Left 4 Dead Wiki

"I'm grabbin' this ninja sword. Anybody see some nunchucks, gimme a holler."
"Shit. I'd pay cash money for this."

The Katana (also erroneously called the Ninja Sword by some Survivors) is a close combat weapon in Left 4 Dead 2.

It spawns in the following campaigns:

Melee Mechanics[]

Melee weapons replace Pistols in the secondary weapon slot. Unlike Pistols, close combat weapons never need to be reloaded and cannot run out of ammo (excluding the Chainsaw). They have two main drawbacks: a limited reach and (with a few exceptions) relatively long cooldown periods. Close combat weapons cause minimal friendly fire damage to the Survivors, even on Advanced and Expert difficulty levels (the Chainsaw is an exception).

These weapons are extremely effective. All melee weapons, on all difficulties, kill Common Infected and most Special Infected in one hit, aside from the Charger (which takes two—but see point below), the Witch (which takes four), and the Tank (which takes twenty, excluding the Chainsaw). Due to their death effects, it is generally advised to melee neither the Boomer (unless there is no choice) nor the Spitter (unless it is possible to move away immediately from the resulting acid splash).

The melee weapons appear to do more damage if an Infected's head or upper body is targeted. With the correct timing it is possible to kill a Charger with one hit while it is charging, allowing a Survivor to "level" a charge without first dealing damage to the Charger and to gain the achievement "Level a Charge".

The Katana is classified as a slashing weapon. As such, hits from this weapon will sever limbs and splatter blood.

Pros and Cons[]


Nick holding Katana in "Hard Rain"

  • Does wide swings at a high rate.
  • Can appear on any map.
  • Can cut a Smoker's tongue.


  • Low spawn rate.
  • Attacks may obstruct the user's vision.
  • Not recommended for killing Boomers due to bile showering attacker and any nearby Survivors.


Main article: Achievements

Confedaracy of crunches.jpg
Finish a campaign using only melee weapons.

Head honcho.jpg
Decapitate 200 Infected with a melee weapon.

Tank burger.jpg
Kill a Tank with melee weapons.

Beat the rush.jpg
In a Survival round, get a medal only using melee weapons.

Club dead.jpg
Use every melee weapon to kill Common Infected.

Level a charge.jpg
Kill a Charger with a melee weapon while they are charging.

PC exclusive[]

Achievement Lickety-split.png
With a sharp melee weapon, cut a Smoker's tongue before he ensnares you.

Achievement New Haircut.png
Kill a Witch using only a sharp melee weapon, without anyone getting incapacitated or killed.


Picture of a Katana

The Katana in action

  • The katana is a sword worn and used by the Japanese elite warrior class known as the samurai, beginning in a division of Japanese history known as the Muromachi period. Traditionally crafted Katana are made of a particular form of steel called tamahagane, which is forged from a furnace known as a tatara.
  • When picking up a Katana, all Survivors (except Rochelle) may say, "Grabbing a ninja sword." This is due to the popularity of the Japanese ninja in American media. Despite popular belief, the closest thing to a "ninja sword", otherwise known as a ninjatō, may never have existed and is purely theoretical. Though under the right circumstances (such as losing their weapon during combat), a ninja or shinobi may have used a Katana. A Katana has a long curved blade and is generally held with two hands, while the ninjatō is a short (generally straight) blade.
    • Ellis and Rochelle are the only Survivors who can correctly identify a Katana. Coach and Nick will always identify it as a "ninja sword" upon sighting it.
      • Despite being able to identify the Katana, Ellis still calls it a "ninja sword" upon picking it up; he may just be referring to it informally.
  • In a blog post, the Katana was voted the players' favorite melee weapon on both Xbox 360 and PC.
  • The Katana's tsuba (hand-guard) is in the shape of a scorpion; this is only clearly visible using noclip and inspecting a Katana on the ground, like in this video.
  • A screenshot of Ellis wielding the Katana serves as the background picture of Left 4 Dead 2's official community page on Steam.
  • The Katana is featured as the only weapon in the mutation Four Swordsmen, although the Survivors can still use their pistols when incapacitated, most likely for gameplay reasons.If the Survivors die, they will respawn with pistols if rescued. Once they arrive in the safehouse, the pistol will be replaced with a Katana, and the pistol will be on the ground next to the survivor.
  • Despite being held with two hands, light from the flashlight still appears in front of the Survivor who equips the Katana. This holds true for other two-handed melee weapons; this is merely a game mechanic.
  • In the history of promotional content for the series, The Sacrifice DLC trailer is the first to feature the Katana. Whilst being a weapon from Left 4 Dead 2, it is ironically used by the original Survivors from Left 4 Dead, which does not feature melee weapons.
    • As the trailer suggests it could be a retcon, a pertinent example of which is Bill being armed with an AK-47 in The Sacrifice comic and the campaign poster.
    • Zoey makes her move as the first Survivor to ever lay hands on a Katana, though she holds it only for mere seconds before handing it to Louis, who uses it to fight off Infected later on in the trailer.
    • Zoey and Louis hold the Katana with only one hand, an impossible act in-game. Also, Zoey is holding what appears to be a Magnum Pistol in her other hand as she hands the Katana over to Louis, who grabs it with his left hand as a testament to his ambidexterity.
    • Where and how Zoey found the Katana is never revealed, as the location where the trailer is set is an unlikely location where one can find such weapons.
  • Similar to most slashing weapons, if the user's reaction is fast enough along with facing the correct direction, the Katana can slice through a Smoker's tongue when snared. See the Smoker's tactics section for more details.
  • It is possible to kill a Hunter who leaps toward the player with the Katana, although it requires good timing (this rule applies for other melee weapons also).
  • It can be found in all current finished DLC campaigns released by Valve for Left 4 Dead 2.
    • The Katana used to appear in all Left 4 Dead 2 ports of the original campaigns in their beta stages. After the December 16, 2011 update, it became exclusive to No Mercy, Dead Air, and The Sacrifice.
  • Like all melee weapons, the Katana formerly did not appear on the original Survivors' backs whenever unequipped in the ported Left 4 Dead campaigns prior to The Last Stand community update, making it appear as though they were brandishing the weapon out of thin air. The only possible explanation is that the original Survivors' models had not been updated to support attachments for close combat weaponry; this was patched after said update went live on September 24, 2020.
    • Zoey's hands clipped on the Katana the most out of the original Left 4 Dead Survivors on various instances as well before the update, since her restored animations were not in sync with the new animations. This was also fixed although the issue persists in the Xbox 360 version.
  • Ellis references various aspects of Japanese culture upon grabbing the Katana; his lines involving this weapon have him mention ninjas, tell the other Survivors to "gimme a holler" should they find a pair of nunchaku, remark he should have brought his shuriken set along when the outbreak occurred, and (perhaps most significantly) reveal he took karate lessons prior to the game's events.
    • It is odd, however, that Ellis does not mention the samurai in any of his lines, despite the fact the samurai themselves are the best-known individuals for wielding the Katana.
    • Also, though he has stated that he took karate lessons with the Katana, this is unlikely; karate is a self-defense martial art which requires forgoing the use of weapons. It is more likely that Ellis has mistaken kendo, the Japanese art of swordplay, for karate.
  • The Katana and the Machete never appear in the same campaign together sans Cold Stream and custom campaigns.

External Links[]

Primary Weapons
Tier 1 Chrome invert.png Chrome Shotgun / Pump invert.png Pump Shotgun / MP5 Invert.png MP5 / Mac10 invert.png Silenced Submachine Gun / Uzi invert.png Submachine Gun
Tier 2 Ak invert.png AK-47 / Icon weapon rifle desert inverted.png Combat Rifle / M16 invert.png M-16 Assault Rifle / SIG Invert.png SG 552 / Auto invert.png Auto Shotgun / Spas12 invert.png Combat Shotgun / AWSM Invert.png AWP / Hunting invert.png Hunting Rifle / Steyr Invert.png Scout / G3 invert.png Sniper Rifle
Special Tier Grenade launcher inverted.png Grenade Launcher / M60Icon.png M60 Machine Gun
Secondary Weapons
Sidearms Pistol inverted.png M1911 Pistol / Deagle invert.png Magnum Pistol / Pistol inverted.png P220 Pistol
Melee Weapons Bat invert.png Baseball Bat / Cricket invert.png Cricket Bat / Crowbar invert.png Crowbar / Axe invert.png Fireaxe / Pan invert.png Frying Pan / GolfClubIcon.png Golf Club / Guitar invert.png Guitar / Katana invert.png Katana / Knife Invert.png Knife / Machete invert.png Machete / Baton invert.png Nightstick / Icon pitchfork inverted.png Pitchfork / Icon shovel inverted.png Shovel
Special Tier Chainsaw invert.png Chainsaw
Other Weapons
Grenades Bile invert.png Bile Bomb / Molotov inverted.png Molotov Cocktail / Pipebomb invert.png Pipe Bomb
Upgrades L4D2 ammo explosive.png Explosive Ammunition / L4D2 ammo incendiary.png Incendiary Ammunition / Laser sight HUD invert.PNG Laser Sight
Fixed Weapons MMG Icon.png Heavy Machine Gun / Minigun icon.png Minigun
Usable Items Explosive Barrel HUD invert.png Explosive barrel / Fireworks icon.png Fireworks / Gas canister HUD invert.png Gas can / Oxytank icon.png Oxygen tank / Propane tank icon.png Propane tank
Special Items Cola.png Cola / Gnome icon.png Gnome Chompski
Featured in both games / L4D1-exclusive / L4D2-exclusive (Counter-Strike weapons / PC-exclusive)