Cheap Samurai Swords for Sale: Finding the Jewels in the Junk

In the last few years, there have been a flood of extremely cheap Samurai swords for sale on the internet.

While many of these are touted as 'carbon steel, full tang blades', 'hand forged' and 'fully functional' - 9 times out of 10 it is pure marketing hype and BS.

Few of these cheap Samurai swords for sale can cut anything much better than the occasional water filled plastic bottle. And fewer still are made well enough to stand up to any reasonable usage.

But sometimes, just sometimes, you get lucky...

Not so long ago I started hearing from a few people that there was a line of Chinese made cheap Samurai swords for sale at just US$59 that seemed to offer exceptional value for money. And while I was naturally enough extremely skeptical, I was also curious to find out more.

It wasn't like that finding a cheap Samurai swords for sale around the sixty dollar mark was impossible.


The swords in this review were very much 'prototyical' - Musashi's first venture into low cost Samurai swords. And while the actual products have been discontinued, their legacy lives on in the latest generation of cheap Samurai swords for sale they offer which we will examine towards the end of this article.

Indeed with some strategic bidding the somewhat infamous Masahiro Bamboo Katana was sometimes available on ebay at this price point, so there was a precedent. But perhaps most importantly, if I ignored these blades I was in danger of becoming something of a sword snob!

Naturally enough, this was patently ridiculous, because as a reviewer and firm advocate for finding the jewels in the junk in the sub US$300 price range (and I have found quite a few!) - I have often had to contend with the off hand barbs of folk who never bothered with anything below a given price point - so dismissing them out of hand was not an option...

The brand that everyone was talking about was a relative newcomer called 'Musashi Swords'. And while I had some reservations, I at least owed it to my visitors to have a closer look at these cheap samurai swords for sale for less than sixty bux and judge them on their own merits.

And in many ways, I am glad that I did...

Musashi Swords 'Blood Reign' and 'Wind Dragon' Katana Comparative Review

Review by SBG Editor in Chief, Paul Southren

US$59 is a ridiculously low price to expect much from a Katana. And indeed, having seen first hand quite a few cheap Samurai swords for sale at this price, I must admit was not expecting a lot.

All the $59 Musashi swords pretty much had the same description, including the typical marketing hot buttons 'full tang, carbon steel & hand forged' yet I noticed that there appeared to be two separate lines of these cheap Samurai swords for sale - one with the prefix 'Bushido' and the other 'Shogun'.

Looking at them both, the Shogun line appeared to be the more aesthetically pleasing of the two, but for good measure I got one from each group according to my fancy - selecting the Shogun 'Blood Reign' and the Bushido 'Wind Dragon', which I obtained from one of my recommended vendors, via special request (Trueswords does not normally ship swords outside of the US, but were willing to make an exception).

I must admit, the order was very promptly dispatched and within short order the much anticipated rectangular shaped box arrived at my door.

Of course, since we are actually reviewing two different cheap Samurai swords for sale at $59 here, let's take a cursory look at them one at a time, starting with the most attractive of the two, the Shogun lines 'Blood Reign' Katana.

THE BLOOD REIGN - Initial Impressions

The first thing that struck me about this sword was the box - which featured a painting of a classical Japanese samurai and was actually reasonably nicely done.

Naturally, as this review is not about the box, I proceeded to open it up and took my first glimpse of the sheathed blood reign firsthand.

The saya was a bit plasticy looking, not the usual glossy lacquered black scabbard I was accustomed to, but it was not in any way ugly. And folded neatly underneath was a typical white lined and black covered cotton carrying bag, which was a nice touch.

Naturally, like all other cheap Samurai swords for sale at this price, most of the fittings were obviously plastic...

The same (ray skin) was a plastic panel wrap, revealing in places the wooden tsuka core. But this was actually quite reassuring - as for obvious reasons I much prefer a wooden tsuka than plastic. To be honest, the imitation same - which I believe looks and feels like it is made from soft PVC - isn't too badly done and looks like a reasonable facsimile of the real thing (unlike the same of many other cheap Samurai swords for sale I've seen), though the gaudy golden dragon menuki (ornaments) under the synthetic ito wrap - which initially felt a little loose - were definitely not my cup of tea.

However, beyond these somewhat ugly features, the tsuba (hand guard), fuchi and kashira were much more than I was expecting...

The tsuba of the blood reign depicts what appear to be two somewhat fierce Chinese warriors - one armed with a sword and the other playing a kind of lute. At first, I was struck by the fact that they were so obviously not Japanese - however on reflection it was at least possible that such a tsuba may be historically plausible, considering that at various points in Japanese history the Samurai deeply admired China and studying the Chinese Classics was a part of every young Samurai's education (though chances are I am reading too much into this, as like most other cheap Samurai swords for sale on the 'net, it was probably selected simply because it looked nice!)

The fuchi is also really quite attractive, with a brassy looking relief depicting a set of three tri-pronged fire symbols surrounding a decorated sphere. But the kashira or pommel/butt cap is my favorite part of the fittings and is actually quite breathtaking - beautifully shaped, with a very intricate design that words simply do not do justice too (see picture below).

All in all, this swords fittings make it a reasonable choice even just as a display piece, though the picture is of course not complete until we come to the blade. But before we do, let's take a look at the fittings of the other line of cheap Samurai swords for sale by Musashi - the Bushido Wind Dragon.

THE WIND DRAGON - Initial Impressions

Compared to the Shogun Blood Reign, the Wind Dragon's box is quite plain and uninspiring - and I truly hoped that this was not a sign of things to come upon opening it up...

Luckily, after opening it up, I was not too disappointed.

At first glance the Wind Dragon was obviously not quite as ornate as the Shogun series Blood Reign, but certainly more attractive than most other cheap Samurai swords for sale at this price point.

The saya was a generic glossy black lacquered scabbard. Like the Blood Reign, the Wind Dragon also had PVC imitation same - though a little darker and more substantial looking. It also featured some forgettable silver colored plastic menuki which I assume depict some kind of warrior standing upright but it's hard to clearly see them under the ito wrap (and to be honest, they were not interesting enough to warrant any further investigation - in other words - generic fittings commonly seen on 90% of all other cheap Samurai swords for sale priced under 100 bucks).

However, what impressed me most was the ito wrap itself.

While it was cotton and a bit shoelacey, it was surprisingly tight and showed no gaps between the tsuka core and the same - a common issue with almost all cheap Samurai swords for sale at this price. In fact, I had to push quite hard near the top to check for the material the tsuka core was made from (and was again relieved to find it was wood).

Other fittings were nothing fancy - the fuchi and kashira did little to impress me either way.

And the tsuba itself while quite attractive, is pretty generic and either the same one or a very close design is found on several other cheap Samurai swords for sale (though most tend to be a little more expensive at just under the US$100 mark).

Overall, at this point on fittings alone I'd have to give a slight advantage to the Shogun Blood Reign, but we are missing perhaps the most critical part of the picture - the blades themselves.

The Blades

Now before I begin to look at the blades in detail, I should mention that the first thing that struck me about both the Shogun and Bushido was that, like all other cheap Samurai swords for sale on the internet and on ebay, both had a single mekugi peg holding the blade to the handle...

At first, this really worried me. But when I removed the mekugi peg and tried to get a look 'under the hood' as it were, I was both frustrated and relieved to find that it would appear that the blade has been glued with an epoxy resin in a similar manner to the earlier model Hanwei Practical Katana. While this was frustrating (in that I could not get a look at the nagako) it was also something of a relief as it was very solidly attached and almost impossible for the blade to detach from the hilt.

Speaking of which, the blades themselves share quite a few similarities. Both are 27.5" long, with a pronounced and attractive sori (curvature).

Both are also quite thick and substantial, certainly a lot thicker than many other cheap Samurai swords for sale you find clogging up the internet.

Both also had a bo-hi or 'blood groove' running down the length of the spine, lightening the blades to 2lbs 4.5oz for the Shogun Blood Reign and a slightly heavier 2lbs 5.9oz for the Bushido Wind Dragon, though each are within optimal weight for a real Japanese sword.

The main difference at this stage, other than the weight, is that the point of balance. The Blood Reign is pretty much spot on at 5" from the tsuba while the Bushido Wind Dragon is slightly more tip heavy at 6". This difference became apparent when swinging the swords through the air - with the Shogun Blood Reign making a very audible 'Tachi Kaze' (literally sword wind sound) while on the other hand the Bushido Wind Dragons sound is muted and much less noticeable.

However, as far as dry handling goes, both swords perform quite well with good speed and recovery time. The 'edge' (pardon the pun) at this stage still goes to the Blood Reign, which would be a slightly more satisfying training sword for kata - but both would fulfill this need quite well for different reasons (the Blood Reign handles a little better and makes a better Tachi kaze, but the Bushido Wind Dragon has a much tighter ito wrap).

Now as far as the actual steel used in both these blades, I cannot be 100% certain as the exact makeup of the sword is not advertised (they are simply advertised as 'thick carbon steel blade, fully tempered'). However my knowledge of modern sword production processes and pricing assures me that they are almost definitely forged from 1045 carbon steel, which is the minimum quality acceptable for a half decent blade.

But from here, some obvious differences between these cheap Samurai swords for sale begins to surface.

For a start, it is apparent to me that both of these blades are made in different forges. Only the Bushido Wind Dragon has the authentic and characteristic seal of the Musashi Brand (complete with a symbol of a Double 'C' Ring Tsuba, a design attributed to the legendary Ronin, Miyamoto Musashi) - while the Blood Reign has a generic 'China' imprint (after all, that's where just about all cheap Samurai swords for sale online are actually made).

Of the two blades, the Shogun Blood Reign is the prettiest of the two, with a better overall level of polish (not quite a mirror polish, but not far off it either) and a thin wavy wire brushed hamon that really does stand out in the right light.

In contrast, the Wind Dragon does not even attempt any kind of artificial hamon. Neither of these swords are likely to be differentially hardened like a traditional Katana - and I actually find the simple unadorned blade admirable in its straightforward honesty - unlike most other cheap Samurai Swords for sale which pretend to be something that they are not.

As you may have noticed from the photos depicting the brand name (and generic 'China' print) on the blades both of these swords have a secondary bevel, in other words have been sharpened much like a kitchen knife. While this is definitely not traditional, it is a common feature of all cheap Samurai swords for sale at this price and not at all unexpected.

Despite this, both of these swords are quite sharp and capable of passing the generic 'paper cutting' test. But of the two, the edge geometry of the Bushido Wind Dragon is better, resulting in a much sharper feeling blade. So much so that even though it is an obvious secondary bevel, the Wind Dragon feels 'scary sharp' while the Blood Reign's geometry feels just a little 'off'...

My suspicions were that of the two, the Bushido Wind Dragon would be the better cutter. So let's find out if my suspicions were correct...

Putting these Cheap Samurai Swords to the Test

Like I said in the introduction, 90% of all cheap Samurai Swords for sale under the $100 price point are pretty much only good for display purposes or cutting the occasional water filled plastic milk jug or other soft targets like pineapples, pumpkins, etc.

So after having inspected the blades and the fittings, as well as given them a good dry handling and determining that they were both sturdy enough to test further (after all, some people had reported some interesting cutting results with these swords) I broke out some of my extensive collection of empty water P.E.T. bottles and milk jugs and proceeded to fill them up with water...

Both handled a series of water filled 2 liter milk jugs and 1 liter coke bottles with ease. And as you can see from the video below, they also cut much more challenging targets such as 375ml 'buddy bottles' extremely cleanly, indeed - so much so that at this point they were nearly on par with the famous (and considerably more expensive) Hanwei Practical Plus Katana.

Not bad for a couple of cheap Samurai swords for sale priced under sixty dollars!

VIDEO: $59 Katana Water Bottle Test Results

As you can see, both the Musashi swords do quite well against a variety of water filled plastic bottles and milk jugs

So far, so good. Several dead plastic containers later and both swords were pretty much neck and neck (though admittedly the Wind Dragon was just a tad bit better).

But the time for a serious tie breaker was at hand...

"This Next Test Would Seperate the 'Goat from the Sheep'!"

There was really only one test which would truly differentiate these blades and decide which of the two, if any, was to stand head and shoulders above the legion of other cheap Samurai Swords for sale on the internet...

Tatami Omote...

Generally a target reserved only for more expensive 'entry level' Japanese swords and beyond, if neither of these swords were able to cut it then up 'till now, they would still be a good deal at $59. But if one or both of them could handle tatami, that low price would make them the very best deal on any sub $100 cheap Samurai Swords for sale anywhere, both on and off line!

Selecting a high quality Mugen Dachi half mat from (the standard for testing a Japanese blade and considered by all experts the most reliably consistent Tatami available online), I rolled it up and soaked it in the bath tub overnight in the traditional manner.

As you may know, a half mat is a very good test for a swords cutting ability and perhaps the most commonly used tatami target. As it says on the Mugen Dachi website: "The smaller diameter targets show us more about the quality of our technique because they bend slightly if something is not correct. In a way full targets are less frustrating to use, but if you want to see your mistakes, half-targets will tell you more."

First up was the Shogun Blood Reign.

To be honest, I had a feeling that it would not make it. There was something bothering me about its edge geometry, even though it had nailed the water bottles better than any other cheap Samurai swords for sale than I had seen before.

My first cut was a diagonal right to left 'kesa' strike. But as if it was a self fulfilling prophecy, the blade simply knocked the target to one side and while it cut, it penetrated less than an inch.

Just in case it was simply my bad form, I struck out again with a rising upward cut - one of my cleanest and most powerful blows that has never failed to sever tatami with such swords as Hanwei or Cheness Cutlery.

Unfortunately, it still didn't make it...

The blade bit quite deep this time, at least halfway through - but it was still performing poorly. A third diagonal right to left cut also bit into the target, mutilating it but the result was the same - the Shogun Blood Reign simply could not make it through a half mat...

A little disappointed that the Blood Reign was relegated to the pile of other cheap Samurai swords for sale you find online, my sense of dissatisfaction was compounded by the fact that the ito wrap, which I had noted before felt a little loose - had now shifted and bunched up quite dramatically during the cuts, exposing the wooden core in three separate places along the length. While it was easy to shift back into position, it was quite an inconvenience.

Still, I had to put things in perspective. This sword was only $59. And as far as a reasonably attractive display piece goes, it's still a good price compared to most other cheap Samurai swords for sale online - not to mention it was also a nice little plastic water bottle slayer - and handled very nicely to boot.

It just seemed unable to cut tatami omote.

But the tests were not over yet! I was hoping that the Bushido Wind Dragon would fare better - after all, it felt a little sharper, the ito was much tighter and it had a better edge geometry...

Straightening up the mutilated yet still intact half mat, I took the Wind Dragon in my hands and struck out hard and fast...

"BANG - lo and behold, the mutilated top was severed away and fell to the floor!"

Now we were getting somewhere! But was this a one off fluke?

Infused with a little hope that it wasn't, I straightened up the mat and struck out with a rising cut. Using more force than is necessary, as I was half expecting it to get stuck like the Shogun Blood Reign, it severed the mat cleanly with so little resistance that for a moment my balance was disrupted by the unexpected ease of the cut.

Now with renewed confidence, I cut out with a much more relaxed and 'normal' force diagonal cut that sailed right on through the target, leaving a well defined cut where it severed the mat cleanly in two...

"It was no fluke - the Bushido series Wind Dragon was quite a performer!"

To be fair to the poor old Blood Reign, I gave it one more chance to distinguish itself from the pile of all the other cheap Samurai swords for sale on the internet. Winding up like a baseball player, I struck out with a powerful horizontal blow...

The blade bit yes, but it could not sever the mat - leaving the stand spinning and wobbling on its axis like a staggering drunkard, missing me in the process...

VIDEO: $59 Tatami Mat Cutting Tests

Numerous cuts, but only one of the two consistently makes it through

The Blood Reign was out - and a clear winner had emerged. The $59 Bushido Wind Dragon had truly distinguished itself from the legion of cheap Samurai swords for sale on the internet...


From a nicer looking box, more attractive fittings and a prettier blade, initially the Blood Reign came out of the gates ahead - but the Bushido Wind Dragon closed the gap and overtook it by a mile when it came time to perform, proving itself to be quite the dark horse and a true jem shining in a pile of cheap Samurai swords for sale...

True enough the Bushido series Wind Dragon came in a simple looking box. The blade had no hamon (though closer inspection revealed that perhaps it actually has a natural hamon!). And yes, it's fittings were not anywhere near as flashy - and the level of polish, though good, was just not quite as shiny.

But like some people in life, the Shogun Series turned out to style over substance, while the humble $59 Bushido Wind Dragon put all the other cheap Samurai swords for sale to shame...

Even at $100, the Bushido Wind Dragon would still be worth it - though if it was priced at this point there would be a few swords starting to get ahead of it. But the fact of the matter is, this sword is readily available for a meagre $59. And as such, it's actually a ridiculously good bargain - suitable for display and quite capable of taking on traditional targets without too much fuss at all...


  • Decently tempered 1045 carbon steel blade with a well honed edge ready to go straight out of the box
  • Tightly assembled fittings
  • Good handling and great cutting abilities
  • Extremely low price!


  • Machine milled and polished (as opposed to hand forged)
  • Cheap components and fittings are not particularly attractive


Both of these models were initially reviewed a fair time ago now and have since been discontinued - however, the good news is that based on the feedback in this review - the seller of these blades has weeded out the less effective cutters and the manufacturer only makes the Bushido line.

But it gets better as the Bushido line now has many different models available, ALL with a WInd Dragon Blade and other improvements (such as two mekugi pins and dismountable blades, better quality fittings - heck even REAL rayskin!) - and the best part, they are STILL $59.95!

Click here to see the NEW full range

One of the new Bushido Series

One of the NEW Bushido Series Katana - the Dragon Fury Katana.

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What Other Visitors Have Said About This Sword

Click below to see mini reviews from other owners of this sword...

Newer Version of the Musashi Wind Dragon 
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stunned and awed.. 
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Hi,I bought the wind dragon katana I am very happy with that katana is a beautiful and a powerful katana for the price is very cheap and very useful I …

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Ordered it from trueswords, I am a kenjutsu practitioner and I do a lot of tamishigiri. This sword did pretty decent with some cutting and overall the …

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i got the deluxe reverse blade katana from true swords for about $100 i just got it and it easly cuts tru paper and bottles and for a reverse blad i cant …

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I have not received this sword yet but after reading Paul's review and finding out that these swords were being dicontinued I felt I couldn't let this …

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Being new to acquiring "real" swords, I've been heavily browsing the 'net trying to educate myself as much as possible. I've had a wall-hanger grade …


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I hope this information on these cheap Samurai Swords for sale has been helpful. To return to A Beginners Guide to Authentic Japanese Swords from Cheap Samurai Swords: Finding the Jewels in the Junk, click here

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