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Katana: the Sharpest Weapon Ever

Updated on October 1, 2014

What is a Katana?

Katana is a type of traditional single-edged Japanese sword, around 70-90 cm long and with a slightly curved blade. These weapons were very popular in Japan during the so-called Age of the Samurai (from 12th to 19th century), although they weren't used as much in open warfare as they were in duels, demonstrations and other civilian purposes. They were often carried in pair with a smaller sword called wakizashi.

Multiple kinds of steel are used in different parts of the katana blade. The traditional forging methods (repeated heating, folding and hammering) and the high quality Japanese steel with a lot of carbon content are the reason why katanas are one of the sharpest, strongest and most flexible edged weapons in the world. There are many myths and legends related to these swords, and they are a part of the modern pop culture as well.

Real katanas are still made in Japan by using traditional techniques and materials. They can be very expensive and even difficult to buy. There are lots of low quality reproductions available as well, but these are machine-made and only good for show. A low quality reproduction can cost anywhere from $20 to $200. A high quality reproduction which is heat-treated and can actually be used to cut something may cost up to $1,000 or even more. An actual samurai sword can easily cost $5,000 and upwards.

Japanese Katana vs a 0.50 Machinegun

Sword vs bullet - proof that katana is the sharpest weapon ever!

A Japanese katana takes seven shots from a 0.50 caliber machine gun before breaking in half completely. The muzzle velocity is 930 m/s (!) and the bullets are sliced in half by the sword; however, the katana is dented visibly right after the first one.

While good katanas can cut 9 mm bullets fired from a pistol with barely any visible damage (see the other video below), they are no match for this military M2 heavy machine gun.

9 mm Handgun vs a Katana

Watch a Japanese katana cut 9 mm bullets in half with barely any damage to the blade. I guess those anime shows where a swordsman slices a bullet in half aren't completely unrealistic...

How a Katana is Made

The process of making a traditional Japanese samurai sword

Nowadays only a few Japanese smiths who have a special license can make the real katanas which they call "shinsakuto". The forging of a Japanese blade using time-honored techniques typically takes not just days, but months to complete, and that's while involving several people in the process. The steel is repeatedly folded, heated and hammered which eliminates the bubbles in the metal and spreads the elements evenly throughout all of the blade, thus increasing it's strength.

A typical Japanese katana has only one edge, which allows them to use the rear of the sword to reinforce the blade. A katana is usually made from several layers of metal which are forge-welded together. The traditional "makuri-gitae" design, for example, has a softer inner core, and hardened metal on the edges.

After the blade is created, it is given to a polisher who uses up to seven different stones to give it a perfect look. The polishing often takes longer than the actual forging, and greatly improves the beauty of the blade.

From there, the blade is then given to a hilt-maker, who creates the grip, the hand guard, and other elements. The sheaths and the hilts are often ornately decorated.

Forging a Perfect Katana

Cold Steel Katana on Amazon

Cold Steel O Katana Ray Skin Wrapped Handle with Wood Scabbard
Cold Steel O Katana Ray Skin Wrapped Handle with Wood Scabbard

This katana you can order online is still only a reproduction, but a high quality one. Cold Steel use only traditional materials in making their katanas. A handsome black lacquered wood scabbard is included. Great deal if you're looking for a high quality reproduction.


A Beautiful Japanese Katana Drawn from Its Sheath


Cheap Katana Replica on Amazon

Last Samurai Japanese Sword Katana Honor w/ Free Stand
Last Samurai Japanese Sword Katana Honor w/ Free Stand

You won't be able to cut anything with this low quality katana reproduction, but it sure will look great as a decoration on your wall. There is a kanji which means "honor" carved on the scabbard of this sword. You won't be able to cut anything with it, but it is a great decoration.



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    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Please provide link to your said proof. Your so called "sharpest" sword only being spread wildly on blogs. We would like to share your info with proper proof.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      salahuddin al ayubi sword is sharpest than katana..can cut 2 sword in 1 time..can slash the armourdress easily with no damage..proof from west saintis and germany saintis..

    • profile image

      successin2012 5 years ago

      I absolutely love the katana.It is known as the sharpest weapon used.I've seen it cut straight through a 300 pound pig in one slice.I truly liked the information on this site.I think I'll go buy a katana today.

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 5 years ago from Valencia, California

      awesome lens, thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Katana blade sharpness can't actually be judged by shooting rounds at the edge because face it when has a katana ever killed a person the way it was supposed to when it wasn't actually used by a person,what makes a katana rediculously sharp is the technique of the wielder that said i don't think your proof is viable

    • profile image

      darkelfdice 5 years ago

      Very cool lens. The katana is my favorite sword. The weapon of choice of Leonardo from the TMNT comics. Thanks for a great read!

    • aeknuth profile image

      aeknuth 6 years ago

      Good job on this lens.

      I have a comments for you to look into to improve your article. Secondly top quality blades might go from 3000 to 10,000 folds or more and can take 6 months or longer just in the forging process.

      $1000 katanas are usually made at a factory in china. In Japan they are given as gifts for wealthy marriage gifts or special mementos/memorial type things, they are very expensive.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Interesting! Nice lens. I've liked, favorited, thumbs-upped, and lensrolled your masterpiece! Congrats on a great job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: You also got beaten* by grammar!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Noooo I got beat by cruel reality :(

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      @carny: i like that realy

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      The katana splitting bullets from the machine gun is not unique. You could do that with a butter knife. It's more about the physics and material of the experiment. Hot soft lead will easily deform or break apart upon hitting an object. The blade was also held in a vice with the blade facing the barrel of the gun. If it had been turned to the side, it would have been a very different story.

    • Fatih LM profile image

      Fatih LM 7 years ago

      So sharp,,,,,,,Wow! Cool lens high fives

    • profile image

      DaJer 8 years ago

      That. was. cool.

    • profile image

      ryknowman 8 years ago

      Amazing videos. All we need now is a Katana that can take on the M2. 5 stars.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      cool !

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Very nice lens 5*s :)

    • papawu profile image

      papawu 8 years ago

      Great lens. I have studied Kendo and Kinjitsu in the past and have great respect and reverence for the Japanese Dai Katana.Well done.5 stars

    • profile image

      thymes 8 years ago

      If you guys like katanas go to:

      Arashi Forge are makers of some of the finest hand forged swords I've ever seen. Not to mention the fact that that same site has tons of other katanas that are cheap too.

    • profile image

      youhavegottobekidding 8 years ago

      I have watch ang episode in Discovery Channel where they have featured this Katana and I would say that I am very convinced that this is one of the Greatest Weapon ever Invented.

      5 stars for your Very Informative Lens.

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