Without the usual angular armor-piercing beveled point, the Hanwei Practical Plus Tanto Sword does look more like a short sword than a dagger. An overall length of 16-1/2 inches and an 11-inch-long single-edged blade show the true fighting potential of this ancient knife pattern.
Engineered by Hanwei Forge to be affordable and practical, this tanto benefits from both modern and ancient construction techniques. Differential tempering using an insulating layer of clay painted over the cutting edge gives the blade a harder edge and a tougher spine. HRC ratings are 60 on the knife edge and 40 on the blade’s back, combining better edge holding and better shock-absorbing quality. This tempering process shows a visible mark called the hamon — the slight coloration left along the blade by the clay. Many tantos and swords show this mark, but it doesn’t always indicate proper tempering. In cheaper knives, the hamon is applied by etching or polishing and is nothing more than decoration.
Some functional improvements have been made, including a dark synthetic leather ito wrapping on the handle’s grip. According to Hanwei Forge, the synthetic material provides a grip superior to traditional cotton wrappings while still giving the knife an authentic look. Not everything has been modernized — beneath the synthetic ito, you’ll find a layer of real rayskin laid over the hardwood body of the handle.
Antiqued metal fittings show designs which represent the dogwood blossom and the sunburst, but the overall appearance of the knife is subdued and functional. The flat black of the wooden saya or scabbard is military rather than decorative and in character with the construction and intention of the Practical Plus series. At 13 ounces, it’s a practical tanto you’ll be tempted to actually carry, with a blade style you could use for camp chores or hunting rather than combat.
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