Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ryan Swords - 1060 Carbon Steel Katana

 Having purchased two wooden bokkens this winter to expand my interest in sword play for nothing other than an interest in the genre I treated myself to my first functional sword.

  Since I had also acquired a traditional Chinese hunting bow and bamboo arrows I stayed with the Asian theme and opted to buy a Japanese style katana. There are many sellers upon Ebay so it really came down to checking feedback scores and, frankly, finding the blade that offered the aesthetic details I prefered with an affordable cost of purchase.

  I opted to purchase a blade with 1060 steel as it seemed to be a decent first choice; a good combination of strength, durablity and price point for a first time back yard cutter.Impressed with my previous Chinese purchases I opted to make the buy from Ryans-Swords based out of Longquan China.


  My choice was a blade without a hamon but with real samegawa wrapped in black cotton sageo.Brass habiki and seppa with an iron tsuba in a warrior design.Saya made out of hualee hard wood. It came complete with a maintenance kit including powder, oil and tool all within a bamboo box.All for $78 USD with free shipping.

  A katana for $78. My expectations were for a sub $100 blade with some decent features but a sub $100 sword nonetheless.No great expectations meant no great disappointment.

The Reveal

  Let me premise the reveal by saying communication from Ryans Swords was excellent. I placed my order during the Chinese New Year so expected delays. Not only did RS let me know that there were holiday delays but followed up by confirming exactly when my purchase would ship and, later, that the item had arrived in Toronto. Shortly thereafter Canada Post left a door knocker in my mailbox that my package was at the local post office kiosk.

   So I picked up the parcel and was immediately struck but the quality packaging.As a former warehouseman I recognize good packaging and I could tell this was prime.

Enclosed in a styrofoam box and basically waterproofed with packing tape the blade was well secured and protected.

The katana was wrapped in a sword bag enclosed within a plastic bag. The oiled  blade was also covered in a plastic bag (within the saya) with the tsuka encased in plastic wrap. Excellent attention to packaging detail.

As a result the sword and scabbard were in pristine condition upon opening. I swapped out the red saya for a gloss black version and it was perfect. No scratches or blemishes.Beautiful workmanship.

More importantly there was no rattle of blade within the saya and the sword was extremely snug when scabbarded. In fact I held it upside down and shook the saya and the blade remained secure. No issues other than it might have been too snug as thumbing the tsuba to release the blade took some effort.

For a sub $100 katana the detailing was excellent. The tsuka was well wrapped and the fittings all snug and secure. The Tsuba was very nice in a simplistic but elegant blackened iron design.

The blade was your basic utilitarian 1060 carbon steel without hamon but with a bo-hi. Nothing fancy but functional. The blade came sharp with no nicks or rolled edges.

The sword possessed a point of balance at about 14.5 centemetres from the base of the tsuba.

First impressions of my katana purchase are nothing but positive. The seller's communications were excellent, the packaging was perfect, shipping was fast and the product seems well made with a good attention to detail. Cutting test to follow but for a $78 investment this seems like a no brainer for any novice back yard cutter.

Thanks Ryan!

Update - March 27

Having gone into the woods this past weekend for some archery practice I took along the katana to finally do some cutting.Usual suspects were water filled plastic bottles, an old bass wood arrow and some branches off a dead tree. Despite my terrible technique the sword was more than adequate. I then took some strikes at the trunk of a deadfall tree despite my initial trepidation. The blade held up quite well after being used as a glorified ax. The final test was a piece of dried wood in the shape of a Y. It was quite hard and felt like a piece of driftwood.

Ignore my lack of form as it is a work in progress but despite my inabilities the blade did OK. No chips or rolled edges but did have some scuffs from the abuse but that was expected. Tsuba seemed to loosen just a little bit but was barely noticable.For a sub $100 blade I have no complaints.

1 comment:

Steve said...

very good write up on the your sword. Looks like you saved some $$ on it because the ebay people are selling it for $89 and up. I bought this Gil Hibben sword through True Swords. They have good prices. I sure would like to get Kit Rae's sword the Avoloch with damascus blade. . red leather wrapped on the hilt. Gil's sword and Kit's sword are very similiar.