TAC­TI­CAL ZEN

ZOM­BIE TOOLS’ APOKATANA BRINGS PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH

Knives Illustrated - - News - STORY BY WAYSUN JOHNNY TSAI, PHOTOS BY WAYSUN JOHNNY TSAI AND PAUL MICHAEL ALEXAN­DER

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.

Cut­ting Ca­pa­bil­i­ties

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.

All-around Per­fec­tion

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.

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