Best Katana Reviews and Buyers Guide

Best Katana Reviews and Buyers Guide

As a Japanese sword enthusiast, the ultimate dream is to own the very best katana possible. You have saved up for years and are now ready to fulfill the fantasy of purchasing such a weapon. Or you already have a collection started and are looking for new models and styles to accompany what you already have.

Deciding which katana is the best to buy can be a daunting task. Early on in this process you probably found an overwhelming amount of information. There are so many swords to choose from, knowing which the best katana sword is for you can be difficult to decide.

Some believe that the best katana in the world is the real Japanese forged steel “Nihonto”. While these swords may be some of the best samurai swords ever made, not everyone has $4,000 to invest in a katana. These prices reflect the incredible skill of the blade-smith, but also the very strict rules the government has placed on sword makers. A swordsmith is only allowed to produce 2 swords a month in Japan, adding to their rarity and price.

Never fear, there are plenty of affordable options available to the rest of us! The danger with some of these options is how reliable the quality will be. The last thing you want is to invest your hard-earned cash into a less than a high-quality sword.

Luckily for you, we have put together this sword buying guide to help! Using our expert knowledge, years of experience, and tons of research, we have sourced and reviewed the best katana brands in the market. After reading this article, you will be confident knowing you will get the best samurai sword for the money.

Katana Reviews

We went through each price category and selected the top tier products. This was a daunting task that took weeks to complete because we wanted to make sure our research is complete and thorough. When we conducted our investigation, we:

  • Compared quality to cost ratio for every samurai sword.
  • Sought only durable and hard steel blade.
  • Asked about fittings and individual components to make sure they are sturdy. 
  • Looked at customer feedback and reviews from profesionals.
  • Checked who the manufacturer is and what is their reputation.
  • Excluded mediocre products and promoted the best.

I truly hope this review section is helpful and it address your every question. If you want to understand the basics of sword purchasing, we have a katana buyer’s guide further down in this post.

It explains our review process. I may help you reach a decision and narrow down your options, among our many recommendations.

We shall review katanas for all price ranges $100, $200, $300, $500, and $1000. There will be 5 katanas in each, and then we shall pick the top samurai sword for the budget. If you are into stylish looking swords, we will have an additional section for that. For special looks and design.

Best Katana Under $100

Most people are astonished to learn that you can find reliable, usable cutting swords for just 100 bucks. Technology finds more productive ways to populate the market with new products, at an increasingly lower cost.

1. Handmade Sword – Katana, Functional, Hand Forged, 1045/1060 Carbon Steel, Heat & Clay Tempered

Click to see the latest Amazon price.

Durability

Sharpness

Ergonomics

Custumization

Price for Value

This blade has the highest quality to cost ratio, in my assessment. Modest materials and build, at a very low cost – perfect for beginners.

I sincerely believe the sword is under-valued for what’s it worth! I think this is a functional cutter made from pretty resilient steel. The katana is battle-ready.

Granted, this is not a spring steel sword. But low-carbon steel (especially 1045) is pretty durable. Plus, this katana blade has been folded (by machine process) and heat-treated.

Sadly, the hamon is etched with acid, but it is hard to distinguish from real clay tempering.

Features Description

  • Type: Full-tang, functional, battle-ready.
  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel 1045 or 1060
  • Saya Material: Black lacquered wood.
  • Handle Material: Hardwood and ray skin.
  • Sori (curve): 1.8 cm
  • Overall Length: 40.5 inch / 104 cm
  • Blade Length: 28.3 inch / 70.5 cm
  • Handle Length: 10.6 inch / 27 cm

Durability. I am not surprised to find the CS-1045 at this price range. It has the highest durability as far as standard carbon-steel goes. Machine-folded carbon steel by bending and pounding the material to give it strength. CS-1060 is another option for this katana (slightly lower resistance, but sharper). For me, 1060 offers the best combo of properties.

Do not try to bend and flex the sword. Carbon steel is not elastic, it will stay bent.

Sharpness. The sword comes with quite a sharp edge (not razor sharp). The 1045 can dull faster than the other CS variants. Don’t expect to cut hard things. The 1060 preserves a better edge, compared to 1045. You can cut extensively with this steel edge.

Balance. From what I heard, the blade is slightly lacking in this area. The katana’s balance is shifted a bit forward. It seems a bit heavy at first, but the handle and wrap are pleasing to hold. I heard from some users the contrary: that it is uncomfortable.

Finishing & Components. The blade is full-tang and firmly inserted in the wooden handle. No wobbling and play. The insert pins are roughly cut, and the habaki seem cheap, but the handle has a nice finishing. The blade slides neatly in the sheath.

The packaging is decent and secure, with foam. I find the decorative artwork pretty simplistic even though some may prefer clean design. The tsuba handguard is highly customizable, and you can choose many designs. Check the product image link to see a list of handguard models from Amazon. On purchasing, you can pick which one you would like for your katana.

What do users have to say? I asked a bunch of people who bought it what they think. The biggest complaints were: Not sharp enough, mediocre balance.

For a CS blade, I find it efficient for daily practice and cutting objects of medium size. When I practice, I prefer a slightly duller sword. Check this link to see what weird quirk most buyers found with the product.

PROS

  • Good Quality to price ratio.
  • Good steel, decent cutter.
  • Well-fitted, no loose parts.
  • Good care and transport.

CONS

  • Balance is mediocre.
  • Sharp, but not razor sharp.

2. Auway 40″ Fully Handmade High Carbon Steel Full Tang Blade Japanese Katana Samurai Sword

Check to see the latest Amazon price.

Durability

Sharpness

Ergonomics

Custumization

Price for Value

My impression after some extended research about this item: it is a battle-ready sword, a practical cutter, and a beautiful piece of decor & display. There are a few complaints about the box casing, the wooden sheath, and the tang.

But after some close inspection, I found the blade is indeed full-tang. Aside from that, the blade is awesome, with lots of options in terms of customization.

The golden katana is my favorite, but I wouldn’t take it to the mat, even though it can certainly withstand any cutting test. It’s just that it would be a shame to have the paint rub off.

Product Features

  • Type: Full-tang, functional, battle-ready.
  • Blade Material: Carbon Steel 1060
  • Guard Material: High-Quality Alloy.
  • Saya Material: Hardwood.
  • Handle material: Hardwood and ray skin.
  • Overall length: 40 inch / 102 cm
  • Blade length: 29 inch / 72 cm
  • Handle length: 10.4 inch / 26.5 cm
  • Weight: 2.6 lbs / 1.18 kg

Durability. The blade material is CS-1060, which is a good compromise between resistance and sharpness. It feels sturdy and trustworthy. You can cut fruit, paper, plastic, but I wouldn’t try to cleave thick wood. All things considering, this blade is 1 1/4 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick – that is why I personally granted it extra durability points. Solid construction, thick 1060 carbon blade. Too bad, it is not heat-treated!

Do not try to bend the sword. Carbon steel is not elastic (especially 1060), it will destructively bend.

Sharpness. Customers commend the sharpness of this katana. The sword can cut through soft/medium targets, which won’t stand a chance in hell against its super-sharp edge, but the blade is not razor sharp. I think this is a good thing, since razor-like blade may dent if they aren’t powdered steel, or tempered pure tool/spring steel. I rated this product highly on the sharpness scale (compared to similar items).

Balance. The sword is full-tang. A lot of customers doubted this information since they only found one wooden pin (mekugi) on the handle. But when I checked this personally, I found the second pin under the cotton wrapping and decorative “menuki”.

Finishing & Components. My biggest concern about production katanas is whether the parts fit tightly. But this sword seems strong in that regard.

  • There is a golden katana version, but the gold is baked and it will fade away if you cut stuff. If you desire a sublime decorative item, get the gold one. But for practice and cutting, I would stick to the plain katana.
  • The blade has a fuller (“hi”) but lacks a hamon line. It is heavily oiled upon delivery.

What do users have to say? Negatives. I found a few complaints. For instance, the sword was too oily upon delivery. (Most katana need to be oiled for better preservation). Someone complained that the container case was chipped on one side. Another buyer said the sword’s tang had a bit of rust. Apparently, the saya is not the best of quality. I personally don’t care about the case, oil, or the tang, I was relieved not to hear complaints about the blade itself.

Positives. Most buyers were pleased and spoke highly about this item. The biggest pros were: sharpness, robustness over time, beauty, tight fittings. To see more customization options, user reviews, and the latest price, it the product on this Amazon review page.

PROS

  • Very good quality to cost ratio.
  • Decent steel. Tough blade, good cutter.
  • Fittings are tight.
  • Beautiful aesthetics.
  • Wide range of choice, customization.

CONS

  • Poor maintenance. Heavily oiled on delivery.
  • Mediocre container parts (wooden sheath and box).
  • Sharp, but not razor sharp. Some don’t like this.

3. Sidowe Golden Dragon Tsuba Handmade Japanese Samurai Katana (High CS 1060)

Sidowe Jap Blades

Features and Specs:

  • Type: Full-tang, hand forged, battle-ready and very sharp.
  • Blade material: Carbon Steel 1060 (probably treated)
  • Handle material: Hardwood and real ray-skin.
  • Scabbard material: Black lacquered wood.
  • Overall length: 41 inch / 104 cm
  • Weight: 2.31 lbs / 1.05 kg

A beautiful, battle-ready, razor-sharp weapon. What more can I say? My focus is on proven, market tested katanas that have pleased the people who purchased them. So far, this is the first one I saw with no one-star or two-star ratings.

Durability. Around 25% of people who bought this say it’s a “solid sword”. The CS 1060 is decent in my opinion, but tempering, quenching, and heat-treatment can make it excellent. Likely the blade is treated. Too bad I wasn’t able to learn what kind of treatment they use. Hope I get an answer soon.

Sharpness. I expected CS 1060 to be of medium sharpness, but this impressive edge passed even the paper cutting test. The seller advertises it can cut through bamboo, but people I asked did not confirm this. From what I have seen most katanas can slash bamboo. I would be surprised if it could not, since it scored perfectly in cutting plastic gallon jugs and cantaloupe.

Balance. The overall balance is satisfactory, and it feels great holding it. This katana weighs slightly over 1 kg, which is on the lighter end of the spectrum.

Finishing & Components. Two questions I always ask are: How tight is the wrapping? How well fitted are the tang and the handle? The wrapping is tight. 

  • Box contains with a sand packet, to tighten fittings… In case the blade loosens position in the sheath.
  • Gold color finishing, cool dragon design on saya.
  • No “hi” groove. 
  • Advantages: 2 year warranty, 24 hour customer service.

What do users have to say?

Negatives. A buyer reported unevenness and air bubbles under the scabbard coating, near the graphic print (the saya). The sheath should be smooth and visually appealing. Someone told me there is a small difference in how the sword looks and what the advertising images portray. The gold color is not accurately represented.

Positives. Most third party reviews are great. Loads of pleased customers. I found no complaints regarding functionality and practical use. Buyers seemed happy about this “razor-sharp, solid sword with awesome balance”. The few criticisms I found are focused towards the scabbard design, coloring, and advertisement. Lots of people used this katana for photo shoots and decor, apparently.

Check it out on Amazon.

PROS

  • Excellent katana, at a very low price.
  • Many happy buyers.
  • Solid carbon steel, good hardness.

  • Wrappings are tight. Real ray-skin.
  • Razor-sharp edge.
  • Beautiful. Excellent attention to detail.

CONS

  • Scabbard of mediocre quality.
  • Product may not be accurately represented in pictures.

Finest Katana Under $200

The really good sword start at this price range. About $200 is what people will spend on a quality sword. 

Katanas are in very high demand, and the market is saturated with manufacturers. That is a good thing since it keeps prices low and blade quality high.

At 200 dollars, we might find Spring steel or T10 steel blades. I have seen companies advertise hand sharpening. We expect  attention to details and closer inspection.

I will set the bar higher for these products. So, let’s see which are the finest katana under 200 dollars.

Japanese Samurai Sword – Real Sharp Blade Folded 1095 High Carbon Steel Rosewood Saya

How a good sword looks like

Features and Specs:

  • Type: Full-tang, battle-ready and very sharp.
  • Blade material: Carbon Steel 1095, folded 15 times, clay-tempered, differentially hardened.
  • Handle material: Hardwood and real ray-skin.
  • Scabbard material: Black lacquered wood.
  • Overall length: 40.6 inch / 103 cm
  • Blade length: 26.7 inch / 70 cm
  • Handle length: 10.2 inch / 26 cm
  • Weight: 1.45 kg

I absolutely love this magnificent blade. Stunning and dangerous. I did not expect to find folded steel at this price range. But since I did, I reviewed and studied this item extensively. I hope you find this information helpful.

Durability. My initial reaction to CS-1095 was “Yikes!”. I generally don’t like brittle steel. But when I read more and learned that the steel is folded 15 times, clay-tempered, differentially hardened … my fears went away. Folding X times is the not traditional Japanese type of “folding”.

In steel production, folding is the process or enhancing and strengthening the material by reshaping the crystalline structure of the steel. It makes the molecular structure stronger. It reduces crack paths, fracture points, and negative impact of impurity spots.

Folding CS makes it incredibly strong. Clay-tempering and differential hardening are another thing I love about his katana.

Sharpness. Blade is very sturdy and sharp. The CS-1095 allows the edge to stay sharp for a long times. That means your katana will cut confidently for a long time. They folded the steel to eliminate structural problems and keep to strong. 

This katana aced the paper cutting test. It slashes through paper without drag. Even though it is sharp, it is not razor sharp. Some people told me they preferred it to be sharper.

Balance. The sword is heavier than what I am used to. Keep in mind, the average katana is about 1.1 kg. This magnificent sword weighs almost 1.5 kg. Mass translates to power, and I am a big guy, but I prefer lighter weapons.

Finishing & Components. Blade and handle are well designed and assembled together. No wobbling motion or chunkiness. Even after repeated cutting and abuse.

  • Dragon engraving on the blade.
  • Pre-oiled, plastic wrapped upon arrival.
  • Blade tip pattern is Chu Kissaki (average length).
  • No Bo-hi. But you can ask for one. They can customize this katana according to your every whim.
  • Clay tempered, real hamon.
  • Advertised to chop bamboo, small trees.
  • The bladesmith is Japanese, working for Chinese manufacturer.
  • Given that the blade comes from overseas, it takes a while to arrive, depending on where you live.
How to customize the katana?

Lots of people are interested and curious about this product. They asked about the full range of options. How to customize it? What is the process?

  1. Check out the full range of customization options here.
  2. You need to click on a link and order it from Amazon.
  3. Email the Shijian customer service directly or wait for them to email you back. You may email them before you order the sword from our site.
  4. Communicate through email. Once you select your custom katana components, they will tell you the full price. (it should not differ by much)
What do users have to say?

Negatives. We asked quite a few people who bought the sword. It appears the most common criticisms are about the scabbard (saya). It is too loose and the blade may slide out. I guess you can’t score everything.

I expected problems with the loose saya since it is widespread in market variety katana. Traditionally, the blade smith first makes the sword than uses the sword to hollow out a piece of wood for the scabbard. Manufacturers mass-produce.

I found various other troubles about the saya: glue applied clumsily and over the top, general sloppiness. I personally care purely about the sword quality, and fittings matching neatly. So, I glossed over the scabbard pretty quickly.

Positives. The 5-star rating for this sword is above 80%. The majority of buyers are pleased they have bought it. What people like most about this katana: beauty, visual aspect, a wide range of customization, sturdiness and steel strength.

They have slightly different criteria of quality than me. I really do like the sword, but mostly because of the steel. This is a beautiful, strong, sharp weapon.

Check it out on Amazon.

PROS

  • Beautiful, stunning, good for decor.
  • Sharp, folded, hardened steel.
  • Tight fittings, except for saya and kashira.
  • Highly customized order. Pick anything.

CONS

  • A bit on the heavy side.
  • Scabbard has some problems: loose, not best of quality.

Katana Buyer’s Guide

Authentic Japanese swords did not get their legendary status by any accident. These famous weapons have a rich history of superior quality, magnificent craftsmanship, and fantastical stories that have captured our imaginations for centuries.

Nihonto katana, or swords made by Japanese master sword smiths using ancient techniques, have been forged since 14th century feudal Japan. These weapons were designed as life-long companions for the samurai it was made for and have gone down in history as some of the finest made swords, ever.

How to Find the Finest Katana

As we mentioned before, these katana come with an understandably high price point. They have a very strict definition that classifies them as “authentic”. Many katana on the market, in the price range of $100-$300, share a few of these high-quality features. 

In this Buyer’s Guide to the Best Katana, we will discuss those features in detail to help you decide which katana is the best samurai sword for you. The key features that you should pay attention to are:

  • the type of steel the katana is forged from, 
  • the forging method used on the blade, and
  • the quality of the manufacturing of the entire weapon from kashira to kissaki.

To use this guide, you will need to decide a few things first about what your needs are for your katana. Will the weapon be purely a display piece, or do you plan to use it for practical cutting? Do you need a dojo grade katana for practicing martial arts? These questions, along with your budget, will determine the style, grade, and size of the sword you should purchase. But those are just the basics. There are so many other details to decide on when buying a katana sword

Nihonto, Daito, Wakizashi, Tanto

This guide will outline those key features you need to watch for, discuss common problems with low-quality katana, and provide you expert recommendations of the best katana brands and swords on the market.

The best place to start this katana buying guide is to get familiar with the individual components of a samurai sword, and what materials they are made from.

Understand the Sword Components

Knowing the individual parts that make up a katana will help you understand which sword is best for you and make you knowledgeable about what your money is going towards. Each of these components can be made of a variety of materials, put any made from plastic will be a sign of a lower quality katana.

Parts and Elements of a Samurai Sword

The kashira, also known as the pommel, is the very end cap at the bottom of the handle. It is typically made of metal, ranging in quality and price point, from gold to steel. It can also come in brass, copper, or silver.

The tsuka or handle is typically forged from the same steel as the blade at the core. It is then covered in wood that is wrapped in nylon or leather for a better grip.

The guard named tsuba in Japanese is the guard between the blade and the handle that should be made from the same metal as the kashira. That is the same for the habaki or the blade collar.

Katana blades have several parts as well. “Ha” is the name for the edge, “Hi” is for the groove. “Bashi” is the curved edge, the “kissaki” is the tip, and the “mune” is the back of the blade. A well-made katana will have a full tang, which is an extension of the blade that slides into the handle. Since almost all katana are made from some type of steel, these components will be made from that same type of steel.

Full-tang Japanese Sword

The scabbard, or saya, is typically made of wood and covered in leather with a hanging cord, or sageo, made from leather or nylon to match the handle.

Depending on the price point, these materials will also vary in quality. The biggest factor, however, will be the type of steel used to make the katana.

Which Steel is Better?

When any sword is made, it must be tempered in some way to cool the metal for shaping. For authentic katana, this is typically done using a differential tempering method, which produces the curvature of the blade and the hamon line.

Nihonto Market Steel

Less expensive swords can be made through mono-tempering or cooling the entire blade at the same time. These weapons will be more brittle, and therefore less useful for practical backyard cutting, but can be useful for dojo fighting since they are very tough.

But even before the tempering methods, the steel used for the blade defines the use and practicality of even the best samurai swords. Here are some commonly used steels that make swords ranging from display items to full-blown cutting masterpieces!

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel blades are wonderful for display, and that is about it. They should never be used for cutting and are far inferior to any carbon steel blades for practical use.

These katana are easy to maintain, keeping their shine with very little up-keep.

Stainless steel has a high chromium composition, which provides these blades with dazzling color and shine, but fails in any practice tests.

Decorative Blades Steel

Since they are not designed for practical use, they are unbalanced and have an inferior tang compared to other steels swords. It can even be dangerous to try to wield one. Katana swords designed for display should be kept on display!

PROS

  • Easy to maintain. No work at all.
  • No rust, oxidation, stains.
  • Very shiny and lustrous metallic look.

CONS

  • Weak steel. It breaks and shatters easily.
  • Poor resistance to shock and damage.
  • Dull edge. The blades dulls out fast.

Carbon Steel

Carbon steel is the most commonly used metal for forging the best katana. Used primarily for practical weapons, carbon steel has many forms that vary mostly in their overall carbon content.

1045 carbon steel has 0.45% carbon content is used the most often, and is very affordable. This steel makes an entry-level quality blade that is softer than other grades. You can commonly see this carbon steel used for decorative katana that have a differentially tempered hamon line

Carbon steel 1045, 1055, 1065, 1075, 1085, 1095

1060 carbon steel has 0.60% carbon content, is more brittle, and harder. This metal creates a hard and durable blade that is popularly used for Dojo fighting.

1095 carbon steel has 0.95% carbon content and harder and more brittle. This metal holds a better edge than a lower carbon content steel. That means it is more likely to break or chip when striking a hard object as an inexperienced swordsman.

PROS

  • Excellent quality to cost ratio.
  • Cheap but strong and dependable.
  • Very shiny and lustrous metallic look.

CONS

  • Qualities such as durability and sharpness vary a lot.
  • CS 1045 is very resistant, but easy to dull.
  • CS 1095 maintains a super sharp edge, but they can break.

Damascus Steel

Damascus steel swords are highly desirable for their aesthetic and practical uses since they are very durable and sharp.

Modern Damascus steel is made from billet steel, which is made from several types of layered steel and iron that are welded together. This method removes impurities in the metal and is what allows for razor-sharp edges.

How does Damascus Steel Look Like

Other metals have been used to forge katana over the centuries, but they vary in price point and quality. Forged steel makes a superior forged blade made through ancient methods but is typically more expensive and popular with katana collectors.

Lastly, some swords are not made from steel at all, they are also made from aluminum. Manufacturers have started using aluminum for katana to speed up production to cover the high demand for display katana. These swords cannot be sharpened and cannot be wielded like a real steel katana.

Types of Katana

There are three main types of function katana in the $100-$300 price range. Which one you decide on will be determined by how you intend to display and use this weapon.

Type 1 – Basic and Functional

These swords will generally be at the lower end of this price range but have some use for cutting. That means they will not be made from stainless steel or aluminum. The tempered carbon steel blade will have a full tang and will weight less than 3lbs.

This higher-end type of katana has many options that can be found in the $200-300 range depending on the other materials used for the katana’s other components and the reputation of the maker. If you want gold components, you will likely be paying on the high end or more for these swords.

Type 2 – Authentic Hamon Swords

A differentially hardened sword will have a real hamon pattern along its edge.

The big benefit of these katana is the added beauty and authenticity of the hamon line that is created during the differential tempering process. A special type of clay is used to protect parts of the blade from heating or cooling, which creates this line on the blade.

How Does a Hamon Look Like?
The wavy, cloudy, shiny pattern near the edge.

The hamon is more shiny compared to the rest. And it looks cloudy. When you get close to it, tiny dots and specs will appear. This process creates the curvature of the katana as well as very hard sharp blades. Also, this method allows for a flexible spine that adds durability and ease of use.

Any true authentic Japanese made katana will have a hamon line. Getting a sword with this marking will ensure you have a very easily recognized quality blade. To note, most samurai swords do have some hamon pattern, but it could be etched with acid just for aesthetics. Handmade sword do have real hamon.

Type 3 – Practical “Cutters”

This last type is the tough dojo grade weapons that are often used for cutting practice. Usually, these will be mono-tempered weapons that are Inexpensive compared to more authentically made katana.

Practical Sword for Cutting

This style is a relatively new type of katana that has added strength to the blade of the sword, which will be harder to chip or break in practice. They are highly recommended for beginners since they are not easily bent, forgive mistakes, and tend to form back to true straight easily.

How Will you Use your Sword?

So far, we have discussed katana components, steel types, and even the specific type of katana made for different purposes. With all that how can you decide which is best for you?

You need to think about what are you going to do with the sword. Is it for decor? Are you going to train with it? Perhaps you are eager to cut and slash props in the backyard?

You probably guessed that we have already laid out how to choose the right katana for you, providing a foundation of knowledge for you to consider. Now we have gone in-depth into how to pick a sword, to help narrow down your many options.

No matter the budget or purpose of your sword, you must know what to look out for in a badly made katana. If any of the components are missing, are not lined up properly, or are made of cheap plastics, just don’t buy that katana. You should always check out reviews of the manufacturer and ask about the materials used before you purchase.

A Blade For Display and Decoration

If you are looking for a katana that will simply be a decorative piece for your home, office, or elsewhere, you have many options on the market in your price range. Stainless steel swords need the least maintenance, have excellent shine, and are very inexpensive.

Again, they will not offer any practical use of the blade. In fact, it could be dangerous for you to try swinging a sword like this. They are not designed to be wielded, but they are still swords!

Blade for Decor Display

The best decorative katana will have metal components, such as brass, copper, silver, or gold. For these swords you want to have as authentic looking as possible, so avoiding any plastic parts will be key in showing it off. Also, the scabbard and handle are key in showing off these beautiful swords. Wood and leather are the most attractive looking options, but this is more of a style choice than a practical one!

If you would like a sword to display that also has a hamon line, you should consider upgrading to the differentially tempered carbon steel of a low grade. 1045 carbon steel is a perfect option for this type of sword used mostly for decorative purposes. It will cut, but not keep its sharp edge for very long.

Obviously, any well-made katana can be a thing of beauty. Don’t be afraid of going with a sword with all the bells and whistles if you have the budget to support your choice!

Backyard Practicality

Many of us would like to go a step further in showing off our katana by demonstrating their superior cutting abilities. If that sounds like you, look for differentially tempered carbon steel swords only. Those will be the best samurai swords for the money.

In the 1050-1095 carbon steel range, there are many options that will allow for cutting demonstrations, and that will keep a sharp blade for a long time. However, you should be well practiced before trying any of these out. If you don’t know what you are doing, you could end up hurting yourself or others. Be careful with these incredibly sharp swords!

You also want a katana with a full tang for any backyard practicing. That means the blade will be set into the handle, not welded in place. This allows for a very strong weapon that will not break apart when striking.

A nylon or leather grip will be the best option for swords that will be weilded since they provide the best friction to keep hold of the sword. Plastic will be very slippery and is a sign of a badly made weapon.

Dojo or Fighting Grade Katana

If you are looking for a sword to practice within a dojo, you should work with your teacher to decide what sword will work best for you. It is crucial that you get the correct katana for your fighting style, size, and skill.

Typically, practice “beater” swords are a bit tougher, harder to chip and break, and need to be built for durability. A mono-tempered sword will work well for practice but will not look the same as a traditionally made sword. They will perform well for cutting techniques and hold a sharp edge for a long time.

Practical Nihonto for Training

If you are looking for an authentic katana to use in formal situations, an upgrade is necessary. Again, differentially tempered carbon steel is going to be the best option. You may want a sword that has more authenticity in manufacturing and components to demonstrate your knowledge of samurai culture and respect for the art of making swords.

How to Pick the Correct Size Katana?

The last step in choosing the best samurai sword is to know what size you should purchase. If you are in any way planning to use this weapon in dojo practice you must consult with your instructor on what size of a sword to get.

It is very important that the katana is correctly sized for your body and skill level, so you don’t injure yourself or anyone else.

There are some useful methods for measuring the katana you need. If you are buying a decorative sword, any size will work. Just get the one you like the look and components of best.

Anyone looking to use the sword practically can follow the below methods to approximate the correct sword size to buy.  Even the best samurai sword in the world won’t work properly if it is too big or small for your body! 

I wrote an exhaustive article on choosing the correct katana size and measurements. It goes very deeply into the topics, and it even explains the physics of motion and why blade size matters.

I described many practical method that you can use and come to an agreement with yourself on which katana length is most appropriate.

Measuring the Handle

There are several ways to find your best fit, just read the article above. Or, for your convenience, here are a few short tips and tricks to help:

“The katana handle is roughly 1/3 the length of the blade.”

If you want to make life easier for yourself, then read use that information. Forget about measuring the handle and just pick the blade length, according to your height. Since katana proportions are standardized, most likely the handle will be optimized for height, if the blade already is.

If you still feel unsure, and want to make the most informed decision, then here are two tips to help you choose the best tsuka size.

Handle = Blade /3

Method 1. The handle or tsuka to arm’s length ratio is one of the best ways to see if the katana will work for you. Using a tape measure or ruler, measure the length of your forearm, from wrist to elbow. This is the same length that the correct tsuka will be.

How to pick The Blade Size
Handle should be as long as your forearm.

Most katana will have about 11” long tsuka, so unless you have very long or short arms, that will probably be the size you go with. The important thing is to be at least within an inch of that length, otherwise, you will have problems wielding the sword.

Method 2. Alternatively, you can use a cool hand measurement technique to determine the right tsuka length. For this method, measure the width of your palm, in inches. Multiply that number by two (for a two-hand grip), then add 3-4” for some extra space, and that will be the correct length for you.

Sword Grip Measurement
How to correctly measure the grip.

If you think about it, you want enough room for both hands, in the traditional katana wielding technique. You don’t want too much room left over to get caught on anything, or too little space that doesn’t allow for any maneuvering.

Measuring the Blade

The blade length is also very important to get right. Weapons like katana have no one size fits all category for very good reasons. Consulting an expert that knows your skill level and technique should always be your first option.

If you don’t know an expert, you can find may forums and resources online to help you decide. The basics we have set here should work for the most common heights and blade lengths.

User’s Height Samurai Sword
Length
inches centimeters inches centimeters shaku
4 ft 11 150 cm 26.2” 66.7 cm 2.20
5 ft 1 155 cm 26.8” 68.2 cm 2.25
5 ft 3 160 cm 27.4” 69.7 cm 2.30
5 ft 5 165 cm 28.0” 71.2 cm 2.35
5 ft 7 170 cm 28.6” 72.7 cm 2.40
5 ft 9 175 cm 29.2” 74.2 cm 2.45
5 ft 11 180 cm 29.8” 75.8 cm 2.50
6 ft 1 185 cm 30.4” 77.3 cm 2.55
6 ft 3 190 cm 31.0” 78.8 cm 2.60
6 ft 5 200 cm 32.2” 81.8 cm 2.70

You might have trouble finding an exact blade for your height depending if you are between heights or are very short or very tall. A general rule of thumb is to go on the safer side with a shorter blade. They will be lighter and faster to draw.

Finally, you should feel confident that you can purchase the best samurai sword for the money. We hope this buyer’s guide to the best katana helped you made sense of all the information out there!

Final Thoughts

Whether you are a beginner hobbyist, an experienced sword handler, or just a curious reader we made sure we are as straightforward as possible in our reviews. 

Every product has certain good, high-quality aspects. But it is a blend of good and bad. And you need to make sure that the particularities of your purchase fit your requirements. I hope we made that job easier. Please let us know in the comment section below.

I appreciate the wonderful work that the photographers have done and for sharing their images:

  1. Photo “Katana blade“, by Rama.
  2. Photo “Damascus Steel” by Andres Rodriguez.
  3. Photo “Real Hamon” by Parent Géry.

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