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

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The early medieval sword retained the blade style of its Viking antecedents. The edges of the wide blade run nearly parallel for most of the blade's length before tapering to a spatulate or rounded point. These swords would be well-suited to oppose the leather and mail armour worn by most warriors since the shape of their blades and distribution of mass would give a great deal of power to the cut.

The Knights Templar formed near the end of the First Crusade as a group of knights who took monastic vows, swearing to protect pilgrims traveling from Europe to the Holy Land. Often living solely from alms given to them by travelers, early "Poor Fellow Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon" lived a life of austerity and poverty. They later became an extremely wealthy and powerful knightly order, regarded with both reverence and fear. In the early 14th century, efforts by the papacy and the French monarchy drove the Knights Templar out of existence.

The Templar sword, by Albion Armorers, is intended to recreate a classic knightly single-handed sword. Like the rest of their Next Generation lineup, this sword is not based on any particular original but instead incorporates features from several originals, giving a fine example of its type. Its form and Spartan decoration make it entirely appropriate for a crusader-era sword. By calling this sword the Templar, Albion places it in that era that begins around the end of the First Crusade (1095-1099 AD). Its simplicity of decoration calls to mind the early days of the Knights Templar, and shows a sword typical of the 12th and 13th centuries.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:2 pounds, 13 ounces
Overall length:40 5/8 inches
Blade length:34 5/8 inches
Blade width:1 7/8 inches at base
Grip length:3 7/8 inches
Guard width:7 1/4 inches
Point of Balance:5 1/2 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~21 1/4 inches from guard
Oakeshott typology:Type Xa blade, Style 4 guard, Type I pommel

Replica created by Albion Armorers of Wisconsin.

Handling Characteristics

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Side View of the Hilt

This sword feels very solid in the hand, as if it would be a consummate shield-cracker. As one would expect from a cavalry sword, it has a pronounced blade presence. Blade presence on these early swords tends to give extra impetus to the cut, though I wouldn't consider this sword blade-heavy. As I expected, the weight distribution of this sword and the shape of its blade would not make it very suitable for thrusting.

When the edge is aligned properly, this sword cuts quite well. Of the half-dozen or so Albion swords I've cut with, this is the most sensitive to proper technique, which I, unfortunately, do not possess. In my hand, the Templar seemed likely to end up misaligned at the end of a swing. I experienced no unusual vibrations during any of the cutting I did. I'm sure that if I had more practice and/or training, this sword would reach its full potential in my hand.

Albion's standard grip is of stabilized birch, wrapped with cord and leather, and, as always, provides a secure grip. The grip is equally comfortable for a gloved or bare hand, and the length of the grip was well-suited to my sizeable hand.

Fit and Finish
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Underside of Guard

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Blade Tip and Fuller

Albion's Next Generation line has been setting new standards for production-level swords, especially in terms of fit and finish. The bar has been raised when it comes to tight, non-gapped fittings. Largely, the Templar reviewed here meets those standards. However, there is a gap between grip and guard where a sliver of tang is visible from both sides. Since the grip's core is epoxied into place, this reviewer has no concerns about the grip coming loose in the short term; if this sword were part of my collection, however, I would have the issue fixed to make sure this sword sees a long useable life. While this is a flaw in this sword's construction, it does serve to show how Albion's hilt assembly is designed to resist loosening. Albion fits the pommel and guard tightly to the tang, hot peens the tang's end to further secure the pommel, then adds the grip as the last step. Most other makers rely on a compression fitted hilt: the guard, grip and pommel are slipped over the tang and held in place only by peening the tang's end over the pommel. In a compression-fitted hilt, both grip and guard (and probably the pommel) would be loose on this sword. On the Templar, though, every hilt component is firmly in place, even with the gap.

Everything else is up to the standards Albion has set. The peening atop the pommel is very cleanly done; the finish on the pommel is equally well-done. The bevels on the pommel's face are crisp, and the taper of the pommel's thickness away from the grip is another nice touch. The grip is a pleasing dark red, which Albion calls "ox-blood." The leather seam is evident only upon visual inspection, and the cord risers at the top and bottom of the grip add to the tactility of the grip. The cross is a classic, yet elegant bow tie. The blade is as nicely finished as the investment cast mild steel hilt components are. The fuller extends to three inches from the point and is well-done overall.

This sword is ideal for people interested in crusade-era swords. It is a simple, yet classic and elegant design. Any minor flaws on this particular review sword should not be considered as a reflection of Albion Armorers's quality. Rather, it shows that occasionally little problems slip through and that a well-designed product will hold up to hard use in spite of minor issues with fit and finish. Albion's comittment to tried and true construction methods demonstrate exactly this point.

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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