Kris Cutlery Gim (Jian)

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Scott M. Rodell
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Kris Cutlery Gim (Jian)

Post by Scott M. Rodell » Sat Feb 24, 2007 8:18 am

Kris Cutlery Gim (Jian)*

List Price: $235

Company Website:

*note that that gim is the Cantonese term for a straight, double edged sword, jian is the Mandarin term for the same sword type.


Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- Overall this jian is balanced in a hilt heavy manner because too much of the swords weight is in the hilt fittings. While this jian is not perfectly balanced, it plays acceptably well in forms practice & is no so mis-balanced that it is not useful for solo practice of the basic cuts. However, it is not as lively a sword as one would expect a properly balanced jian to be. Also while the blade does have a fair spring to it, it is a bit stiff in comparison with both period examples & more expensive contemporary jian.



Structural Integrity Test- As in every other sword product test, I did not take it easy on this jian when testing its structural intergrity. To test this blade I employed chou, hua, pi, & liao cuts into dead wood (this same old dead tree trunk was used to test other swords). As can be seen in the photo of the edge after the test, the blade received only the slight damage from this test, just a few very small nicks of no consequence. A test with a standard set of hardness testing files showed this blade edge to be between 45 & 50 HCR, which is a little on the soft side for a sword edge. From a "toughness" point of view, this jian is satisfactory. However, from a handling point of view there was a problem. As mentioned above, too much of the swords overall weight is in the hilt fittings, which means there is not enough in the blade. The result is that the blade tends to bounce off the hard target rather than cut into it. This results in a fair amount of rebound & shock to the hand in the moment after the cut. (Note that in the test proof photo, the photo was taken just after the cut.). In inexperienced hands, this could present a danger, as such a violent vibration could easily lead to a lack of control. It should be noted that none of the other swords I have tested to date, behaved in this fashion & did not shock the sword hand. So, while this jian is certainly more than structurally sound enough to move onto the next phase of testing, it will also be interesting to see how it behaves as it cuts into bamboo targets.

Hard Cutting Test- Given the questionable balance of this sword I began this phase of testing on thinner bamboo than I usually would. As suspected, the hilt heavy weight distribution of the Kris Cutlery Gim made it a poor cutter. As mentioned in earlier product tests, the bamboo grove where I test swords is my usual test cutting practice area, so I am very familiar with the target toughness. When performing short energy cuts, such as pi, one should use just enough power to cut thru the target, but end with the blade still oriented toward the target & not the ground. The lack of sufficient weight in the blade of this jian when that when cutting in this manner the sword typically would not cut thru even 1 1/2" green bamboo. When I moved on to more powerful cuts, this jian was able to cut thru the target, but only if more force was applied than experience had shown was necessary with other jian, but of greater concern was that when such force was applied, the result was fairly strong & uncomfortable hand shock.

Upon closer inspection of the blade, during post cutting cleaning, several new, small nicks were found. I inspected the blade cross section & found it to be nearly a flat diamond shape. Chinese swords typically had radiused blade surfaces that cut more efficiently than flat surfaces.

Test Cutting PHOTO Coming...

Historical Design Authenticity- Overall, this jian is historically accurate in both hilt & blade design. The squared cross section at the forte of the blade (ricasso) is a European feature that was adopted for Chinese jian in the late Qing period. The scabbard is little more than a storage case, lacking a chape & throat piece.

Rating- It is always refreshing to handle a jian with historically accurate solid fittings & blade. Hopefully the days of flimsy "wushu" swords are behind us forever. So I was encouraged when presented with this sword for testing, I was hopeful that it could be a low priced serviceable sword for those on a tight budget. I was quite disappointed in the end. While the Kris Cutlery Gim is well made, overall it is not a serviceable sword. While it could be argued that it is good enough for form practice, & this is true, I see little point in purchasing even an inexpensive sword as a beginner if one will only feel let down later.

What I'd Like to See- I could see it argued that, at the price this sword is offered, it is hard to ask for anything. But I would suggest that clearly Kris Cutlery can make a good quality product, so they should. Kris Cutlery should go back to the drawing board, speak with experts on Chinese swords & produce a properly balanced sword. While they are at it, I'd like to see a traditional set of fittings on the scabbard that match the hilt. I think most customers would be happy to pay a bit more for a complete scabbard.

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