Try a Ronin, or throw down for a Shinto?

by Doug

First, thanks for a side full of very useful information!

I am a long time practitioner of Iai-do, with occasional tameshigiri practice (not nearly as much as I would like). While I have a Paul Chen Practical Plus Elite I love for tameshigiri, I find it to be rather clunky and awkward for kata. A couple of years ago, I purchased a Cheness Tenchi in order to try something different. While the cross-sectional shape of the tsuka felt a bit odd at first, I generally liked it very much, until recently I noticed a crack in the tsuka. This sword has seen a lot of use for kata, but not much at all tameshigiri, so it has had SOME wear on it, but nothing extreme. I can (and will) repair the existing tsuka, and/or mount a replacement (and I should note that Paul Chen offered a free replacement tsuka, even though the sword is out of warranty), but this incident has caused me to think about adding another katana to the collection. Since I am shortish, I need a blade in the 27-28" range, and since I practice kata far more than tameshigiri, I need one with a bo-hi. Since I have far more demands on my wallet than cash in that wallet, I need something affordable.

Now that all of that preamble is out of the way, the Ronin blades seem very interesting to me. They seem to have better quality furniture than Cheness uses, albeit with perhaps a less durable blade. This would be OK for my particular needs. The price is certainly right, they make models with bo-hi, and there are a fair few cosmetic options. That said, I cannot help but wonder if I would not be better off squeezing another $300 out of the wallet somehow and going one step up the quality scale to a Paul Chen Shinto. It also meets all the specifications, but I'm just not sure, not having handled either, if the difference in quality is equal to the difference in price. What would your recommendation be?

Alternatively, is there an obvious OTHER brand/model that I should be considering but have missed?


Comments for Try a Ronin, or throw down for a Shinto?

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A little hard to compare...
by: Paul

Hi Doug,

These are a little hard to compare because the Shinto is a differentially hardened Katana and the Ronin Dojo Pro series are monosteel swords so they can be compared to the Tenchi, but not so easily to the Shinto as they have very different applications..

The Dojo Pro series do indeed have better fittings than the Cheness Monotempered swords, which makes a big difference as a sword is only as strong as its weakest point.. Their blades are similar, 1060 and 9260 both have .60 carbon content and both are really well tempered, so the extra strength of 9260 only really becomes apparent with extreme flex testing..

The Shinto Katana is a traditional construction, so with a harder edge could chip on targets that a Monotempered sword would shrug off and if you do a bad cut or try to flex test it, it will take a set - just like a real Nihonto would..

This is not in itself a bad thing, the edge is harder and sharper, and the Shinto - at basically 2-3 times the price of the Dojo Pro, is a much more refined blade.

But it all depends on what you want and your personal preference. The Dojo Pro is like a better version of the Tenchi. The Shinto, is a whole different type of sword and hard to compare.

As to other recommendations, you may wish to consider the Dragon King line - these swords are kind of a hybrid between the Shinto and the Dojo Pro. I.e. the blades are 1060 monotempered blades so are very tough, but the fittings and overall fit and finish is the best of the best.

Check them out here

Hope this helps.

Throw down for a dragon king
by: Anonymous

I was going to suggest dragon king too as they are new and make great blades. Ive owned ronin and hanwei and when i saw dragon king i liked what i saw. They cut great as ive cut with their sakura spring katana and it cuts with ease. And for a freshman cutter with bad strikes and swings its very forgiving. Ive only tested it on 3x rolled tatami and it does fine. Im getting their winter sun soon because i like the motif more and the monkeys go with my birth year calender. Great swords. What i saw that drew me was that dragon king uses 5160 spring steel not the 1060 that ronin uses or hanweis stereotypical steel. A bit over 400 with shipping so not as cheap but the money is well worth it. Look for a review under Brett Cost in youtube and theres a bunch of great swords shown as well as tatami cutting.

I ended up with the Shinto ...
by: Doug

... and I think that, for my specific needs, it fits the bill quite well. It's light (extremely light, actually - in the weight range of a good alloy iaito), so I will be able to use it for extensive kata practice without damage to my elbow or shoulder, it handles beautifully, and the tachi kaze is quite nice. The only thing "wrong" with it, our of the box, was a surprisingly cheap sageo, but that's a quibble. Oh, also the kurikata is farther down the saya than I'm used to, but that's another minor point. For the moment (it is early days, yet) I'm very satisfied with the Shinto.


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