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Katana: the Sharpest Weapon Ever

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

A Beautiful Japanese Katana Drawn from Its Sheath

Cheap Katana Replica on Amazon


anonymous on July 14, 2013:

@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.

anonymous on May 02, 2013:

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..

successin2012 on March 25, 2012:

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.

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Bill Armstrong from Valencia, California on March 10, 2012:

awesome lens, thanks for sharing

anonymous on August 09, 2011:

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

darkelfdice on July 03, 2011:

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 on June 18, 2011:

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.

David Gardner from San Francisco Bay Area, California on January 13, 2011:

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

anonymous on December 18, 2010:

@anonymous: You also got beaten* by grammar!

anonymous on August 28, 2010:

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

anonymous on July 22, 2010:

@carny: i like that realy

anonymous on June 01, 2010:

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 on August 23, 2009:

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

DaJer on June 18, 2009:

That. was. cool.

ryknowman on May 07, 2009:

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

anonymous on December 04, 2008:

cool !

anonymous on November 20, 2008:

Very nice lens 5*s :)

papawu on October 04, 2008:

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

thymes on September 25, 2008:

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.

youhavegottobekidding on September 02, 2008:

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.

eccles1 on May 17, 2008:

great job!my brother loves japanses swords

I'll send you to him he'll love it

beachbum_gabby on March 18, 2008:

great lens about Katana. It reminds me some Japanese films I've watched. I agree this sword is very powerful.

TJ11240 on March 12, 2008:

Great lens. Very informative, you did the Katana justice.

N376 on March 11, 2008:

Peter, let us know when you've made your video of Bullet Vs Great Sword.

EelKat13 on March 10, 2008:

Oh wow! what a great lens! I've always wanted a Katana, plan to get one later this year. I tried to feature this lens, but found out that the feature module doesn't work with Ever sites, so I'm adding it to my link list instead. Here is the URL if you want to see where I put the link:

Andrew Po (author) on March 09, 2008:

Hehe, that's true. Plus, you'd need to be so lucky as to hit the bullet in the first place.

So this is not about deflecting bullets with your sword in reality; just something interesting and cool to watch.

Arizona-Snow on March 09, 2008:

They are sharp....but....what is the point in cutting a bullet in half? Instead of getting killed by a whole bullet u will get killed by 2 halfs of a bullet.

anonymous on March 08, 2008:

This would be an excellent backup for my MP5 as I walk my rounds as a Rapid Response Officer at the Mall of America.

anonymous on March 07, 2008:

Peter, shut the hell up.

anonymous on March 07, 2008:

if you are looking for really high quality reproductions. Search for Paul Chen, he is a fantastic sword smith.

anonymous on March 07, 2008:

Cold steel is tight. Their handles suck, but overall for the money their okay. Don't fall for their over-hyped marketing though, but definately watch their DVD if your into sharp pointy objects. haha

anonymous on March 07, 2008:

I can't speak highly enough about the cold steel company. I've purchased a tactical tanto and a katana and found them to be of amazing quality.

anonymous on March 06, 2008:

How does cutting a bullet equate to 'sharpest wepon ever"? Bullets are pretty blunt, firstly, so its not even sharpness against sharpness.

More importanly, has evey other possible wepon be tried against these bullets? That might validate your claim.

Also katana just means "sword". Are all japanese swords the sharpest swords ever?

Im pretty sure a greatsword, properly made, could stand better against a bullet.

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