Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

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bond_fan
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Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by bond_fan » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:41 pm

Hi All,

I had asked Scott Rodell to please do reviews on the Huanuo Royal Peony jians previously, but at that time he stopped doing reviews, because he felt it would be a conflict of interest to review products he sold. A very noble gesture, but it sort of put people who wanted to know about the quality of the swords in a spot, because there were no reviews on which to go on.

In the past few months I have purchased both the Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai jians. The Huanuo Royal Peony San Mai jian came directly from Rodell and the mono steel one from a member of sword forum. I tried to post this to the Swordsmanship Product Reviews section of our forum, but was not authorized to, so I am posting it here. I also want to point out that I did not use either jian for cutting and the previous owner of mono steel jian told me he did not test cut with it, though he did remove the fittings of the scabbard and painted it green. I will be writing about the quality of the fit and finish of the fittings and blades, though again I did not cut with the blades.

Close-up of the mono steel version of the Royal Peony with brass fittings. As one can see the fittings of the mono steel version are very detailed and sharp even with all the intricate cuttings and designs. These style fittings are supposed to be a copy of a QianLong jian, though I have never have seen the original and would like to see photos of it to see how accurately they were reproduced.

Image

Close-up of the San Mai version with gold plated fittings and showing the guard. As one can see there is flaking evident where the gold has come off the edges and sides of the guard.

Image

Another close-up of the gold plated guard. In this photo one can see a bubble where the gold did not stick flush to the fitting.

Image

Pommel of the gold plated jian. As one can see there is flaking evident where the gold has come off the edges and sides of the pommel.

Image

As one can see the fittings of the mono steel version are a bit more sharply cut than the gold plated version. The quality of the cut on both sets are excellent, as I have seen the quality of copies of the sword fittings from different manufacturers varying in degrees, as the mold got used more the resulting subsequent fittings are not as detailed.

In regards to the flaking of the gold on the san mai version I would have expected the quality of the gold plating to be better and surprised to see the amount of flaking on the pommel and guard right out of the box. I did not see any other flaking of the gold on any of the other fittings, including the top of the throat fitting of the scabbard where I would have expected some gold to flake off due to the inside of the guard rubbing on the outside edge of the fitting due to pulling out and putting back in the sword into the scabbard.

I did not attempt to return this sword for one with better condition fittings, because I had asked Rodell to pick me a blade with a nice layering pattern, not one which was 100% mint condition. Still of the fittings most likely to be scrutinized on a sword, the guard and pommel of the handle, I would have expected the quality control at the factory to be better.

Now am I being overly critical on a san mai sword where one can get it complete with rayskin scabbard, gold plated fittings and scarce Zitan wood handle that cost less than $950.00 USD including insured shipping to me? To put things in perspective I bought a set of Chinese made open-work fittings for $200.00 and had them gold plated with the total cost including the fittings about $700.00 USD, not including the price of the sword. Of course the gold plating on my custom set was much better quality, because it was done by a US based fitting maker who uses more gold than what I've seen the Chinese use, but they are more expensive.

Now in regards to the quality of the fit of the mono steel version, the handle was tight, none of the fittings on the sword or scabbard were loose and the blade easily slid into the scabbard without excess rubbing on the sides. I am not sure what type of wood was used for the interior of the scabbard, but it is a dark colored wood and I like that no small pieces of wood come off the scabbard onto the blade. The blade was sharp and the center ridge was straight. The polish was a very nice mirror polish like which is found on Japanese swords. I didn't photograph it, because a mono steel sword with no hamon to me looks plain. My only nit on the mono steel version is I think the blade feels a bit top heavy for my tastes.

Here are the dimensions of the mono steel version:

Blade length - 28.5" = 72.39cm measured from tip of blade to tip of the top of the guard.
Overall length - 37.5" = 69.85cm measured from tip of blade to the top of the nut on of the pommel.
Handle length - 4.75" = measured from the bottom of the guard to the bottom of the pommel.
Height at guard - 1 1/8" = 2.85 cm
Thickness at guard - 3/16" = 5mm
Point of balance - 4.875" = 12.5cm measured from tip of the top of the guard to where it balances in the middle on the blade.
Blade w/fittings weight - 21.1 oz.

Here are the dimensions of the san mai steel version:

Blade length - 28 1/16" = 71.3 cm measured from tip of blade to tip of the top of the guard.
Overall length - 37.25" = 94.6 cm measured from tip of blade to the top of the nut on of the pommel.
Handle length - 5" = 12.7cm measured from the bottom of the guard to the bottom of the pommel.
Height at guard - 1 3/16" = 3 cm
Thickness at guard - 3/16" = 5mm
Point of balance - 3.5" = 8.9 cm measured from tip of the top of the guard to where it balances in the middle on the blade.
Blade w/fittings weight - NA, but over 21 oz or over 600 grams.

In regards to the quality of the fit of the san mai steel version, the handle was tight, none of the fittings on the sword or scabbard were loose, and the blade easily slid into the scabbard without excess rubbing on the sides. My only nits are the guard sticks into the scabbard if the blade is shoved too hard into the scabbard and little pieces of the light colored wood used for the scabbard come off on the blade. The san mai steel on this blade had a nice pattern and finish. They did a great job polishing the blade at the factory. I was unable to take a good photo of the blade pattern, because the blade had a mirror polish much like Japanese swords, so it is hard to get a good photo without light reflections off the blade.

The blade was sharp and the center ridge was straight. I especially like the balance of this sword.

Overall I think Huanuo makes a fine quality product whose fittings look appropriate for the Qing dynasty age they are copying with overall very fine to excellent workmanship of the steel, quality fit and finish. I would especially recommend the san mai version of the Royal Peony, because the quality of the blade.

I hope this helps those considering buying a Huanuo jian. Comments appreciated.
Last edited by bond_fan on Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by taiwandeutscher » Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:26 pm

Yes, that was very informative.
Thank you very much!
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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by B.Ko » Sun Jun 19, 2011 1:59 am

Problem with Huanuo is that their blade is a flat diamond. The edge chips much easier compared to a blade with clamshell geometry. As long as you cut mostly soft and semihard targets, you should be fine. Parry a blade even in a slow controlled fashion and you will chip the blade very easily.

I've tested the Hanwei cutting jian and a sanmai Peony jian against a strong beater with semiclamshell from another company and the flat diamond blades even on a sword costing 2X as much as the semiclamshell geometry blade got chipped much worse compared to tiny little chips on a semiclamshell profile.

The owner of the company is my sword partner so for his swords one could order a full clamshell for even more robustness.

But, if you never plan to parry, flat diamond is fine. I'm likely never to do so for real either but I'm curious and banged up some swords to find out.

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by taiwandeutscher » Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:12 am

Yes, I've read with great interest about your experiments, in another froum.

But to tell you the truth, as you mentioned, I won't parry with steel anyway (only wood on bamboo, lol), and in cutting green bamboo around my house, I found the diamond shape much more forgiving, when a busy work schedule leeds to bad technique, and it is also much easier for me to keep the diamond shaped blade in top condition.

I know about historical accuracy, but I'm a hobbyist and not professional, so I use what gives me ease in doing that stuff in spare time.
Of course... :wink:
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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by bond_fan » Sun Jun 19, 2011 10:51 pm

B.Ko wrote,
Problem with Huanuo is that their blade is a flat diamond. The edge chips much easier compared to a blade with clamshell geometry.

The owner of the company is my sword partner so for his swords one could order a full clamshell for even more robustness.
Do you have pictures of what you are referring to in terms of clamshell geometry? Laoshi Rodell taught us to deflect with the center ridge of the jian, not the cutting edge, so I'm not sure why one would get their cutting edge chipped if we deflect as taught?

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by Nik » Mon Jun 20, 2011 7:32 am

The point of balance is as far as I remember historically inaccurate for a jian, as the variation was some 5.5" to 6.5" with a strong emphasis at 6". Of course, with a much shorter POB, you can move a sword much easier, especially when it's far on the heavy side compared with the historical average at 750-820g. But there was a reason why jian were weighted and balanced like they were, they move in a certain fashion that way, with a certain, desired speed, and strength on hitting something.

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by Dan Pasek » Tue Jun 21, 2011 3:42 pm

Nik wrote:The point of balance is as far as I remember historically inaccurate for a jian, as the variation was some 5.5" to 6.5" with a strong emphasis at 6".
Nick,

I think that the POB that you cite is taken from where the handle meets the guard. To compare with what was posted previously you would need to add the guard’s length from the handle to the point farthest from the handle to Bond_fan’s POB measurement.

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by bond_fan » Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:47 pm

Thanks Dan, for clarifying that to Nik. I was going to mention that he was probably measuring from the other end of the guard, that's why I mentioned I measured from the tip. I'm not sure if there is a chart showing the standard points of measuring Chinese weapons, like I have seen with Japanese, but a lot has to do with one's perspective for measurement.

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by Nik » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:00 am

The point of measurement (for both POB and blade length), as explained by Scott, is from the end of the handle where the guard begins. Not where the blade comes out of the guard. Given the correct point, the balance should be around 6", without much variation (given and take some 0.5"). The handling changes extremely already over that span of 1", so you get something entirely different if the balance is 2" shorter or longer than it was on historical swords.

Of course, there is no way to say if that applies to the reviewed sword, as the point of reference used for the POB may have been mischosen.

Oh well, overread you mentioned the reference point. What do you mean with "tip of the top of the guard" ?

The correct point is afaik denoted by the white line on my pic.
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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by bond_fan » Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:57 pm

The tip of the guard is the furthest most part of the guard away from the pommel, which would be the center of the guard above the center ridge of the sword.

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by Nik » Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:20 pm

The easiest would be if you provide the POB again, measured from the white line on my picture. Everything else depends on guessing the size of the guard. :D

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by bond_fan » Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:51 pm

Based upon Nik's measuring point I have revised the point of balances to be, as the guard length is 2.25" or 6 cm:

San Mai steel - POB: 5.75"/14.9 cm
Mono steel - POB: 6"/18.7 cm

Also weights for San Mai jian are:

Blade w/fittings - 30.1 oz/853.3 g
Blade & scabbard - 48.1 oz/1363.6 g
Blade, belt hook & scabbard - 51 oz/1446 g

Also weights for mono steel jian are:

Blade w/fittings - 31.2oz/885 g
Blade & scabbard - 52.6oz/1491.2 g

I hope this helps?

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Re: Huanuo Royal Peony Mono Steel & San Mai Jians Reviewed

Post by Nik » Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:54 pm

Yes, it helps. Now, the Sanmei jian's balance is almost dead perfect on the 15,24cm = 6", while the mono steel one is too top heavy by too much. Over 17cm, a jian handles a bit hard, which is nice for getting a successful cut, but it becomes less of a jian and more axe-like.

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