How Much Does a Katana Weigh? Modern vs. Traditional Katanas

A katana is a special type of sword. It’s a piece of history that every sword or knife enthusiast should own or at least know about. If you’re looking to buy a katana, then you might want to know how much it weighs. Looking at videos of others using a katana makes it seem like a katana is not that hefty, but is that really the case? How much does a katana weigh?

A katana weighs anywhere between 900 and 1400 grams (2-3.1 lbs), while the average weight of a katana is somewhere around 1200 grams (2.65 lbs).

It’s not uncommon to see katanas that weigh more than that, though. Ultimately, the weight depends on various factors: the materials it’s made from, the handle, and if the katana has a saya (a scabbard).

Read on if you want to find more about the factors that determine the weight of a katana.

The Average Katana Weight

The average katana weight is at around 1200 grams (1.2 kg or 2.65 lbs). However, the weights of a katana can vary quite significantly.

Most owners of a katana will tell you that their katana weighs somewhere between 800 and 900 grams (2 lbs). That’s as light a katana can get. If you use a katana regularly, then you would notice the difference in weight immediately. That’s why regular katana users opt for lighter katanas.

However, if you don’t use the katana often and you only use it every once in a while, then you would probably not notice the difference in weights immediately.

There are so many different factors that determine the slight changes in the weight of a katana. That’s why it’s difficult to establish a “standard” katana weight, although there are weight ranges that katana swords find themselves in.

What Determines a Katana Weight?

The biggest factor that will determine the weight of a katana is the steel it’s made from. And there is so much variety here. I’ll talk about the materials, or steels, later on in the article.

Another factor is also the thickness of the steel that’s used to make a katana. Traditionally, a katana was made from Japanese steel called “tamahagane”, which was relatively weak so it had to be folded several times over to create a sturdy enough blade. And that’s why some katanas are thicker, which also determines the weight, sometimes.

The size of the blade also determines the weight of a katana. Normally, traditional katanas were significantly larger or had larger blades, than modern katanas. That’s why they were also more substantial in weight. But you’ll also find several modern katana makers that still make katanas that are larger in size.

Small weight changes are also caused by different katana parts that are used to compose a katana. Some katanas have lighter handles (tsuka), and the guards (tsuba) can also vary in weight. Normally, the better the quality of a katana is, the lighter these katana parts tend to be. Although that’s not a rule.

Different Materials, Different Weights

As I’ve already said, the biggest factor that determines a katana weight is the material that a katana is made from.

Modern steel alloys tend to contain steels that can significantly decrease the weight of a katana. Materials like magnesium tend to make a katana lighter, but that’s very different from the traditional katana swords.

Stainless steels are also commonly used for the creation of a katana. These tend to be relatively light, although they are also often much more substantial than a magnesium blade, for example.

The tamahagane steel, or the Japanese steel, is a special type of steel that’s used to make a katana. It’s a more traditional sort of material, which is why it’s fairly rare to find such a sword. These tend to be slightly heavier, and that’s mainly due to the creation process.

This type of steel is made with a very specific smelting process that’s only used to create a katana. This process reduces the impurities in the carbon that composes the blade.

Another process that adds some weight to the katana is tsuchioki. Here, another layer is added to the sides of the blade to make it sturdier. And it’s this process that’s key for making a curved katana more reliable and also heavier.

Modern Katana vs. Traditional Katana

A modern katana is lighter, smaller, less curvy than a traditional katana. That’s the main difference between the two.

That’s because the materials have changed so much, which is mainly due to the spread of the katana to the West. The creation processes have changed and have been simplified, which is why we often find industrially-created katanas that are lighter.

Hand-made katanas though, tend to be heavier than those previously mentioned. For centuries, skilled swordsmen from Japan created katana swords through a very specific, complicated process.

Old katana swords were heavier and longer. The standards have changed over the years, though. That’s especially due to the wars that have been waged by the Japanese Empire during all these centuries. Katana swords became more of a military blade, especially during WW2.

That’s why there was a need to make these katanas lighter – Japanese often wielded katana swords in close combat. Although the officers usually had specific swords during WW2, called the shin gunto swords. Katana swords and shin gunto swords were often mixed up, and after the war, the process of making a katana changed.

They became smaller, lighter, and less curvy.

Other Factors That Determine the Weight

If a katana is carried in a scabbard (saya), then this adds additional 100-200 grams to the overall weight.

The handle (tsuka) and the guard (tsuba) also add some weight to the katana, but that’s only a small difference. Some tsuka tend to be heavier mainly due to the different materials they are made from. Additionally, older, traditional handles were longer than modern, making the katana heavier.

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Last update on 2020-06-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion

A katana weighs anywhere between 900 and 1400 grams (2-3.1 lbs). Katana swords have changed over the centuries, though, as have the materials they are made from. And that’s the main factor that differentiates modern katanas from traditional katanas.

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Ahmed

I’m Ahmed, the guy behind Knifepulse.com. I’ve owned several types of knives and sharpeners over the last few years and have become obsessed with everything to do with knives. I’m always trying to improve my cleaning and sharpening process, and always on the hunt for the next best knife. But when I’m not spending time with my hobby, I’m here, writing about Knives and Sharpeners on KnifePulse to share with you what I learn along the way.

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