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How to Tell if a Katana Has a Full Tang: 6 Effective Methods

Written By: David Mickov
Published On: August 1, 2023
Edited by: Juliana Cummings

The Japanese Katana has a full-tang blade that extends into the handle. There are 6 methods to determine if this is the case for a katana. A full-tang blade is important as it helps make the sword sturdier, balanced, and ultimately, is required of a traditional samurai sword. 

Left unsharpened, the tang is used to inscribe the mei (signature or stamp of the swordsmith). It also has one or two holes where mekugi pins are inserted to hold the kashira fittings together. Since a full tang has many advantages, let’s look at the methods and tips on how to tell if a katana has a full tang. 

6 Methods to Tell if a Katana Has a Full Tang Blade

Finding a functional full tang Katana can be challenging as it cannot be determined simply by looking at the sword. However, there are some methods and tips that you can follow to make sure that a Katana has a full tang blade.

1. Reputable Sword Brands

Full Tang Katanas found in Reliable Market
Full-Tang Katana swords can be found at reliable and reputable sword markets – Credits: WarStory Military Antiques

The first rule of thumb for getting an authentic full tang Katana is to obtain it from a verified and reputable source. There are many sword brands that specialize in the creation of authentic Katanas. Some of the best include:

2. Sword Information

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A Katana without a full-tang blade – Credits: TyDaleSumBum

When looking for a full tang Katana, obtain all the information of the sword including the blade and handle specifications as this will explain whether or not it has a tang. In most cases, reliable sword brands do not include this information because all their swords have full tangs. 

However, for markets with cheaper swords, contact customer service and get information about the tang of the Katana blade.

3. Visual Confirmation

Katana Visual Full Tang Information
The Mekugi pin used for a full-tang handle visible on a Katana – Credits: Invaluable

The tang of the Katana is beneath the handle, meaning that it isn’t visible. Despite that, full tang Katana blades will have one or two mekugi pins that resemble screws from afar. They are centrally placed on the tsuka (handle), about 1.5 to 2.5 inches (3.8 to 6.3 cm) from the tsuba (guard) or kashira (pommel). If a Katana does not have these pegs, it is likely that it does not have a full tang.  

4. Removable Mekugi Pins

Removable Mekugi Peg for a Full Tang Katana
A real Mekugi peg being removed or added – Credits: The Samurai Monkey 42

While the presence of mekugi pegs are important, some katanas have pins that are merely there for decorative purposes. This means that they are not real pegs that function to hold the handle together and can be easily removed. 

If they can be loosened, the katana is unlikely to have a full tang because depending on the number and type of nakago tang, the pegs fit tightly inside the mekugi ana.

5. Katana’s Weight & Balance

Full Tang Katana Weight Balance Point
A katana sword with a balanced weight of the blade – Credits: Wiki Media

Katana swords are full-tang to balance the weight of the blade, making it effective for powerful slashes. The point of balance for the sword needs to be in the center or the first half of the blade, somewhere after the tsuba handguard. If the weight of your Katana is solely in the blade and unbalanced while placed horizontally, it might mean that your sword does not have a full tang.

6. Sword Disassembly

A simple video instruction on how to disassemble and reveal the tang of the blade – Credits: MadMaxtheSniper

The mekugi pegs inside the tang actually hold all of the Katana fittings together. They are placed inside using a traditional Japanese hammer called Mekugi Nuki and can be taken out simply by hitting the peg a few times. Next, the handle can be removed and the tang observed. A katana without mekugi pegs means that the kashira (pommel) is removable, meaning that the katana does not have a full tang.

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