decent katana?


Dec 27, 1998
Has anyone seen the "Shinto Katana" from CAS Iberia? The company's promos make it sound like a great buy for around $500, but is it really? My primary question is about the blade: Could it really hold up under hard use?

Who is making a better product? How long is the waiting list? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

I do`nt know about the CAS katana but,if you`re looking for a using sword you should check out the Ontario katana. Solid piece of 1095 steel for around $120.
tk, an article in Knives Illustrated makes a case for Phill Hartsfield as a good sword maker. Probably $5000, but the contact info is

Phill Hartsfield
PO Box 1637
Newport Beach, CA 92659-0637
(714) 636-7633
(949) 722-9792
what hard use do you expect a katana to hold up to- theywerent made for bashing trash cans- they are actually a fragile sword
anything other whan they were originally made for is abusive treatment .or am I missing the point on this one? No matter what you intend toi do with it,one thing for sure ,the cas is a real sword.
I've seen the Ontario swrods, and I agree: they're well worth the money. From What I saw, however, getting it to cut really well would mean a lot of regrinding. Ideally, I'd also like to find a blade that is well tapered.

I understand that Hartsfield is a fine maker (I've also heard great things about Kuzan Oda, although not in a long time). But I can't sink that kind of money into a sword at this point in my life.

I'm not looking to bash trash cans; but there is a great deal of stress involved in crossing swords. I've had several break (never a katana-style weapon) during sparring. Because katanas are used two-handed, the stress involved in striking and blocking is nothing to sneeze at. I remember speaking to one fellow who told me that his 440-C katana snapped in use.

I appreciate all the input.


The sword from C.A.S is a good sword. I have sold a lot of them. I love the feel of them. C.A.S has just came out with a new one. The handle has two pins in the handle. This makes for a longer handle. If yuo would like one give a call...888KnivesRus toll free.

Danny Ridenhour
Web Site Comming Soon!

There's many articles out there on these CAS Chinese pieces. They're pretty good. The Phil Harsfield are chisel-ground edges, which isn't good if you're studying a true Japanese sword combative "twists" the cuts, breaks up the "flow".

Supposedly the late Bob Engnath was doing blades in 1084 that were better than the Shinto. You'd pay around $9(US) an inch but you'd have to polish, sharpen and mount. Bob used to have a business relationship with Bugei trading ( who would mount up his raw blades. They've gone to different makers but are still supposedly shipping a damn fine product; one cool thing is their grips are available in a variety of lengths up to "really monster". That's one reason they're REAL popular among the Bujinkan crowd, we train in sword styles that use the long "battlefield grade" grips versus the later "short dueling style" like the Shinto and all of the low-end cheap stuff uses. Good Bugei stuff starts at around $900 totally finished.

(Note: the Bugei site is annoying to navigate, link buttons aren't obvious. If you want a GOOD Japanese-pattern piece it's worth the effort.)

Your other option is custom. I had Alan Folts grind me up a custom 24" blade to my specs, whole thing came out at $315 with Titanium Tsuba and an Ernie Mayer heat treat. I went with ATS34 as a "functional experiment in maximum stainless" but I'm sure Alan could work in 1084, 1095 or 5160; of the three I suspect 5160 would be better. Somebody who REALLY knows what they're doing (like Alan Folts) should be consulted on steel choices; he might also be able to do a tool steel like A2 or 01. Alan's willingness to do a "you finish it" piece could keep your total price down into the sub-$500 range and you'll get a tougher, better bit of steel...he's one of the best makers I've ever heard of who's willing to do "unfinished" pieces in the Engnath tradition.

SPECULATION: 1084 may have been chosen by the late Mr. Engnath because it'll take a nice hamon; 5160 may have better spring properties and can also take a differencial temper but it doesn't reveal a nice hamon. Personally, I don't give a flip about fancy temper lines, I just want *good* steel.

See also the older post I did in this forum on the Folts ATS34 sword project.

Jim March

Thanks for the info. I didn't know the Hartsfield pieces had chisel-ground edges. I like the chisel-grind -- but mostly on my chisels and chopping knives. I don't intend to sound snide. You could shave with my laminated-steel chisels, and they slice through wood with joyful ease. But the grind definitely causes the chisel edge to bite into the wood in a fashion that would be, to me, undesireable in a sword.

The bugei trading company blades are indeed magnificent. I might ultimately purchase one of their bamboo-style katanas. The price is a bit steep, but certainly not out of step with what one would expect for a two-and-a-half-foot hand-forged blade.

Buying from a company that builds swords for use, I suspect that the sword's "feel" and balance would be outstanding. It seems to me that is one of the biggest differences between the modern, mass-produced swords, and the originals (not just Japanese) I've handled: Originals tend to balance easily, to almost move by themselves.

A ground, but unpolished blade could be a good way to go for me. I have the equipment to polish it properly.

Thanks for all the info.

Check and look through the forum archives. If you sort through some of the noise, the katana info there is pretty good. Lots of reviews on the Chen swords and others.

Yeah what Joel said!
Also read the articles in the magazine section (the site is forum and magazine). My recollection is that the CAS Iberians are basically decorative and very light use swords. Pay attention to tang and handle construction.
I have handled the new swords from C.A.S.and they are nothing like others they have. The sinto swords is made from old train traks. Just like some other ones. The newest ones are thicker and have longer handle with ray skin in the handle. I am not saying they are the best but for $475.00 they are to beat.

Danny Ridenhour
Web Site Comming Soon!

The CAS swords are made from old railroad tracks, not sure of the actual steel. The review I've heard of them is that the edge is RC62, and the back is low 40s. Both are close, but not perfect for Katanas(should be 60 and ~48) The edge is two brittle for major use, but pretty good for the price. For a sword you're not afraid to use, check <a href="">Kris Cutlery</a>.
Thanks for the great information: I logged into swordforum and found their current item on the Shinto Katana. Couldn't have asked for more.

The magazine's verdict seems to mirror the opinions of many members here: It might not be top quality, but it can't be beat for the money -- and it's nothing like the other swords from the same company.

I think I'll do a little more research on alternatives before investing.

I read from the swordforum that the custom blades of the Bugei's are forged by Howard Clark.

Check out

Anyway, I am going to have one of his katana blades and I'll post after I receive it. It really looks great in the pic he send me, some very nice notare hammon and graceful curve.

I heard from my sensei that even the best antique Katana will bend in cutting, if in poor hands. And he said that what makes the Katana a good cutting weapon is it's good edge geometry and differential hardening.

Joe Leung


Clark's site looks very interesting. Which steel are you going to have your sword made out of?

Based on the figures posted at the site, I assume the cost will be about $750? What do you anticipate the final cost will be? Are you looking to Bugei for the mountings, etc., or do you have other sources?

Many thanks to Jim March for his post in this thread and for introducing me to swordforum.

I also read with interest the criticism of the chisel edge.
I too, have a low opinion of this type of edge, and wonder why someone as respected as PH would use it so extensively in his designs.

My sword is going to be in 1086, at about $600 I think is a real good deal!

My sensei is a scabboard maker who learned his skill in Japan so he's mount the sword for me and maybe I'll try my hands to make a habaki. For polishing, as it is going to be a practice sword so I am relunctant to send it out for a real good polish. I'll decide on this after I receive the piece.

Joe Leung

It sounds like you're going to end up with a fine piece. I really look forward to hearing more about it as it develops -- the style of edge, the balance, how well it cuts, etc.

I went over Howard's site with great interest. It seems real obvious this guy IS Bugei's supplier, although I didn't see it mentioned. That's probably in their contract...but prices on the 1086 and folded blades (per inch) are identical to Bugei's prices on unfinished blades.

Now, there's a Clark blade type in TOOL STEEL at a GREAT price (same as 1086) that Bugei isn't buying, probably because the stuff won't take a hamon (temper line, often viewed in Japanese swordcraft as a decorative enhancement). If I was ordering a Clark blade, that would be THE way to go! Includes some "springy" properties not normally seen on a Japanese-pattern blade.

Also: take a look at the "pre-made stuff people didn't want and is available cheep" area. Notice how some are abnormally short and/or have *monster* tangs? Both are strong signs he's got customers in the Bujinkan and/or related Jinenkan/Genbunkan scenes...long grips and somewhat short blades are hallmarks of such stylists, of which I'm a definate beginner

What to "what's going on in Phil's head", first off he's trying to do pieces that are lighter yet tougher than traditional, mainly by using tool steel (A2). Through some unknown alchemy he's made it take a hamon, which may be unique. I've seen some literature on his peices that talk about how "any modern swordsman ain't gonna be in armor" and hence lighter means faster means better. The chisel grind may have something to with strength with a smaller overall steel area? I have no idea what style he's trained/training in, but it's a "short grip" system; he's either not familiar with or not interested in "long grip" systems where the blade weight can be a bit higher and you've got the leverage to not hardly notice. Long grips (measured to the user's forearm, my Alan Folts-ground piece will sport a 15" grip!) are typical of the "feudal warring period"...later Edo swordsmanship was more "personal combat/dueling" and carry *everywhere* (and a shorter grip) became popular.

Jim March
Phill Hartsfield can make the swords in either chisel or a traditional grind, I've seen both.

Two year wait, $6000.