Angus Trim Single-handed Falchion
A hands-on review by Jason Elrod
The falchion is a sword with a single-edged curved blade that is usually hilted in the fashion of other contemporary swords. Used as early as the 13th century and continuing throughout the Renaissance, the falchion may be a relative of the messer and dussack which appear in many of the medieval fechtbucher.
With the rediscovery and renewed study of many of these medieval fechtbucher, literally "fight books" or treatises, western martial arts practitioners have been clamoring for some of the more exotic and less often produced weapons they depict such as the halberd, messer, and falchion. Unfortunately the few replicas that are on the market are often poorly executed.
Already having a reputation for making durable high-performance swords geared toward the martial artist, Angus Trim (also known by his nickname Atrim) decided that it was time to try his hand at designing both a single- and two-handed falchion.
As with most of the swords from Angus Trim Swords, this single-handed falchion is not meant to represent any specific historical example of the weapon. Instead Gus has tried to capture the feel and handling characteristics of antique falchions.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Angus Trim Swords of The Pacific Northwest.
This falchion feels powerful yet incredibly agile in the hand. While the point of balance (PoB) is fairly close to the guard at 4 3/8" one must remember that the total blade length is only 23 inches. This means that the PoB is located almost one-fifth of the way up the blade which seems to be fairly far forward for reproductions. However, most of the mass of the blade is closer to the hilt and in fact, the spine of the blade is half as thick at the center of percussion as it is at the point of balance. So while the blade feels like it wants to make heavy cuts, it is still agile enough for quick changes of direction and light cuts from the elbow and wrist.
This falchion would seem to be perfect for practicing the various dussack moves presented by Joachim Meyer in his treatise from 1570. However, it lacks the sharpened false edge that is needed to pull off some of the short edge cuts such as the Kurtzhau (short cut) and Blendthauw (blind cut).
The falchion blade is somewhat unusual in design. It is single-edged with a very slight diamond-shaped cross-section. The spine is approximately 1/4" thick and tapers to 1/8" thick toward the tip of the blade. I'm not sure what the advantage is of using this form instead of a more common triangular/chisel shaped blade. However it is effective. Tatami mats offer little resistance while lighter cutting fare such as water bottles or pool noodles offer almost no resistance at all.
The blade is slightly curved at the center of percussion. Because of this curve the edge will automatically be drawn along the target so that brute force is unnecessary. The widening blade makes it easier to hit close to or exactly at the right spot.. This falchion tracks well, is a natural cutter, and is really easy to use. I can definitely recommend it to anyone who might just be beginning to experiment with backyard cutting.
Fit and Finish
Utilitarian in looks, one friend stated that this falchion looked like an aerodynamic machete. I feel that this is an apt description. The blade and the bowtie cross have a matte finish. The grip is wrapped with cord, finished in black leather, and the seam on the grip is glued down tightly. One of the few nods to any sort of aesthetic design is the choice of the bronze pommel which I found to be very smooth and pleasing to the eye. It was also nicely finished and did not exhibit any of the machine marks that I have often seen on Atrim pommels.
In typical Atrim fashion the falchion is not peened but rather held together with a screwed-on pommel nut that allows the sword to be disassembled quickly and easily for repair, cleaning, or for those individuals who might want to upgrade the looks of their sword through a third-party vendor such as Christian Fletcher.
The pommel nut can be tightened or loosened with an Alan wrench. All the components are compressed together very firmly and held up to repeated heavy use without shifting or loosing. I never found the need to fiddle with the hilt assembly.
This is not a replica that is going to satisfy the needs of a historical purist. And while Gus can add a sharpened false edge, in its current form without this feature, I can't recommend it for western martial arts practitioners who might want to use it with dussack/messer techniques.
That said, as a pure cutter it's really fun to use and those backyard warriors who like to bring out the tatami mats, water bottles, or any other medium for that matter should really think about adding this falchion from Angus Trim Swords to their collection.
About the Author
Jason Elrod is a retail manager with Borders Books in Dulles, VA. His sword obsession is tempered only by the knowledge that no matter how large his collection becomes, he still will not be able to use it to send his son to college.
Photographer: Bill Grandy