United Cutlery’s Black Kogane Dynasty Tachi Sword in Damascus steel is a fine example of the company’s push towards better yet still affordable products. Even skeptics should be pleased.
Fittings on this 42-inch-long katana are not gold. Made from cast yellow brass or brass plated metal, the kashiri (end cap), menuki (grip decoration), and tsuba (blade guard) give the sword good balance and extra strength. With age, the brass will discolor and only a patient polishing restores that first gloss. That might be a problem if you want those fittings to keep the look of gold, since the detail of the pieces will be tough to access. From a practical viewpoint, it doesn’t affect the sword’s quality.
The katana’s full tang is the foundation for a hardwood slab handle covered with rayksin and decorated with the brass menuki ornament. This gold version of the Black Kogane uses gold-colored nylon cord for the ito or woven cord hand grip. The black hardwood sheath’s sagao is custom designed from nylon rope, nylon cord, and leather.
The primary feature of the Kogane Tachi Sword would of course be the 1060 high carbon Damascus steel blade. Hand forged with many layers of this good tool steel, the blade has resilience and strength that does exceed that of single-layer blades. A blood groove or hi runs the length of the blade. The hardness of the steel could range anywhere from 56 to 60 on the Rockwell scale — this blade is not edge-tempered in the traditional way, but the Damascus steel compensates well for all that corner-cutting on materials and processes. The kanji etched in the blade actually interprets as “United Strong Steel,” which is the best thing you can say about this beautiful modern sword.
See the CAS Hanwei Kami Katana for an example of a traditionally constructed katana with an even better Damascus steel blade.
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