Trying to choose a practical katana

Discussion in 'General Weapons & Armour' started by Aragorn Elessar, May 12, 2004.

  1. Aragorn Elessar

    Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar

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    I'm trying to choose a katana that I'd get. I'm looking at carbon steel, differentially tempered, practical/functional katanas. I don't really know where else to look other than all those Paul Chan katanas around the web and dealers.

    If I'm getting one of those, I'm trying to decide on whether to get the Practical Katana (1070GT), the Practical Plus (2073GT) or the Practical Fantasy (2162GT).

    I like the Practical Fantasy most, but I think the handle is a tad bit too long for my tastes. The Practical Plus is almost perfect, but for the matte finish on the sheath. And I think the Practical Katana is too plain... The Plus and Fantasy are about the same price (around $250-270), while the Practical is about $100 cheaper... I think the blade is not that much different, but the Plus and the Fantasy use more traditional fittings and finishes on the rest of the sword, while the Practical one uses cheaper imitations, hence cheaper (though by $100?). The Plus and the Fantasy has leather wraps for the handle, more furnishings, etc.

    And suggestions? Comments? Experience with any one of these? Or should I look for something else?
     
  2. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    The Paul Chen katanas are really good value for money. Not that I have experience with them, but I've read tons about it. Indeed, they are diff tempered with the original clay tempering methods. The only problem with the PC practical katana is that the Habaki, the piece between the blade and handle, shood be constructed of bronze, not of plastic. It really spoils the authentic look for me. The +katana has a propper copper fitting. The other main difference between the Practical and Practical + is that the +katana can desebled, in that the handle can be undone form the tang, just like in every decent top-price katana can. (just checked, it seems the new-generation Practical has a copper habaki as well). The general opinion is however, that the practicals are a bit too straight for a traditional katana; as known, they shood be curved, however the practicals just slightly do so, and have been called Niniato ('ninja-swords', if that is something...) in the past.

    There is, however an alternative; Last Legend Katanas. They also supply hand-forged Katanas, for prices we normal people can pay. Sorry, but I am not allowed to link to the retail site, but I will PM you on that one... Anyway, they sell katanas from $260, all the way up to about a $1000. Anyway, their diff-tempered swords are a bit more expensive (from $350), but you will get a bit more sword for that, to my opinion, and a bit more design choice, as well. Anyway, it is your money.

    I hope that I have been a bit of help, AE
     
  3. Jessehk

    Jessehk The introverted

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    Im also looking for a katana. practical would be nice, but it's not hugely important. Let me nkow what you find out. :)
     
  4. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

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    Jesse; the web is full of katanas; from Kit Rae style all the way to the top-end folded metal super blades the Samurai were used to. For a sword looking like a katana, you always can get a "cold steel/stainless steel" version from like $60. there are tons of those on the web, especially from china and spain. Don't expect quallity, however. The first thing you could call usable is indeed the "practical Katana" from Paul Chen/Hanwei that shood be around $170 bottom-price. Then there are the two variations on that; the practical fantasy and practical plus, which add about $70-100 to the bill. That will get you full-tang, diffirentially tempered katanas. Diff-tempering is a technique in which the sharp side of the sword is hardened more than the blunt side of the sword, by using clay in the tempering process. It shows on a sword as a different coloured metal on the blade. Cheaper blades will also show this difference, however is achieved by acid-etching. Anyway, next you will get the Last Legend katanas in various shapes and sizes (you get to choose your size at LL). Next are the blades made out of folded steel, new ones begin around $600 and go all the way up to whatever money you have in your bank account. About $4000-$10000 will get you a new Japanese dedicated swordsmith piece, more will get you an old (pre-WWII) katana, out of range for all of us...

    If you don't want to spend the money of a Paul Chen sword, I can sugest two options for lowering the pricetag; first, go for a single-handed blade (Shoto katana or Wakizashi; sp?) that normally saves about $50 on a lower priced sword. And then there are the iaito-swords. Iaito is a sport, all about wielding your katana without opponent. The swords used are normally made out of lighter materials, but mostly a full tang, for the better handling. They sure do look good, but are hopelessly bad cutters, as in they will deform upon impact in any way possible. The iaito-katanas begin cheaper and if you are in it for the looks and the occasional swoosh, that will do the job perfectly.

    ***Aragorn Elesar, I forgot one more difference between the Practical and the plus; the standard has a fake-rayskin handle wrapping, whereas the plus features genuine rayskin leather. Indeed, with the cotton top wrapping, it is less than half-visible, but then again, the real stuff is so much better... Sorry, for not mentioning it before, completely forgot about it.
     
  5. Aragorn Elessar

    Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar

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    No problem Turambar! I figured that out that bit pretty much early on, and that's one of the reasons why I'm leaning towards the Practical Plus. And it actually shows in the pictures that I've seen of the two. The standard one's fake rayskin looks too white and are very plastic-sque, too fake for me if I'm forking out for an almost $200 sword.

    I'm now pretty interested in the Last Legend katanas though, after your suggestion, even though they do jack up the price I have to pay by more than 50%... but seems like they're quite a bit nicer for the price
     
  6. Jessehk

    Jessehk The introverted

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    Thanks Turambar!

    I take Karate at a traditional dojo, so I know about Iaido and Kenjitzue (sp?). (we also have kobudo, I might start it).

    I didn't realise however, that Iaido katana's were in a class by themselves.
    I was going to buy for display purposes only, and like you said "and the occasional swoosh".

    thanks for the info, I'll continue my search.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2004
  7. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    I say skip all those swords and go straight for a Paul Chen Tokugawa katana. Slightly more expensive than the PPK, but much better in quality.
     
  8. Aragorn Elessar

    Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar

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    Justice, is the Paul Chen Tokugawa really that much better? I'm thinking of a Last Legend Mk II, which costs $360, the Tokugawa I can get find going for $260. So it's a $100 difference... but it seems like (at least feels like) the LL katanas are less a mass produced sword compared to the Paul Chen swords... and it seems like LL katanas have more attention put into them... do you really think that the PC Tokugawa is really a much better katana? One concern I have is that it doesn't really have a good curve to it. But I do prefer leather wrap on the grip over cotton.
     
  9. Justice

    Justice New Member

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    I've never PERSONALLY handled the LL katanas, and I have been told they are a bit better finished than the Paul Chen ones, but I personally think the Paul Chen fittings look better. The tsubas on the LL's feel sort of cheap to me, at least in appearence.

    Also, some of the lower LL's are not differentially tempered, but hardened like a European sword, which lends to the lower price but higher quality looking sword. All of the Paul Chen swords are differentially tempered.

    The Tokugawa is better than the PPK for certain, but I cannot completely compare it to an LL.
     
  10. Aragorn Elessar

    Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar

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    Thanks for the comment Justice... if I'm to get the LL katanas, I'd definitely only go for the differentially tempered ones, and as far as I know only the iaito and the Mk I, all the other LL katanas are differentially tempered... and all of the differentially tempered LL are more expesive than any of the practical series from Paul Chen. In any case, your comments has helped with my decision (when I reach it) so thanks a lot
     
  11. Thorbjorn

    Thorbjorn New Member

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    Were it my money, I'd agree with Justice, the Tokugawa is a nice piece. I had a PPK and loved it (gave it to a dear friend who needed some serious cheering up).

    If you like the LL, the Tsunami looks pretty cool, though not sure about the furniture and the 3 Mekugi thing...
     
  12. Aragorn Elessar

    Aragorn Elessar Envinyatar

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    Justice and Thorbjorn you might have just convinced me to go for the Paul Chen Tokugwa... and the fact that it's $100 cheaper than the cheapest LL differentially tempered katana is no small reason either...
     
  13. Thingol

    Thingol New Member

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    but, is the Tokugawa battle-ready, I mean is it ready for cutting practice??
     
  14. †Magus†

    †Magus† The Hunter

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    I have the practical plus 2 and it is extremely nice.

    Full contact use all the way!
     
  15. Gregorius0202

    Gregorius0202 The Bronze Warrior

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    I own a practical plus, and it's great. I've cut through metal with it enough to rip gaping holes in the low-quality medieval blades I own, but have done no more than get this sucker dirty, due to lack of appreciation for the fine blade on my part...

    The Tokugawa ACTUALLY has the exact same blade as the PPK, Justice... The differences is primarily in tsuba, and many other small details... At least, that's what I thought I read. If anyone is actually interested in some full reviews on the Paul Chen swords, buzz around the search Engine over at the sword forum international, and there should be plenty to pick from:D

    -Gregory-
     
  16. slash

    slash Guest

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    get a LL KATANA. I own the MK1 AND THE MK11, i own two of the paul chens i own the practical and the tokugawa. LL overall are just better swords . at my dojo where i go every friday, all my senseis have LL katanas. if you want a light good katana that is better than all of the paul chens andcheaper than almost all of them then i would recomend the LL mk1. it is not diff-tempered but it doesnt have to be because the blade is handmade. unlike paul chen where his swords blades are factory made so he has to diff-temper his to make them worth something.if you are going to get a katana get a LL katana . they are better in qaulity. the paul chen fittings look better because they are made in china and in china they can do what they wnat to something and make it look awsome but overall it is still just something really cheap that looks good. LL's fittings ,blades,ect. are all handmade. overall the LL is a better blade.
     
  17. Thingol

    Thingol New Member

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    which one do you own, with or without bohi???
     
  18. †Magus†

    †Magus† The Hunter

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    Alright get a Chen. They are the best that are out their for the price. If you need a practical katana get a Paul Chen.
     
  19. Balthor Stoneface

    Balthor Stoneface Dwarf metal guitarist

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    If you want a really good Katana, get a paul chen tournament issue katana. These things can cut through 4 cinderblocks without stalling!
     
  20. Gregorius0202

    Gregorius0202 The Bronze Warrior

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    I'd have to say that "4 cinderblocks" is a bit of a wild guess... Do you mean it can "Break through" four cinderblocks? Because clean cuts would be unlikely.

    -Gregory-