We know how a new-found passion takes hold… At first, it starts out like an innocent curiosity, a harmless interest. But the more you learn and explore, the more it grips you. Most likely that’s how you became fascinated with Japanese swords. After browsing online for the best samurai blade, it seemed like the main decision factor is money. And then, you asked yourself “How much do katanas cost?”
Cheaper Than You Think!
One might expect that an item of such rarity might be expensive. But in recent years, the cost of samurai swords has gone down dramatically. At the same time, the quality has gone up. The reason for this trend is technology and free markets.
Having a free, open market system means that sword manufacturers can compete with each other to grab the customer’s attention.
If their katanas are low quality, poorly made, or too expensive, some other player will swoop in with a better product and steal their customers with a better sword, at a lower price.
Naturally, every sword maker wants to stay in the game and make a profit. So, they need to make better katanas than their competitions. And at a lower price.
Technological revolutions in steel manufacturing make it easy to produce low-cost, high-quality steel. The best steel alloys are available to all sword manufacturers. This includes industrial tool steel and spring steel. But before we see how much do katanas cost, we need to learn more about quality.
What Do You Want In a Katana?
Before you ask yourself how much does a katana cost, consider your needs. Japanese swords range in prices, from the cheapest, bluntest, tin-made variety, to the cultural and national treasures, worth millions of dollars.
If you are like me, then you’re interested in a decently sharp, battle-ready, resilient blade, that is also a beauty in terms of design. I want a weapon as well as an element of decor. So, ask yourself, what do you want?
A sharp, sturdy katana to slash and cut stuff in your backyard? Or…
A beautiful, decorative samurai sword, no matter the steel, as long is it pretty to look at? Or…
A unique, custom-designed item of value to pass down to generations?
Maybe you want something of great value that will become a cherished possession, an heirloom… How about an authentic hand-forged samurai sword? Full customization of your own choosing, commissioned from a master blacksmith. In that case, be ready to spend thousands of dollars, at least (if not upwards of 20, 30, 40 grand – for the most renown Japanese bladesmith)
Perhaps you are a nuanced collector, and you truly want an authentic Japanese katana with some history behind it. Like an old relic forged by a master blade-smith ages ago. I think there was an episode on Pawn Stars (TV series) where an elderly woman receives seven grand for a 1860s Japanese sword. Not a bad deal!
Decide what your buying motives are, and keep in mind, this step is important, so be honest with yourself. Your preference will determine what price we’re looking at.
What To Consider When Buying?
You want a katana that lives up to its reputation. Most likely you want a blade that is durable, usable, sharp, but also pretty.
I personally prefer something I feel confident about. A strong, sturdy, sharp sword that I can use in an upcoming zombie apocalypse came. (Like Michonne, from The Walking Dead)
A blade that fits my criteria won’t be expensive. I can easily find such a katana on the market because I know what to look for. And I personally wrote several katana reviews, for all budgets. There is even a buyer’s guide for beginners.
If you are looking for a samurai sword that is under a $500, you can also check this page where I wrote a review section for upper-quality market katanas. You will learn about quality blades and how much do katanas cost for each quality and price category.
Be prepared to pay thousands of dollar if you want a custom hand-made sword, forged by a professional blade-smith (not necessarily Japanese). That kind of katana will cost as much as 5000 dollars. But it will be one of a kind, and you can customize it however you like. The craftsman will make sure your blade serves your needs.
However, If you just want a standard off-the-market katana, no customization, then the cost goes down significantly. And I encourage you to buy a cheap sword before you spend thousands on a custom-made.
No matter how durable it is, you can damage the blade if you are not skilled at cutting. If you irreparably chip, splinter or bend a much-loved sword, then you will feel the pain. A $100 – $200 katana is no big deal. It is good for practice and in the worst-case scenario, you can buy a new one.
Regardless of how much does your katana cost, you should learn how to care for it. Dangerous as they are, swords need love too! I love and fear them at the same time. As much delight I get from admiring my favorite katana, I know that one wrong careless move can hurt me plenty.
Taking care of a sword means several things. You need to learn how to cut and slash without damaging it. The last thing you want is a blade that is chipped, bent, or shattered. Then you need to oil & clean. And don’t forget about sharpening! That is if you are using it on a regular basis.
High-quality steel (hard, durable, anti-corrosive) requires less maintenance. The minimum requirements for a samurai sword are:
To be made from some kind of tempered, hardened high-carbon steel.
To be full-tang. (The blade is one solid piece of metal, from the tip to the pommel – through the handle). Otherwise, a half-tang katana might have its blade fly across the room when you strike too aggressively.
How Much Do Katanas Cost? What To Expect?
All the blades I recommend meet at least those two minimum requirements. You will never see me promote a stainless steel or aluminum sword unless (except for decor purposes).
How Good Is a $100 Katana?
A katana that satisfies the bare minimum conditions may cost less than $100. It will be a great cutting weapon, good for practice, fun to use. This kind of sword makes for an elegant piece of decor.
You can cut, slash, and play with it as much as you want. As long as you don’t try to chop wood, you will be pleased with the results.
But don’t expect to fool anyone into thinking it’s the real deal. It’s visibly not authentic! Swords of this quality perform well and they do have decent cutting power. Despite the fact that they are mono-steel (only one type of steel alloys), they have decent durability (unless you plan on chopping wood with it). That is if are made of 1065 carbon steel (at minimum).
Of course, tempering, folding, and heat-treatment are just as important as the steel type. This is a video showing how strong the 1065 steel blade is:
A broader, thicker 1075 machete can dent the blade but cannot break it! Also, keep in mind that CS-1065 is softer than CS-1075. And that machete even has a more robust construction than the samurai sword.
So, the conclusion is that you can damage the katana if that is what you are aiming for. But under normal conditions of use, it is difficult.
At this price range, often the wrappings go loose, or the handle isn’t strong enough. Additionally, the balance of the sword may not be the best. But overall, a $100 katana is a great place to start. You can buy one, and see how it goes. We have recommended many amazing, cost-effective swords.
I am not talking about stainless steel katanas, those are just pieces of decor. I haven’t written a section about these kinds of swords, but they should not be used outdoor for cutting and training.
What To Expect From a $300 – $500 Katana?
You want a katana that lives up to its reputation. Most likely you want a blade that is durable, usable, sharp, and pretty… Something you feel confident about.
In my opinion, an upper-quality blade that is durable and shock-resistant could cost around 500 dollars. Such an item has a better design. You can slash and cut with it repeatedly, and it will do the job every time. So, how much do katanas cost for this category?
About 200-600 dollars! These blades are forged from spring steel, tool steel, or Damascus steel (not all of them – we still have carbon-steel blade among the contenders). Most certainly they should have been treated, folded, or tempered. That means they are designed for high-stress use.
I would expect some minor defects might appear after prolonged use, but most likely not with the blade. At this price range, it’s usually the saya, the wrappings, or the fittings. These things are often the ones that get damaged first. The blade itself is sufficiently resilient.
If you really want super-quality, superb cutting, and handling, then you will be looking at an even higher price. An exceptionally good katana costs around 1200-1500.
There is not much difference in the quality of the blade, compared to the previous category of cost.
But it’s better by far in terms of design and finish quality… Optimized for balance and handling, and with more qualitative fittings. I never heard anyone buy this kind of sword and complain about the handle wrap loosening or saying that the fittings are weak.
Take Care Of Your Sword
If you buy a katana, no matter how much it costs, you will fall in love with it. And you will care for it, no doubt!
You may even find yourself hesitating to use it and to test it’s cutting ability. I know when I bought my first blade, I was reluctant to try it out … I placed it in my living room, on a stand. It was just sitting there for weeks, only to be admired.
If you are hesitant to test your standard off-the-market acquisition, don’t even think about cutting with an authentic, historical sword.
No collector would even dream of such an abomination. Those ancient blades are just too valuable to be played with. Especially if you don’t have any experience in cutting with and taking care of a katana. I would never use an authentic Japanese blade. Not even for cutting plastic bottles in my garage.
I hope we helped you with a few guidelines on how much do katanas cost, and how to do your research. Always do research when you are looking to buy a katana. It is an amazing sword with a beautiful design, but there are so many products on the market – reaching a final decision is hard!
The price range reflects the quality of materials and the swordsmith’s skill level (and investment). While you may not want the most expensive sword, you can still get the best one for your current budget.