Albion Armorers Next Generation Hersir Sword
A hands-on review by Chad Arnow

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Jan Petersen's categorization of Viking sword hilts, developed in 1919, has become the standard way to describe hilts of swords of that age. One style of hilt, known as Type H, enjoyed the longest life, being popular from around 800 AD to 950 AD. These hilts have guards with an elliptical shape when viewed from above. The sides of the guards are often curved or domed though early examples are peaked at the mid-point. The pommels are large and wide. Tangs on these swords are usually peened over the upper guard, while the pommels would be secured to the upper guard by two rivets.

While Petersen's typology has become standard for hilts, the blade typology of Alfred Geibig, written in 1991, enjoys wide popularity for describing Viking blades. One of these blade types, Type 3, featured edges and a fuller that tapered gently in width and was popular from the late eighth to the late tenth century.

Swords of the Viking Age have been an important part of the Next Generation lineup by Albion Armorers since its inception. Their early Viking models (the Vinland, Gotland, and Clontarf) featured one-piece pommel/upper guard assemblies that mimicked the traditional two-piece in appearance. Their newer models, like the Jarl, Huskarl, and Hersir, feature the more accurate two-piece construction. The Hersir, with its Petersen Type H hilt and Geibig Type 3 blade, is the subject of this review.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:2 pounds, 10 ounces
Overall length:37 1/8 inches
Blade length:30 3/4 inches
Blade width:2 3/16 inches at base
Grip length:3 5/8 inches
Guard width:3 3/4 inches
Point of Balance:5 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~20 inches from guard
Oakeshott typology:Type X blade

Replica created by Albion Armorers of Wisconsin.

Handling Characteristics
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Viewing the sword from the pommel end

This sword was an absolute joy when used for cutting. As one should expect in a properly made Viking-style sword, it has a great deal of blade presence. The tip section is quite thin and is entirely appropriate for the type. Against light targets, it is the best sword I've ever used. Cuts were effortless, easy to control, and highly effective. The mass in the blade near the tip actually seemed to propel the sword during a swing. Once it was up to speed, the blade presence was barely noticeable. This sword would produce devastating cuts and slashes against historically outfitted warriors.

In the hand, it was comfortable when held in the handshake grip (where the hand is not at a 90-degree angle to the grip). This grip allows the pommel to slide by the heel of the hand as it should. Neither the pommel nor its wire wrap irritated my gloved hand at all. The 3 5/8" long grip is large enough for my big hands; it didn't feel cramped at all.

Fit and Finish

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Detail photo of two-
piece pommel with
its decorative wire

This sword has a classic look that is pleasing in its austerity. The finish on the sword is what I've come to expect from Albion. The hilt is well-finished to an attractive, yet easily maintainable, satin finish. The peaks in the upper and lower guards are straight and even and add visual interest to otherwise simple fittings. The two-piece pommel is held tightly together via two small rivets on the underside that show expected evidence of hammering. The wire that separates the upper guard from the pommel is tight and straight. I had to look very closely to see how it was held together (a very small amount of solder has been applied in one place). The grip, which finishes off the sword nicely, is Albion's latest version of what they call oxblood. Their oxblood color has undergone several transformations: early versions were a rich, darker red before a formula change made it much darker and more brown. In fact, their current Magenta color is very close to the original Oxblood formula. Until recently, there was a great deal of variation within the Oxblood color; a recent process change, though, has yielded more consistent results and a more red hue. There are no distinct cord risers on the grip, but none are necessary. As usual, the seam in the leather wrap is well-concealed.

The blade is also nicely finished and is a great example of the type. The fuller is wide and shallow, yet is well-defined. The fuller terminates very nicely on one side of the blade. The other side is a shade less even in its ending, but still better than what is commonly found in the production sword market.

Swords like the Hersir are why Albion is at the forefront of production-level Viking-style swords. Albion Armorers has really nailed down the cross-sectional subtleties on their blades which contribute to performance appropriate for each type they reproduce. Its performance in cutting was fantastic. While not my main period of interest, I found this sword to have an attractive classic look. The accurate pommel construction, secure hilt assembly, performance, and overall level of fit and finish make the Hersir a great option for those with an interest in historically accurate Viking swords.

About the Author
Chad Arnow is a classical musician from the greater Cincinnati area and has had an interest in military history for many years. Though his collecting tends to focus on European weapons and armour of the High Middle Ages, he enjoys swords, knives and armour from many eras.

Photographer: Chad Arnow

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