"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[edit | edit source]

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 & Cons[edit | edit source]

Pros[edit | edit source]

Nick holding Katana in "Hard Rain"

  • Other than the Machete, Nightstick, and Golf Club, all of which are only available in a select few campaigns, and the Chainsaw, which is a rare weapon with limited fuel, the Katana has the fastest fire rate of any melee weapon.
  • Wide arc of swing, allowing for multiple Infected to be killed in one swing. 
  • Extremely fast swings.
  • Can cut a Smoker's tongue.

Cons[edit | edit source]

  • Very rare find. Sometimes it does not spawn at all in a campaign.
  • Covers the screen with blood since it is a slashing weapon.
  • Not recommended for killing Boomers due to bile showering attacker and any nearby Survivors.

Achievements[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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.

Notes[edit | edit source]

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 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 are to 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, such as the Axe. This is merely a game mechanic.
  • In the history of videos and trailers, The Sacrifice DLC trailer is the first to feature the Katana. Ironically, whilst being a weapon from Left 4 Dead 2, it is seen to be used by the original Survivors from Left 4 Dead, which does not feature melee weapons.
    • As the trailer suggests, it could be a retcon, which is done by mixing elements from Left 4 Dead 2 into Left 4 Dead, such as Bill wielding an AK-47 in The Sacrifice comic.
    • 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 then uses it to fight off Infected. However, the latter is credited to be the first to use the Katana against the Infected.
    • As seen in the trailer, Zoey and Louis both wield the Katana single-handed, an impossible act in-game. Also, prior to handing over the Katana to Louis, Zoey is seen holding what seems to be a Magnum pistol in her other hand, and Louis grabs the Katana 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 and remark he should have brought his shuriken set along with him when the Green Flu hit. Also, at one point, it is revealed through obtaining the Katana that Ellis is skilled at karate, a well known self-defense martial art from Japan.
    • 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 deals with defending one's self without the use of weapons. It is more likely that Ellis has mistaken kendo, the Japanese art of swordplay, for karate.

External Links[edit | edit source]

Left 4 Dead
Tier 1 Pump invert.png Pump Shotgun / Uzi invert.png Submachine Gun
Tier 2 M16 invert.png Assault Rifle / Auto invert.png Auto Shotgun / Hunting invert.png Hunting Rifle
Sidearms Pistol inverted.png M1911 Pistol
Left 4 Dead 2
Tier 1 Chrome invert.png Chrome Shotgun / Pump invert.png Pump Shotgun /
Mac10 invert.png Silenced Submachine Gun / Uzi invert.png Submachine Gun
Tier 2 Ak invert.png AK-47 / Scar invert.png Combat Rifle / M16 invert.png M16 Assault Rifle /
Spas12 invert.png Combat Shotgun / Auto invert.png Tactical Shotgun /
G3 invert.png Sniper Rifle / Hunting invert.png Hunting Rifle
Sidearms Pistol inverted.png P220 Pistol / Deagle invert.png Magnum Pistol
Special Tier Grenade launcher inverted.png Grenade Launcher / M60Icon.png M60 Machine Gun
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Cricket invert.png Cricket Bat / Crowbar invert.png Crowbar / GolfClubIcon.png Golf Club /
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Machete invert.png Machete / Baton invert.png Nightstick
New Melee Icon shovel.png Shovel / Icon pitchfork.png Pitchfork
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