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Thread: Review of Martialartswords L6 Katana

  1. #1
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    Review of Martialartswords L6 Katana

    This review is a work in progress, we will continue to work with the blade, but wanted to get some impressions down. Will add some pics later.

    Brian Gihm of martialartswords.com (here) was nice enough to ask if I would test and review one of these blades. This particular one had previously been used and tested by someone else and I am sure we will see his comments soon. As background, my group trains in Nakamura-ryu Batto-do, and tameshigiri is a regular part of our practice. We also have a study group for Mugai Ryu, and work on 'cutting iai' within that context. And we participate in the various US (and Japanese) tai kai that often include cutting events, so we train in those patterns in addition to our basics.
    This is a 27 inch blade, shinogi zukuri, no bo-hi. Kissaki is nice and long, but not o-kissaki. Can't see much in the steel, no visible hada, has a 'rolling' suguha hamon, fairly subtle, no noticeable activities, turn-back in the boshi is visible. Nice finish, seems like a 'working polish' below the shinogi, with a nice burnish above. Can't say much more because someone sharpened it before I got it, so it is not in 'original' condition. Has yokote, but somewhat obscured by the sharpening. Overall shape is very nice, about 3/4 inch sori, centered about 2/3 of the way down the blade from the kissaki. Balance is good, POB about 6 inches up from the tsuba. Cross section is definitely a cutter. Fairly flat plane from the edge to the shinogi, slight taper above the shinogi to the mune. Probably about 1/4 thick at the shinogi. Height of the blade is about 1 1/4 inch at the habaki, about 1 inch at the yokote, so has slight taper in height, but is fairly consistent in thickness.
    Tsuka is about 10.5 inches (about perfect for me, very nice fit for the blade). Fit of the tsuka and saya is excellent. Saya is nice and light, very clean oval shape, basic gloss black, no looseness or rattle at all. Shape of handle is very good, a little thicker than previous versions. Ito is leather, not quite the texture of doeskin but not the gloss stuff either. Feels good. Wrap is very good, very even, no shifting or slipping noted. And menuki are mounted gyaku-te, which I really like.
    Fittings are mixed, very nice steel sukashi tsuba, but same fuchi kashira as on the Sunflower. Not bad. Habaki is one area that could use a bit of attention, IMO. Previous ones were a kind of reverse angle copper, this one is more 'normal' shape, in silver, witrh some thoughtful smoothing of edges, but is not quite there yet.
    Does it cut? Oh yes. We had cutting practice at a member's home this weekend (following by a barbeque). Had 100 mats to cut. About twelve of my guys and a couple of guests (plus family, who did not cut). This one got a workout, and overall did very well. I did some basic cuts, and some iai draw cuts, and the blade worked well for all of them, felt good. Had a nice presence in the cut, good weight, still short enough to be quick. Got so comfortable with it that I used it in a demo on Sunday at a kendo tournament, doing kata and some draw cuts from Mugai Ryu. It did not let me down.
    We reviewed one of the Sunflower Classic swords some time ago (we still have it, use it as a dojo cutter). Although that is a decent sword, this one has some noticeable improvements (in addition to the steel). I do not know what the price on these will be, so cannot say if it is a good value, but it is a good sword, IMO.

    Dave
    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  2. #2
    Can't wait to see the pics! I have a daisho in their regular SK7 steel on the way, can't wait to get them and take pics
    How is the shape of the L6 compared to your Sunflower Deluxe? Is it thinner? Wider?

    The price of a mounted stone-polished MAS L6 is $2300, compared to the $1250 for the Sunflower Deluxe, do you think the L6 is worth the extra $$?
    My love for you is like a truck!

  3. #3
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    the shape is very similar, as far as length and height. It is a little thicker, shinogi placement is a little better, and the kissaki is a more traditional shape. Hate the sageo, BTW, very shoelacey, tied way too tight, and the hole in the kurigata for it is too small. So there .

    Dave
    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  4. #4
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    I was one of those fortunate enough to try out this sword in Daves group. Although I have very limited cutting experience, I thought it handled nicely, it didnt feel awkward at all.

  5. #5
    J.Stiefel Guest
    I too had the opportunity to cut with this blade on Saturday. I've only performed tameshigiri with a half dozen blades or so, so my experience is somewhat limited. I can tell you this sword cut extremely well. Felt effortless in the cut, with no sense of "drag" at all through the target. Very pleasing shape, although as Dave mentioned, some of the lines were blurred by sharpening. Wrap was top notch, better than most and comparable to the best production stuff I've seen. Fittings, while not my cup of tea, were tight and well mounted. Saya fit was snug. Good finish on saya. I don't know if this sword retailed for $2300 if I'd consider it a good bargain. At that price it would have to have a severe amount of customizability in fittings and length for me to consider it personally. Nonetheless, it was a privilege to be able to test it.

    John

  6. #6
    Eagerly waiting for pictures.....

  7. #7
    Any problems anyone might have with the fittings and whatnot, would probably want to contact Oniforge - they acquire the L6 blades from MAS and will give you a great custom mount. As far as production blades go, I think MAS has pretty much the best quality steel.

    Personally I think their standard SK7 steel is good enough... no one in their right mind will want to cut wood, concrete or bend more than 90 degrees with their blades anyways.

    I wonder if the edge retention ability in the L6 is any better than the SK7, hmmm.


    C'mon pixpixpix
    Last edited by Thomas Lee; 08-01-2006 at 08:37 PM.
    My love for you is like a truck!

  8. #8
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    Nice review. I know there has been some debate over the blades and all.

    Sherman
    "All that is new is, by that fact, automatically traditional."
    Jean-Luc Goddard

    "But I don't know what to do with those Tossed Salads and Scrambled Eggs..."
    Dr. Fraiser Crane

  9. #9
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    side by side w/classic, L6 on the right.
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    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  10. #10
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    L6 on the bottom
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    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  11. #11
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    tsuka
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    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  12. #12
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    at work
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    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  13. #13
    Good show

    I assume the L6 is stone-polished?
    My love for you is like a truck!

  14. #14
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    don't know.

    tsuka, L6 on bottom
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    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  15. #15
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    Arrow two chances

    Originally posted by J.Stiefel
    I too had the opportunity to cut with this blade on Saturday. I've only performed tameshigiri with a half dozen blades or so, so my experience is somewhat limited. I can tell you this sword cut extremely well. Felt effortless in the cut, with no sense of "drag" at all through the target. Very pleasing shape, although as Dave mentioned, some of the lines were blurred by sharpening. Wrap was top notch, better than most and comparable to the best production stuff I've seen. Fittings, while not my cup of tea, were tight and well mounted. Saya fit was snug. Good finish on saya. I don't know if this sword retailed for $2300 if I'd consider it a good bargain. At that price it would have to have a severe amount of customizability in fittings and length for me to consider it personally. Nonetheless, it was a privilege to be able to test it.

    John
    I also had a chance to try this blade out at this time, and again the following Saturday. On the second time around, I did Iai-cutting (cuts from the draw one-handed), rather than just Batto-cutting (two-handed cuts). I was impressed by the ease of handling - as long as I was spot-on in form and alignment, the blade did the rest.

    I am seriously considering adding one of these blades to my "tool box."

    Many thanks to Dave D. for these opportunities.
    Raymond Sosnowski
    Battodo, Iaido, Jodo, Kyudo, Naginata, Suizen,Zazen

  16. #16
    The tsukamaki looks great!

  17. #17
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    yep

    the tsukamaki is very good. handle shape is good, leather quality is good, wrap is very even and very tight. We used this one again in class last night. Several people handled and cut with it. It performed very well. So far maybe 15 people in my group have tested it, for a total of maybe 100 cuts, or more. No slipping, no loosening, and consistently good cutting.
    For a decent blade, I would normally put up with compromises on the mounts, understandable and inevitable in keeping the price down. This is one of the few production swords that I have seen with fully acceptable mounts right out of the box. (Ok, the sageo isn't great, but other than that).
    Have spoken with Brian at Martialartswords.com and I will probably be buying this. Original plan was perhaps as a dojo cutter (have a martialartsword Sunflower Classic as one of our dojo blades), but maybe I'll just keep this one. Probably bringing it to Arizona in a couple of weeks for the tai kai.

    Dave
    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

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