Cheness Ranko Katana Review

Cryozombie

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 11, 2003
Messages
9,998
Reaction score
206
I used to own a VERY NICE custom made Katana from LIVEBLADE (some of you may have seen the pictures when I had to sell it) and I really wanted a replacement for when we do Tameshigiri at the dojo so I dont have to use my instructors blade, and risk damaging it, (another student bent the dojo's sword doing an improper cut) and I was looking at the paul chen practicals... I searched around (and some of you here pointed these guys out to me) and my new Cheness Katana arrived today. I was looking for a very cheap cutter that I could use for occasional tameshigiri and whatnot... nothing fancy.

I purchased the 1045 Carbon Steel RANKO model... their "bargan basement" cutter. I paid 149.00 with free shipping. I got the sword, an inexpensive sword bag, an inexpensive disply box, and an inexpensive display stand for that price.

Overall, for the price I paid, I am not at all disapointed with the sword. (Bearing in mind that I have not cut with it yet) On the bad side, The fittings are very plain and unmentionable, and the Tsuka wrapping is... well, the cotton is nice and soft but it feels pretty cheap. But unlike the Practical by Paul chen, the sword is NOT epoxy glued, it can be broken down for cleaning and inspection. The blade is solid, well balanced, feels good when I cut the air and seems reasonably sharp out of the box... The Saya is a little tight against the habiki, making freeing the blade with the thumb a bit difficult, but not so bad it cannot be done.

Like I said, without cutting with it yet, for an inexpensive, entry level cutter that you can beat on and not feel bad if you have to replace it at the cost... I'd give this sword a thumbs up.
 

Swordlady

Senior Master
Joined
May 30, 2005
Messages
2,740
Reaction score
9
Quite a few folks over at SFI had recently bought Cheness katana. Paul Chen (NOT from Hanwei) occasionally participates on SFI as well.

Most of the Cheness kat owners have said good things about their new swords. Seems like Hanwei and Last Legend have a new competitor in the "affordable" production katana market. ;) The downside of the Cheness katana is that the fittings seem to be more on the "cheap" end. Hence, the lower prices.

I wouldn't mind trying a Cheness katana out, but I don't think they allow any customizations for blade and tsuka size. Since I'm short (five feet tall), I prefer a 25" blade and 9" tsuka - the specs for a semi-custom katana I ordered last year (and that sword hasn't arrived yet!)

Anyway...how does your new sword handle? How's the balance? Do you think it's any good for solo practice? The Cheness site said that some of their swords have a heavier center of gravity for cutting, but that isn't necessarily good for solo kata. You wouldn't want to be using a heavy sword for solo practice for an extended period of time.
 
OP
Cryozombie

Cryozombie

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 11, 2003
Messages
9,998
Reaction score
206
Swordlady said:
Anyway...how does your new sword handle? How's the balance? Do you think it's any good for solo practice? The Cheness site said that some of their swords have a heavier center of gravity for cutting, but that isn't necessarily good for solo kata. You wouldn't want to be using a heavy sword for solo practice for an extended period of time.

It felt great, the balance was nice. It was a little light, but I suspect thats from the bo hi in the blade, which made it great for kata. I compare that to my old tozando katana which was quite heavy, a good cutter, but like you said, hard to use for Kata very long.

As a side note, I no longer own the sword... my instructor took it for the dojo. He liked it enough that the day I brought it to class he cut me a check and said "go buy the next model up for yourself" so I am.

:D
 

rutherford

Master Black Belt
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Messages
1,194
Reaction score
13
Location
Vermont, USA
Technopunk said:
As a side note, I no longer own the sword... my instructor took it for the dojo. He liked it enough that the day I brought it to class he cut me a check and said "go buy the next model up for yourself" so I am.

:D

Nice.

Thanks for the review, Technopunk. Please tell us what you think of the next one.
 
OP
Cryozombie

Cryozombie

Grandmaster
MTS Alumni
Joined
Feb 11, 2003
Messages
9,998
Reaction score
206
I want to add to this, just to say that one of the local instructors here cut with his Cheness "Shura" over the weekend... their high end sword, and he said it "cut like a butter knife, it had a lot of drag and was difficult to get through the mat."

So... I would say take that into consideration if you are thinking of these swords... he agreed with me on the feel and handling, but said it was a poor performer when he cut with it... somthing I never did with mine.
 

Swordlady

Senior Master
Joined
May 30, 2005
Messages
2,740
Reaction score
9
Technopunk said:
I want to add to this, just to say that one of the local instructors here cut with his Cheness "Shura" over the weekend... their high end sword, and he said it "cut like a butter knife, it had a lot of drag and was difficult to get through the mat."

So... I would say take that into consideration if you are thinking of these swords... he agreed with me on the feel and handling, but said it was a poor performer when he cut with it... somthing I never did with mine.

Their "high-end" katana is only $249.99 (regular price $499.99)? $500 typically gets you an entry-level/low to mid-end production katana. You get what you pay for. I don't know if any of the SFI folks tried cutting tatami with their Cheness kats, but I would guess that their swords may perform similar to your instructor's.

Thanks for your reviews of the Cheness kats. Even if they could customize a shorter blade for me, I would probably not buy from them. I need a sword that can cut mats fairly well; my group test cuts at least once a year.
 

pgsmith

Master of Arts
Joined
Jun 1, 2005
Messages
1,589
Reaction score
481
Location
Texas
I picked up a Cheness Higo as a dojo cutter last year. It cut quite well out of the box. I really didn't care for how close the balance point was to the tsuka though. Made it difficult for the beginners to keep their hasuji correct while getting enough speed to cut.

... he said it "cut like a butter knife, it had a lot of drag and was difficult to get through the mat."
That is the biggest problem with inexpensive swords. In attempting to make them as fast as possible to keep the cost down, there will be a great variation in the smaller things such as handle wrap tightenss and evenness, blade balance and finish, and sharpness of the edge. It all depends upon how skilled was the worker that did that work on that sword.
 

Swordlady

Senior Master
Joined
May 30, 2005
Messages
2,740
Reaction score
9
Slihn said:
checkout

www.Mantisswords.com

www.coldsteel.com

The prices are abit higher but they sale fully battle ready Katanas

Mantis Sword now has a new line of katana, eh? Interesting. I wonder if anyone in SFI bought one of their new kats yet.

As for Cold Steel, they are built tough and can take a beating, but some of them are not as well-balanced as...say, an Atrim. I've owned a Chisa katana in the past, and it handled more like a machete than a katana. I actually prefer the feel of the O-katana (the LONG one), which is kinda ironic, considering my short stature.

And try not to use terms like "battle-ready". It is an overused - and often misused - phrase, and never used by reputable swordmakers. Most of us sword collectors detest that phrase too (at least those of us on SFI). *Functional* would be a more acceptable term.
 

Slihn

Purple Belt
Joined
Apr 2, 2006
Messages
310
Reaction score
2
Location
Southeast United States
Swordlady said:
Mantis Sword now has a new line of katana, eh? Interesting. I wonder if anyone in SFI bought one of their new kats yet.

As for Cold Steel, they are built tough and can take a beating, but some of them are not as well-balanced as...say, an Atrim. I've owned a Chisa katana in the past, and it handled more like a machete than a katana. I actually prefer the feel of the O-katana (the LONG one), which is kinda ironic, considering my short stature.

And try not to use terms like "battle-ready". It is an overused - and often misused - phrase, and never used by reputable swordmakers. Most of us sword collectors detest that phrase too (at least those of us on SFI). *Functional* would be a more acceptable term.


..forgive me I shall saw that they are funcational from now on.:)
I brought a Katana from Mantis Swords and I loved it!I have never done any test cutting(because I dont to damage that Kantan),but I can feel the quailty of the Katana when I practice with it.

By the way,how to you sharpen a Katana without damaging it?Are their specialist that you send your Kanatas to in order to sharpen them?
 
Top