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Feilong Swords Four Gourds Katana Review

Feilong Swords Four Gourds Katana

Full Disclosure

This Feilong Swords Four Gourds katana was provided to me by Dave Lorrez of Samurai Sword Shop. Dave is the creator and designer of Feilong Swords and has become a trusted partner and friend, ever since I reviewed his Feilong Swords Iwa Shobu and was so impressed, all those years ago. 

I never set out to sell factory production swords and still haven’t for any other brand but when I saw the quality of these products I really wanted to be able to share the find with my fellow collectors, practitioners and enthusiasts. Selling Feilong Swords katana here in the states makes it easier for you guys to get your hands on them, plus, I still closely inspect all swords before they’re sent out and therefore can address any possible issues beforehand. Yes, I like and sell this brand of sword but I will still try to keep my reviews as objective as possible and will be as critical as with any other sword I review. The truth is, if I ever feel they are not up to par, I may still review them but I would no longer sell them.


This batch of katana was shipped undamaged in a large outer box containing the 8 individual and smaller boxes. There is a new addition to the packaging this time around, with the cute and funny cartoon segment label applied to each box.

Four Gourds Katana

Sword Stats

Steel – “homemade oroshigane” steel (approx. 0.6%-0.7% carbon content according to the forge)

Overall length – 40 1/4″

Nagasa – 28 3/8″ / 72cm

Motohaba – 29.5 mm

Sakihaba – 23.1 mm

Motokasane – 6 mm

Sakikasane – 4.5 mm

Sori type – tori

Sori depth – 18.3mm

Hamon – gunome midare 

Mune – iori

Tsuka length – 10 1/8″

Nakago length – 8 5/8″

Weight w/saya – 2.38 lbs

Weight w/out saya – 1.96 lbs

POB – 6″ from tsuba

Polish – “tri-tone”

Ito – synthetic silk

Aesthetic Overview and first impressions

I have to admit that after all these years checking out Feilong katana I now expect to be impressed and this time around, it was no different. Unlike most of my other Feilong unboxings though, I was already excited before I even got it out of it’s bag because I immediately felt that the saya was thinner than previous models.

Removing the katana from the bag revealed a classically black and white color scheme, light weight and of course the aforementioned slimmer saya. However, I pretty much forgot about all of this as soon as I unsheathed the blade… Wow! The hamon on this model absolutely pops and was very impressive even in low light. More on this later, of course. 

I did a quick visual check for any obvious damage and a fast wiggle check on the tsuba and fittings and everything was super tight. The sword came in a simple gold silk bag.


The tsuka of the Four Gourds katana is in haichi shape, meaning there is a slight to deep concave curve on the mune (back side) and a relatively straight ha (edge side). 

This is my favorite tsuka shape, aesthetically and for the way it feels in hand. It is also less common to see on production tsuka than the much more produced rikko, or hourglass shape or the dreaded “axe handle”.

The tsuka is just over 10 1/8” long from top of fuchi to end of kashira. It has traditional oval based shaping and is very comfortable to grip and while I don’t practice formally, it feels like the perfect length for the nagasa.

The wood core is clean and and fits the nakago well with no movement and no apparent cracks or splits. The fit is tight but quickly came off with a couple of taps. 

There is no wood rot, sugar deposits or messy cement that is found on so many other tsuka cores, just good quality, clean hardwood.

The tsuka is secured to the nakago with one hard bamboo mekugi that fits snugly in the nakago-ana. Two mekugi are recommended for tsuka that are not made to fit the nakago, e.g., most mass produced katana, and have movement or other shortcomings but for one that was carved and fitted this well, only one is necessary.


The tsukamaki on the Four Gourds katana is done with black synthetic silk in hineri-maki style, the most commonly seen tsukamaki style. The maki is generally very tight. I don’t usually like the feel of low quality synthetic silk ito on my skin but this is better than most and actually doesn’t feel too bad.

While it’s not as fancy as genuine silk, it has proven to be durable and completely functional.

The wrap alternates, as it should and utilizes hishigami (paper triangles under the wrap) and the open diamonds are fairly even and well spaced.

The end knots are on the correct sides but notches weren’t carved in the tsuka core to accommodate the extra thickness of the end knots. In this case since the tsuka is thinner in general than average, this doesn’t really stand out in any negative way. There seems to be minimal space between the end knots and the kashira, which is a good thing, visually. 

The transition of the ito to the rims of the fuchi and kashira is smooth and level on all sides.

Overall, the tsukamaki looks decent in the classic black over white scheme, feels comfortable in my hands and will hopefully hold up a long time with use.


The samegawa is in panel form and is from a good quality skin. The nodules throughout the panels are average to large size with no apparent damage, staining or deformities.  

The samegawa is the traditionally used raw, bleached variety and has no coloring or lacquer applied to it. The panels are properly inlaid into the wood core’s surface on this tsuka, which helps them stay put, which in turn helps the ito stay in place. 

All four of the Four Gourds katana I have in stock possess an oyatsubu or “emperor’s node”, which is commonly only found on custom or very high end production katana. A very nice feature.


The vertical ridge design fuchi measures 39.3mm L x 23.6mm W x 10mm H and is made of brass, colored black. The cast quality is very good, showing nice texture with no burrs, grind marks or other obvious flaws. This f&k set is in a Higo style and is my favorite type of understated aesthetic and it’s also very comfortable.

The brass is thick and strong and should provide a lifetime of functionality.


The matching kashira measures 36mm L x 20mm W x 10.2mm H and is of the same style, color and metal as the fuchi. The casting is equally well done. The kashira is on very securely and does not have any movement at all.  

There are simple, non scalloped brass shitodome in this kashira. Simple and functional, period. 


I believe the menuki are cast brass, powder-coated black gloss and they are in a modern looking sukashi bamboo motif. They are stylized and show decent detail, even within the very dark black color. 

The menuki are positioned in the common style, the omote side near the fuchi and ura side near the kashira. They are low profile and unobtrusive, which I find more comfortable. Overall, the menuki show nice detail, work well with the general color scheme and are low profile, though are not very fancy.


The seppa are basic cast/stamped yellow brass with a satin polish and show some scratches and marks. They feature a common coin edge and are sized perfectly for the fuchi and saya. You can see they have peened the seppa for a tight fit. 


This tsuba is in a four gourds motif, hence the name of this model. In Japan, the gourd has been known as a symbol of divinity, good luck, good health, prosperity and propagation since ancient times. This tsuba is made from steel and is colored with black paint or patina with a slightly rough surface texture.

Even though it’s a rather lightweight piece, the steel provides more than enough strength and protection. The fit is solid with zero movement in any direction. 

There are some signs of filing, likely from smoothing the originally sharp edges at the cinched part of the gourds. I would like to see more attention to detail on this tsuba such as eliminating sharp edges and file/bare marks.

This tsuba is a copy of an Owari design you don’t often see on production pieces. It’s lightweight, durable, and comfortable though I’d like to see it with either a natural rust patina or a thicker, smoother powder coat. 


The habaki on this katana is made of solid brass with a brushed finish. It is on tightly and does not shift or move at all but can be removed easily if desired. One thing I look for first on a production katana is the fit of the habaki, particularly to see if there are any gaps at the top or any movement and fortunately, this habaki does not have any noticeable gaps at the top on either side. 

The blade is centered, which is good and there is no notch at the ha-machi, which is also good. The fragile ha-machi is seated snugly within the protective metal of the habaki and not exposed, preventing any damage to this part. 

The mune machi is also seated well within the protective walls at the back notch, as it should be. This is something rare among production habaki. To put it plainly, I feel Feilong has had one of the best, if not the best, habaki fit in the business since I reviewed the first Iwa model years ago. Whether made of brass or copper, the Feilong craftspeople definitely know how to fit a habaki.

And for anyone that doesn’t have the skills or patience to try and fix a poorly fitted standard habaki or custom fit a replacement aftermarket habaki, this is surely the way to go. 


The saya on the new Feilong models are an upgrade from previous models, featuring a slimmer shape and better paired profile to the fuchi. It is finished in a classic black gloss. This finish is nice from a distance but upon closer inspection, there are a lot of surface scratches that become more apparent at certain angles.

The paint in general is not very thick or protective against dings and scrapes. It does the job it’s meant for, however, protecting the blade. The basic gloss finish can also be convenient if you want to give it a good buffing now and then with a soft rag and some polish or wax.

The koiguchi, kurikata and kojiri are all made of black horn. The koiguchi fits perfectly with no movement or saya rattle and is carved and finished cleanly and without the unsightly use of cement or glue or overabundance of wax. Overall, the koiguchi is thick and strong and should provide good protection against the blade edge slicing through on a bad draw or from wear over time.

The kurikata is set in tightly with no movement and features two cast brass shitodome that are either press fit or glued in place since they do not move at all. The kurikata is adorned with a base level synthetic silk sageo in black and is in a standard presentation style knot. 

An especially nice feature of this saya is how the size and shape of the koiguchi aligns perfectly with the fuchi. This is one of those things that I don’t see very often and is a sign that someone was paying attention to the little details. It might not make any real difference functionally but it’s just another little thing that makes the sword that much nicer aesthetically.


The blade is advertised to be made from a homemade oroshigane style steel blend but I have no way to be sure of this, though it does look different than typical T10 mono steel or folded steel blades I’ve seen before. The forge claims there is approx. 0.6%-0.7% carbon content, as mentioned in the stats.

The blade is thin at 6mm thick and tapers to 4.5mm at the yokote. It is rated for light targets and iai. 

The shape of the blade is a classic shinogi-zukuri, meaning it has a pronounced ridgeline separating the two planes down the length of the blade and it also has a geometric yokote separating the blade and kissaki. It’s the most common design among production swords and is thought to represent the pinnacle of Japanese katana geometry.

The blade is shaped very nicely and has clean, sharp lines and smooth planes. The sori (blade curvature) type is tori, which means the deepest part of the curve is in the center of the blade and the depth of this sori is what I would consider average, at 18.3mm or just under 3/4″.

The nagasa measures in at 28 3/8” long from the mune machi to tip and is 29.5mm at it’s widest and there is no hi. 

The blade is light, agile and super fast. Appropriate targets for this blade would probably be single mats, pool noodles, paper, water reeds and small plastic bottles. Remember, this is a differentially hardened blade with natural limitations so it would not be recommended for complex trick cuts on harder targets or as a general beater sword.

There is basically no niku/ha niku so it should slice cleanly and easily through soft targets with little effort or resistance.


The kissaki on the Four Gourds katana is considered chu, which is medium or standard size at approximately 43mm. The shaping is well done in general as is the polish and the yokote is clean, geometric and sharply defined.

The boshi is clearly visible and turns back nicely.


The nakago measures 9 1/4”, which is within the recommended range for a 10″ tsuka. It is cleanly and evenly ground with no burrs on the edges or around the mekugi-ana.  

While there are file marks present in several spots, they’re not necessarily yasurime and there is a mei and or other information engraved into the nakago on both sides. The ha and mune machi are neatly finished and close to fully aligned. 


This blade features a hamon I would consider to be in gunome midare style. It’s about 13mm at its widest, which is just under half the blade’s total width in this area. It’s clearly visible, attractive, evenly applied and similarly patterned on both sides.

The basic gunome hamon is one of the most recognizable patterns found on production katana and this variation has just a little extra flare to make it more unique. There is a lot of activity to see in this hamon such as nie & nioi and the habuchi is very clearly defined and silvery.  

 This hamon was traditionally created by claying the blade, heating and then quenching in water. I don’t know what the hrc is and have not tested it with files but I would guess somewhere around 58-60/40.

The hamon on the Four Gourds katana can be seen at any angle but nearly glows in bright sunlight. 


I’ve labeled the polish on this blade as “tri-tone”, which really doesn’t mean anything in a traditional sense but since most of the polishing on affordable production katana blades aren’t done very traditionally anyway, I thought this was as good as hybrid, modern or similar terms. I count the burnishing on the shinogi-ji as one tone, the ji as another and the yakiba/hamon as the third. 

The shinogi-ji and mune are burnished to a higher sheen than the rest. The shinogi-ji does show some very pleasant surface patterns and texture and if you look closely at the right angle, you can see some swirls and fold patterns in the ji. There are a couple of very minor surface scratches and scuffs here and there but nothing out of the norm for a typical production blade.

The ha is sharp from the tip of the kissaki all the way to the habaki and doesn’t really include what is referred to as the ubu-ha or “virgin edge”, which some prefer. It cuts copy paper easily and cleanly. 

Handling, weight and balance

This sword is light, agile and super fast. I see the Four Gourds katana being great as a live edge iaito and for complex or trick cuts on light targets. It’s very responsive and takes very little effort to track and change direction but still has some authority in the cut, possibly due in part to the 6″ pob. 

There really isn’t any niku in the monouchi so there’s nothing stopping it from slicing through light targets effortlessly.   

I have dry handled it for two weeks and have not experienced any resulting pain, outside of my regular everyday pain. The more I use the sword, the less I’m minding this synthetic ito but, I’d still prefer real silk. The ito has held up great and remains just as tight. This is a fun sword to use, I don’t feel like I’m straining and I don’t feel awkward swinging it.



Well balanced and fun to swing

Classic aesthetics

Bold and clearly visible hamon

Nice polish

Solid furniture fit, even after disassembling/reassembling and tsuka core is not cracked or split

Good quality inlaid samegawa with emperor’s node

Well cast fuchi & kashira

Slimmer saya with all horn parts

Good fit in koiguchi

Synthetic ito

Average sageo

Filing marks on tsuba

Rough texture on tsuba

Thin paint on saya

Final thoughts and opinions

The Feilong Swords Four Gourds katana is light, agile, super fast and has a classic geometry and style. It’s every bit the iconic katana we all fell in love with and to be honest, it’s just so much fun to use.

The fuchi and kashira are the perfect design for comfort during every day use and they don’t offend with gaudy fake gold paint or sloppy details. I’m not crazy about the tsuba’s finish or file marks and I think if the filing was done prior to coloring, it would be fine. It is still made of steel though and of course 100% functional.

The aesthetics of the overall blade polish are pleasant and interesting and looks great even without flash photography. The hamon is stunning and you can really get lost in all the little details within. They have really stepped up their game with the finishing of these blades. You asked for more aesthetics and now you have them.

This sword retails at around the $740usd mark and so far from what I’ve seen, I think this is a fair price for what you get. There is a lot of value here in the solid construction and functionality as well as in the overall aesthetics and especially in the impressive hamon and polish.

The proportions of the Feilong katana are closer overall to historical examples than most other production katana in this class and price range. A more comfortably shaped tsuka, slimmer saya and a lot of thought put into the balance and performance of this sword make it a better choice for me than most other daily cutters. 

I’ve always admired the way Feilong katana are put together, their quality materials and craftsmanship and from a craftsman’s point of view, it always makes it easier to customize a sword when it starts out so nicely made. In my experience, I haven’t needed to do any reshaping or remaking of the Feilong tsuka since they seem to have already nailed the perfect shape and size, in my opinion.

I especially love the way their habaki fit, from the very first Feilong I reviewed to the current model and while some brands occasionally get it right once and a while, I haven’t seen any others as consistently well fit as these.

The Feilong line of katana aren’t what most would consider an “art sword” or neither a terribly interesting or particularly pretty brand of sword but they’ve always been at the top of their class in sound construction, good proportions and excellent functionality. Feilong swords are proven workhorses that get it right from the inside out in the name of practicality and performance and they are solid, trustworthy, dependable and very fun to use. With the addition of new saya and a step up in polishing and fittings, there is now more to a Feilong katana than ever before and much more than just being a great daily cutter.

The affordable production katana market is incredibly flooded with a lot of swords that may look the part on first glance but too few actually prove to be what you hoped. There is also constant worry about if and when your sword will arrive and if you can trust the overseas vendors, knowing that if things go south, there is really no recourse. When there’s no other choice, some of these other brands may suffice, if you are willing to accept the risk but when there is an opportunity to buy a trusted brand from a trusted seller, it’s always the best way to go.

The Four Gourds katana is available, email me to get yours now