ZOMBIE TOOLS’ APOKATANA BRINGS PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH
The tactical katana is reinvented as old meets new in the Zombie Tools latest, must-have, bug-out weapon— the Apokatana. BY WAYSUN JOHNNY TSAI
There is cool, and there is tactical katana cool. Growing up in the martial arts exposed me to a lot of weapons. I was swinging swords and sticks around at a very early age. I grew up in a kung fu family, but never really cared for Chinese weapons like the broadsword or the guandao. I always secretly preferred the sword of the ninja and samurai, better known as the katana.
I don't know what it is about the katana, but as a kid I always felt like it could slice right through a Chinese broadsword in battle. As an adult, I learned that wasn't possible, but that's what I thought as a kid. Either way, Wolverine used a katana to kill a lot of ninja in my old X-men comic books, and that was good enough for me.
A True Standout
Now, fast forward 30 years. This is when I discovered the “tactical katana.” A modern take on my hero Wolverine's katana, but black, made from carbon and other steels. Instead of a traditional tsuka-wrapped grip, many tactical katanas would feature G-10, Micarta or other modern handle materials that are commonly used on tactical blades.
I thought that I had seen some extremely cool tactical katanas in my day, but then enters the Zombie Tools Apokatana. From materials to finish, the Apokatana truly stands out. I have to say that I am already in love with this sword. Let's go over some details then test it out.
A Closer Look
With a blade length of 27.75-inches, the Apokatana is the perfect length for a sword. Training with a sword is the same as training with a firearm— personal fit is key. What I have found is that some swords are just too heavy. If you have ever swung a full-sized traditional katana around for 10-15 minutes, you will understand what I mean.
At first glance, the 40.25-inch Apokatana looks like it would be a pretty heavy chunk of steel, but at only 3.187 pounds, that really is quite the opposite. It is super nimble and fast. The sword's 12.5-inch handle is more than long enough to allow for a solid single- or double-handed grip. Chopping and slashing feels extremely natural with this sword. The tip of the sword also came scary sharp right out of the box. As a thrusting weapon, I can see this thing effortlessly going straight through a zombie.
The blade itself is made from 5160 high-carbon spring steel, which means that it is strong and will hold a good edge, but it is prone to rust and will require oil and maintenance. The 5160 spring steel is heat-treated to yield a 55 Rockwell hardness. It sports a saber-grind bevel and the edge bevel runs at about 19 degrees.
The entire blade was given an acid etch with ferric chloride acid. This imparts a very slight corrosion resistance to the blade (in that the ferric chloride is, technically, pre-corroding the blade), but as I mentioned earlier, it is carbon steel, so the blade still needs to be regularly oiled to avoid rust.
The blade is 0.204-inch thick, which makes it feel light and easy to swing. For me, I feel that at 40.25 inches and 3.187 pounds, the Apokatana is the perfect sword length and weight. Again, personal fit and feel is everything.
As I mentioned, most of the tactical katanas that I have seen or handled have used modern materials such as G-10 and Micarta for handle scales. The Apokatana is a little different. The folks over at Zombie Tools used two aluminum slabs that are pinned down then wrapped in a type of tennis racket grip type of leather—very similar to that found on baseball bats. I can see
“I THOUGHT THAT I HAD SEEN SOME EXTREMELY COOL TACTICAL KATANAS IN MY DAY, BUT THEN ENTERS THE ZOMBIE TOOLS APOKATANA.”
the advantage of this as being simple to replace, should the leather wrap wear down from use.
As far as the sheath goes, it is basic black Kydex with a snap button retention strap. Nothing fancy, but it does have an interesting pattern on its sides and is well-made with enough rivets to ensure a variety of mounting options. The retention on the sheath is above-average and I did not notice any wiggle of the sword when sheathed. One flip of a thumb on the button snap and the Apokatana is ready to be freed.
Drawing from the sheath is a job for both hands. One to hold the sheath and one to draw the sword. I don't have very long arms, but I did not have any hang ups drawing the 27.75-inch blade from its sheath. However, I do wish that it came with mounting hardware or a shoulder strap. As I write this, I am trying to decide if I want to contact Zombie Tools and order the upgradable leather sheath that comes with a shoulder strap. Like I said, the leather sheath (available from Zombie Tools) is an upgrade and is definitely something to consider if you are going to own this sword.
Like all Zombie Tools, this sword was built to do one job, it was built to “dispatch zombies.” I can honestly say
that I cannot imagine it would have a problem completing its mission. As soon as I picked up the sword, felt its balance and started twirling it around, I knew that it would be a cutting beast. However, since I couldn't find any Zombies, I thought about an old 20-footlong, 3-inch rope that I found at a friend's estate and have been stashing away for the right blade to destroy it with. I knew that the Apokatana was the right match for it, as soon as I pulled it out of its sheath.
I laid the rope down on a wooden platform at my buddy Paul's backyard Zen Garden and let the weight of the sword just drop onto the rope, it cut a little more than an inch into the rope. I proceeded to give the rope two to three good chops and it went clean through.
“AT FIRST GLANCE, THE 40.25-INCH APOKATANA LOOKS LIKE IT WOULD BE A PRETTY HEAVY CHUNK OF STEEL, BUT AT ONLY 3.187 POUNDS, THAT REALLY IS QUITE THE OPPOSITE.”
I then took the Apokatana to a local wooded area and tested its slashing capabilities against a tree for about 10-15 swings—chunks of wood went flying. Even though the Apokatana isn't anything close to a dedicated heavy-duty chopper like the TOPS Knives El Chete (see my last Knives Illustrated article), it sure is a fun sword to get destructive with.
Finally, I wanted to see how easily the Apokatana could chop something with a shell. I was thinking about getting a coconut or a watermelon, but I thought that would have been a bit boring. So instead, I dug through my storage unit and found an old Spiderman skateboard helmet and gave it one good crack. Let's just say that I am glad no one was wearing it, because it split the helmet almost clean in half.
A Personal Defense Weapon
At this point, I am sold on the Apokatana's capabilities as a personal defense weapon. It may not be a practical everyday carry, but it is something that I would keep with my bug-out bag and in my trunk. It is a modern-day samurai tool for when SHTF and ammo is in short supply. The intimidation factor of being approached by someone wielding this rock-solid sword alone would be enough to keep the craziest (unarmed) aggressor at a distance.
I would, of course, recommend formal sword training before you even consider utilizing a sword or any edged weapon for self-defense. I also believe that anyone currently training or who has trained in the sword arts would have a blast with this beast of a blade.
Have I mentioned that I love this blade? I have owned a lot of swords in my time, and have let almost all of them go. This is one sword that I think I will keep indefinitely.
From its perfectly balanced weight to its acid-etched finish, I can't find anything about this sword that I do not like. It's pretty much exactly the sword that I have always wanted. The only thing that would make me happier with it, is if came with the leather shoulder sling sheath as standard issue.
I don't know if we will ever see our troops carry a tactical katana on the battlefield, but if they did I would highly recommend the Zombie Tools Apokatana. It swings fast, accurately and is extremely deadly. I think Michonne from "The Walking Dead" needs an upgrade. KI
“THE BLADE IS 0.204-INCH THICK, WHICH MAKES IT FEEL LIGHT AND EASY TO SWING.”
The Apokatana earns its place in your bug-out kit as a solid self-defense champion.
xxx Above: The leather wrap on the scales looks great and seems fairly easy to change if it should wear out.
Above: The Apokatana blends classic styling with new materials and features for a traditional-meetstactical look and feel.
Left: The acid etch is giving the Apokatana a very rustic look. Below: This tactical sword requires a two-handed draw.
The author said the katana features perfectly balanced weight and that it swings fast. The Apokatana features a very solid tsuba (guard) that complements the fit and finish of this sword’s theme perfectly.