This Hanwei Raptor review is of their Nanbokucho Zukuri Katana - so named because it was a popular type of Japanese sword in the 14th century during the Nanbokucho period, where longer blades with longer kissaki (tips) were the order of the day.
Recreated to the specifications of Shihan James Williams of the Bugei sword trading company, they are a tough, no nonsense design - all with a raptor, bird of prey theme, hence the name..
So do they really live up to the expectation created by their promotional video? In our Hanwei Raptor review one of our newer members gives the Nanbokucho a try, explaining it from the point of view of your average casual sword enthusiast..
Review by SBG member Whitefeathers
I found this one on sale at KoA (Kult of Athena) for $160. Shipping surprisingly was fast. I had it literally in 52 hours since I clicked the order button.
First thing was when I unsheathed it was "wow this thing is dirty", it had what looked like sawdust all over the blade from inside the saya.
I turned the saya upside down and tapped it and a cloud of the stuff came out. Second thing I noticed was one of the seppa was put on way off center. Only then was when I noticed the weight of this beast. Definitely lets you know there's a sword in your hand. She means business.
Weight--2lbs 13.5 oz.
POB-- 5 3/8 in from tsuba
tsuka length--13 1/4
Thickness: 8.3 mm - 5.3 mm
Width: 32.3 mm
Nanbokucho zukuri geometry with an attractive o-kissaki. It definitely has that authoritative feel to it. 30 inches of steel. They didn't have sori measurements but it curves more than the PPK's 0.6 in sori.
One part I see is that when the kissaki starts there is a ridge on both sides of the blade. I'm not sure if that is intentional or not. My PPK has a smooth transition. (I'll be comparing to the PPK since that's the only other modern made sword I have at the moment). You can see it and definitely feel it when wiping the blade. And at that ridge line the edge is not as sharp as the rest of the blade.
EDIT: I have been educated- this is a good thing and its supposed to be there - and is a geometric yokote.
I didn't think it was possible to make a wider axe handle than my PPK. I was warned about this too. Its of course 13 inches but super wide and thin.
The thinness is nice but its so wide it almost doesn't feel
sword-like anymore. I have an issue with this as my hands are wide with
short fingers. Measures 6 3/4 inches from the that crease where it meets
your wrist to the tip of the middle finger.
The menuki are the gold
feathers which I love. I have no idea how they're attached on to the
ito but they aren't going anywhere. I had to take a file to one of them
though. In the first 5 minutes of holding the sword I got scratched by a
sharp edge on the one.
Speaking of Ito it is the katatemaki
(battle wrap) pattern and the nice grippy suede stuff. Done very solid too, have to
put some serious pressure to move it. Some of the diamonds are uneven
but it doesn't bother me.
The same is real and its in panels. I can
see the wood in some places. When they drilled the holes for the mekugi
the edges stick up and its rough. My thumb just happens to rest right on
top of one of those so I had to pick at the same until it was more
I attempted to disassemble the sword but I couldn't get further than removing the pins. They came out very easily. Either my technique sucks, or everything is a really tight fit. I tried the method of holding the end of the tsuka and hitting the wrist with the other fist.
Neat looking bird perched on a branch. It feels kind of thin and whatever its coated with is starting to flake off already. It doesn't shift or rattle or anything.
Now this is a sore spot. Either the holes are way too big and they're
just off center or what it just looks bad in my opinion. I would have
liked to get a better look at them If I would have been able to get the
darned sword apart. The one seppa is noticeably a bigger diameter than
the other. And with the way they hang over the cut outs in the tsuba
bothers me. One of them has a brownish stain too.
More birds! The fuchi and kashira are a bit boring but they fit the
swords theme well. I did notice a big gap between the fuchi and the
tsuba though. Even with that gap nothing moves. Kashira is glued on
because I could smell the glue. The habaki fits nice to the blade- no
ts the same black textured one as the PPK. It feels narrower. The kurigata has this blemish on it, but it doesn't bother me. Gives it character. The blade rattles really bad inside despite the narrower feeling saya. Very soon I will have to shim this one too. I can tip it upside down and give it a little shake and the sword will fall out.
Background of me: I'm vertically challenged standing a whopping 5 ft 3 in. and probably 125 lbs. I didn't think it was that heavy until I tried a couple tentative swings. My ceiling is low in the apt and I have to watch it with the 27 in. blade on the PPK. So I was pretty busy making sure I didn't whack the ceiling or lop off my foot. I still felt like I had control over it though. It doesn't have a cumbersome feeling and is lively going through different cuts.
It feels more tip heavy than my PPK does. Nothing rattles or shifts or shakes. The suede ito provides good grippy feeling even with 'wide ax handle syndrome'. I certainly would not want to be at the business end of this sword. Funny part was when I set this sword down and picked up the familiar 2.5 lb PPK it felt like a feather! No test cutting results today, I don't have the resources to do it. If I ever get a chance to cut with this sword I will update this review.
Overall I say I'm happy with the Raptor. On mine fix the seppa and the
saya. On the Raptor in general I would love to change the tsuka shape. I
would definitely buy from Kult of Athena again. Awesome quick service
and good sale.
I hope this Hanwei Raptor review has been helpful. To return to The Ultimate Guide to Authentic Japanese Swords from Hanwei Raptor Review - Nanbokucho Zukuri, click here