I have been wanting a real, useable, if not terribly fancy, sword for years. I currently have a "qama" from Atlanta cutlery, which was made in India and has a 17-1/2" blade. I suppose that qualifies as a short-sword in some circles, but I'm looking for something a bit longer. Trouble is, I'm on a tight budget, and my wife would kill me if I gave in to impulse and spent several hundred bucks on something from Museum Replicas Ltd./Windlass (made in India) or Del Tin Brothers (from Italy), or the Paul Chen swords from China. I saw something in the latest Atlanta Cutlery catalog called an "Asian sword" that is supposedly based on the Burmese dha, but it costs about $20 and has a stainless blade and while I've seen (and owned) stainless knives that would take and hold a good edge (like my Victorinox Swiss Army "Tinker"), I'm a bit leery of a $20 stainless sword. I don't buy decorator-only guns, or decorator-only weapons of any kind. Any ideas???
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May 21, 2007, 12:35 AM
with a $20.00 sword no matter what it's made of. Wooden practice weapons sell for more than that. About the only functional blade I can think of in that price range would be one of the Tramontina machetes or bolo knives. Not true swords but functional blades nonetheless. One of the Cold Steel 1917 cutlasses might be a possibility but they are in the neighborhood of $180.00. If you're like most of us you trade or sell something you can live without to get the next item on the " I want..." list. Good luck.
May 21, 2007, 05:29 AM
You can buy a sword for less than $200 from Himalayan Imports (go to BladeForums.com, and look for the forum). It will be hand-forged, and tougher than you, in all probability.
May 22, 2007, 07:18 AM
I own a Hanwei (paul chen) practical pro katana, and its great. In retrospect I probably should have gone with a Practical Plus II, its a little bit shorter, but theyre both good, inexpensive, no frills functional weapons. if youre spending <$100 on a sword (and many times up to $150) youre not -usually- getting anything worth the steel its made of. MANY swords that are cheaper have a bolt welded on to the blade which then attached to the pommel through the handle, instead of a full tang, and are prone to catastrophic breakage when used. The steels are softer and not properly heat treated for flexibility and durability. I have seen a test (torture test) where they took the practical plus up against (an orchid I believe) which is a more expensive paul chen sword, the more expensive swords blade chipped and fragmented along the hamon where they hit bone with it (not technically designed for this, non living cow femur or something) and the practical plus held up, the more expensive one had been over hardened. Practical katanas from hanwei can be had for ~150-300 without difficulty. I have never used a cold steel sword so I ant say much on them. But with swords you really do get what you pay for, and spending too little on a functional weapon can bring great harm if it fails while in use. (Such as the welded tang breaking apart and sending the blade flying.) Another thing to remember is that a "real" sword will NEED proper maintenance, most of them arent stainless and will need to be cleaned and oiled regularly. If you go with a katana the menkugi pins (bamboo pins retaining the blade into the handle) do ocassionally need to be replaced, lest the blade go flying on its merry way.
May 22, 2007, 09:48 AM
Anything less than $100 proabably isn't a sword. It may be shaped like one, but it realy isn't. It's a dangerous hunk of metal that may come apart in use throwing the blade out of your control or the blade may bend (if you're lucky) or snap (if you're not) and again send metal flying in an unpredictable direction that includes you're tender bits or the tender bits of others. They are remakably dangerous when not hanging on a wall.
Stainless does not make usable sword blades and it's use can be used to mark a POS from a usable sword. Look for blades made from 1095 or 5160 carbon steels for inexpensive but potentially usable blades.
The Paul Chen swords can frequently be had for substantially below retail if you watch ebay. I picked up a Paul Chen Tai Chi sword for under $100 there.
May 22, 2007, 01:12 PM
Good point, JD. I'll change my statement to, "If the MSRP is below $100...".;)
May 22, 2007, 07:03 PM
check out www.knifecenter.com, you can find some really great prices on swords there.
Others have suggested swordforum.com and I have to agree you won't find a better source of information out there. I've been a member there for about a decade now. I mostly buy swords from Angus Trim, Del Tin, Arms & Armor and Albion, maybe thats why I'm not married:D
I've owned a few Cold Steel swords and they were ok, including the 1917 Cutlass, 1796 Light Cavalry Saber and their Small Sword. The only sowrd of theirs I didn't care for, and I've pretty much handled them all was their Hand-and-a-Half sword, sharp as hell but I didn't care for the blade design and construction. Aslo for the price I could almost buy another Albion sword or Del Tin.
Windlass Steelcrafts are decent and I've been pretty impressed with them, great value for the money. I also like the Hanwei and the Paul Chen line of swords.
If youre on a limited budget and want something that is respectable here are some of my suggestions. But like others have said, if you want something decent and realistic for under $100 your options are going to be very limited. However for under $200 you have many more options available.
I have three websites for you. www.chenessinc.com www.musashiswords.com and www.swordsofmight.com
Cheness is the higher of the three but it is the best quality for the money that I have ever seen. Their weaponry is designed for the martial artist on a budget, functional blades with cheap prices as compared to other weapons of their caliber. You will have to pay at least $149 for their low end katana. It has a 1045 monosteel construction blade and very simple fittings. I cannot stress enough that these are EXCELENT Swords for the prices.
Next is Musashi swords. I dought that these swords are as good as the Cheness swords but at the low end price range of $59 dollars they are worth a shot. The "Musashi Hand Honed Katana" would be the sword for you on this website.
The last sword site is Swords of Might. Now, some people will scoff at me but this is true, the one that I will recomend to the tightest budget would be the assemble yourself katanas. They are only $30, but trust me (I admit I bought one of these) they are a hell of a lot better than anything I have ever seen for 30 bucks. They are full tang and they have beefy blades. I haven't cut a lot with it because it isn't very sharp but it makes a great practice weapon. They also come disassembled so that you learn to put them together, a good thing to learn. The ito wrapping isn't as tight as it should be but that can be fixed with some synthetic ito, a pdf guide, and a lot of time.
So, thats my advice and I hope it helps.
"Character is the sword which a man
uses to cut his own path though life."
May 30, 2007, 10:07 PM
If you like the dha, you can find the Hanwei Banshee for around $110.
I found one I like for $100 +S&H from G. Gedney Godwin. It's their "India Import" grade replica of a late 18th century British or American naval cutlass, with a straight single-edged blade, heavy sheet-iron "figure of eight" handguard, and iron-covered wood grip. The finish isn't the greatest, and it's obviously hand-forged in some Indian backwater (though doesn't that describe 90% of the country?), but it seems to be well-tempered (flexes decently and returns to true), and takes an edge. Have to find me some tatamis for a cutting test, at some point.
April 8, 2008, 11:52 PM
Try 2 L soda bottles filled with water. When you can cut that in two so that the bottom stays in place let us know.
Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
April 9, 2008, 12:46 AM
Allow me to re-iterate what Ronin Samurai said:
Get a Cheness - great value. You can get one for less than $175 new if you get a basic one. I researched them heavily before picking Cheness and could not be happier. PM me if you want more detail/advice. You can't get anything decent under $100 unless you find a smokin used deal on say, a Cheness.
If you can gather up $230, these two "SGC" line of 9260 Ko-katanas are a smokin value:
The Yamakami Ko-katana: http://www.chenessinc.com/yamakami_kokat.htm
and the Tsukikage Ko-katana: http://www.chenessinc.com/tsukikage_kokat.htm
April 9, 2008, 01:50 AM
The Cheness Tenchi 9260 (also Kurome) look like the best deals in a lower priced Katana that cuts well and is hard to ruin with bad technique. They are in the under $250 range, the waks cost a bit less. Google Tenchi for the tests to destruction and you'll be hooked. I have seen reports of the SGC dragging in a cut so the traditional blade with out bo-hi would be my pick. Kris Cutlery may have some scratch and dent items available but their fittings and blade geometry may be non-traditional. Good Luck and be Safe.
Here's a basic overview.
April 9, 2008, 01:57 AM
+1 on the Paul Chen Practical Viking. I work at a sword shop and I own one if that says anything
April 9, 2008, 01:33 PM
Take a look at http://www.leesarmoury.com/ and see ATRIM's and Treasures page. Lee is having an inventory reduction and is dealing on ATRIMs. Make an offer. Lee is a great guy to deal with.
April 9, 2008, 01:50 PM
I agree you'll need to spend at least $200 to get a quality blade. I really like the GenII Philippino made swords. I picked up a gladius from them last year and it's a nice stout piece of steel. Not too fancy, but sharp as a razor and made of good quality steel.
Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
April 11, 2008, 12:33 PM
I have seen reports of the SGC dragging in a cut
Do you remember where you saw this report?
April 12, 2008, 02:01 AM
I blundered into a Paul Chen damascus practical viking at a local pawn shop last year for $110.
That became my sister's birthday present.
I got a Cheness 1060 katana and wakazashi on EBay from some clueless dude for $81.00 plus shipping. The guy accidentally included a bright red Masahiro katana in the deal. I gave that one to a co-worker, who loves it.
Be patient. The deals are out there.
April 12, 2008, 05:10 AM
This is the review of SGC with video
and a good article by Keith Larman about niku and tameshigiri
April 12, 2008, 05:53 AM
Find what you want then give
http://www.sharppointythings.com a yell, he might be able to find a better deal via his contacts. He's a THR member.
April 15, 2008, 05:54 AM
I find a deal for King Arthur Excalibur Sword..It is only $22. (http://www.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.com/searchdeals.php?deal_id=97051&ru=283)The sword is really pretty - ITS METAL! Handle engraving is nice.
April 15, 2008, 11:05 AM
Thanks for pointing that out, but the OP is looking for a sword that can be used repeatedly to cut with safely. The "Excalibur" sword on that website isn't safe to cut with and wouldn't hold an edge. If you look at the requirements for a cutting sword you'll see that the type of steel, grind and edge bevel, heat treat and construction of the sword itself are critical in making a real sword vs a wall hanger.
After all these years I'm still finding that there's lost to still learn about swords.
April 15, 2008, 05:00 PM
I'm not a sword guy but I did buy one of the Himalayan Imports katanas for the hell of it. With that and an HI khukri I've disassembled sizeable trees. If the blade was going to break it would have done it by now. The khuk is now my walking knife, removing cedar trees from the pasture.
Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
April 15, 2008, 07:31 PM
Which of these Musashi swords would be the best or best value, in terms of the strongest, toughest, most flexible steel, in that $150-$250 range:
Also, do you happen to know why the Swords of Might videos show the Musashi "Damascus" as being one of their best sellers and best value sword under $200, and yet I see no "Damascus" model shown at the Musashi site? Edit: Nevermind, found it - it's actually called the "Functional Katana with Damascus Pattern", being of folded steel, and it's price in the $250-$399 category, not the $150-$250, but it's on SALE for $199 there (although out of stock).
April 22, 2008, 02:37 AM
I have several blades, all combat worthy, and a couple of wall hangars. What I've learned (and I took blacksmithing in college for a year):
Good swords--real swords--cost money. Bar none.
Windlass steelcrafts' products are very nice. Mount them on the wall and dust 'em off, show 'em to your friends. Make lightsaber sounds as you swing them through the air--but don't dare hit anything. They'll bendy/breaky.
Museum Replicas--prettier! You can take 'em off the wall, and wear 'em at renn faires! The good thing about renn faires is that you'll be peace-bonded (which means they tie your sword to it's scabbard and you can't draw it), and you won't make it all bendy/breaky when you swing it.
Paul Chen--I have two of their rapier, both scored off ebay. They don't look as good as "dressier" Windlass rapiers, but the Chen steel 'sings' better. I haven't sparred with these, nor hit anything harder than cardboard, but they seem to hold up well.
Cold Steel--I only have one Cold Steel, and it's the 1917 Cutlass. I also have an original issue Navy 1917 Cutlass. The Cold Steel is a better product, and a fantastic (little) fighting blade. It is one handed only, though. I have used mine as a machete, beheaded many attacking zombies (OK, snowmen), and it's a big deal for my kids when we sacrifice the watermelon to the picnic Gods with it. Great blade, and I wouldn't hesitate to reccomend it to someone looking for a "real" sword.
When you start talking japanese blades (traditional katana and other samurai blades), you open up a whole bunch of crap. Everybody has their opinions, most based on favorite movies or on the tourist crap set that daddy brought back from PI when he was in the Navy. Get a book, learn how the blades were crafted, and understand what you're looking at. Realize that it's the blade that is important, and not any of the other hardware.
Once you've held a real blade, you'll be disgusted with some of the import stuff coming in.
Side note: You mentioned stainless steel. Stainless steel makes a good knife blade--as long as the blade stays less than about 10" long. SS does not make good long blades. High carbon steel takes more care, but makes a better weapon.
The Japanese sword is probably the best design in a man-slaughtering blade out there, but for some really beautiful stuff, get on the 'net and try to find some real (that means antique, and therefore expensive, and therefore out of our reach) rapiers or sabres, specifically old Spanish or Italian designs.
If ugly doesn't bother you, there used to be a guy on ebay--chinese feller--who got a hold of a bunch of WWII Japanese Naval Officer swords. These were one-handed cutlasses, but with the traditional Japanese curve and tanto tip. The handles were an awful brass casting, but when cleaned up, the blades were amazing. I managed to win one for $20, and then found the shipping from China was about $200...Yeah--read the small print. Lucky for me--beautifully functional, butt ugly.
Careful of old Rosicrucian or Templar ceremonial stuff. Often identified with a knight's helmet on the butt. These are ceremonial only!
If you don't mind building up a sword yourself, go to ebay and type in "Old sword blade" or "old sword". Someone is always selling a decent blade that they found in an attic, but the handle is usually rotted away, or it's slightly rusty, or it isn't "pretty". I scored my 1860 Ames that way, complete with dented handguard, for less than $100.
They're out there, but you won't find a "new" one for $20-$50 that's worth anything. You either gotta pay, or get lucky.
April 22, 2008, 04:22 AM
I just bought a sword from these guys (http://stores.ebay.com/JWHOTSTEELFORGE). I won't get to see it for another month but I'll post then and let you know what it's like.
April 22, 2008, 03:52 PM
The Japanese sword is probably the best design in a man-slaughtering blade out there
Hm. That's a wide-open claim, there. I will agree it's great against unarmored or lightly armored foes*. Did you mean "best sword design"? Otherwise, spears beat swords, usually easily.
*and even then, there are specific strikes designed to hit the joint segments in the armor
April 22, 2008, 09:35 PM
I just bought a sword from these guys. I won't get to see it for another month but I'll post then and let you know what it's like.
I was looking at getting one of those for myself...they have a Zatoichi sword that makes me feel all pretty
April 22, 2008, 11:02 PM
azreal, I,know nothing about their blades so far but I will say I've emailed them three times with questions and each time they've gotten back to me within less than a day.
April 23, 2008, 02:14 AM
The HI swords and khukris are amazing, as are most of the Cold Steel offerings. My only experience with a Chen sword was through CAS Iberia, and it wasn't all that great.
April 25, 2008, 08:34 PM
Check out PTK's sig line - sort of puts all this to nonsense, eh? :)
But seriously, I will agree with PTK on the Cold Steel line. Owner / Pres Lynn Thompson even has produced a DVD he'll send you about his swords - Sword Proof. Bear in mind, I'm no swordsman, but I do own over a dozen of his other products, from hatchets to folders to fixed blades, and not counting some of his training DVDs. I've been desiring a couple of his swords, but really have no need for one. (Like that's ever stopped me before!)
Lynn is a student of the martial arts (not to say those others mentioned are not), and is very critical of the materials he uses. There is an annual sale out in Ventura, CA every May, so it may be worth considering going, if you're local or will be in the area.
Check out the Cold Steel website for more info. Then ebay to buy.
April 25, 2008, 09:55 PM
check out ..."Ontario Knives"........a USA company, supplies combat knives to the us military.......and has a couple of short swords. I have one.called a "Black Wind".....kinda handy......