Ryujin Shobu Zukuri partial bo hi T 10 Katana Sept 19, 2022 21:59:57 GMT
Post by circumstances on Sept 19, 2022 21:59:57 GMT
After a shipping SNAFU that's had me chomping the bit for 2 weeks longer than the original projected delivery date I've finally got this sword in my hands. I've given it a close eyeballing and taken it outside for some dry handling (no actual cutting yet) and gotten a pin on its handling characteristics. I'll start with a few minor gripes. Firstly there was a hole punched through the box and whatever did it ripped the bag. It was on the tsuka so nothing was marred up but the ripped bag had me mumbling a few colorful words. Second the mekugi don't appear to have been put in with much care. They bulge the rayskin on the taper side and just sort of ripped through it. One can't be seen easily as it's hidden under said bulge with a bit of the tip just peeking out through the rip. cosmetically this is my biggest gripe but it's not fatal by any means for a sword in this price point. Third is there is some marring on the spine just forward of the habaki that goes for about two inches up the blade. It looks like something with a fairly thin edge struck the spine repeatedly. It's pretty superficial and will polish out OK I reckon but it's worth making an observation of. Lastly I do believe I'm going to take the sword apart and flip the tsuba around. It's the perched hawk Hitaka design and the back side of the hawk is facing forward. No big deal but it just looks wrong to me. It's all correctable with a modicum of effort which I don't mind doing but this is a review so I'm trying to get the details addressed.
Now the shipping issues. None of that can be pinned on SBG. They had a shipping notification e mail in my box right on promised time. But the carrier bounced the package all over the place and put up three new promised delivery dates none of which were kept. My sword ended up seeing Henderson CO then bounced North to Salt Lick then right past me to Sac and then finally to Reno last Saturday and was finally delivered today. Had me doing the WTF? Over. dance. Meh. Not the first time and won't be the last I'm sure that a shipping carrier has given a package of mine the grand tour of the US. I had one I waited 3 months for that got sent to Hawaii and took a nice vacation in a Honolulu warehouse before finally being found.
Now, on to the good stuff. The blade profile was not what I was expecting from reading the reviews but I actually am pleasantly surprised with it. It looks and handles more like an 1848 US heavy cavalry saber than any katana save for the 11.5 inch tsuka. The reviews all said that it has a tip forward feel with the partial bo hi but they must have had older swords. Mine has a dorsal taper that starts at 9.5 inches just forward of the partial bo hi and goes all the way to the kisaki that takes a lot of meat off the blade. The point of balance is about 2.5 inches up from the habaki and it does not feel point heavy at all. It's a light extremely fast and nimble sword that gives pinpoint accuracy to both thrusts and cuts. It's far more fast and nimble than my Shikoto Touchstone and takes an entirely different handling style.
That style shift is not a problem being as I have an extensive background in both light and heavy cavalry saber. This Ryujin sword would be a fantastic mounted sword. It is not even what I was expecting but I'm over the top with it in that regard. Me likey a LOT. I was expecting more of a standard katana profile with maybe a 1mm base to tip spine taper and I've got a sword that tapers rapidly from 5 mm at the base to less than 1mm. I suppose some would say that strength has been sacrificed and no, I won't be chopping steer femurs with it most certainly. But I have other blades for that. All the fittings are nice and tight with no rattles or movement anywhere and it fits perfectly in the saya. Not to tight not to loose. If I was going to use it mounted (which I will eventually) I would tighten the fit up a bit. I may even make another saya with an actual cavalry type design to it. A wider carps mouth with a looser fit that allows bounce but still retains the blade and allows easier and faster drawing and returning while on horseback.
To summarize if you're looking for a heavyweight brawler of a blade this one is not it. This one is a very fast precision cutter and thruster. It suits my unique and rather...diverse...style of swordcraft right down to the ground. It's been a pleasant surprise for me. It's not even what I was expecting but I'll take it with zeal. I suppose a good analogy is she's a ballerina in the mosh pit. Haha that does paint a picture. More actual contact cutting review to come.
Contact cutting 9/20.22: Now into the metallurgy a bit before I get into the cutting results. It should be stated as well that I am not affiliated with SBG or Ryujin in any way other than as a customer. the sword came with a nice certificate that gives the vital facts on the sword. The sword is 40 inches overall with a 27.5 inch blade. The blade itself is differentially hardened T10 steel and the sword weighs 2.5 pounds. My Shikoto weighs in at 2.8 so it is a bit lighter which I've found to my liking. Edge hardness is stated at 58 HRC with a 40 spine compared to the Shikoto which is 62/45. The sword was actually quite sharp as it was but I touched it up a bit with a 1200 grit stone.
Targets were the ubiquitous water bottles and dollar store pool noodles stuffed with wet newspaper. The ergonomics and balance of the sword lent well to both one and two handed use and I found myself favoring a one handed hols whereas my Shikoto definetely takes two hands. The Ryujin went through both target types with ease and considerably less muscle behind the stroke than the Shikoto. With single bottles a forearm/wrist flick was quite sufficient to cleanly cleave a water bottle. With pool noodles it took a bit more umph but I found that doing precise cuts that didn't cut the target in twain were quite easy compared to the beefier Shikoto. The latter does not flick so well whereas the Ryujin seemed like it would be more at home marking Z's on a wall than on a feudal Japanese battlefield. A bit of an exageration but it gets the point across.
In short the sword is a blast to handle. It won't take on heavy targets like bamboo or bone and I won't be asking it to. compared to my Shikoto it's like Sugar Ray Leanord vs Mike Tyson. As I said earlier it should be a superb sword for mounted use which I will be trying in the near future. I'm still getting some kinks worked out with my new prosthetic leg and methinks getting my groundwork sorted will take precedence. It's messing with my footwork a bit and there's a couple hotspots that pain me some which is distracting. More rigorous testing will happen when I've got it dialed in better and I can pivot without pain. I'd rather be patient than slip up and have the edge wind up somewhere it shouldn't.
At any rate this is a well made, light, fast and nimble sword that is a hoot to use. The way it handles is something I'm not used to in a katana. But not in an undesirable way. I can recommend this sword to anyone looking for a light fast and precision cutting tool that also thrusts very well. I'll see if maybe my son can help me get a video made to put up so the handling characteristics of this sword can be clearly seen and not just described. I've found it to be a unique piece that fills a niche I've been looking to fill for a while. It's not what I was expecting but it's nice to be pleasantly surprised.