This 44-inch hand-forged katana from Masahiro has great potential as a functional cutter, but you won’t know until you test it whether it lives up to reasonable expectations. Manufactured in China by one of several difficult-to-trace companies, the Masahiro brand intended to fill the needs of martial artists looking for a reasonably priced practical sword, but only sometimes succeeded.
Consistencies within the brand are limited. Wide variations in the quality of both workmanship and materials can be expected with some winning swords and some genuine losers included in the same design series. This particular katana’s blade is tempered high carbon steel with traditional handle construction and handle materials, but tolerances are unpredictable. The tsuba in this version seems especially weak. The habaki of brushed copper also raises some doubts, since copper tarnishes and corrodes easily and may not even hold its original shape well. Brass, the usual material, works much better.
You will at least get a nice display sword for the desk or the wall if you buy this hand-forged katana. Whether or not it holds up to actual use, it is nicely balanced, and the traditional wrapped handle shows an interesting contrast between the white leather woven ito, the black rayskin covering, and the gold-plated menuki in the shape of a dragon. The gamble is whether or not this will prove to be a good cutter as well as a showy display katana.
Whatever the quality, the sword is yours once you pay for it. Masahiro offers no warranty, and the only customer service you’ll receive will be from the retail dealer. Whether you have complaints or compliments, the sword’s makers will be equally impossible to track down.
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