Produced by Hanwei, Paul Chen Swords are synonymous in the sword collecting world with high quality, yet affordable replicas of Edo period Japanese swords – known in popular culture as samurai swords. While Paul Chen swords gained fame for their affordability and authenticity in replicating Japanese samurai swords, Hanwei now also produces a wide variety of highly accurate replica swords that include replicas of famous European and Chinese blades.
Before he founded Hanwei swords, Paul Chen – whose birth name is Chen Chao-Po – started as a sword collector. As a passionate collector of real swords, Paul Chen studied authentic sword-making from master swordsmiths. Chen mastered many traditional sword-making techniques including the authentic process used to forge and heat-treat authentic samurai blades.
In 1997, Paul Chen opened his factory in Dalian, China with the goal of producing authentic, yet inexpensive replicas of famous Samurai swords by imitating the painstaking craftsmanship of traditional Edo era swordsmiths while implementing modern manufacturing techniques. By producing affordable, yet authentic Japanese swords, Paul Chen swords managed to fill an important gap in market demand.
Paul Chen – Hanwei
Before Hanwei began manufacturing in the mid 90s, collectors could only choose between cheap, inauthentic, mass produced replica swords or extremely expensive, handmade Japanese samurai swords that could cost upwards of thousands of dollars. Those seeking authentic Japanese swords for sale can now own a highly accurate replica of an Edo era sword, manufactured – albeit on a larger scale – with similar methods of craftsmanship employed by traditional Japanese swordsmiths.
Despite the fact that Hanwei swords are manufactured in China, Hanwei did not begin manufacturing Chinese Swords per se. Though the company founded by Paul Chen now produces replicas of Chinese and European swords as well, they were most famous for replicating Edo period Japanese swords. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Practical Katana series.
Samurai Katana Sword – Paul Chen Practical Katana
The Practical Katana series carries 4 authentic Japanese swords – the Practical Katana (PK), the Practical Plus Katana (PPK), the Practical Pro Katana, as well as the Practical Plus Elite model, with the Practical Plus Katana being the best selling of the 3. The Practical Katana is the most basic model. It cannot be disassembled and its parts are glued together. The Practical Plus Katana can be disassembled for customization or cleaning, and also carries more traditional fittings. The Practical Plus Elite Katana – the top in the line of Practical Katana swords, is also unsurprisingly the most expensive Paul Chen Practical Katana. It carries a high performance blade that possesses superior sharpness and balance. It is also decorated with a motif displaying a Japanese Dogwood with a dragon.
One issue that should be noted is that while these replica samurai swords can carry extremely hardened and sharp blades, the mass production process used to create them does occasionally allow defective blades to leave the factory. While a good dealer will take the time to inspect the swords and send back any defectives, be sure to carefully inspect your Paul Chen sword prior to purchase to ensure that there are no defects. The result should be a strong, razor sharp blade that can cut through most materials like butter. Even a light touch of these Paul Chen katana blades will result in bloodletting.
Paul Chen Wakizashi
Paul Chen’s Edo period line of swords aren’t limited to full length Samurai swords. Wakizashi – meaning “side inserted sword” – were short blades between 12-24’ carried by Samurai alongside their main fighting Katanas. Known as “the sidearm of the samurai”, all Samurai swordsman wore both a Katana and Wakizashi. Wearing these two in tandem was a symbol that the wearer was a Samurai.
Wakizashi had practical significant beyond symbolism. They were also used as backup swords in combat or as primary weapons when fighting in close quarters. Additionally, they were used to remove the head of defeated opponents as well as to commit sepeku, the infamous honor-bound ritual suicides committed by defeated or dishonored Samurai.
Paul Chen Tactical Wakizashi
The Paul Chen Tactical Wakizashi is a rugged, robust entry level sword for a beginner. Its smaller size – at a full length of only 31” – makes it easier and safer for the beginner to handle. With a starting price point just above a hundred dollars, it’s affordable yet still carries a sharp, plasma coated 5160 high-carbon spring steel blade.
Selecting A Paul Chen Sword
Paul Chen’s company now produces hundreds of different types of swords and knives, all delicately crafted with methods replicating authentic sword-making techniques. But where should a novice collector begin?
While Paul Chen offers a number of affordable, cheap swords, the quality of even the entry level blades remains high. The Practical Katana series mentioned earlier is an extremely popular choice amongst novices due to its affordability and status as a true classic. For those who prefer a straight blade or are interested in obtaining a Paul Chen ninja sword, the Ninjato swords are another fine selection.
For those with a larger budget, the Praying Mantis Katana may be more suitable. This folded steel katana carries with it a symbol of cunning and power. While this Paul Chen sword is a work of aesthetic beauty, the true value of the sword comes from its L-6 Bainite blade. This high-carbon low-alloy steel blade has been forged at the most exacting standards – providing a level of flexibility, sharpness and shock absorption unmatched amongst other Paul Chen blades. The difficult and exacting heat treatment procedures required for the creation of this extraordinary blade does however put it in a higher price range than most Paul Chen swords. Priced around $1600-$1900, this Paul Chen sword takes a prized position in most sword collections.
Through his journey from passionate collector and swordsmith to running one of the most successful sword-making companies in the world, Paul Chen has created a new standard when it comes to manufacturing affordable, authentic blades. Hanwei swords are manufactured according to exacting standards that regulate blade geometry and surface finish. The resulting blades are well balanced, sharp, beautiful, and highly prized by collectors and hobbyists worldwide. If you haven’t yet entered the world of Paul Chen swords, consider this your invitation.