Arms & Armor Scholar Sword
A hands-on review by Bill Grandy

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Recent years have seen an incredible growth of practitioners of various historical European swordsmanship styles. This growth has been coupled with an increased demand for better training tools, which sword manufacturers have readily met. Various rapier simulators have been developed by a number of companies, as have longsword simulators. The standard medieval single-hander, however, has not seen the same level of popularity as many other weapons until more recent times. Practitioners of Fiore's single-handed sword or of Liechtenauer's sword and buckler styles, among many other practitioners, have shown a large desire to have more training tools available for their usage. Thankfully, manufacturers seem ready to meet these needs as well.

The Scholar Sword reviewed here was created by Arms & Armor, a maker known for creating high quality replicas of historical weapons but also having a line of practice swords for western martial arts training. This sword is intended to simulate a typical cruciform hilt styled single-handed sword for use in any Medieval or Renaissance martial arts practice.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:2 pounds, 6 ounces
Overall length:38 inches
Blade length:31 inches
Blade width:2 3/16 inches at base, tapering to 11/16 inches
Grip length:4 1/2 inches
Guard width:7 1/4 inches
Point of Balance:3 3/8 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~19 1/2 inches from guard
Oakeshott typology:Type I1 pommel, Style 7 guard

Replica created by Arms & Armor of Minnesota.

Handling Characteristics
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Rounded tip

This sword exhibits what many refer to as an "alive" feeling. The sword naturally wants to move, whether by cutting or thrusting, and it moves almost effortlessly. The blade is long enough to have a decent amount of reach, but the balance prevents it from being sluggish.

The blade is designed with a rectangular cross-section. The edges and point are rounded and thick for safety. The blade is mostly stiff but has a decent amount of flex to absorb shock in the thrust. Furthermore, the lively balance also allows for the user to control the actions easily, making it safer to use than a sword that is too unwieldy. While just about any sword simulator holds an inherent level of danger, this sword has been very safe when combined with control and common sense.

The heat-treatment of the sword seems to be excellent. After several months of drilling and fencing with this weapon against various other steel swords it has only seen minor surface scarring and some small dents in the corners of the edges. In addition to other steel weapons, it has hit the rims of many steel bucklers and remains in excellent shape. The hilt has on occasion started to loosen during use, but using a wrench to turn the pommel nut a few degrees has always fixed that issue right away.

Fit and Finish

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Pommel detail

The particular sword being reviewed was purchased with the lower of Arms & Armor's finish options, called Training Grade. Even so, the sword is still attractive. The general shaping of the guard and pommel are quite nice. It is obvious that the fittings were cast, but that is only because it was not purchased with the slightly more expensive high finish option.

The grip is wood with black leather stitched around it. It is comfortable in the hand and has proven to be very durable. The stitching is not completely straight, but this is not really much of a concern, particularly for a practice weapon.

The blade clearly does not look like a real sword. It may not be the best type of weapon for reenactment or demonstrations in that respect. For general training, however, the overall aesthetics are excellent.

The Arms & Armor Scholar Sword is not just a regular sword that is unsharpened. It is a purpose-built training sword. It handles wonderfully and is built to handle daily practice. It is even quite attractive for a training tool. It may not be what everyone is seeking since the blade does not have the beveling of a real, sharpened blade. For western martial arts, though, it is excellent, and one of the better trainers out there at the moment.

About the Author
Bill Grandy is an instructor of Historical European Swordsmanship and sport fencing at the Virginia Academy of Fencing. He has held a strong passion (obsession?) for swords and swordsmanship for as long as he can remember. He admits that this passion comes from a youth spent playing Dungeons and Dragons, but he'll only admit that if there are no girls around.

Photographer: Bill Grandy

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