Hey there love your blog. Quick question I'm trying to write a fanasty book where one of the main characters use both swords & guns. A katana on his left hip & a short katana on his right aswell as carrying a desert eagle on his person but he lives in a world where technology & magic exist except firearms are illegal. Is it possible to write scene's where this combintaion works?
The “short katana” would be a wakizashi. It’s a distinct weapon in its own right and was traditionally part of a samurai’s accoutrements, though this is probably the least significant issue here.
The combination works in so far as you remember that real people make really horrible decisions in an attempt to seem cool. The Desert Eagle is a very flashy, somewhat terrible, gun. You carry one as an aesthetic choice, not because you want to actually kill someone with it. It’s big, bulky, unreasonably heavy, and stupidly expensive. The only point to owning one is to say, “look at what a badass I could be.”
The katana is a very flashy, somewhat terrible, sword. Stop me if this one sounds familiar; this is a sword you carry as an aesthetic choice, not because you actually want to kill someone with it, but because you want to say, “look at what a badass I could be.”
In both cases you’re talking about items that present the concept of a weapon far more valuable, lethal, and cool, than the real articles offer. With the katana, there’s also all of the associated cultural baggage. The katana is, literally, a holy symbol in Shinto. If your character is carrying one for religious reasons, that’s one thing; but, if they’re looking for “the best sword,” then, it’s a terrible choice.
It’s also probably worth pointing out that both the Desert Eagle and the katana require two hands to wield properly. Desert Eagles have a “floating mag,” meaning the magazine remains somewhat loose in the grip, while locked. If the operator fails to properly stabilize the pistol, this can result in the pistol failing to feed, meaning it won’t properly load the next round into the chamber, and forcing the user to cycle the slide manually. This isn’t an issue if you’re using the pistol as designed, but if you’re trying to fire it one handed, because your other hand is occupied with a katana, it could easily result in a dead man’s click long before the magazine is empty.
There’s a similar issue with the katana, the design works
with the idea that the wielder will be using it with both hands. Specifically
you use your
index and middle ring and pinky finger on your off-hand to control the blade,
while using your main hand for power. The problem with wielding one single
handed should be immediately obvious; you can flail around with it, but you can’t
really get much value from it that way. At that point, you’d almost be better
off with a machete, simply because it would offer a more comfortable grip, and would
be easier to swing.
While wakizashi are frequently matched with a katana and sold together, they’re not intended for simultaneous use. The wakizashi had distinct uses, mostly so the samurai would have a blade they could actually use in doors, but it wasn’t supposed to be dual wielded with a katana. Think of it like buying a kitchen knife set, sure there’s eight knives in there, but you’re not going to be using all of them together at once.
I’ll add, I’ve got nothing against a character that has a reason to use a katana. If it’s a badge of office, a family heirloom, a sign of their order or training, that’s fine. It’s the idea that “this is the best possible sword ever,” which I object to. It’s a two-handed sword. It’s not particularly great. It has a dedicated martial style, predicated on using very fragile blades, (and historical katanas are exceedingly fragile).
Finally, if you’ve got a setting where firearms are outlawed, there’s a few problems specific to the Desert Eagle. I mentioned that they were large and expensive, so let’s break those down a little. First, these are massive pistols. A Mark XIX Desert Eagle weighs just under four and a half pounds. For a pistol that is comically heavy. This is also a gun that is over a foot long. These are large handguns. They are difficult to conceal. If you’re living in a setting where owning a gun is illegal, this is the last thing you want to be carrying on the street. (They’re pretty terrible carry weapons in the real world as well.)
On the current market, with firearms that are legal to buy, a used Desert Eagle will set you back at least $1,200 ($1,400 to $1,700 is more likely, for a gun in decent shape). In contrast, if you’re shopping for a solid conceal carry pistol you can expect to spend somewhere between $400 and $500. Even high grade “tactical” pistols rarely break $1k, unless they’re collector’s items (or SIGs). Most “cool” pistols you see on TV probably cost between $600 and $1k.
If you’re wondering why SIGs manage to command higher prices, it’s because (in most cases) they’re remarkably high quality. I’ve had issues with the American produced SIG Sauer P226s, but in general SIGs are worth the money.
The Desert Eagle really isn’t worth the money. As I said earlier, these are guns you buy to show off, not because you’re looking for a carry weapon.
And, all of this is before you step back and apply the economics for a setting where getting a handgun is illegal. At that point, you’re talking about a gun that could easily cost more than an older model car. Those economics skew against you even harder every time your character pulls the trigger.
Desert Eagles come chambered in a couple different rounds. There’s .357 magnum, .44 magnum, and .50AE. (Technically, there’s also .41 magnum and .440 variants as well.) Gun stores aren’t going to stock a lot, but you can buy them if you’re using something chambered for it. Also worth noting, if you’re dropping the hammer on a .50AE Desert Eagle, it will set you back more than a dollar per bullet. (The current, actual cost in the US is ~$1.35 per round.) But, if you’re in a setting where firearms aren’t easily available, your black market’s going to need to focus on rounds they can actually sell. They may keep a little bit around (and would charge way more than the price I just quoted), but once it’s gone, getting your hands on more could be very difficult. In this sense, it would be much safer if your character was using a firearm that matched to the common calibers in their setting. The reasoning is, that your black market may not keep much .50AE around (if they keep any at all), but they probably will stock 9mm, .45, or whatever your setting’s cops use. It’ll cost substantially more than it would in the real world, but it will be something your character can buy. It also won’t leave behind freakishly expensive shell casings every time they open fire. A string of killings involving a .50AE pistol? That will bring the cops down on their contacts looking for someone who’s been scavenging around the black market for those 12.7mm rounds far faster than a few people who got plugged with a black market .45.
To a lesser extent, the katana and wakizashi have a similar issue. Yeah, sure, they’re cool, I guess, but they’re also memorable. If your character is using a sword (and that’s common in the setting), having the cops looking for someone using a guy with a katana will result in a much shorter search ending at their doorstep than someone with a random non-descript sword or even something like a machete.
If the katana is enchanted, then sure, your character is kind of stuck with it (up to a point), but it’s still a weapon they’d need to be somewhat careful about hiding, and more careful about using.
So, yeah, it’s entirely plausible that you’d have a character who thought all of these were a good idea. If you have a setting where they could actually get their hands on them is a different question.
If you’re thinking they could use the weapons together, then no. They could switch between them, but trying to use them all at once would result in wild flailing, and a malfunctioning pistol.
I can think of, at least, one legitimate reason why your character might carry around a Desert Eagle (or a katana) in a setting like you’re describing, and that’s to scare people. If you’re an enforcer for some shadowy criminal organization, then being able to shove a 14 inch, chrome, monster gun up someone’s nose is an effective option (and yes, the Desert Eagle is a model of handgun you can press into someone without disabling it). But, even then, they’d probably carry something far more practical for times when they were there to kill someone, and not just put the fear of Elmer Keith into them.
Depending on the setting (or the organization they work for), then they might carry and use a katana for that kind of intimidation instead. For instance: If they were Yakuza, it would make some sense. At that point, you might reasonably get a character who used that exact set of weapons for intimidation, and would actually use the katana or wakizashi when provoked.
In general, though, there’s nothing wrong with a character thinking this is all a good idea. It’s not. But, if they could afford it, they might go chasing after that concept anyway.
EDIT: As @fox-bright kindly reminded me, it’s the third and fourth fingers on your off hand that you use to control a katana, rather than the first and second. Sorry about that.