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Sword Buyers Digest - October 2011
October 01, 2011

Paul Southren I recently received an email from one of our subscribers, Alexander, who stated:


So in response to this, I really should apologize to Alexander for…

Ooops, um – force of habit I am afraid!

I guess I always want the site and each newsletter to be more than what it turns out to be, due to my current schedule and workload it always feels seriously rushed – but point taken Alexander – let’s get into it with a minimum of rationalization, apologies or justifications..! Heh. ;-)


1. From the Desk of Paul Southren
2. Featured Article: Tactical Swords
3. Best Forum Posts
4. Video of the Month: Common Iaido mistakes
5. Bargain Hunters and Clearout Specials
6. Sword of the Month


September was on the whole a busy but enjoyable month. I celebrated my birthday, moved into a new apartment in Japan and spent a bit more time with my daughter (if you are interested, I’ve added a few pics on my facebook page here, though I must admit that I personally find facebook to be somewhat confusing, but it is a great way to keep in touch with people so I plan to use it more over the coming months – but as usual, I am digressing..).

On the other hand though, I was a little bit disappointed by the response to last month’s request to submit some reviews to the newly added ‘submit a review’ feature of the site..

While there have been a few great entries, I was hoping that more digest readers would have helped to help fill it out ahead of its official launch across the site (otherwise, it looks a bit embarrassing – and we want to iron out any bugs and get the format right before we go ‘full scale’).

So anyway, let’s get this happening! ESPECIALLY if you have submitted a review to the SBG forums in the past – here is your chance to immortalize it and make it a permanent part of the site itself! Just pick a few of your favourite pics, upload them and grab the best parts of your review and make it a part of SBG history!

Click here to submit your own review

I’ll be posting about this later in the month on the forums to try and get things moving on this project before the full roll out because I think it will really help to keep SBG growing, up to date and relevant, but in the meantime please feel free to get in early and lend a hand to shaping SBG’s future.

Thanks in advance folks. ^_^

Anyway, one more final thing- some of you may have noticed that Cheness Cutlery have been forced into a bit of a corner due to the long term weakness of the US dollar versus the Chinese Yuan.

In an official statement they announced: “Due to cost increases of the past few years, we can no longer afford to sell bulk volume to general resellers at a discount. While we are proud of the fact that we have never increased our prices, recent inflation, falling dollar, and rising costs overseas have taken their toll.”

Luckily due to SBGs close relationship with Cheness we are the ONLY other outlet for their line and while we will continue to do our best to offer their products at the best price possible, but while they will do their best to offer us a discount, it’s going to be incredibly thin so we will need to bring our prices up to stay afloat.

You can read more about this on their site here:

Moniteur Andrew (Drew) Tharp

Zombie Killer Sword and the Horde

The Angus Trim Designed ‘Zombie Slayer’ ready for action..

“Tactical” may well be the word of the day on SBG. It seems that one out of every three or four new threads is about tactical swords, but sometimes I wonder if we know what the word tactical means. defines it as: of or pertaining to tactics, especially military or naval tactics. It seems that all swords are tactical to some extent, since they were generally designed and engineered for war, but that is not the modern connotation of the word tactical. Sword collectors are not the only group to fall victim to this mistake, as there are tactical firearms, tactical knives, and even tactical ropes.

So, what does tactical mean today? To me, there are four main definitions for tactical swords, I will share those definitions and give recommendations for swords that fall into those categories.

Soldier’s Weapons: The first are those swords that are designed for modern combat. Generally these swords are short, small, light, made of modern materials, and designed to withstand rigorous tests of endurance.

These modern tactical weapons seem to take their cues from weapons from the past, especially those involved in the same types of combat. Today, the fighting that most soldiers encounter is guerilla attacks in urban warfare. It would not do him very well to have a rapier, which had to try and fit through doors and into vehicles. Nor would a saber, designed for combat from horseback be particularly useful. Rather, it seems that the weapons that have been popularized as “tactical” are the shorter and more utilitarian versions of weapons of history.

The cutlass, the wakizashi, and the gladius seem to have been ripe for the transformation, and precisely for the reasons above. They are small, lightweight, and perfect for urban warfare. But, there is one sword that has them all beat - the sword that has actually been used by soldiers for the last 500 years and is still issued to soldiers today - the Kukri. There is no doubt in my mind that it is the ultimate combat sword for the modern arena. My personal favorite is the Cold Steel San Mai III Kukri, but it is rather pricey. Traditional Filipino Weapons also has a handsome version of the Kukri which is, without a doubt, a fantastic performer.

Survival Swords: The next breed of tactical swords seems to be those oriented towards survival. Much like a survival knife, a survival sword should be capable of multiple uses and hold up to abuse very well.

Having some survival experience myself, I would want a survival sword to be capable of clearing brush, cutting wood, and various other tasks one might need it for. For those of you shouting, “sword abuse,” calm down. It is indeed sword abuse, but a survival sword should be made to be abused. It needs to be capable of handling any task thrown at it, and still want more.

In addition – it should of course be well balanced and a very agile weapon, capable of taking on foes ranging from wild beast to ruthless marauder. When looking at survival tools, it is not necessarily how effective the tool is at doing all of its tasks, but rather, how many tasks is it capable of – of course I would rather carry a ax (heck, a chainsaw) for cutting down trees, and a machete for clearing brush, and a shovel to dig holes, etc., but I don’t have the space for all of that, so my sword will have to handle it all. My choice would be the CAS Hanwei Military Dadao. It is built like a rock and has a solid wide enough blade that it could be used as impromptu shovel or hammer. In addition, it is cheap enough that if I lose it while camping I won’t be too distraught the next day.

Home Defense: As a martial arts and fencing instructor, as well as a soon to be lawyer, I do not advocate for the use of swords in home defense. They are not the best weapons. A firearm with quality training or a can of mace would probably work just as well or better, but, I know there are some countries where obtaining weapons is difficult and where swords are easier to come by. Plus, we are sword collectors, and many of us have specific training with swords.

That being the case, a home defense sword is going to be very similar to a modern warrior’s weapon. It should be short, because most of us don’t live in mansions. It should be easy to handle, yet capable of deliberating an opponent in a single blow. In my experience, there is no better art for self defense with a weapon than the Filipino stick arts.

If you are serious about home defense with a sword, grab a blade that is good for Kali or Escrima and get some lessons on how to use it. My personal favorites are the Kris Cutlery Espada y Daga, and the Kris Cutlery Combat Barong. These swords are powerful, well made, and incredibly effective if used correctly.

Zombie Apocalypse: There will probably come a day when we are forced to face hordes of the undead (or maybe not, but either way….).

If that day comes, swords will be a hot commodity. After all, swords don’t run out of bullets. But, which sword is the best?

I would think that the zombie apocalypse will have slightly different demands that the ones outlined above. First off, zombies are killed by decapitation. Decapitation requires powerful blows, and powerful blows come from leverage. I would want a larger two-handed sword, capable of taking down at least one zombie in a single blow. In addition, zombies are produced from mutating viruses (or some other disease), so I would prefer to be as far away as possible when destroying them.

Given those criteria, my vote goes to the Valiant Armory Zombie Slayer. Designed by Atrim himself, we know that this is a quality piece. With VA’s upgrades and fantastic edge, we know it is ready to go out of the box, so even if WWZ (World War Zombie) starts tomorrow, we are prepared. Now I just better find a good source of canned goods….


Tactical is a complex word, but today, it faces a different connotation. When it comes to tactical swords, it seems that everyone has their own idea of what meets that criteria, but what it comes down to, in the end, is a sword that prepares you for a traumatic event. While most of us collect swords to get in touch with the past, we are obsessed with where swords are going in the future. While they may not be the primary choice for war, there is a still a place for swords in the modern world. A place for tactical swords.

By Moniteur Andrew (Drew) Tharp – Drew is the Senior Fencing Instructor at Indiana University, has a Certification in Martial Arts from IU, and has been collecting swords since the late 90’s.

Finn and Fuller


There are quite a few Japanese sword related instructional videos on youtube these days, and as to be expected, some are better than others.

This is one of the better ones..

Bear in mind that some schools do have very different techniques, but the general principles are economy of motion, removing as many unnecessary movements as possible – and as you will see from the video, this is what they have done in the Zen Ken Ren.

Youtube vid of the Month

YouTube Video of the Month

If you like instructional videos by the way, be sure to check out the related links section – there are some real gems in there..


With Halloween just around the corner and all this talk of zombies and tactical swords, it would make sense that this month we are going to need to be prepared for the distinct possibility of WWZ – the dreaded zombie uprising…

And what could be a better tool for the job than one of the latest designs by Valiant Armory, the Atrim TAC-307 Zombie Slayer Sword pictured below.

Tactical Atrim

This tough, versatile 1060 carbon steel sword comes with its own back mounted sheath for traditional Zombie slaying, and is normally priced at $350 but is available for the lowest possible price of $280 with FREE shipping in Canada and the USA right here at the SBG sword store

The only drawback is that due to its popularity and the fact that the leatherwork on each sword is done in house in the USA, there is a shipping delay of up to 4-6 weeks, so the sooner you get your order in, the sooner you will be able to complete your must have zombie defence kit!

Have a great and safe Halloween everyone and talk to you again next issue! Paul Southren
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