Worth the money paid and more!
(Madera, CA, USA)
Being new to acquiring "real" swords, I've been heavily browsing the 'net trying to educate myself as much as possible.
I've had a wall-hanger grade "nin-to" given to me many years ago, back when I though stainless steel in any blade meant superior quality and performance.
Anyway, I happened upon the SBG site, read the comparative review on the Blood Reign and Wind Dragon, and based on that plus the killer deal currently available from True Swords, decided to make the Wind Dragon my first real sword.
Let me say that when I opened the box and removed the Wind Dragon from it's cloth sleeve, to say I was impressed would be an understatement. One really need not be an "expert" to evaluate a particular sword, and I submit that being an expert can actually be a bad thing since it seems experts so often seek to compare and quantify service-grade, inexpensive blades to high-end, high-dollar swords most will never own, nor care to "invest" in, so I tend to pay closer attention to reviews by common folk living on real-world budgets who are approaching sword ownership from a more pragmatic view.
My sword came with a nicely printed box cardboard box that is quite sturdy and does a decent job of protecting the sword. Inside the sword itself was wrapped in a nice, black cloth sleeve. Removing the sword I inspected the external points...black laquered saya--nice, with a few mediocre finish spots, Black cotton sageo, very neatly display tied. The overall look of the tsuka was attractive--white imitation ray skin same with black cotton, neat, and tightly wrapped ito. The tsuba looks sturdy and neat...certainly doesn't look "cheap".
Pulling the blade reveals the habaki is snuggly mated to the koiguchi providing enough tension to hold the sword in place securely. As I pulled the blade free I was impressed with the nice, satin-polish...not even close to mirror, yet giving the blade a rather serious appearance.
The blade has a very nice curvature, well-defined yokote, and sharp boshi. The bo-hi is deep and well-defined. Sighting down the blade it appears true, quite thick at the point where it exits the seppa, tapering to the boshi. Blade width tapers from 1.25" to .75" at the yokote giving it a nice, flowing sweep that is most attactive.
Now something I haven't seen mentioned in reviews is how the blade looks and feels when you sight down the "plane" of the shinogi-gi...you can see slight undulations and dips, which can also be felt by passing the fingers along the blade.
I suppose this is proof of the hand-forging process, and the fact that some irregularities still exist reveal the difference between a decent, yet inexpensive sword and the expensive versions where someone had to spend the time grinding and polishing the blade as close to complete smoothness as possible.
Running the thumb and forefinger along the bo-hi also reveals highs and lows...one can definitely tell this blade wasn't stamped out from a pieced of rolled stock--which I consider a good thing.
The blade came sharp...sharp enough to pass the paper cutting test with ease, though I noticed the cut edges weren't "smooth" but very finely "burred" by the blade passing through.
Close inspection of the edge shows why....while the sword profile appears traditional in having a slight appleseed shape, the "ha" has been created in modern "knife sharpening" fashion leaving a slight, rough, burr along the blade at the point where the edge-bevel transitions to the blade body.
So the EDGE proper was pretty sharp, but this burred metal lying just above was causing roughness in the cut. So....I couldn't help but drag out my trusty whetstone, and CAREFULLY and SLOWLY, honed away this burred area, smoothing the transition between body and edge. After that the paper cut test produced SMOOTH-edged strips...yeah, this baby is plenty sharp enough!
I had the opportunity to take the Wind Dragon outside for some form practice and found the balance excellent...which I subsequently measured at approx 5.5" ahead of the tsuba. The ito provides ample traction for a good hold without any sense of need to "hang on" to the tsuka. Also, all parts were TIGHT...ito wrap TIGHT, tsuba/tsuka TIGHT, seppa TIGHT, the single bamboo mekugi TIGHT.
Now, I'm NOT an expert on swords (yet), but I can tell when I'm holding a blade capable of serious work and the Wind Dragon IS such a blade.
From a price/value standpoint the Musashi Wind Dragon is a MUST BUY for someone seeking a superior "starter" sword.
By the way, I already have on order a Cheness Shobu-Zukuri Ayame, and it will be interesting to see how the "budget" Wind Dragon compares to it.