Back to Back Issues Page
Sword Buyers Digest - February 2013
February 01, 2013

Paul Southren Good to talk to you again! It’s been quite some time between the December issue and now, so naturally we’ve got a fair bit to cover in this issue – especially as some MAJOR SBG projects have finally come to fruition, and you guys will be the FIRST to hear (or rather read) about it!

So let’s get straight into it shall we?


1. From the Desk of Paul Southren
2. What’s New
3. Video of the Month: The Samurai Way
4. Sword of the Month


2013 is going to be a big year for SBG.

From site revamps, upgrades and new services to the community – SBG is preparing to take it to a whole new level. And it starts with the very heart of our community, the forum.

As many of you will know, the last couple of months have seen some major issues with lag on the forum as it has outgrown a standard hosting service. So right at this very moment we are in the midst of migrating our forum to a new, much more robust server (though it’s taking it’s time as the host is so crowded that we can only move small chunks of data at a time).

Anyway, to help pay for this rather expensive procedure – we launched a competition last month to submit a slogan to go on some SBG fundraiser T-shirts, a basic catchphrase that sums up what SBG is all about in a few words – and in return win eternal bragging rights – and a Raptor from Hanwei plus a Robin Hood Sword from MRL:

Crossed Swords

It was no easy task, the number and the quality of entries was exceptional. Here’s some of my favorites (not quite runners up, but highly amusing, at least to me):

SBG: For all sword lovers. What, you thought you were the only one?

(Printed small on the chest) S.B.G. if you can read this, you're in range.

A Samurai, a Ninja and a Knight walk into a bar... Stop me if you have heard this one

SBG: Get medieval on 'em!

You're out of ammo. Whose the geek now?

But Like the highlander, there can be only one..

And the winner is…

Taran with his entry:

Your Journey Into Sword Collecting Begins Here!

Simple, straightforward and nicely sums up what we are about. So Conga-rats to Taran, we will be in touch to get your details and send you your swords!

More competitions will be coming out in the next month, and watch for the T-Shirts with our sponsors on the back!

SBG Sponsors

Anyway, the forum upgrade is just the beginning – there are a whole heap of SBG projects about to come to fruition, one of which has been brewing for a while now and you can read about next in a brand new section of the newsletter appropriately called ‘what’s new’.



This one has been many months in the making, and came about for several reasons..

The primary reason was that several months ago I was looking for a North American customizer to help me out with one of our Chinese made SBG custom Katana that was not up to the usual (relative to the price point) high standard. In fact, when I saw pictures of it – it just lacked that certain ‘something’ as it were.

Bad Custom

And at this time stumbled upon a gentleman named Justin Hager who at the time was customizing a Cheness Oniyuri for a previous customer of ours. The customer needed something better than the standard Cheness fittings (which we have always said, could be a lot better and do not do the blades justice), primarily because he was planning to take it to Japan and do Shihan training with Hatsumi Soke of Bujinkan.

This is what it looked like after Justin had finished with it:

Customized Oniyuri

Naturally I was impressed, and I asked him if he might be able to do something with the sub-par SBG Custom Katana – and with some components ordered from Yamato Budogu in Kyoto, we transformed it into this:

Good Custom

Well, this got me thinking – and I asked Justin if he would consider doing some business with SBG for other customers and he agreed. Several months later, deeply impressed by his attention to detail and his skill, SBG decided to invest in a several thousand dollars worth of imported components while Justin made the necessary arrangements so that his workshop is ready for us. And the time has come where we are proud to announce that we are ready to start taking some commissions and pleased to introduce the latest addition and new direction for the SBG Sword Store:

SBG Customization Services

To start off with, we are keeping things simple and as standardized as possible (a lesson learned over the years with the SBG custom Katana series) and offering 4 levels of customization. The most basic customization is an iron tsuba upgrade/changeover.

SBG Customization Services

However it’s not just some amateurish swap out – each tsuba is custom fitted to the Katana, and the Katana itself undergoes a comprehensive component inspection process to make sure that there are no cracks in the tsuka, the blade is nice and keen, etc (rejects will either be sent back to the manufacturer or overhauled to create an SBG exclusive design, more on this later). So in short, the process not only changes the tsuba, it ensures you only get the very best ‘pick of the crop’ quality from the selected manufacturer!

The second level is where the pedal really hits the metal (or the silk hits the tsuka as it were) – and involves a complete handle overhaul, with a new custom fitted tsuka core, black, brown or green imported silk ito wrap done with hishigami for maximum tightness and long term wearability, iron fuchi and kashira added, tsuba change out, new matching silk sageo tied to the saya and blade honing beyond the factory edge. In short, it brings any standard Katana from our range up to a whole new level.

The third level is an upgrade on the 2nd with a selection of Gold and Silver Plated Brass Sets plus everything from Custom Pack I. And the 4th level, custom pack III, is something quite special – we use Tsuba, Fuchi, Kashira and Menuki imported from Yamato Bodogu in Japan..!

SBG Customization Services

For this top level service, we have a handful of their components in stock (multiples of the Mokko and Musashi tsubas), but ANY Yamato Budogu components can be ordered (though they can be quite expensive – some of the hand crafted tsuba are over $300 alone and add a fair amount of time to the order, but the end result is of course out of this world).

Now I should mentioned that these services are not cheap. And at this stage, we are only offering the service on swords purchased directly through the store – at least until we have everything running at 100%. And to make sure we don’t end up getting seriously backlogged, if we reach a number of commissions higher than what we can handle, we will temporarily suspend the service until we are caught up.

But because we get so many people asking ‘can I change the tsuba, color of the ito, etc’ and as all the best customizers are totally backlogged (and the new ones, generally pretty risky – over the years we have lost count of people who get ripped off or have their swords stolen or otherwise go missing) – this service has come into its own and we are pleased to be able to offer it to our customers.

Check it out here

Over the coming months this service will continue to evolve the range of components available and also the services on offer, as well as expanding into the capability for you to send your own swords in for customization!

Exciting stuff indeed!


Here’s something new and refreshing for 2013 - Combatant Magazine, a new publication dedicated to the needs and interests of Western Martial Artists and Re-enactors. It’s just been launched globally as an e-zine with the primary vision of sharing information about different schools and techniques, events from around the world and some of the more exotic aspects of WMA.

Download issue 1 here

Combatant and most of the contributors are currently based in Australia, but even before our launch we are receiving content from Sweden and Malta with potentials opening up in the United States and England.

Check out their website here – issue one is free to download, you can read it as a PDF simply by clicking the front cover picture above.


A classic ATrim

Gus Trim has been a legend in the sword industry for as long as anyone can remember. Starting out as a sword reviewer and martial artist, he cut his teeth working with another legend, Michael Tinker Pearce at Tinker Swords, compiled a massive database of sword stats, and later through study of antiques and correspondences with Ewart Oakeshott (who is rumoured to have owned an ATrim himself), developed into one of the best sword makers of our time.

Angus Trim However, things have not always been easy for Gus.

Making sturdy, incredibly well tempered and amazingly balanced medieval swords in his spare time, the demand for an ATrim has ALWAYS oustripped the supply – and at times Gus has fallen behind for months and even years at a time…

The problem has always been capital – lack of operating capital and Gus pricing his swords too darned low.

But something has been happening behind the scenes, something that – if it all goes to plan – will end the drought and make Atrims accessible for the first time in, well, ever..

A partnership between Marc Ridgeway from Evolution Arms, Chris Scoggin from Ronin Katana and Gus Trim plans to turn Atrims into ‘pay now, and wait months or years for one of the best darned swords you will ever own’ to an IN STOCK brand!

I’ll let Marc Ridgeway take it from here:

Through his company , Ronin Katana , Chris has changed the face of the sub $300 market in the last few years. Through his expanding Elite Line , and his Partnership with SBG in Project X , Chris is now reshaping the world of higher end katana. With honesty , intergrity and quality Chris has grown the Ronin brand from a company with 100 swords in stock to one of the largest sword companies in the world today.

Chris now brings this legacy of success to the Atrim brand by announcing the Ronin Katana Elite Atrim Line

Throughout these negotiations this has been a difficult decision for me , as this move will push Evolution Arms into the background. However , in the end , this is what is best for the brand, and the best for the community. I have worked with Chris through Ronin Katana and I know that he is the guy to advance Atrims to the next level.

Chris has agreed to keep me on to rep the Atrim brand for Ronin Katana , and i am proud to operate in this capacity. Evolution Arms will continue as a small boutique dealer with a few exclusive models, but the bulk of the brand will be only on the shelves of Ronin Katana.

Production on the Ronin Katana Elite Atrim brand is set to begin in the Spring , with swords hitting the shelves by late Summer.

We will have an initial selection of 5 models , including a couple of single handers , a bastard sword , a long sword and a war sword. Almost all of the changes we have implemented with Evolution Arms will be Translated to the Elite line. This includes appleseed edges, pressed on guards , terrific shaping and upgraded grips.

Watch this space everyone – the Evolution is about to begin…


Katana Book Ends

Now I have seen everything..

Apparently these Katana bookends are coming soon to a novelty site near you- and are set up in such a way that the blade and handle stick into two 'faux' books at both ends.. Or you can DIY it perhaps with the real thing (finally a use for that broken wallhanger that has been sitting there collecting dust!)..


North Carolina hawk smith and artist Stuart Willis died suddenly last week , leaving behind his wife and child. Stuart was actively involved in a community of blacksmiths and artisans in the Carolina foothills including SBG Custom tomahawk smith Butch Silver and SBG moderator Avery Pierce. Some of his fellow artists , led by Mr. Silver have endeavored to purchase Stuarts final tomahawk and present it back to his wife and child. Anyone feeling compelled to offer a small donation to help offset the cost , please contact Marc Ridgeway or Avery Pierce to ask how.

Although Stuart's sudden passing was a blow to the blade smith and blade lovers community, it is his family which we extend our sincere condolences.

Stuart Willis was 48.


Due to the ongoing issues with the forum and extremely slow load times, the best forum posts section has been suspended until the forum is transferred to a new server.

Work is being done on this as we speak, so don’t worry – it will be back next issue I am certain!


This 4 part video is a classic BBC production from the 1980s which includes some amazing Japanese sword kata and philosophy by Shihan Risuke Otake, traditional Katana making techniques and much, much more.

A must watch for any Japanese sword enthusiast.

Youtube vid of the Month

YouTube Video of the Month

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Sword of the Month

This month our featured sword is none other than our own Project X Katana models 001 and 002.

Project X 001

Project X 002

These are NOT pre-orders – the swords are in-stock, and the quality is beyond our expectations (we were expecting a few ‘scratch and dents’ but so far, we have none – which I suppose should really be no surprise as they are made by master craftsman – not the usual blue collar workers that make the bulk of the $300-$500 Katana that we usually see).

Featuring full wrap rayskin, premium grade silk ito with hishigami (and of course, alternating wrap), extra layered lacquer – you name it – they have it. And the blades themselves, well – check out this closeup to show the kind of activity you can see from the Soshu Kitae lamination and hamon interplay..

Lamination Lines

Truly stunning – and while not for everyone due to a price tag some three times higher than the swords we normally offer on SBG, the rise in quality is not three times more, it is exponential – essentially, not even on the same scale..

As we only had a limited number of these made, and as they are in stock and good to go, they are bound to sell out relatively quickly – so if you want the crowning piece to your Katana collection – this might be just what you have been looking for..

And one more little easter egg bonus – if you want to combine the customization service with a Project X blade, we will discount the service by a whopping 20%!

Simply use the coupon code:

Project X

And you can get one of these stunning blades customized to your taste at a massively discounted price!

Limited stock, and they are selling fast, so be sure to check them out here:

Project X Katana at the SBG Sword Store

Hope you enjoyed our first issue for 2013 – good to be back!

Talk to you all again next issue, until then as always, Happy Swordening!

Paul Southren

Back to Back Issues Page