The Banshee – Hanwei’s Burmese Dha Reviewed

The Banshee Burmese Dha style sword is the kind of sword you could easily underestimate and pass by without taking a serious look.

But as you will see from this review by ‘Shootermike’ Harris, that would be a mistake. Even though it’s not perfect, for the price it offers some tremendous value for money. And hey, it’s not everyday you see what happens when you shoot a sword...!

Hanwei Banshee

Review by ‘Shootermike’ Harris, Texas, USA

Steel    
Weight    
Point of Balance    
Price Range

Carbon Steel
1.7lbs
5"
US$169-275

The Banshee from Paul Chen is a copy of a Burmese Dha, a local native design used by Burmese native tribesmen both as a weapon and a tool. The marketing copy calls it "the ultimate brush cutter" and that's what first caught my eye while shopping for a new machete. But a machete this is certainly not, and I am ever so glad I stumbled onto this wonderful little sword. It is a robust tool and formidable short sword. With its 21-inch blade and 11-inch hilt it's a handy little 32 inches of utilitarian functionality.

THE SCABBARD

The Banshee comes with an excellently designed scabbard. It's made of a thick wood core with blackened steel chape and throat. The body of the scabbard seems to be covered with some sort of impact resistant industrial powder coat. I have been able to scratch it, but it seems very resistant to being banged into hard surfaces. The hilt and scabbard throat contain an ingenious locking mechanism that keeps the sword securely in the scabbard through strenuous activity. But with a press of the knurled button located on the left side of the hilt, the sword is completely free of the scabbard. Under stress, this can be a bit difficult so the locking mechanism is designed to "override" with about 25-30 lbs of pressure. If you grab the handle and give it a strong tug the lock will release and the sword practically jumps out of the scabbard.

The scabbard comes with two sets of metal rings for securing in a myriad of ways. It works well thrust through the belt in the Japanese style. But can also be worn like a saber, suspended from the belt on straps or thongs. And in a modern setting, this scabbard is perfectly designed to attach to the webbing of molle-compatible tactical vests. All in all, a very versatile design.

THE BLADE

From a casual glance, or while perusing pictures on the internet, you would think this sword might be based on Japanese sword designs. However, upon close examination the blade appears to actually be based on the European naval cutlass. The blade begins at the hilt with a height of 1.280" and becomes wider to 1.385" at the center of percussion. This makes for an extremely effective chopper.

The blade has a deep fuller on each side that extends for 17.25 inches from the hilt to just past the center of percussion. The spine is very thick, giving this short sword a distinct blade presence. The spine of the blade is almost 0.300" thick at the hilt. And it tapers evenly down to 0.175" at two inches behind the tip, giving it roughly 40% distal taper. The best way I can describe it is "solid" with NO vibration whatsoever. Locating the center of percussion was quite difficult as this blade is so stiff it exhibits no vibration at all when struck on the pommel while held in a loose grasp.

THE HILT

The hilt seems to be a combination of Chinese, Japanese and European designs, with a little originality thrown in. The forward portion of the hilt is much like the guard on a Chinese Dao except smaller. It is a reverse cup shape with the opening toward the point. The grip is a wooden core that is slipped onto the tang from the rear and secured against turning by two steel cross pins similar to the mekugi on a Japanese sword. The pommel consists of a blackened steel cap, with a blackened steel rivet piece, against which the tang is peened like a European sword. The grip is a bit different from anything I've seen. It starts at the blade as a nice oval that measures 1.820" by 1.210", but then it gradually tapers down to a round 0.825" at the pommel. The grip becomes round somewhere about the middle.

The grip covering is in the form of a quarter-inch wide leather strap that's spiral-wound around the wooden grip core and secured with glue. The grip design is about the only thing I have to criticize on this sword. Unless the sword is held near the guard, a user gets no sword-like feedback on edge alignment. If I could change one thing about the Banshee dha, it would be to maintain the oval grip shape for the full length of the hilt.

The hilt construction is kind of a bastardization of methods, but it seems like the Burmese took everything they liked from various other cultures' designs and the result is an extremely functional sword.

Statistics on the Banshee Burmese Dha:

Blade length: 21 inches
Hilt length:11 inches
Overall length: 32 inches
Center of percussion: 5 inches from tip
Weight: 1.7 lbs.
Point of balance: 5 inches from hilt

TESTING

I originally began testing the Banshee on green tree limbs as I wanted it for a brush cutter. It originally preformed only mediocre in that area. The blade was not very sharp when it arrived, and the edge angle was VERY steep, probably over 40 degrees. I tested it on plastic soda bottles and it batted more of them than it cut.

I placed the blade in my Lansky knife sharpener and changed the primary angle to 30 degrees, then went back and stoned the actual cutting edge to 35 degrees. I then followed up with 400 grit sandpaper to round these angles into the pleasing appleseed edge configuration. The degree of sharpness is just shy of "paper cutting sharp" which I think is just about right for this kind of tool, at least for my purposes. This process made for a steep, durable cutting edge with a pleasing appearance.

I then returned to the test field. The Banshee now cut plastic bottles with ease. It was able to slice through hanging rope of several thicknesses without difficulty. And it cuts limbs from both softwoods and hardwoods with ease.

I had been using this as my "test everything first" sword because it was so inexpensive and because it has been so durable.

After seeing a video about shooting swords on the internet, I formed an opinion that shooting a durable sword blade with handgun bullets was likely more of a marketing gimmick than a real test that only a high-priced Japanese nihonto blade could pass. I have never been one to take the word of others on things I find interesting. So I proceeded with a "shooting test" and naturally chose this sword to be the guinea pig.

To cut a long story short, I shot .45 ACP caliber bullets directly into the edge of this sword (as if the sword were cutting the bullets) at a distance of about 10 feet. All bullets that impacted on the blade were severed cleanly into two pieces and the damage to the edge was negligible. After cleaning with WD-40, only one slight bend in the edge was obvious, and this was caused by a bullet that impacted mostly on one side and pushed the edge out of its way.

BOTTOM LINE

To say I am pleased with this little titan is an understatement. It has done everything I've asked of it, even when my demands bordered on wildly unreasonable. And just an FYI, with the exception of the shooting test picture, all the images above were taken as I was writing this review. That is the shape this sword is in, after all the above described abuse. Still looks pretty much new, huh?

Do I recommend this sword to anyone who wants a sword that is both unique and extremely durable? In a heartbeat!


PROS

  • Attractive and unique design
  • Very utilitarian and versatile

  • Exceptionally durable and tough
CONS
  • Very dull blade in need of sharpening out of the box

WHERE TO BUY

The Banshee has a MSRP of $275. Even at this price it is a pretty good deal for a replica Burmese Dha with this kind of durability and construction.

However, the current best prices for this piece can be found HERE at Kult of Athena where it is stocked for just $169.99  - which still makes it an affordable option to add to just about anyone’s collection...!

Highly recommended, though you may – as Mike noted – need to sharpen the blade a little more before being able to use it to its fullest potential.


Looking for honest, trustworthy sword sellers? Look no further than:

The Official SBG Sword Buyers Directory!

Sword Buyers Digest Newsletter!

Sign Up Now

Sign Up to Our FREE Monthly E-zine for all the latest sword news, info and much, much more! Click Here for more info..

Popular Review Categories

From the Store

If you like swords, "like" our page..!