- Short Range
- Length: 30 inches
- Weight: 2.5 to 3 lbs
- Folded Steel Blade
The Katana is characterized by its distinctive appearance: a curved, slender, single-edged blade; a square or circular guard and a long grip to accommodate two hands. The blade is made from a specialized Japanese steel called Tamahagane, which combines hard, high carbon steel for the cutting edge and sides, and tough, low carbon steel for the core and back. This gives the blade a hard edge, while allowing it to absorb blows without shattering.
The gentle curvature of the blade adds to the weapons cutting power by focusing the force of the blow on a smaller area. This curve is achieved during quenching: the sword maker coats the blade with several layers of a wet clay slurry, putting a much thinner layer on the front of the blade. When the blade is thrust in water, the front of the blade cools more quickly and hardens, while the slower cooling in the back of the blade reduces lattice strain on the spine, causing the blade to curve backwards.
The Katana is a slashing sword, although in several clips, the Samurai used it to stab an opponent to finish them off. The katana is worn at the waist with the "edge up" so that it can be drawn from the scabbard and cut the opponent in one swift motion.
The Katana was used as late as World War 2, as the Japanese still believed that swords can be effective in modern combat. After the war, the losing Imperial Japan had to surrender and destroy millions of swords as part of the peace treaty.
The current state of Japan no longer issues katanas into the military but many traditionalist swordmakers still sell katanas and sword schools are still intact and popular across the country. Some Yakuza groups still use swords in their assassinations.
In the episode Viking vs Samurai, the katana was tested against the viking great axe. The first test was on three poles called tatami poles which had the same density as human flesh. He cut through all three in one swing, resulting in three kills in just under a third of a second.
It was then tested on a stack of pig carcasses to determine its slashing power. In one downward slash, the katana cleanly cut through two pigs, earning it the title of a "Two Body Blade." After seeing this test, the viking experts said that the katana would need to be tested against a pig wearing viking ringmail. When tested, the katana made no damage against the pig, only managing to scratch the ringmail.
- Some historians argue that the Katana's metallurgy is over-exaggerated and that it was on-par with European Broadswords.
- Some historians claim that the Katana was actually a sidearm and not as famous or iconic as popculture implies. The Yari spear was believed to be the dominant melee weapon of Japan.