Today, the names Hanwei and Paul Chen (its founder,) engender an image of fine functional swords and historical weaponry. Based in Dalian, China, Hanwei manages to combine traditional craftsmanship with modern tooling and metallurgy, in a way that enables it to supply a worldwide market, while meeting or exceeding the quality of custom-made products. Stability and reliability are ingrained in Hanwei’s operations, reflected in its product range, catering to various enthusiasts and professionals.
Paul Chen’s Origins and Early Career
Paul Chen grew up in Taiwan. As a young man, he developed an ongoing fascination for swords and knives. His fascination with swords and knives drove him to become a custom maker due to financial constraints. He found success in Asia and the U.S., eventually deciding to bring his company to the next level by becoming a full-time manufacturer in 1991.
Formation of Dalian Hanwei Metal Co. Ltd.
Chen became a full-time manufacturer and moved to Dalian, the “Steel City” of northern China, In pursuit of skilled artisans.
Early endeavors largely took the form of making knives and components for major knife companies, but by 1993 the company was ready to start trading under its own banner, and Dalian Hanwei Metal Co. Ltd. (Hanwei) was formed and is now known for creating a reliable viper. The early trainees became team leaders and then departmental managers as the company grew, forming a strong team at the core of operations.
Specialization in Samurai Swords
Hanwei’s early sword experience was with samurai swords, which still remain the cornerstone of their product range. However, a little-known facet of the company’s business is its Samurai sword restoration facility, where, over the years, many damaged and neglected pieces from the old masters have been restored to their former glory.
Through this work, the company has gained a tremendous base of knowledge in construction and metallurgical techniques from these historical pieces. And it has employed this knowledge to consistently enhance the quality and authenticity of its own swords. Hanwei’s samurai swords are now regarded as state-of-the-art cutlery and offer the martial artist and collector an unparalleled opportunity to own a fine-quality sword.
Expansion into European-style Swords and Knives
In the mid-1990s, Hanwei expanded its range to include European-style swords, catering to collectors and historical enthusiasts worldwide. These swords rapidly gained popularity with collectors, re-enactors, and historical fencers throughout the world and the line expanded rapidly to cover the diverse needs of this market.
Growth and Advancements
At the same time, Hanwei started to expand its line of knives which also have a historical flavor as evidenced by the popular line of antique Bowie knife replicas. Therefore, in 2002, a move to a large purpose-built facility provided much-needed space and improvements in efficiency.
Today, Hanwei’s three hundred-plus employees produce over six hundred items in the sword, knife, and historical weaponry fields and are continuously developing new products involving more complex techniques and advanced metallurgy.
Ron Chen’s Influence and Innovations
Today Paul Chen’s son Ron is following in his father’s footsteps and becoming very much a part of the Hanwei story. Ron, who has studied under Japanese legend Yoshindo Yoshihara, is the driving force behind Hanwei’s Tamahagane and Bainite blade development. Ron’s own blades illustrate his deep appreciation for the art of the Japanese sword and are sure to become collector pieces.
Technological Advancements and Collaborations
For a quarter of a century, CAS has been providing top-quality swords, knives, and accessory equipment to an ever-growing number of users through our network of loyal dealers and distributors. Also, their commitment to quality and innovation is unchanging and, with the opening of their second Hanwei factory, their technological capabilities are expanding rapidly.
Installation of a state-of-the-art furnace is enabling Hanwei to produce its own high-alloy steels and sophisticated heat treating equipment and techniques are producing some remarkable blades.
Last, their association with GDFB continues to flourish, providing reenactors and role-players with an ever-expanding selection of armor and period accessories. However, of particular interest to the readers of this website would be their new line of knives– several of which show considerable promise as dedicated outdoor survival knives. In fact, the Viper, Tank, and Golia all exhibit particularly high potential to fulfill this purpose.
Focus on the New Knife Series: Viper
Amid their broad product range, Hanwei has introduced a new line of knives notably the Viper series. For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on the Viper series Tank model survival/camp knife.
Viper Tank Knife Product Information:
This knife features an overall length of 11 1/4” with a 6”, drop point, flat ground blade made from 3 1/16”, D2, semi-stainless (requires at least 14% Chromium to qualify as stainless,) tool steel that has been vacuum heat treated, dual-phase tempered and cryogenic tempered to a finished Rockwell Hardness of 58-60; and then coated with a black, “Aspis”, coating to prohibit corrosion.
a helpful feature is its full-tang handle with removable, brown, checkered, canvas Micarta handle scales with a MOLLE-compatible Cordura nylon and ballistic rubber sheath.
When I saw this knife for the first time, my first impression was: “Now that is how you build a survival knife!”
So, let me start by saying that in my opinion, this is an AWESOME outdoor survival/camp knife that meets quality criteria!
First of all, Viper Tank knife features a reasonably long, thick, heavy, drop point, flat ground blade combined with a very ergonomic handle design which enables the user to chop, carve, slice, and skin game with equal ease and that is a very tall order for a single knife.
The blade is crafted from 3/16”, D2, semi-stainless, tool steel (Carbon 1.40%-1.60%, Chromium 11%-13%, Molybdenum 0.70%-1.20%, Manganese 0.6%, Vanadium 1.10%, and Nickel 0.30% ) which is fast becoming my favorite steel for large outdoor survival and camp knives because it is reasonably corrosion resistant, it holds an edge well under hard use, and yet, it is also tough steel that will withstand quite a bit of abuse.
Versatile Blade Design:
In addition, the 6” Drop Point blade is long enough to perform light chopping jobs and yet is still agile enough to carve notches for spring traps, snares, and deadfalls. Plus, the edge of the blade is also expertly designed with a long, straight, section that transitions into an excellently designed sweep with just enough belly to be a highly effective skinning knife and the flat grind makes slicing jobs a breeze.
Strength and Functionality:
The wide blade also provides the knife with considerable strength and yet, the 3/16” spine with a flat grind as opposed to a 1/4” spine will slice like your favorite kitchen knife. Plus, the tang of the knife descends gracefully from the handle to form a single quillion with a small ricasso to prevent the user’s hand from accidentally sliding forward onto the blade.
Handle and Ergonomics
Micarta Handle Attributes:
The CAS Viper Tank knife displays a unique handle design. The checkered canvas Micarta handle slabs not only provide a positive grip when the knife handle is wet, they are also impervious to water, abrasion, chipping, cracking or splitting. Plus, the handle design on the Viper Tank is very ergonomically designed and thus, I expect it to provide superior control over the tip of the knife when performing delicate slicing jobs and also over the back of the edge of the blade when carving as well as comfort and an extra secure grip when chopping with the knife.
I have a strong preference for a two knife system with consists of a large knife for heavy chores and a smaller knife for general purpose use. Thus, I strongly suspect that the CAS Viper Carnara combined with the CAS Viper Tank just might be the ultimate pair of dedicated survival knives (checkout this list here for a full list of knives) available today!
Verdict: An Adventurer’s Companion
In conclusion, the CAS Viper Tank stands as a top tier service outdoor survival and camp knife. Its blend of robust construction, versatile blade design, and ergonomic handle make it a trustworthy companion for adventurers, survivalists, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Whether navigating the untamed wilderness, setting up camp, or facing unforeseen challenges in the great outdoors, the Viper Tank is poised to be the dependable tool that rises to the occasion. Its reliability, durability, and multifunctional capabilities position it as a true asset for those who seek not just a knife, but a companion on their adventures.
Make sure to check out the Hanwei website and social media! You don’t want to miss out on any exclusive offers
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