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Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

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Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Kitsune » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:40 am

REVIEW WRITTEN NOV 21 2010

EDIT CUTTING RESULTS NOV 23 2010



Part One of the Ryan Sword Review is here
http://forum.sword-buyers-guide.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1338

Introduction

Well this is my second sword review so please bear with me. As you saw in the first part of my review I wanted something Cheap and low end that could stand in for my expensive swords and I wouldn't need damage them when I was cutting various targets in my back yard.

As you may or may not have noticed during the First part of the review, I had laid out the facts of what we could see on the Internet about Ryan Swords, and that their most Staunch competitor was wiwingti (Yes regardless of what you think, two companies who compete for sales of Similar Products. In this case swords, Are actually competitors. That's a Textbook definition)

Many of the supporters of Wiwingti sword supply (by this I mean his buyers, not people siding in an argument) wanted it known that at the time of his review Marc (Wiwingti) Had not been selling swords. It was in fact the Ryan sword argument which had caused him to become a seller.

Clearly I didn't have all of the story here.... so in an effort to find out what had happened, I decided to go to the source and contacted Marc directly.......

Hello Marc

My Name is Fraser (Ftahleson on the forum) I am a fellow Canadian from the West Coast

First of all I would like to say I have not contacted you sooner, because I didn't want to make you mad. And I didn't want to start on the wrong foot. Simply put.. I have no association with Ryan Swords but was reviewing their CURRENT 50$ Product line. I tried to keep things as Unbiased as possible. But that can be difficult.

My First part of a Three part review was on the 42.88$ Unsharpened Iaido sword they provide.
I did a lot of digging on this before I did buy and the review the swords....
I found that the primary voice against Ryan Sword as a company was you and your youtube Videos. All of the evidence pointed towards you being another sword seller who wanted to discredit Ryan Swords and as such would be happy to provide an alternative sword provided by you.

I would like to point out I did my absolute best to simply state facts and not to say anything bad about you.

However What I didn't realize was the actual history was of you providing the review PRIOR to becoming a Sword Dealer. Which I would like to make clear in the Second part of the review Which will be on the 46.88$ Sharp Katana (Which is in the same class of the original sword you received).

I am not asking for you to Like his product.. in fact far from it. I would be most appreciative if you could tell me what actually hapned. Did you ever receive compensation and if you have any pictures or links to any reviews you wrote at the time about that product. I am quite curious to see if there are still any common defects in his current products.

I would hope that you would read my review and if you have any comments I would love to hear them feel free to e-mail me. It seems that Ryan Swords has advanced some since you baught. Their product is better than before.. but that wouldn't be hard to beat. I can say that what I found was a blade that appeared Safe.... and Useable... In spite of the numerous defects I found. Though I wouldn't be willing to chance much more than 50$ + Shipping on one of their items given what I have seen

The review I wrote is here.
http://forum.sword-buyers-guide.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=1338

I would also like your permission to put a link in my Second Part that leads to your web site as an alternative place to buy a sword from.. Your priced appear quite reasonable to me. My only concern with your site is the 80$ USD shipping to Canada (Is that the shipping costs for Paul Chen Swords? because that nearly doubles the price of some of them)

I hope you understand that I am just trying to give a clear picture to everyone of what is coming out of Ryan Swords right now. as compared to a few years ago. And hopefully you can provide alternatives for Canadians that would land in a similar price range to some of their stuff.

Kindest regards
Fraser


Given that I did not ask permission to copy his response I will cover the basics of our conversation in the next section. as this is in part the "History" of these swords......

Historical overview

Again in an effort to get to the bottom of what WAS happening back then (October of 2008) which is when this Youtube Video was posted on the net http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jz4UbrUUBZI

At the time, Marc was new to the sword world and wanted to buy a good sword for cutting with.
i bought them because of the can chop iron thing

He had originally purchased two blades, and followed that up with a second order of two more....... Resulting in a total of 4 swords costing around 600$ Total
cutting plastic bottles injured the blade, so, that false pub made me very mad

I took this statement to mean that because these blades "Can cut Iron" they should have been able to cut plastic Bottles, but they couldn't and Marc felt that was False Advertisement.
once i've learned that, i then, couple of months after, became a sword dealer and promised myself to sell only high end swords.

It was after this founding of his company "Wiwingti sword supply" That Ryan started saying the bad press was due to Lies being told by another Dealer of swords, being of course Marc/Wiwingti Sword supply.

Apparently around a year ago Ryan Actually offered to refund Marc his money, but when Marc contacted him, he never responded back. To this date Marc has never received his refund, Or any compensation for that matter.

I had asked Marc to read Part One of my review and I think he did, because given my concerns of not wanting to sound like a Shill or Plant for Ryan swords.. he simply said "I understand" And he seems to get that I don't want to appear that I am picking sides in a Two Year old fight that is unlikely to ever see an end.

I think I got the most anyone will ever get out of him as an acknowledgement towards Ryan Swords
since that debate they've changed quality(maybe)
Which quite clearly shows he can recognize that every manufacturer out there is getting better at their sword construction just to stay alive. But he is still rightfully apprehensive about the products quality.

Of course After two years Wiwingti Sword supply is doing well with quite a loyal customer base.
Bear in mind he said he would only sell the higher quality swords... http://www.wiwingtiswordsupply.com/
He has some very decent prices, however they are definitely far off from the 50$ Mark.

Full Disclosure

I would like to remind all you readers that at the time I wrote this section (Nov of 2010) It has been two years since the events transpired and that Video was posted. And the last posted response about how scarey and poorly built Ryan Swords or how unsafe these products are, was actually written 2 Days ago

In December of 2008 the arguments were going on at the Sword Forums, http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/ryan-swords.html and these comments and arguments have continued on right up to Sept 2010, with very little being said of the fact new product lines have come and gone over the 2 years and they are arguing points on two separate products from the same company.

I am not asking you to buy Ryans product, nor am I asking you to Ignore Wiwingti. I merely ask you to take both our experiences and weight your decision accordingly. You have every right to not want to deal with them because of ethical reasons, or fear that the product may still be substandard. But Also understand that there has been a Full two years where this seller has made remarkable advancements and has started to produce a fairly reasonable product. While the Visuals of the End of a rat tail Tang are disturbing, and the sounds of those loos fittings are darn right scary. I honestly think My last review showed the absolute bottom rung of the current production. And these blades are at least now safe. (Well as "Safe" as swords are supposed to be)

No actual account had been taken of the changes in the product since the original bad reviews

Again with all due honesty My 240$ investment does give me reason to have a little bias in hopes I didn't waste my money, Thats what My friends opinions added to mine is all about. Hes more experienced in swords, and he has nothing to lose or gain by helping me review it.

And this is also why I have produced FULL disclosure on the History Of what hapned to Marc


Initial Impressions
Image
The Ryan333 was VERY loose fitting in its saya when I unsheathed it. And it appeared straight to the eye as well. A quick tap on the Tsuka again yielded no loose fitting sounds. It handled nicely given my limited experience with Katana. When I resheithed it, it slid loosely into place compared to my very Tight Oni Swords which bothered me.

After closer inspection and handling, it seemed to slide into the saya more tightly (Which makes no sense to me). With it having absolutely no hamon line it is defiantly through hardned.

After a good thorough going over we measured it up against the advertised numbers vrs actual numbers

Statistics
Blade/Nagasa Length: 28.7" (Actual length 28.5")
Handle/Tsuka Length: 10.6" (Actual Length 11")
Overall Length: 40.6" (Actual Length 39.75")
Guard/Tsuba Width: 3 1/8" W X 3" H
POB (Point of Balance): 5.5" from Tsuba
COP (Center of Percussion):
Weight: 204.5 oz (1036g)

Components

The Blade/Nagasa
Image
Image

The blade is AISI 1060 Carbon Steel with a Bohi.
Point of Balance matches perfectly with the Sharpened Ryan560 I have as its counterpart.
The Blade has a Very nice flex to it with an immediate return to true (Original position)

The Handle/Tsuka

Is of 2 Pin Construction
Though an obvious Hardwood (though the seller doesn't state what kind)
The "Genuine Ray Skin" Could be real, but its of a far lesser quality than the Oni Forge Swords. The Bamboo Pins stand out in contrast with the Black Same.
And finally the wrapping could be tighter (As before I can Deliberately roll it with my fingers, but its not so loose to be a to be a problem.)
The Dragon Manuki fit snugly and do not shift
Image

ghost wrote:Non-alternating ito wraps on all the tsukas.


The Guard/Tsuba

The Tsuba was chosen to be a nice Cherry Blossom, but the gold paint could have been done better on it.
In the above Picture, the Sharp Katana is in the center. You might notice it is the only one without an Obvious Cast line on its Tsuba.

The Pommel/Fuchi-Kashira

Is of a simple flat black and undecorated design. The fittings at the edge of the Tsuba also are the same unassuming design. This swords fittings are tight with absolutely NO play in them at all.

After my cut tests I noticed a similar movement in the Fuchi as before

Ftahleson wrote:However after some usage I notice by happen stance that if I deliberately applied pressure against it with my thumb the Fuchi would shift aprox a Millimeter. (Not by accident only by direct intent, and there is no loose fittings issues aside from this) After Dissembling my Katana The Loose Fuchi was due to the One sized fits most fittings they used. This I fixed by placing a VERY small dab of gorilla glue just to avoid shift in the future.


Likely its due to the same lack of securing in the One Size fits most realm of his Fittings. So the simple fix should hold. It is worth noting with all the cut testing I did on my Unsharp today as well... That fitting did not shift after I had secured it.

Its also a good point to say it was -16 today (Freezing is 0) so the cold was likely to effect the metal in my swords to a certain extent as well.

The Scabbard/Saya

Definitely a Hard wood and matches up with the sword well.
The wrapping is nice but because it was not wrapped in plastic it has a couple burrs on it where the wrap has been pulled a little.
As stated above there is a minor tightness issue which may actually be fixed (oddly).
And the Side of the Saya has a scuff in it (that doesn't show up in pictures) but it is pretty minor.
Image
And found Random Crud inside it......

Handling Characteristics

With my limited comparison to Oni Forge and Paul Chen Katana. This one does feel most comfortable for me. And the Dragonfly Tonbo (Original version) seems to handle the closest to this blade for me. Though It more accurately handles like a mixture of my Oni Karasu and Oni Tonbo, with leanings towards the Tonbo. It is very easy to hear the Bohi affect the air on a good cut, and was exceptionally easy to handle. (Bear in mind I have only actually been using my Katana for the past month, prior to this is was Viking Blades and Axes) I may be 5'9" and 240lbs but I don't have a lot of upper body strength, and have been using a 30lb bow all summer so its exercising different muscles. It feel a little heavy on my forearm but comparable to my Paul Chen Practical Viking sword (LOL and thats one handed) With two hands it is very easy to handle for a long period of time. It defiantly seemed lighter than BOTH the Paul Chen Practical Blades owned by my friend.

Evan - "Its quite light, and handles very closely to the Oni Tonbo"

When Compared to the Unsharp version of a Ryan Sword, it doesn't handle exactly the same, but close enough.

Test Cutting

Pool Noodle: Nice Clean easy cuts every time (When Noodle cooperates and doesn't try to get away)
Plastic Bottles 2L: Simple Clean Cuts (Even for a novice Like myself)
Milk Jug: Simple Clean Cuts

Tatami Mats: Nice Clean Cut, simple matter of going through a 2" Grass Mat
Cardboard: Not Yet Done
Additional requested Cut Test added after original post
2x4 Stud: .5 to .75 Inch (Repeatedly) Penetration yielded no damage to blade
(However Fuchi Loosened after several hits completed)

Image
Image

Conclusions

This sword is worth the money you spend on it, I likely would have paid more than 200$ for it plus shipping for a similar item. And I find it very comparable to a Paul Chen Practical Katana in quality (Except the fittings which Hanwie is superior on). As a cutter I don't have to be concerned about damaging a expensive prized posession. At 50$ + Shipping its a steal. (For the Blade alone, this is worth it)

Evan - My Paul Chen Practical Katana Gen 3, Has Hard Plastic Manuki, Plastic Fuchi, A Resin Handle (with the Same imprinted on it) Brass fittings and A nice steel Tsuba. A nicer Tsuka Ito was well. You can really see where they cut corners to make the other parts better for the price, Sacrifice everything except the Blade, Tsuba, and Wraps to keep the price down. I also noticed the same loosen off near the fuchi in my Paul Chen Katana. I have to say that after years of abuse, I feel confident in saying I abuse my sword, there are very minor issues with it. I think the Ryan Blade will stand up as well..... Ive never taken on a 2x4. But I did take on a 2" Branch with my Practical Katana.

Pros
- Easiest Customers Service I have EVER HAD Bar None
- Inexpensive at 47$ + 43$ Shipping = 90$ (To the US and Canada)
- Customizable with various fittings and options for colors
- Balance Point Matches the Un sharp Katana Identically
- 1060 Blade
- Nice Sharp Blade out of the box
- Comparable to the Other name brands of Double or even Tipple the cost.
- No FAKE Hamon

Cons
- Sellers Reputation varied dramatically depending on who you talk to.
- Fittings could have been a higher quality
- This is the second sword that the Fuchi needed to be snugged in a little.
- Measurement discrepancies between web site and Actual Sword can be off by a full inch
- Handles Similarly to the Un sharp Katana, but not identically
- Wraps "Could" Have been Tighter
- Saya Arrived scuffed up, Could have fit the sword better
- No Hamon line at all.
- "Genuine Ray Skin" is questionable
ghost wrote:Con: Non-alternating ito wraps on all the tsukas.

- Ultimately the fittings and Tsuka 'will' need to be maintained/replaced
(Possibly another seppa added to shore up that Fuchi)

The Bottom Line

You get what you pay for in this sword (And then some) While its not defect free, it is defiantly safe, and worth the money you paid. Ultimately your not getting ripped off. I am in fact buying one for my wife this Christmas, My Friend is doing the same (And getting one for himself) And I have actually recommended these swords as a low end cutter (Starter Sword) to Three of my closest friends.

I asked Evan Given all the swords we had on hand.... What would he prefer if he were new and not already content with The Paul Chen Practical Line....
Evan - If I were new, I would Prefer the Oni Forge Tonbo, Then Ryans Katana, Followed By Both The Practical Katana, and ending with the scary "Thumb Cutter" Oni Karasu.

Its a Great Starter sword, a Good Steel at 1060 and wont break the bank at under 100$. Just have to take care your not expecting too much for 50$ Like I said.. its a good start or beater sword... (Just make sure to remember due to all the low end pieces its gonna need adjustments over time.)
Last edited by Kitsune on Tue Nov 23, 2010 7:07 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Kitsune » Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:41 am

I will place the rest of the Cutting Pictures and Info here ASAP

OK so the rest of the cutting tests are done.... I still have not done my cutting video though, Once I do I will take the sword apart and show you inside it.

Jugs seem like really sad targets to me. Ahh well..
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It sliced right through the cap with no problems... Big surprise after I did the 2x4 on lunch break yesterday.

Unlike Marc My Katana cut bottles just fine
Image
The one on the left I was standing too far back from when I cut.
My ineptitude aside these swords did fine.
Last edited by Kitsune on Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby chrisperoni » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:11 am

It would be interesting to see you do a follow up review in a year, or in 6 months, something like that. Marc Ridgeway's done this and it was very well received (I'm sure others have too- but his 1 year later review on the famed bamboo came to mind just now)

This would give everyone a chance to see how these are holding up and really get to see if they are a good value. It would also give the reviewer an opportunity to revisit any early impressions and make considerations after having had the time to 'learn' the sword.

I think every review on a newly purchased sword that will be used not just displayed should have a follow up done after around 6 months to a year.

just a thought
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby ghost » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:40 am

1 More Con: Non-alternating ito wraps on all the tsukas...hmm in fact they all go in the same direction. There is also something wrong with the bottom-most sword. There are 3 ito overlaps right near the final knots and look very loose. I would be careful cutting with these as they probably will loosen over time.

I do see the cast tsubas that you mentioned and those really bad fittings.
handmadeswords also have similar fittings except are mounted with iron tsubas and have better wraps.

The musashi lines are around these prices as well but clearly outclass these ryan swords in term of quality.
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Kitsune » Mon Nov 22, 2010 1:51 am

chrisperoni wrote:It would be interesting to see you do a follow up review in a year, or in 6 months, something like that. Marc Ridgeway's done this and it was very well received (I'm sure others have too- but his 1 year later review on the famed bamboo came to mind just now)

This would give everyone a chance to see how these are holding up and really get to see if they are a good value. It would also give the reviewer an opportunity to revisit any early impressions and make considerations after having had the time to 'learn' the sword.

I think every review on a newly purchased sword that will be used not just displayed should have a follow up done after around 6 months to a year.

just a thought


Actually I like that Idea.... I do have plans for taking these swords and using them On camping trips and most of my cutting ect. I had planned on using these (Cheap) Blades to Learn better technique, Katana Maintnence and Modification...
I think I could work that all in there some how.... I have No intentions of replacing the Handles or Blades (Only fittings and wraps and such) Though it would be intresting to hold off on the Katana too see what happens.. and just Mod the Iaido and Wakizashi.....

I'll have to think on that one.. But its a great Idea.
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Kitsune » Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:28 am

ghost wrote:1 More Con: Non-alternating ito wraps on all the tsukas...hmm in fact they all go in the same direction. There is also something wrong with the bottom-most sword. There are 3 ito overlaps right near the final knots and look very loose. I would be careful cutting with these as they probably will loosen over time.

I do see the cast tsubas that you mentioned and those really bad fittings.
handmadeswords also have similar fittings except are mounted with iron tsubas and have better wraps.

The musashi lines are around these prices as well but clearly outclass these ryan swords in term of quality.


Thanks for the additional Con I'll add that
As for the Musashi Lines.... I'll have to take your word on that I havn't had one close at hand to inspect.
(Guessing you have because it can be hard to tell "quality" from pictures sometimes)

Having taken a quick jump over to Musashi website I checked a few pics and such

They appear to have the same Ito Wrap Style as mine do "Non Alternating"
http://www.musashiswords.com/shop/produ ... =10&page=1

However the only ones I could find that said they were 1060 Carbon Steel cost 79$
Everything else said "High Carbon" But not how much

Thats neither here nor there.... There are two Good reasons I didn't buy there

1) I wasnt a Member of this Forum at the time and didn't know about them.... (That I am aware of)
2) There isnt one sword on that website that actually Visually appeals to me. (Which Is Probably why I didnt remember them if I Did know about them)

Simply put.... I dont like the 'style' of their products (I'm sure most do though)

Thanks for the comments man... I think I might send a friend over to Musashi.. They look like his type of style.... And it would save him 8 Bucks or so. (If its in stock because aparently almost nothing is available)
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Crimsoned » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:39 am

Decent review although I would love to see more pictures of the blade, tsuka, nakago and inner tsuka construction.

You mention it's on par with a Hanwei Practical Katana in quality, would you mind putting money where your mouth is and say hit a 2" wooden dowel, or a 2"x4" with it, and report back if the blade was damaged?
I just have an issue with you saying it with out proper testing, grass matts and pool noodles can be cut easily and present 0 risk to the blade. Actually I can cut the pool noodle with my metal angle ruler, yes a ruler.

I just don't want people to be confused with your Hanwei quality par comparison, precisely in terms of itomaki being better on the Hanwei, fittings being better on the Hanwei, and of course blade going through Hanwei heat treatment which is worlds apart from budget $50-$100 swords.

Also the Musashi Shikarawa series have been upgraded since like later 2009 to have alternating ito, I and other forum members should be able to confirm this. I would say however these Musashi DH katanas have a very soft blade.
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Kitsune » Mon Nov 22, 2010 10:13 am

Crimsoned wrote:Decent review although I would love to see more pictures of the blade, tsuka, nakago and inner tsuka construction.

You mention it's on par with a Hanwei Practical Katana in quality, would you mind putting money where your mouth is and say hit a 2" wooden dowel, or a 2"x4" with it, and report back if the blade was damaged?


Sadly my Friend had an emergency and couldnt make it to the cut testing... We are about Half done. (I still want to do more mat cutting, Bottles, Milk Jugs and a Dowel I have here) I'll add on the 2X4 for you. Sadly I needed the other person for the camera. I shoud get to all of that Tuesday.... 2X4 I'll see about doing tonight though. I dont want to take the Handle appart until after this is done (Incase I break that end fitting puting it back together LOL)

I do plan on adding Hence the Saves Second Post slot. And trust me I really want to see in there as well.... I Plan on taking Both this and my Wakizashi apart at the same time....
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Crimsoned » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:56 am

Ftahleson wrote:
Crimsoned wrote:Decent review although I would love to see more pictures of the blade, tsuka, nakago and inner tsuka construction.

You mention it's on par with a Hanwei Practical Katana in quality, would you mind putting money where your mouth is and say hit a 2" wooden dowel, or a 2"x4" with it, and report back if the blade was damaged?


Sadly my Friend had an emergency and couldnt make it to the cut testing... We are about Half done. (I still want to do more mat cutting, Bottles, Milk Jugs and a Dowel I have here) I'll add on the 2X4 for you. Sadly I needed the other person for the camera. I shoud get to all of that Tuesday.... 2X4 I'll see about doing tonight though. I dont want to take the Handle appart until after this is done (Incase I break that end fitting puting it back together LOL)

I do plan on adding Hence the Saves Second Post slot.


Okay sounds good. Just be very careful, make sure the person holding the camera is at an appropriate distance or behind something.
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Re: Ryan Sword Review part 2 of 3 "Sharp Katana"

Postby Kitsune » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:12 pm

here you go man.. I hit this today at lunch.. Yesterday I accidentally struck My Godfred sword on a Dowel pin... I deffinately hit this as hard as my Godfred sword had connected the Doweling (remember I had intended a Good cut with My Godfed and had no clue Dowel was in the way.. so it hit pretty hard.

I knew I had a Peice of 2x4 at home (I had been using to make my temp cutting stand.)
Its marked as a 2x4 STUD

I hit it multiple times with My Ryans 50$ Katana

Image
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I atempted Solid Hits into an area which had 3 Close together Knots in the wood
Image
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Worst Damage Visible at the time was displacement of the Oil on my blade (easily seen in the -30 Windchill Weather)
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I Took pictured of the sword I used for this testing so you can confirm it is Neither the Practical Line Nor My Oni Swords

I had intended to Take pictured of the blade damage. However I could find none (Aside from minor scratched on the Sides of the blade and displaced oil.)

I stand by my general opinion of this sword....
The "Blade" is Strong enough (likely It can do the things I am Extremly relucatant to do to my Oni Tonbo just based on the sheer worth to me of the Oni Sword)

And my thoughts are the fittings are what will make this sword Fail (However it will likely be gradual loosening and shifting in these "One size fits most" parts)

Dont worry you guys can keep an eye on these swords.. they will be my project / Utilitarian pieces for a while.
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