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Lloyd Winter




Location: Los Angeles
Joined: 27 Aug 2011

Posts: 169

PostPosted: Sat 01 Jul, 2017 11:00 am    Post subject: Good entry level Japanese swords         Reply with quote

Hello.
My nephew is getting into swords but he only wants Japanese stuff.
I know next to nothing about Japanese swords.

I'm thinking of getting him a decent Wakizashi and want some advice.
Looking at KoA it seems to be that Hanwei and Dynasty Forge are my best bets.
What is the opinion of their blades.
Is there anyone else I should be looking at?

Any comments or advice would be welcome.

Thanks
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
Likes: 1 page
Reading list: 1 book

Posts: 1,492

PostPosted: Sat 01 Jul, 2017 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Much less choice when it comes to wakizashi as compared with katana. Compared to repro European swords, there is much less variation in build quality and handling as you go up or down the price range. It isn't at all like comparing the skinny tang, overweight clunky blade, terrible historical accuracy and poor heat treatment of a $150 Deepeeka Medieval sword with a $900 Albion. The low-end ($100-$200) Japanese swords can be well above, e.g., Windlass/Hanwei Medieval level, while the high end (the expensive end of Hanwei, Bugei, etc.) only gets to Albion level at best. That last part needs some qualification: handling, grip, etc. is where Albion might beat them. They will have fancier polish, more bling, etc. (But so will the low end ones!) Compared to Euro-swords, the low end is a lot better, relatively speaking.

Hanwei is good. Dynasty Forge is good. If you're looking at Dynasty Forge, you might as well look at Cold Steel as well (DF and CS are both made by Huanuo). Let me add something cheap to the list, too: Munetoshi.

Cheapest (approx $100):
http://www.swordnarmory.com/munetoshi-lion-do...rai-sword/

Medium (approx $200-250):
Hanwei Practical, Practical Plus, Raptor.
DF Musha
CS Warrior

High (approx $250-400)
DF Bushi
CS Dragonfly (and Dragonfly tanto, which is wakizashi length), Inperial
Ronin Katana Dojo-Pro
http://www.swordnarmory.com/2nd-gen-kiku-mune...rai-sword/

Above that, lots and lots of Hanwei wakizashi.

Of these, the expensive Hanwei are the best. Good blades, good fittings. I like the looks of the Kaeru, except for colour. The hilt looks less chunky than the usual Hanwei wakizashi hilts. Lots of choice with variation in fittings, colour, weight. A little variation in length. You could look at Bugei as well (the Bugei Peace wakizashi looks very good indeed, as it should for $1000). You can go even more expensive, but then you need to wonder why you're not buying a real Japanese sword (as in, a Japanese-made antique or a modern made-in-Japan sword).

I wouldn't buy any of the ones in the $250-400 bracket above, except maybe the Dragonfly tanto. I think the step up from this bracket to the more expensive Hanwei wakizashi is worth it. The RK Dojo-Pro might be good for people who want big heavy, just-short-of-a-katana wakizashi.

In the $200-250 group, the DF Musha and CS Warrior are basically the same thing (Huanuo's bottom-end wakizashi). Pick between them based on price and fittings. Through-hardened so no hamon. The Hanwei raptor is also through-hardened. The Hanwei Practical and Practical plus are differentially hardened, the Practical has fake rayskin.

The low-end Munetoshi shows you can get respectable blades, differentially-hardened, for about $100. You can find similar on ebay. Generally, the fittings and wrap are not as good. I'd still call it "decent".

In general, even at the low end, you can get good functional blades. As you go up from there, you get better fittings, better wrap, hopefully a better blade (e.g., better yokote).

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Sam Barris




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

Posts: 615

PostPosted: Sat 01 Jul, 2017 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd get him a shinai and a gift certificate for some lessons at a local kendo place. That may be a better investment than a cheap weapon in the long run. Unless he's already training, of course.
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
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Eric S




Location: new orleans
Joined: 22 Nov 2009
Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 792

PostPosted: Mon 03 Jul, 2017 6:49 am    Post subject: Re: Good entry level Japanese swords         Reply with quote

Lloyd Winter wrote:
Hello.
My nephew is getting into swords but he only wants Japanese stuff.
I know next to nothing about Japanese swords.

I'm thinking of getting him a decent Wakizashi and want some advice.
Looking at KoA it seems to be that Hanwei and Dynasty Forge are my best bets.
What is the opinion of their blades.
Is there anyone else I should be looking at?

Any comments or advice would be welcome.

Thanks
How old is he? The best thing to do is visit the Nihonto Message Board, the best resource in the world for info on Traditionally made Japanese swords (nihonto). You can buy a real antique Japanese small sword (tanto) for not to much money if you take your time and do some research, a much better choice in my opinion than getting a modern made reproduction. http://www.militaria.co.za/nmb/
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