Splitting (Wax) Slugs with a (Cheap) Samurai Sword

Just when you think that Taofeldermaus is going to run out of things to shoot with things, he manages to find yet another absurd (yet utterly entertaining) thing to shoot with another thing. This time up, its a Katana or what looks to be a reasonably cheap knock-off sword taking on a 12 gauge.

If one were to watch Anime or even various Western movies, one would think that a Katana, when wielded correctly, is a bullet-stopping blade of doom. Truth is, its far from it. Original Katanas are incredibly strong coming into being through an incredibly complex process of swordmaking that not even modern swordsmiths are sure they do the same.

The blades themselves are fearsome creations. Incredibly sharp and strong, they are more than capable of breaking a bullet, but not so good at actually stopping one. In most cases, trying to splice the round will result in the swordsman taking two impacts instead of just one.

Still, its always fun to see the “old” versus the “new”. In this case, Taofledermaus uses a wax slug against a bargain bin blade. The sword itself does shockingly well, if only because the impacting mass splits easy and further breaks apart into shot. The slow-mo is incredible.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • JustAHologram

    His slug tests are always interesting

    • Jeff Heeszel


  • thedonn007

    I am impressed that he hit it with the first shot. I like his “you make it we shoot it” videos as well.

    • Jeff Heeszel

      I’m convinced almost anyone could have made the shot. Darren isn’t a trick shot expert or anything. He hit the blade 4 out of 4 shots.

  • Edeco

    I’d like to see test tube torcher tests kicked up a notch; more BTU’s, higer temp, and fused quartz tubes. If possible to do safely and legally of course.

    I’m always dissapointed when they explode and the fumes dont flash over. Might still not happen with higher heat/pressure..

  • Tom

    “Original Katanas are incredibly strong coming into being through an incredibly complex process of swordmaking that not even modern swordsmiths are sure they do the same.”

    Actually we are pretty certain about how the Japanese forged swords as they are still doing it to this day. Its also worth remembering that the complex forging process was necessitated by the low quality steel and furnaces the Japanese Smiths were working with* and that there were also a lot of low quality weapons turned out by less competent smiths or for those who simple could not afford the price of high quality weapons.

    * similar processes were used in Europe until the 10th century after which Europeans discovered far better ways of making steel resulting in much higher quality and consistent alloys.

    • .45

      Thank you. I love to see other people who know this stuff. Usually hear things like “Japanese were the only ones to figure out folding the steel makes a super strong blade…” Uh no buddy, the Celts were doing it B.C….

      • Marcus D.

        B.C. Celts were making pattern welded blades. And their iron content was quite high with not a lot of carbon. Few owned swords–too much labor. Axes, war hammers, arrows and spears were preferred. Crucible (or wootz, aka Damascus) steel wasn’t introduced into Europe until brought by the Vikings around the 9th Century A.D.

        • .45

          Pattern welded is folding of steel. Not sure what you’re trying to tell me…

          • Marcus D.

            Sorry, it is most definitely not, at least not in the area in question. If you see an x-ray of an old sword from a Viking grave or a river find, you would know what I mean. You can still see the individual flakes that have been broken off the bloom and pounded into a blade that is built up successively. Now yes, one CAN take that pattern welded blade, pound it out long, fold, flux, reheat and weld, but that wasn’t typically done until after 1200 A.D. In other words, they didn’t typically pound the flakes into a single ingot and draw out the blade as became the practice later. In fact, early English swords were typically of poor, low carbon content that would bend and have to be straightened with the foot on the battle field, which means, necessarily, that they were of a softer steel. Folding hardens the steel, which is why steel folded multiple times was used for the edges of Japanese swords (for sharpness)) while the cores were typically folded only once or twice for homogeneity but not more so as to preserve the flexible qualities. Crucible steel (aka Damascus steel) was reserved for the wealthy lords and was not common.

    • gusto


      things from asia always gets a boost

      sorta hipster mentalitty

      it is still prevailant in the martial arts world

    • M

      Scrolled down for this. A lot of the myths of Katanas are hype and buying into the mystique of Asia.
      The quality of Katanas were quickly outclassed by European steel.
      It’s design what’s also retarded by the fact that the Emperor who designed it forbade any further development of the weapon which he deemed perfect.

      By the Renaissance, rapiers were arguably the superior weapon. Lightweight, quicker, and with a longer reach. Thrusting and cuts with the tip of the blade meant lightning fast and lethal attacks could be delivered. No motions are wasted swinging the weapon like a katana

      • iksnilol

        I’d say depends on the rapier in question. Those needle thingamajigs you see in sports don’t look like good fighting weapons to me.

        • Marcus D.

          Sword design is a function of the armor it had to defeat. Rapiers were developed when full body armor became common among the nobles, and the only way to defeat a fully armored knight was either blunt force trauma or a very narrow blade that could penetrate the joints where various pieces of armor met, typically behind the knee, elbows, and under the arms. Blades were wide and flat wehn most armor was leather and cutting was the norm. When chain was introduced, one sees the development of the “cut and thrust” sword which still had a double edge (lots of unarmored peasants to kill) but sported a narrow, stiff point that could penetrate the chain by breaking apart individual rings. After that, swords became progressively more diamond shaped in cross section, instead of flat int he middle with bevels for the edges. Eventually, edges became superfluous.

          • iksnilol


          • Voice_of_Reason

            in the apogee of armored knights, swords were a secondary weapon.

            an armored knight on horse with a shield and lance would make short work of a samurai with a katana. Same if the knight was dismounted and had a mace or flail. no sword can slice through a suit of armor, but a mace would crush through Japanese lacquer armor like Bluto crushing a beer can.

            of course, the “samurai” sword was secondary in the real combat in Japan, too…

          • Marcus D.

            True enough, except that lances often did not last beyond first contact with an armored opponent. Kind of like a single shot tank intended to overrun the enemy and break his ranks. Swords, maces, flails, axes and the like were the common melee weapons after the initial charge. Further, swords were commonly worn when not in combat as a defense to bandits, brigands, miscreants, rivals and the like. Sword lengths varied depending on intended, from short swords (20″ blade length primarily intended as a last ditch self-defense weapon even in the Roman era), courtly swords (27-28″), traveling swords for use on horseback (36″) (aka Spathas, and “bastard” swords), and battle swords (36 to 48″)

          • Voice_of_Reason

            well, i agree, except for one point: Roman short swords were the primary weapon of the infantryman in formations in ancient days. It was not used the way 99% of hollywood movies show swords being used – it was used to stab from behind a wall of shields, and cutting was avoided if possible. it was extraordinarily effective when fighting against foes who tried to slash and slice because it’s not effective to try to slice a shield and the act of swinging a sword exposes one to a stab.

            of course the infantryman was backed up by various types of lancers/spearmen, archers, cavalry, and siege engines. so they weren’t just fighting on their own.

          • Marcus D.

            Which raises an interesting point about the form of the Gladius. The original was a leaf shaped blade, similar to the earlier Greek short sword (which for the Greeks was a purely defensive weapon, spears behind the phalanx being the primary weapon). Humans naturally use an overhand swing with most weapons, but in the case of the Gladius, the weak tip of the leaf blade often broke off in combat, significantly reducing the effectiveness of the sword. The later Pompeian design had a spatulate (shovel shaped) or short triangular shape, which, although reducing the stabbing effectiveness, greatly improved the survivability of the blade.

    • gunsandrockets

    • supergun

      Interesting. Kinda of like the muscle cars of the 60s and 70s as compared to the muscle cars of today.

  • wetcorps

    Taofledermaus : shooting things at things since 2006.

  • John

    Of course a $10 sword breaks apart.

    Try it with several. One made from 1060 carbon steel, one made from better steel, and an art-grade G.I. bringback dating from the 19th century.

    Then shoot a Viking sword made from crucible steel and we’ll see if that’s a weapon worthy of Odin.

    • Marcus D.

      Even among the Vikings, who were probably responsible for the introduction of crucible steels to Europe, high quality crucible steel blades were as rare as hens’ teeth. Common swords were usually pattern welded from bloomed steel, but as manufacturing techniques improved, the quality of the steel improved as well. Paul Champaign produces swords from bloomed steel, but being a brilliant artisan, he is able to produce very homogeneous steels of great strength and toughness.

  • Anonymoose

    The obvious solution to the age-old conundrum of sword vs gun is to combine your sword with your gun. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/88e109bf33bc6efea9cd2c88a2e95c14fd66b13d4ef3022bb97b957c830fd04a.jpg

    • Amplified Heat

      “Pen-gun; mightier than the sword. Sword-gun; mightier than the pen-gun” –Stan Smith

  • .45

    Got around to watching the video. Trying to cut stuff with it was foolish. Those cheap pieces of junk can come apart just swinging them, to say nothing of actually hitting something with them.

    • Marcus D.

      The reason for that is two fold. One, these cheap Chinese made swords usually have “rat tail” tangs, where the blade haft does not continue all the way through the grip, but instead feature another piece of steel welded onto the blade that is susceptible to failure. Second, almost all are stainless steel which is more brittle than good carbon steel.

      • .45

        My very first “sword” was exactly that. Can’t throw a stick without hitting those things, or should I say you can’t break a blade off without it going flying and hitting another cheap piece of junk….

  • Jeff Heeszel

    Thanks for posting this guys!

  • AD

    I knew I recognized that song! FATALITY!

  • Voice_of_Reason

    Katanas are crap. They take crap steel, take inordinate amount of labor hours, and turn it into good steel for a slashing sword – essentially, a two-handed sabre weilded by dudes in fancy but weak laquer armor. All at the opportunity cost of a butt-load of skilled labor hours.

    Which would be useless against a contemporaneous Western knight’s armor.