Hanwei Forge produced four different functional versions of the Zatoichi stick sword under the guidance of master smith Paul Chen. This traditional katana of folded steel and rosewood is the best of the four.
Hanwei Forge doesn’t directly compare the quality of its swords to antique combat weapons. In many cases, the swords from Hanwei may actually be better than swords used in ancient battles. According to Hanwei, the quality of today’s steel surpasses what was then available. Since some of Hanwei’s best weapons use both modern steel and traditional hand-forging methods, that’s a convincing argument for true combat quality.
The 39-inch Zatoichi Stick Katana features a full tang blade of folded steel created at Hanwei Forge in China. The high carbon steel blade uses both high carbon and low carbon steel separated from the same stock through a re-forging process. Shaped into bars of different grades, the billets become a blade with a hard outer layer wrapped around three sides of a tough inner core. Forged and ground into the final shape, the blade goes through a clay-pack edge tempering process which strengthens the cutting edge and toughens the blade’s spine.
Although the build of this sword is simple, even the “stick” is high-class. All wooden parts including handle and scabbard are solid rosewood. Hard, heavy, and highly polished, even a plain rosewood stick has combat potential. Combined with the folded steel blade created by the expert smiths of Hanwei Forge, there’s no question that this is one of the best Zatoichi katanas we’ll see.