The Cold Steel O-Katana with its massive 38" blade and 13" handle is a beast of a blade - that there is no doubt..
It also has a reputation for - how shall I put it, being rather difficult to handle effectively, making it hard to really make best use of all that steel.
True enough, it is not at all impossible - though as Cold Steel plainly state in their graphic "Proof" video series, "it is an ideal sword for those with the physical stature and strength to wield it"
So the question we need to ask is, just how big is the Cold Steel O-Katana, and just what does it take to use the thing? Read on and find out!
Review by SBG member "KuroKami", USA
This is my first Cold Steel blade. After watching the many demos and videos of their swords in action I myself was impressed at their toughness and their “Mean” Feel. So after my trip to Arizona and back to my favorite Sword Shop in Sierra Vista, Arizona, I got this through a trade. And I must say I am impressed indeed. I mean it’s a Cold Steel O-katana for Zues’s sake! I haven’t seen many who have used this sword myself, and there doesn’t seem to be many who do…
Er… Heh-hem… I mean, this blade does have the shape of a Japanese blade; it has all the furniture of a Japanese blade also. Aside from that, it isn’t really a “Normal” O-katana. The Blade itself, while being tough and resilient, is much too wide and thick, making this sword very heavy, almost too heavy for actual swordsmanship. It also lacks a Hamon, classic to Nihonto.
Other than that, it has all the bells and whistles of a Japanese sword: Tsuka, tsuba, and saya.
My first impressions while holding this blade was the hefty weight and it’s longer than average length. It had this commanding feeling to it. But honestly with its length it’s more closer to a Nodachi to me (personal opinion). I was also attracted to the Koshirae. Arrow themed Mokko Tsuba, menuki, Fuchigashira, and Kojiri.
The Cold Steel O-Katana has some very nice, sturdy Koshirae. It’s all Iron, except the Menuki. Arrow themed Mokko Tsuba, fuchigashira, and Kojiri; brass Seppa, Habaki, and Arrow Menuki. All very well done, very well fitted to this blade. The Fuchi does have some shifting to it but I do believe that is caused by the Arizona heat shrinking the Tsuka.
The blade is well shaped and no flaws at all, made with 1055 Steel and has a satin polish.
The Kissaki has the typical “Economical” finish of most production Katana.
It’s a Shinogi-Zukuri (the most typical shape of Japanese sword geometry) with an O-Kissaki (long style tip).
The Bo-Hi (fuller) is also very well made: deep and even. Makes an excellent Tachi-kaze (sword wind sound), it’s loud!
I am very impressed with the tsuka, but as I have said before the Tsuka seemed to have shrunk a little, the fuchi shifts somewhat, and the Samegawa (rayskin) on the Ura (back) side has also shrunk, causing it to expose the Tsuka core and climb over the mekugi pegs.
But because of the region’s weather I am not holding it against the manufacturer
Other then this small issue, the tsuka is well fitted to the nakago, the Cotton Ito is very tight (tightest I have had on any of my swords) and it’s comfortable to hold in the hand, not too big or too small.
Iron Arrow themed Mokko tsuba, some user’s rust on it but it can be cleaned very easy. I love the shape and the design. Very attractive and functional.
The Saya is well done, the Lacquer job hold up nice to some bumps and scraps. The koiguchi fit is loose, but that’s from normal wear and tear. The Sageo is nice, nicely tied and well presented. The best part? The Iron Kojiri, also Arrow themed.
If it wasn’t for the fact I lift many, many, many water soaked Top soils, garden and potting soil bags, pushing large John Deere lawn tractors, lifting many other assorted large and heavy objects all day, I don’t think I would have the strength to use the sword properly. It is heavy, much too heavy for regular Tameshigiri. But it isn’t unweildable. I am not an expert in Kage-Ryu nor any Nodachi techniques, but when used right it feels great.
Water Bottles cringe in fear of my mighty blade, as they pose no resistance to my sword’s keen edge and unstoppable force…! As expected it cuts with no issues, but honestly because of their demo videos want me to test it out on something much more challenging. The problem is doing it safely. I’ll leave that for a later time.
I am very impressed with the Cold Steel O-Katana, its finish, functionality, raw power and downright scary toughness makes this a good choice for anyone looking for a great beater sword. Not only will this blade last a very long time, it has a simple beauty in the Koshirae. It’s meant for lots and lots of cutting. This sword means business.
The only issues I found were the weight, it’s hard to handle correctly, and might keep some from getting this sword.
I would recommend this sword to anybody who is looking for a Tough Beater of an O-katana. I am not quite sure if I will keep mine, I do like it but the handling keeps me from regular cutting so I might just sell it.
Thanks for reading.
I hope this review of the Cold Steel O-Katana has been helpful. To return to a Beginners Guide to Authentic Japanese Swords from, Cold Steel O-Katana Review click here