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The original Custom Katana design started way back in 2008 – our goal was to provide a genuine alternative to a growing number of sellers claiming to own forges of their own and to be able to make anything you want at a price that seems to good to be true.. Mostly because, it WAS and still IS too good to be true..!!
THIS article on the main SBG site exposes some of the dirty tactics and tricks these sellers use to get your hard earned dollars and send you something vaguely resembling what you asked for at best, or unrecognizable at worst..
Steels are rarely, if EVER what they claim to be, components are often the cheapest, most fragile around – and many of the blades sourced are factory seconds – rejects from other brands who actually strive to deliver a good product. And the so called forges, usually a side business run by a Longquan based housewife that goes from forge to forge picking up what bits and pieces they can get their hands on to supplement their income.
For example, we went to Longquan – directly to the address of one of the most prominent eBay forges, and it was like being like a kid in a candy store – not because of so many good swords, but because the address IS a candy store!
Well, in the end as these sellers became more and more aggressive with their marketing and more blatant with their lies, our humble but 100% accurate to your customization and subject to two levels of quality control for under $500 was eventually drowned out by the ‘noise’ these deceptive sellers were making – and after Batches 40-45 got smaller and less viable, the time came to throw in the towel and let these sellers completely destroy the sub $500 custom sword level..
The swords themselves ran for almost 11 years as ‘batches’ and were available on average only 4 times a year. As the years went on, we refined every aspect of the sword line, from the way the way the fittings were tied and assembled to every aspect of the sword in the spirit of Kaizen (continual improvement).
In a nutshell, after 11 years of continual improvement by the time we had been decimated by the China based sellers, our basic T10 tool steel, differentially hardened Katana blades that started the whole T10 craze to begin with was sold at cost price, often making a loss – just as a service to the sword community. But as the batches became smaller and smaller, the losses became greater and greater, and in the end – with no where to go – in late 2019 we finally threw in the towel..
While it is quite sad in many respects, we did at least raise the standard. For example, ours were the first sub $500 swords to go the extra mile and add in features such as geometric yokote, high level polish of the kissaki & clear and visible boshi..
Since this line is now more or less dead, with the only exception the Black Dragon Forge Line which grew out of it and may be restocked with new models in the future, there isn’t much point discussing the pros and cons..
In short, the QC was beyond any sword anywhere near this price point, we sold them at cost price as a service to the industry but now that prices have gone up to the point where each batch results in a major net loss, the Project has run its course and been replaced by our other more expensive, higher end lines such as Project X and Forge Direct (that latter of which incidentally is made by the very same forge as the SBG Custom Katana, but by experienced apprentices, not the actual Master Smiths – hence the lower price point).
We leave you with perhaps the most iconic picture of one of the earliest SBG Custom Katana batches. Sad to see them go, but in this case, the bad guys have won the day – underpromising and overdelivering no longer works, instead to get the sale at the sub $500 price point for custom swords, you need to lie and cheat to get the sale and try to avoid after care customer service – and if that’s what the new game in town is, then we would rather not play the game at all.
The SBG Custom Katana: 2008 – 2019