Category Archives: Edged Weapons (swords, knives, Kukris, etc)

Edged Weapons include Swords, Kukri’s, fighting knives, etc. You will find them here.

Home Defense Weapons include Japanese Katana, Roman sword, Kukris

If you can’t have a firearm, you might consider a Japanese Katana, Roman sword, Kukri or Bowie knife as your home defense weapon of choice.

Home Defense weapons
In my second novel, Welcome to the Fun House, a group of vigilantes use Kukris to kill a group of Thai mafia thugs who had murdered their friend.

First up in my review of home defense weapons is the Japanese Katana

My “Japanese Katana is a Chinese made replica of the real thing made by Japanese sword smiths over the last few hundred years. It’s made by Cheness Cutlery. And it costs me about $300. It’s heavy and it’s got a 28 inch blade. So it’s obviously more than capable of destroying an opponent in short order.

Keep in mind that I did this review in 2013, so my thoughts about the ideal home defense blade has changed. Much later in 2022 in my review of the Tora Blades new model Mark II kukri, I denigrate Chinese replicas of real Katanas created with loving care by Japanese swords smiths.

Next up is the Roman gladius

As a potential home defense Weapon. Mine is as close to the actual Roman shorts sword as it gets. Mark Morrow created my masterpiece. My Mark Morrow gladius is the Mainz style. Later, the Pompei style gladius replaced the Mainz. Because it was cheaper to produce and designed expressly for stabbing and thrusting For me the Mainz leaf style blade is far more beautiful than the Pompei Roman shorts sword. While it could cut and thrust equally well.

I had to wait six months for Mark to ship me my Gladius. And it cost me almost $1000.00 including its sheath Mark made for me.

Mine has a double edge 20 inch blade. Which is typical for Roman shorts swords the Roman legionnaires used from 100 b.c. to 200 ad. Both edges are razor sharp.

Next is the Cold Steel Trailmaster survival knife, one of the best home defense weapons but primarily designed for outdoor survival

It has an 11 inch blade. But it’s more of a survival knife than many other home defense weapons that are more suitable for combat. Which I can learn a lot more about in my new bowie knife review, “Fighting bowie knives.” I have two Cold Steel Trailmasters, one using Carbon V steel. The other Trailmaster is the San Mai Trail Master. Which is very expensive because it uses three layers of steel sandwiched together. To give it extreme sharpness without sacrificing durability.

The Cold Steel Trailmasters are essentially bowie knives. But unlike my Mark Morrow Arkansas fighting bowie they have uncommonly thick blades that can stand the punishment from splitting logs, Or cutting the limbs off trees for making shelters in the wilderness.

The next four blades suitable for home defense are four kukri’s I bought from Khukuri House.

Kurkri’s are some of the most lethal bladed weapons you can buy. Although Cold Steel sells some incredibly well designed Kukri’s, Nepalese kamis create the real thing entirely by hand.

I now own eleven kukris. All of them made by hand by Nepalese craftsmen representing three companies. Kuhkuri House, Himilayan Imports and Tora Blades.

But back in 2013 when I created this video, I only owned four kukri’s. All of them from Kuhkuri House.

The first one I reviewed here it the Kuhkuri House Extreme. The Extreme model impressed me so much that I later bought three more kukri’s from Kuhkuri House. All four are awesome home defense weapons.

I bought my second and third kukris from Kuhkuri House at the same time. Back in 2013, I thought that Nepalese Gurkha soldiers commonly used extremely heavy kukri’s during both world wars. So I decided to replicate what I thought the Gurkas actually used to behead their Japanese and German opponents. So I had Kuhkuri House design my very own World War II kukri.

Thing about Kuhkuri House is they will hand make just about any type of kuhkuri you desire. So I ordered a custom designed kukri that was exactly like the Extreme model I had already purchased. But I specified a 13 inch blade. Which essentially was the Extreme model’s bigger brother. As I final touch, I had Kuhkuri House engrave my name on its blade.

I also bought the Victor model from Kuhkuri House, which I might call the Extreme model’s cousin.

The Victor is slightly different from the Extreme model kukri from Kukri House and the custom kukri I got that was like an Extreme on steroid. For one thing it has a 15 inch blade. And it has three finger grooves cut into its even more massive handle. As you can see in this video it comes razor sharp.

In 2013 I equated which is the most lethal kukri with massiveness. So the Victor was the most lethal Kukri I could get. And did. Although it easily hold its own compared to other home defense weapons you might consider, it is so massive that you wouldn’t carry it around with you on any type of offensive mission. It is as I pointed out in this video even more heavy than my Chinese made Japanese Katana. So if an enraged Grizzly bear attacked you while you were out camping: it just might stop him.

But in my second novel, “Welcome to the Fun House”, I have my group of vigilantes use custom designed kukri’s that are short enough to fit in the storage spaces underneath their motor scooter seats.

So in the novel, they buy several Extreme models. While specifying a blade that is one centimeter thick.

So I ordered a custom Extreme model from Kuhkuri House that would be exactly what I envisioned while I was writing Welcome to the Fun House.

Again, I did this video back in 2013. Since then I found that a lot of customers buying kukri’s felt that Himalayan Imports sold the finest kukri’s that money can buy. So I bought three kukris from Himalayan Imports. All of them would make fine Home Defense weapons.

Then I bought three more Kukri’s from Tora Blades.

Which is owned by Simon Henkle who insists that his kamis make only kukri’s that are historically authentic. And, I found out that Tora Blades had quality standards that were at least equal to Himalayan Imports.

The four kukris I had bought from Kuhkuri House had been designed to be essentially utilitarian. And therefore not the exquisitely finished masterpieces you can buy from Himalayan Imports and Tora Blades. But I found that my Kuhkuri House kukri’s typically had sharper blades than I was getting from Himalayan Imports.

By this time I was wanting to buy a Japanese Katana that would represent my Alpha Productions web site. But I certainly didn’t want to be spending between $5000 and $10000 for a real Katana created by a Japanese sword smith.

While I had read that even $2000 to $3000 Chinese copies of real Japanese Katanas usually came with flaws.

From what I know and have experienced Tora Blades does not do custom jobs. And I don’t think Himalayan Imports does either.

Whereas Khukuri House already lists over 100 kukris and fighting knives in its online catalog. I already knew from personal experience that Kuhkuri House will make exactly what i want. According to whatever specifications I provide. While looking at the Khurkuri House web site I found that they would provide any type of engraving you desire for free.

So I bought the Khukuri House interwar officer’s model. And had Khukuri House engrave my alpha wolf insignia representing my web site right on its blade. The end result was the handiest, most compact, and light kurki that I own. Which is simply gorgeous in every way.

Related Links

Tora Blades early model Mark II Review, Battle Blades

Latest model Tora Blades Mark II Kurkri Review

Tora Blades Mark 1 (World War I model review

Mark Morrow Roman Short Sword (Gladius) Review

Mark Morrow Roman Pilum best reproduction of mankind’s most lethal spear

The Mark Morrow Roman Pilum is the most historically accurate, detailed reproduction of the most lethal spear ever created.

The Mark Morrow Roman Pilum

For hundreds of years the Roman Pilum gave the Roman Army superiority over its enemies that was unmatched by the spears and javelins of its enemies.  I own two replicas, the first, a Windlass Steelcrafts Pilum, made in India. the second, an elegant Mark Morrow Roman pilum. Which is about as close to the real weapon of antiquity that  I can imagine.  After buying that first pilum and trying to get it to resemble the real weapons reportedly used by Roman armies, and then comparing it to the Mark Morrow pilum, a sense of how the pilum was really used by Roman legions can be gained only by the American replica.

How the pilum was used according to legend

In close order combat the Roman infantryman typically used three weapons that made him superior to nearly all his opponents, the scutum, or heavy Roman shield, the pilum which was a heavy javelin or throwing spear, and the short sword or gladius. 

Each legionnaire carried one or two pila, which he threw at his enemies from a range of up to 30 meters.  The primary purpose of the pilum was to take an enemy soldier out of combat one way or the other– either by killing or wounding him or by forcing him to throw away his shield. This made him an easy victim for the Roman soldier’s short sword.  The pilum employed a long metal shank of soft steel or iron with a small barbed point.  Throughout a time period of roughly 300 b.c. to 400 a.d. the pilum evolved into a number of incarnations. But in general there were two major types, the tanged and the socketed pilum. 

But it was during the time of Marius, around 100 b.c. that the pilum was transformed into a weapon that would typically bend upon piercing an enemy shield. Or striking the ground. When the long metal shank would break off from its wooden handle section. The Romans achieved this by replacing the metal rivets fastening the wooden and steel components of the pilum together with a single wooden pin. This pin would break upon impact.  By this time the concept was to make it extremely difficult for the enemy to recover pila that had been thrown at them.   So that they could throw them back at the Romans. 

The Windlass Pilum

The Mark Morrow Roman Pilum and the Windlass Roman Pilum

I received my Windlass Pilum from Cult of Athena at the Banglamung Post office which is just two miles from my Thailand condo.  This was the first time I was to receive a weapon through the mail. 

It only took five minutes to retrieve the package from the post office.  I then took my pilum back with me on my motorbike to my condo.  Windlass had shipped the pilum had been shipped in two pieces.   The first was the handle which was something like 1 1/8th inches in diameter and two and a half feet long.  The other was the wooden tang to which a steel shaft and point had been fastened.   A hole had been drilled into the bottom part of the tang into which I inserted the handle. 

The first thing that I noticed about the Windlass Pilum was that the steel shaft and point had not been painted.  It had been left in the white which made it appear to be pretty inauthentic. 

Moreover, it would easily rust in Thailand’s humid climate.  But I remedied that by spray painting the pointed shaft with flat black paint.  The second thing I noticed was the absence of a metal butt spike on either the wooden handle or in the package. 

The third thing I noticed was that the spear did not appear to be absolutely straight.  I tried to straighten the pilum by taking the handle out of the tang and reinserting it several times.  I finally resorted to having our Thai maintenance man take the pilum to a welding shop. But the welding shop was unable to straighten it to my satisfaction. 

After going to a number of web sites to read more about pila I discovered that the 1.25 inch diameter was too thick to be historically accurate.  While realizing that it was far too point heavy due to the steel shaft being fourteen inches too long. This did not compare well with other pila which have a shorter steel shaft and point.  Obviously Windlass had designed it as a thrusting or stabbing spear. And not as a javelin a legionnaire could throw at his enemies.

I then took the tang with the steel pointed shaft assembly to a welding shop. Which cut 14 inches off the shaft from the point down.

At Home Pro I bought a five foot long wooden dowel of smaller diameter than the original had been. 

The trouble was that the dowel’s diameter had been measured in centimeters and millimeters. Whereas the original handle had been sized in fractions of inches.  When I got the dowel home it fit too loosely into the hole in the pilum’s wooden tang. 

Cutting the dowel into a length that more accurately reflected the dimensions of real Roman pila was no problem.   The difficult part was trying to get it to fit tightly into the hole.  I even stuck a piece of a rag in to make it fit more tightly.  I even used silicon.  Finally I drilled two holes through the tang and into the wooden dowel that I had inserted into the hole.  I got the whole thing to fit more tightly together. But it was still not quite up to what it should have been. 

Nevertheless, I now had a pilum that seemed to have the right dimensions. As well as the steel pointed shank, the wooden handle, and the diameter of the handle.

And then I finally got the Mark Morrow Roman pilum which completely spoiled me. 

Once again I studied study pila on the internet. Where I found pila that used much thinner steel shafts than the thick steel Windlass shaft. So my altered Windlass pilum wasn’t authentic at all.  It was time to call Mark Morrow.

“I can send a pilum out in two sections”, Mark told me on the phone.  “Otherwise it would cost you more to have me ship it in one piece than the pilum is worth.  Which is a real shame considering it’s just a hundred and fifty dollar item.” The problem was a six foot long pilum could not fit into a box that could be shipped at a reasonable rate.  Mark could ship the pillum in two pieces. Which would save me a lot of money. But I’d have to rivet the thing together again. 

I did not have the equipment to do it.  I did not have the skill. And if I took it to the welding shop I didn’t think the result would have satisfied me.  After all, Windlass pilum had shipped me a pilum with a crooked shaft.   I had to have a perfect replica of a real Roman pilum on my wall.  So I paid a lot of extra money just for shipping the Mark Morrow Roman Pilum

The Mark Morrow Roman Pilum

For someone of Mark’s skill as a blacksmith creating a $150 pilum is not really a big deal. Not when you measure it against the skill it takes for him to create a samurai sword. To the same high standard traditional Japanese sword smith’s made create their artistic masterpieces.  But Mark shipped me a very elegant replica of a historically accurate Roman pilum. 

The Romans had created their pila to be thrown with accuracy and precision.  Mark had sent me a perfectly balanced pilum. 

The wooden handle came to me unvarnished. But still utterly smooth so that it felt good in the hand.  But the shaft and point were so much smaller in diameter than the Windlass pilum.  Coming out of the wooden tang to which it had been riveted, the shaft was angular.  But the thickness of the piece kept getting smaller the closer it got to the point.  Mark had transformed four flat angular edges into a  thin tubular section of steel.

The Mark Morrow Roman pilum so well balanced that it felt lighter than it actually was.  While the point was much narrower and longer than I had expected. Or what I had seen in so many pictures.  With a longer narrow point there was no questioning this pilum’s ability to penetrate. 

The Mark Morrow Pilum Shows Me

First—-that the pilum was all about maximum penetration.  The Roman gladius with its very wide blade would open up large wound channels. Whereas the Roman pilum could only make small holes in whatever it pierced.  This meant that spears with much larger points would kill much more quickly. Because they could engage more arteries, organs and other vulnerable parts of the body. 

Second–But that’s the entire point.   The Mark Morrow Roman pilum has a narrow shank especially where it’s close to the point. 

Because if the shank and point were to drive into a piece of plywood it’s going to drive deeply through it. And due to the narrow hole it makes it’s going to be much more difficult to pull it out of the plywood. This is not the case for a spear with a much broader point. That makes a hole larger enough to be easily pulled out.   And–a spear that cannot penetrate armor or a shield is useless. No matter how large a wound channel it’s capable of making. 

Third—You don’t want pila that break off as soon as they enter an enemy’s shield. 

  You want the enemy warrior to be encumbered to the max by having the  entire pillum protruding out of it. Not just the steel shaft.  Using a fragile wooden peg to secure the steel shaft to the tang is not wise. Because an assembly that easily breaks will leave the enemy soldier free to use his shield. This is due to the much lesser weight sticking out of the shield when the long handle breads off.

Fourth—The idea of purposely making pila to bend easily by using soft steel makes no sense whatsoever.  First….the concept behind this myth is that one ends up having the ground littered up by bent pila that the enemy cannot throw back at the Romans.  

The victorious Romans then gather up their own weapons which the legion’s armorer’s then re-bend to straighten the steel shafts.  My Windlass pilum was slightly bent and even a skilled welder could not straighten it to my satisfaction.  One can conclude then that once a steel shaft is bent it’s going to be very difficult to straighten it enough so that it can be re-used with any degree of accuracy.  Not only that, but just imagine 5000 or 10000 pila being unleashed at an enemy which commences a second charge the next day or even one hour after he’s initially repulsed.  Can we expect the legion’s armorer’s to straighten all those bent pila this quickly?  It is much more logical to expect the victorious Roman legionnaires to scamper out into the battlefield to recover their own weapons after initially repulsing the enemy. 

Fifth—It’s not necessary to use soft steel for pila just so that an enemy can’t find the time to pull a pilum out of his shield. 

Let’s figure that each legionnaire carries two pila.  He throws his first pila at his enemy at say 25 meters, tops.   The enemy starts going down from thousands of pila descending into their ranks as the Romans come within twenty meters range.  At ten meters out the Romans unleash their second volley of pila.  By the time the enemy is going down from this second volley the Romans have unleashed their short swords from a range of five meters. 

Now let me ask this question.  When will the enemy have the time to pull the pila from his shields? And which hand  will use use?  Will he drop his weapon from his right hand if he’s right handed to attempt to pull out a protruding pilum?  Will he drop his shield and calmly try to extract the pilum sticking through it with his hand while he steps on the shield with his foot?  Or will he throw his now disabled shield onto the ground while trying to defend himself as best as he can with his weapon?  Soft steel, hard steel, it’s not going to make any difference whatsoever, that shield has been rendered useless in that very small interval it takes for the Romans to come within range of their short swords.

Sixth–Roman infantry also had to fight off enemy cavalry with their pila.  In at least one commentary Julius Caesar is reported to have ordered his soldiers to go for the eyes of their enemies with their pila.  

I am assuming he meant the eyes of the horses the enemy cavalrymen were riding.  In situations such as these having a pilum that would easily bend or break would be a complete liability. 

Conclusion— It is a myth that the Roman pilum was made from soft steel so that it would bend to keep the enemy from throwing it back at the Romans. It’s also a total crock that pila were designed to easily separate at the tang where the steel pointed shaft is fastened by rivets or wooden pegs as described in such legends.  The Roman pila were primarily designed to be thrown which meant that the Roman infantry had unprecedented firepower that usually greatly exceeded that of his enemies.  

This meant that if a Roman legion had 5000 heavy infantry, there were 5000 short ranged artillerymen since every man was armed with longer ranged weapons than swords and similar short ranged weapons.  In those days when archers comprised a relatively small percentage of one’s total army, this  was equivalent giving nearly every soldier a bow with the caveat that his range was restricted to twenty-five meters.  Coupled with the unique ability of the pilum to penetrate the shields of an enemy and to make them useless, this usually gave the Roman army an incalculable advantage over its enemies unless they were similarly equipped.

You will also want to watch my video the Roman Gladius (short sword) on the Jack Corbett Video Channel

Mark Morrow Roman Gladius exquisite reproduction of the Roman sword

Only the finest reproductions of the Roman short sword such as the Mark Morrow Gladius can do justice to the real thing.

Mark Morrow Roman Gladius
Both edges of the Mark Morrow Roman Gladius are razor sharp. Below it is the Spartan sword which has a 13 1/2 inch blade. I got the Spartan sword from Cult of Athena which s about as close to a real Spartan sword as it gets. Most movies show longer Spartan swords which as historically inaccurate.

I’m sure there are some pretty good replicas from the Philippines, India. Or even good Chinese copies out there. But I’m almost equally certain there’s going to be that little something that throws the imitation off. Due to it being historically inaccurate. Or because it lacks overall craftsmanship and attention to detail.

In the video I’ve mentioned that the Mark Morrow Roman gladius costs $1000. Which isn’t quite altogether true.  Because over $350 of its cost is represented by its sheath. 

Many reproductions fall down when the quality of the scabbard is not up to the standards set by the sword itself.  I’ve also paid a little more for Mark’s shipping it to me because I live in Thailand.   But no matter which way you cut it getting a Mark Morrow Roman Gladius is much more of an investment than what you might pay elsewhere. 

However, that investment gets you closer to the real Roman sword than about anything else that’s out there.  Mark uses real bone and real wood similar to what the Romans had to work with two thousand years ago. 

I’m also confident that his gladius is the same size, weight and overall balance real Roman weapons had. 

The only main differences I can see between what a real Roman soldier had to fight with and what’s hanging on my wall is that my wall ornament is a whole lot better than what the legionnaires in Caesar’s time brought to the battlefield.  For one thing, the sword I got from Mark is made from much better steel than the ancients had back then. 

My gladius is actually a scary thing to take down from the wall.   Its twin edged blade is over two inches wide and it’s razor sharp.  

And since the sword is over two pounds just the thought of it slipping from my hand onto my foot sends shivers up and down my spine.  Its exquisite in every detail without as much as a hair width out of line. 

I have other swords that are nearly equally sharp as my Mark Morrow Roman Gladius.  And my Japanese Katana and my largest kuhkuri actually weighs a little bit more.  Neither is as terrifying, however. 

The Romans used the gladius primarily as a thrusting, stabbing weapon. rather than as a slashing weapons.  Roman soldiers were instructed to go for the groin or abdomen first. While preferably keeping their shields still in front of them.    Typically this would be in the melee after the legionnaires had first thrown their Pilla thrown their pila at their enemies. 

By the time the two opposing forces collided there would be dead and wounded underneath one’s feet. While many of the enemy still able to stand have thrown away their shields. Rendered useless by the pila stuck inside of them.  

The Roman legionaries could now attack their enemies behind their wall of shields. While stabbing furiously at their guts. Their interlocking wall of shields protected the Roman legionaries. While their thrusting their short swords into their enemies vitals became an almost certain death sentence.

You will also want to watch the Mark Morrow Roman Pillum VIdeo on the Jack Corbett Video Channel