need to be able to pull it apart, please correct me if I'm wrong), etc, etc. So, the only things that should remain after my work would be the blade and maybe the wooden grip, abiet heavily worked over with a wood-burner.
View user's profile Send private message
Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 616

PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 1:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Have you considered something like the Heron Mark Sword from Windlass? It sounds like something close to what you wanted, so long as you can stand having a sword based on Wheel of Time. I guess the implication would be that the sword would just go on and on forever without making any progress until you got sick at the very thought of it. Wink Seriously though, Kult of Athena has a pretty decent price on it.

You should also know that the tsuka of a Japanese sword and the hilt of a western sword are nothing alike, because these swords have very different tangs which inform the overall construction. You might consider one of Angus Trim's hand and a half sabers as a solution, but they're a bit above your stated price range (then again, they're still pretty reasonable considering Mr. Trim's reputation for making tough performance blades).

Honestly—and please believe that I’ve learned this the hard way—buying swords that low on the low end results in very little satisfaction in the long run, and at the price you’re talking about I wouldn’t personally consider using it for even light cutting. Maybe I just like my sundry appendages more than you do. I’d be content with a waster or bokken until you can acquire something more suitable. Buying a sword that cheap might be fine for display, but the equation changes very quickly when you start hitting things.

So I guess in the end I have to echo what a few others have already said: just know what you're buying and don't expect it to be anything else.

EDIT: Just noticed the last bit about welding. Have you considered how that will affect the blade's heat treatment? Another thing to think about if you start hitting things...

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Colt Reeves





Joined: 09 Mar 2009

Posts: 466

PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok, I know how the tang of a katana is constructed, and understand that modifying it may make the sucker a useless wallhanger. I'm basically going after a katana because I don't want my first experiment to go belly up with a week's worth of pay behind it and I was under the impression katanas offered the best quality for the price I was willing to throw into such an experiment.

Heron Mark you say? I looked that over at one point, but the guy here (http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/heron-mark-sword.html) seemed to think it didn't feel "solid" enough for cutting. Does anyone know of someone who actually used the puppy? Oh, and what's the tang like?

Ummm... JB Wield is an epoxy. Any epoxy that can screw up the heat treatment on a sword is something I don't want my clumsy fingers near. Big Grin And I actually use some generic epoxy... where did I leave that bottle?... just saying JB Wield 'cause someone mentioned it in another thread.
View user's profile Send private message
P. Cha




PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well colt, if your gonna go though with this and 1045 TH steel is okay, I would say get the musashi shirasaya for 40 bucks at swords of might. Your not gonna keep the fittings so why pay more for it? If you want a 1060 steel, the cheapest source for that is the kawashima 1060 TH swords for 120 bucks from swords of might.

If you can link or post a picture of what exactly you have in mind, I'm sure more ideas of how to get what you want done can be forthcomming Happy .
View user's profile Send private message
Li Jin




Location: NYC
Joined: 21 Feb 2008

Posts: 46

PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

www.trueswords.com/

They offers huge low prices functional Katanas. Although their katanas are under 100 dollars, but they worth the money, some of them made by Musashi, but unfortunately they are just heat treated and nothing else, the 60 dollars ones.
View user's profile Send private message
Bill Tsafa




Location: Brooklyn, NY
Joined: 20 May 2004

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Thu 26 Mar, 2009 9:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you want to go cheap and durable check out this full tang katana from Bladematrix for $45

http://www.bladematrix.tv/index.asp?PageActio...odID=36893

I had an earlier version for this that was 35". This one is 37". While it is 420 J2 stainless, I have beat it over 2,000 times on a tirepell. I have sloe beat it flat to flat with another carbon steel blade to see how it would hold up. Compared to the hollow grip rat-tails that are normally sold in this price range, this is a good value.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website AIM Address


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Cheaper/Better Katanas?
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum