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Thread: Looking for a Katana with no animal derived components

  1. #26
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    Sorry that I drop into this thread so late..

    You seriously don't want to start making a heavy cutter yourself based on a Cheness shirazaya, unless you have dedicated a year of intense studying into what makes for a good cutting sword, and possess the skills to apply that theory into practice.
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  2. #27
    Ok looks like I won't be doing my own then. My only option is the Tactical Katana from Hanwei but I don't want a Bo-hi sword so I think thats out to. Looks like there isn't any Katana to fit my needs. I will wait for the day one such Katana is made.

  3. #28
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    First of all, don't give up within one day mate...

    Unfortunately I'm limited of phone use only today but I'll shoot in to help in when I get my connection back.

    Now I read the whole thread and I saw that the older generation Practical Katana might have everything you want from a sword?

    How close to a real katana are you planning to get? Since you've already included tactical katanas on the possibilities list. I know that I've must have seen about a dozen or so tactical katanas and many many katana-like blades.

    Then again I'm not sure what kind of hard use and cutting you are talking about? You don't want a risky sword in your hands if your use is of that sort.

    As a knob question could you tell the difference between real and fake same?

    How about Hanwei Banshee? Sure that is not a katana but I wouldn't consider a tactical katana to be one either...
    Jussi Ekholm

  4. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Jussi Ekholm View Post
    First of all, don't give up within one day mate...

    Unfortunately I'm limited of phone use only today but I'll shoot in to help in when I get my connection back.

    Now I read the whole thread and I saw that the older generation Practical Katana might have everything you want from a sword?

    How close to a real katana are you planning to get? Since you've already included tactical katanas on the possibilities list. I know that I've must have seen about a dozen or so tactical katanas and many many katana-like blades.

    Then again I'm not sure what kind of hard use and cutting you are talking about? You don't want a risky sword in your hands if your use is of that sort.

    As a knob question could you tell the difference between real and fake same?

    How about Hanwei Banshee? Sure that is not a katana but I wouldn't consider a tactical katana to be one either...
    Practical Katana might work but its a relatively poor sword overall from what I read in the class of battle ready swords. Also I would prefer a monotempered blade for increased strength.

    I think a tactical katana is about as far as I'm willing to stray. The Hanwei banshee is too far from what a Katana is to make me consider it. I think a tactical katana with no bo-hi that is through tempered and from a good company would be fine for me. I may just have to suck it up and accept the Hanwei tactical katana, even though it has a bo-hi. I certainly rather get that then some relatively unknown tactical katana blade without a good company behind it.

    I don't know if I can tell the difference because I don't have any genuine rayskin sword.

    Thanks

  5. #30
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    How about contacting Cecil at Kris Cutlery and ask them to ship a katana without the horn kurikata? You don't actually *need* a kurikata for cutting purposes.. even if you do, have someone add one made of Delrin.
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  6. #31
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    The reason I asked the knob question was that I had maybe 5 years ago a chinese made katana and couldn't tell 100% sure if it was real. I was around 80% but not totally sure. Looked so darn real and I guess it was real but of low quality.

    I think Kris Cutlery might be good option for customisation job if you are up for one. Removing the kurikata is possible, yet it may be a lot more than it sounds. I customised one PPK maybe 5 or so years ago and just sawed the kurikata as it extended into saya, I might have demolished the saya if I would have tried to remove every last bit of horn.

    Reading my old threads is making me do one project again...

    Back to thread, here are some animal free options:

    Ritter Steel has tactical competiton katana, but their reputation ain't that good.
    True and Tried has those Little Tigress and Kat 2, paracord wrap.
    Jussi Ekholm

  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    Thanks. I could get Hanwei Shirasaya as well couldn't I? That would probably be better than Zhisword.
    Probably. Likely to be differentially hardened. But note that most of what Zhisword call "shirasaya" are not shirasaya; just swords mounted without tsuba. Proper shirasaya are just storage cases, not for "use". This particular Zhisword might be OK for use, but I would check the fit of handle to tang (and fix if necessary) before using. It would also benefit from something like a brocade wrap (perhaps synthetic upholstery fabric?).

    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    Replacing the animal parts with artificial things is fine for me.
    That opens up lots of choices. Most cheap or mid-range katana will just have rayskin panels, rather than a full rayskin wrap, so the rayskin isn't structural. Remove, and replace if desired. Rewrap. Wrapping a handle properly with ito is not a trivial task. If you're prepared to do something like a simple cord wrap instead, then no problem. Then you just need a no-horn scabbard, and non-silk sageo. (Some scabbards/saya also have rayskin reinforcement, but that's easy to spot, and not so common.)

    Asking Kris Cutlery about a katana with a no-horn saya looks like a good idea (as the other Timo suggested). KC blades are differentially hardened, but are known-to-be-tough.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  8. #33
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    There are actually several types of traditional Japanese wraps that don't involve any animal parts such as a hemp twine braid wrap and some tachi were wrapped with brocade instead of same gawa.
    "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio."
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  9. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Nieminen View Post
    Probably. Likely to be differentially hardened. But note that most of what Zhisword call "shirasaya" are not shirasaya; just swords mounted without tsuba. Proper shirasaya are just storage cases, not for "use". This particular Zhisword might be OK for use, but I would check the fit of handle to tang (and fix if necessary) before using. It would also benefit from something like a brocade wrap (perhaps synthetic upholstery fabric?).



    That opens up lots of choices. Most cheap or mid-range katana will just have rayskin panels, rather than a full rayskin wrap, so the rayskin isn't structural. Remove, and replace if desired. Rewrap. Wrapping a handle properly with ito is not a trivial task. If you're prepared to do something like a simple cord wrap instead, then no problem. Then you just need a no-horn scabbard, and non-silk sageo. (Some scabbards/saya also have rayskin reinforcement, but that's easy to spot, and not so common.)

    Asking Kris Cutlery about a katana with a no-horn saya looks like a good idea (as the other Timo suggested). KC blades are differentially hardened, but are known-to-be-tough.
    Sorry I misunderstood the original question. I am not willing to purchase a sword with animal parts and then replace them. I only meant to say that fake or imitation animal parts are acceptable to me.

    The KC 29-II is 5160 steel. Is it really differentially hardened? I guess so since they say the edge is HRC 60 so likely the spine is a different value. I am really not that interested in Differential hardened katanas. But thanks for the idea about them. At this point my options are the tactical katana or getting a bare blade and having someone mount it for me. I also noticed the tactical is a bit small, at 27.5 inch blade length and has bo-hi but these are 2 things I will have to sacrifice if I can't find a traditional Katana, through hardened without animal parts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Treichel View Post
    There are actually several types of traditional Japanese wraps that don't involve any animal parts such as a hemp twine braid wrap and some tachi were wrapped with brocade instead of same gawa.
    Can you point me to a seller of such blades?

  10. #35
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    Other than the Zhisword (sort-of traditional wood+metal mounts) and Kris Cutlery (which have horn on the scabbard, but not the swords) already mentioned, I can't think of anything in your price range and of adequate quality.

    But here are some examples of various non-animal fittings:

    A rattan-wrapped tsuka and saya. Not a production sword, but you could consider making this kind of mount (or getting a blade mounted for you like this).

    Hanwei Shuihi Tachi. Above your price range, differentially hardened, and bo-hi, but it's a nice well-made sword, in a traditional style.

    Traditional tachi. Except for silk, this one would be OK. If anybody sells swords mounted like this these days, I'd expect it to be very expensive.

    There are also more modern styles, like the NCO shin-gunto, with cast metal tsuka with ito pattern. I don't know if you can get one with a decent blade. Perhaps you could get a really cheap one for the fittings?

    One sees swords like this one, a "full tang katana", with plain wooden grip slabs riveted on. From what I've seen, the quality falls far short of what you are after. But you could mount a bare blade in something like this way. You won't get exactly this, since a normal katana tang isn't as wide as the tsuka, and isn't a flat slab, either.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smood R. View Post
    Can you point me to a seller of such blades?
    I don't know of anyone making a quality comercial katana or tachi that does not utilize animal products... But you could easily get one custom made and probably for not much more. See if you can get a blade with at least the habaki and saya and then have someone make it in a traditional style that does not use samegawa, leather, horn or silk. All of the parts that are usually horn on the saya can also be made with delrin or steel.

    try this link... for some ideas of tsukas not made with samegawa http://www007.upp.so-net.ne.jp/m-kenji/tsukamaki.html
    "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio."
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  12. #37
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    I would still say that NCO-gunto might be easiest option. As you don't need matching numbers you might find one for fairly good price. Just be sure not to buy chinese fake, some of them can be quite convincing. Although militaria collectors have their eyes on those and they can be sometimes costly.

    I have to say that 300$ budget might not be enough to get you totally "animal free" sword.

    Dynasty Forges itomaki-no-tachi has brocade in saya and same on tsuka. And they might be open for replacing the same for brocade and replacing silk ito but that sword is in way different pricerange. Just to show you the brocade/tachi route.

    Searched and searched and I did find one that would fit that 300$ budget and has no animal materials used. I have never seen a Zhisword product but some in here have and they can comment more on thr quality. http://www.zhisword.com/index.php?ma...a81021a2f59f87
    Jussi Ekholm

  13. #38
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    You could contact Zhang (owner of ZhiSwords) and ask about a custom sword, with artificial same, and either wooden or artificial "horn" koiguchi and kurigata. A through-hardened blade should help keep your custom budget under $300.
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  14. #39
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    There is apparently a functional Highlander katana available. This one is differentially hardened. Also horn is used in the scabbard. The same seller has variations on the theme, and perhaps some of the others might be OK. Anyway, another example of potentially non-animal katana mountings. This kind of thing is at least partly based on traditional carved-bone mounts (googlinf for "carved bone katana" should find examples). These were often made for tourist sale in the late 1800s (and later), and often have rather low quality blades. Sometimes good blades.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  15. #40
    Thanks for the suggestions everyone! I am mainly against Zhiswords and other swords that Timo mentioned because they are not well known and well proven to be great swords. Paul Southern is one of the guys who said Zhiswords isn't great but others have spoke well of them but for their upper end series thats around $500.

  16. #41
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    Funny that you should mention how some brands are "not well known and well proven to be great swords" as I consider Cheness to have a horrible reputation (plus my personal opinion having closely inspected one), while Kris Cutlery has an almost flawless track-record.

    What makes a great sword? Blade's ability to take a bend? Ability to survive a horribly bad cut by an uneducated backyard-samurai? Or ability to cut the target on a good or even decent cut? What about other parts of the sword, not just the blade itself?
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  17. #42
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    Martial Arts Sword (Korean) makes a pretty good blade. My L-6 from them is the one I will probably keep using until I can afford a Howard Clark or a traditionally made one. That said they also do custom work or you can get it in shira saya.
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  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Treichel View Post
    Martial Arts Sword (Korean) makes a pretty good blade. My L-6 from them is the one I will probably keep using until I can afford a Howard Clark or a traditionally made one. That said they also do custom work or you can get it in shira saya.
    I assume you missed the $300 price-limit?
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  19. #44
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    Well, your not going to get much of a new sword for $300. On the other hand you might do ok by getting a used blade here on SFI or other place classifieds... and back to my suggestion of going custom from a blade up... Then again having a tsuka made, tsuka maki etc will also run you a couple of bills.
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  20. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Timo Qvintus View Post
    Funny that you should mention how some brands are "not well known and well proven to be great swords" as I consider Cheness to have a horrible reputation (plus my personal opinion having closely inspected one), while Kris Cutlery has an almost flawless track-record.

    What makes a great sword? Blade's ability to take a bend? Ability to survive a horribly bad cut by an uneducated backyard-samurai? Or ability to cut the target on a good or even decent cut? What about other parts of the sword, not just the blade itself?
    I respect your views but Cheness has a far better and more substantial reputation that 'zhiswords'. Secondly I agree that Cheness is criticized for poor fittings but their blades are highly praised as being some of the strongest out there that are also effective cutters.

    Anyhow my main thought of the CAS Tactical Katana at this point is even if I accept the bo-hi. I have read the blade is quite thin. No doubt this was an intentional decision to make the blade light to carry and wield and thus more tactical, but I worry about its strength and ultimately its cutting power. Does anyone have any experience with this sword? I find reviews are scarce.

  21. #46
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    Sorry but if you're already decided why ask our opinion in the first place? You want a custom sword for the price of a low-end mass-production sword; you are going to have to cut some corners (no pun intended).

    When you talk about cutting, what type of cutting are you planning to perform? Do you have JSA training, from what school, and does your ryu place any demands on the shinken you're going to use? Even the best sword will cut only as well as the swordsman weilding it.
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  22. #47
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    Thumbs down

    Sorry still on phone so can't give much information. (just ignore the thumb down hard to write on a phone, tend to press things by mistake)

    The kasane or thickness of Tac Kat seems to be in 4,5-6mm range. I don't know which because some clearly stated that they were "eyeing" with the ruler. And you americans use those darn inches that make no sense... Given all these different variations and Tac Waki being said to be 6mm thick I don't understand why they would have made the katana that much slimmer than the wakizashi.

    Now the Cheness regular series seem to be around 7,5mm. I don't count SGC series here.

    In my opinion 5,5-6mm kasane is still perfectly acceptable. And I believe that Hanwei Tactical Katana falls into that range. Can't say for sure but I don't think that Hanwei would go for under 5mm kasane at least on purpose. I might be wrong here though...

    There is a thing called marketing hype and once that gets going it's impossible to stop. I am not saying that Cheness blades aren't tough, they seem to be. I just tend to think they are "overhyped" as I believe that many other production swords are at the same level and above bladewise.

    Like Timo said earlier I too tend to remember the tsuka breakings during cutting, hammered on tsukas and other stuff on Cheness swords. Sure the things might have improved during the years. But I consider tsuka failure to be way more serious problem than blade taking over 100 degrees of bending before breaking.

    Timo also asked the important question, what are you planning to cut?
    Last edited by Jussi Ekholm; 02-22-2012 at 04:57 AM. Reason: Big fingers small screen...
    Jussi Ekholm

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jussi Ekholm View Post
    There is a thing called marketing hype and once that gets going it's impossible to stop. I am not saying that Cheness blades aren't tough, they seem to be. I just tend to think they are "overhyped" as I believe that many other production swords are at the same level and above bladewise.

    Like Timo said earlier I too tend to remember the tsuka breakings during cutting, hammered on tsukas and other stuff on Cheness swords. Sure the things might have improved during the years. But I consider tsuka failure to be way more serious problem than blade taking over 100 degrees of bending before breaking.
    IMO, Cheness don't have a good reputation, or a horrible reputation. They have a polarised reputation. Perhaps better to say that, rather than a reputation, Cheness has partisans. Cold Steel comes to mind as a similar maker, with a lot of very supportive partisans, and then a reputation for making sharpened crowbars when it comes to swords. (I don't think that they're that bad; they seem to have improved their katana - making them lighter and better balanced - but the stats for the old models persist on websites. The only Cold Steel Japanese-line sword I've handled is their nagamaki, which tells me littkle about their katana. It's nice.)

    But for "cutting power", as long as you're cutting the kind of things swords are designed to cut, then the most important thing that contributes to "cutting power" is the human. Any well-made sword will be tough enough, unless the human fails. But the blade does make a difference too. Having cut with both Cheness and Zhisword swords, I find the two Japanese-style Zhisword swords I've cut with cut better than the Cheness swords I've cut with. I doubt they're as tough as the Cheness blades, but I've not broken either. Why? They're better balanced, which will help. I've not measured them, but perhaps they are thinner bladed at the business end, which would help. Mostly I cut with a Huawei katana, which I'd rate as intermediate between the Cheness and Zhisword blades for "cutting power".

    If one thinks of 9260 as a magic steel, and wants a bare blade, I'd go for a Huawei 9260 blade. They might even do an animal free mounting. This is a really cheap option.

    For the sub-$300 blade with the best well-proven reputation, the clear winner must be Kris Cutlery. Either a katana or a bare blade (but they don't seem to have bare blades at the moment).

    If one prefers peace of mind through the Cheness brand name, that would work. Buying a bare blades means one doesn't even need to worry about quality of koshirae.
    "In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.

  24. #49
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    Good thing that you brought the cutting aspects on Timo N. As they are OP's main intrest aside from sword being animal free.

    I can say that my info on production swords/ on them cutting-wise is somewhat outdated. Since it's been about 3-4 years since I last cut with a sword (darn it's been long)...

    Human factor is indeed a thing to consider when cutting. A sword that suits some may not suit another. On one cutting seminar I tend to cut better with CS Warrior than with Citadel, although I have to say that Citadel was better sword. The heavier and bigger blade just suited me better, almost everyone else preferred the Citadel.

    To get this slightly back on the rail, it would be nice to hear little more about cutting ability of Zhisword. As they seem to be one good option for "animal free" route.

    Ps. Cheness, CS, and every maker have their own fanbase, and I fall under LL-camp.
    Jussi Ekholm

  25. #50
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    I've cut very little with Zhisword stuff, but they seem to do well. I don't know the model of the Zhisword katana, but it's differentially hardened, T10, real yokote, non-gaudy black. Perhaps this one or this one, if it's one of their current line. I'll have to check, perhaps this coming weekend.

    I was cutting free-standing rolled-up soaked paper, which I find to be a tough target to cut. With the above-mentioned Zhisword, I could cut these better than with any of the other katana I tried. Reasonable balance and weight, reasonable cutting geometry, and sharp blade. I mostly cut free-standing targets, so I find that lighter swords perform better, cetera paribus, since speed is important so as to cut the target before the target moves too much.

    This big Zhisword sword (90cm nagasa) cuts nicely, but I've cut even less with it.

    Overall, I'm happy with how Zhisword Japanese-style swords cut. Either the best of any katana or similar that I have, or close enough to it so that it's really hard to tell the difference. I haven't gotten to see any beginners cutting with any Zhisword Japanese swords, so can't comment on that. The Cheness swords available are not very kind to beginners - worse balance, perhaps not as sharp. But these are big and small (o-katana and ko-katana), not regular sized, so perhaps not a fair comparison. But mainly I (and others with me) will cut with a lightish Huawei katana or non-Japanese-tylde blades (usually Chinese, European, Indonesian/Filipino). My best cutting sword is a Valiantco Parang Nabur, about the length and weight of a Cheness ko-katana. At least, according to the Cheness website specs; the Cheness feels heavier than that in hand, so perhaps I should weigh it and check. Maybe Cheness swords are lighter these days?
    "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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