Complete guide to buying a decent Samurai Sword Katana

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Complete guide to buying a decent Samurai Sword on eBay.

In this guide, I'd like to share with you some very valuable information that will save YOU from wasting your hard earned money on junk swords.

Please note that this is a guide to help first time suppliers find a decent practical Samurai Sword. If you are looking to find an Authentic Japanese Katana, then this is not the guide for you. Check out my other guides which will help you find that elusive 800 year old sword!

After reading this guide, you will know how to get the very best deal when you buy swords online, including:

  1. How to tell the difference between a real sword and an ornamental “wall-hanger”.
  2. Who makes the best practical swords for their value.
  3. How to select the type of sword you want.
  4. How much is a fair price to pay for a decent starter sword.

Your First REAL Sword!

I think there are two main reasons why its better to buy a REAL sword than a purely ornamental "sword-like object" (SLO).

  1. It's a lot more respectable to hang an authentic sword on the wall than a cheap, lightweight wallhanger that for all its functionality, might as well be made from plastic…
  2. Who can resist the urge take their sword outside for a few practice swings against water-filled plastic bottles?

Unfortunately, most swords for sale on the internet aren’t designed to take ANY “abuse” at all. For a first time buyer – you want a sword that is practical, well built and aesthetically pleasing, without paying thousands of £££’s (or $’s or €’s, whatever your currency).

The Difference Between a REAL Sword and a Decorative 'Sword Like Object'...

There are basically three main differences between REAL Swords and ‘wallhangers’

  1. REAL Swords are made from HIGH CARBON STEEL
    Real swords are always made from high carbon steel. The vast majority of cheap swords being sold online are made from stainless steel. While stainless steel is a great choice for knives, it starts becoming very brittle on anything longer than 12” and is NOT a suitable material for a functional sword.
  2. REAL Swords have been properly HEAT TREATED
    Real swords are always properly heat treated and tempered to create a blade that is not too brittle and not too soft. If a sword is described as “high carbon steel” but there is no mention of how it is heat treated, then it probably hasn’t been heat treated at all. And if it hasn’t been heat treated, it doesn’t qualify as a real sword.
  3. REAL Swords have a FULL TANG
    The weakest point of most modern swords is the handle, in particular the metal insert into the handle attached to the blade known as the tang. Unless a sword has what is known as a “full tang” it is liable to break when struck against any surface. Or worse still, come loose from the handle like a helicopter blade when swung with even moderate force.

Fortunately, there is very EASY WAY to minimize the trial and error when you buy swords online. And that is by selecting a sword made by a well known and respected 'brand name' manufacturer...

Four excellent brand named swords:

  1. Hanwei Forge (Paul Chen) – The most respectable practical katana without spending thousands of £££’s.
  2. Cheness Cutlery – The best ‘cutting’ range available of all manufacturers.
  3. Ryumon / Masahiro – Excellent range. Can’t really go wrong with any of them.
  4. Cold Steel – Excellent knife and sword makers.

What sort of Samurai Katana should I go for? There’s so many!

That’s dependant entirely upon what you need it for. If you are just a collector, a normal or regular sword will suffice. But for those who practice Iaido or compete in Tameshigiri, there are other options for blade profiles:

These un-edged training blades provide for safe drawing for the Iaido practitioner. Forged from carbon steel the tempered blades are not only maintenance-free but more importantly provide the correct weight and balance needed for the rigors of repetitive drawing and sword motion practice.

For Frequent Cutting and Advanced Drawing Practice. These blades are traditionally proportioned to appeal to the collector but they will also perform well in general cutting of hard or soft targets. A happy medium between the extremes.

Designed strictly for competitive cutting. Heavy Katana blades incorporate the geometry, strength, weight and profile needed for successful cuts on substantial targets. These wide blades will reward good technique with clean cuts and excellent durability. Competitive sword for those who must make cuts in thick targets.

Features the same geometry as those of the ‘heavy’ but incorporate deeply cut grooves (bo-hi) to reduce the weight of the blade while retaining most of it’s strength and cutting ability. This weight reduction makes for a quicker sword, well adapted for multiple cuts in lighter targets. Competitive sword for those who must demonstrate multiple cuts at quick speed.

How Much Should You Pay for a ‘REAL’ Sword?

It’s true what they say: you do get what you pay for. That when you buy swords online, functional swords are usually more expensive than the ornamental wall hangers.
And at first you might be inclined to think that if you're gonna buy swords online that are any good, you'll need to have a spare £500 to £1,000 just lying around.

However when you're starting out, I don't think it's necessary to spend anywhere near this amount...

Now sure, if you have the money, such a response might be helpful. But if you are a younger collector, or a beginning collector or are on a budget or you just can't justify spending £500+ on a single sword, it doesn't help much...
With just a little common sense and education, it is possible to find some very attractive and fully functional swords at a low price point of between £50 to £300 tops.
Just one thing though...
When you buy swords online in this price range, you DO need to be careful.
Don't get me wrong; I am not saying that these swords are PERFECT!
But as entry level swords, I think you'll find that they are all more than adequate. 

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