Angus Trim and Christian Fletcher's Sword of the Ranger
Christian Fletcher's Ranger Scabbard and Ranger Belt
A hands-on review by Gene George
Originally published in 1954 J.R.R. Tolkien's Epic Fantasy The Lord of the Rings opened up reader's imaginations to a meticulously crafted vision of a fantastic world of Elves, Dwarves, Monsters, Men, and of course, Hobbits. Fantasy literature would never be the same. Blending scholarly research, linguistics and a mythic history co-opted from Finnish, Anglo-Saxon, and other Northern European traditions and boasting fourteen languages created for his epic, it is no surprise that fans of Tolkien's works can easily believe that Middle Earth is real. Adding to the realism has been a series of decorative swords based on the recently released Peter Jackson films. Other smiths and makers have been creating interpretations of the weapons and armor from Middle Earth, usually as custom designs. Oddly, Professor Tolkien said little of the weapons that waged the War of the Ring, being more concerned with the epic's flow and mood than the mundane details of ironmongery. Luckily for us this has allowed quite a bit of creativity and has provided some of the finest craftsmen and makers to work their own magic when designing and forging these latter day artifacts from Middle Earth. Based loosely on swords designed for the Peter Jackson film epic, Angus Trim and Christian Fletcher have come together to produce their interpretation of the sword carried by a mysterious man called Strider, a Ranger of the North.
Angus "Gus" Trim is a self-described "sword-fabricator" whose training as a machinist has led to his coming to the forefront of modern performance sword design. Gus' attention to detail and constant striving to refine his designs has earned him a great deal of respect amongst a significant portion of the sword collecting community.
Christian Fletcher has been creating historical replicas since 1990. His armor and sword hiltings are historically accurate as well as beautiful. Christian offers hilting options, both fantasy-inspired and historical for blades manufactured by Gus Trim, Albion Armorers and others. He is a craftsman of the first water and quite pleasant to deal with. At the time of my order, Christian acted as the go-between with Gus, requesting a Ranger blade, which Gus then made to order. Recently, Christian's ordering policies have changed, please call or email Christian or see his site for ordering details. Christian was up-front about the costs of what I had in mind and was quick to respond to my requests for status.
The Rangers of the North were hard-bitten men who required reliable weapons as tough as they were. Roaming the countryside, its forests, fens and wastes individually or in small groups, the Rangers kept ancient monsters, trolls, wargs, orcs, and goblins, as well as more prosaic human bandits and raiders out of civilized lands. Rangers are hardy individualists, and each would have his own idea on which weapon would suit his style best, all would be adept at certain basic weapons; however, the axe, sword, spear, and bow were all tools of the Ranger's trade. Light and fast, with enough reach to cut off the head of an 8' tall troll, a grip that can be used one or two-handed, this sword would have been able to do well in almost any battle a Ranger fought. It is uncertain whether the sword carried by Strider is a common design or a unique piece, but it certainly displays characteristics that any fleet-footed Ranger would find desirable in a sidearm.
The Sword of the Ranger is a design that was copied from similar artifacts from circa 2920-3000 of the Third Age. It is typical of the long, light hand-and-a-half swords used in the lands of Eriador northwest of the kingdom of Gondor.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Angus "Gus" Trim and Christian Fletcher.
It would not be hard to believe that this sword came from a world where dwarves forge mithril into shining coats of mail impervious to the common touch of steel. Simply put this sword handles like a piece half its size. It is as light as a feather and quick as the wings of a hummingbird. Songs and poems need to be written about this sword. Gus Trim's blade is as close to a magical weapon as we will get to see in this age. His edge geometry and blade profile combined with Christian's excellently balanced hilt furniture combine to make a blade that is responsive, fast, and a cutter beyond compare. This is the best performing sword I have ever owned, and one of the two best performing swords I have ever held. It is no exaggeration to say that Gus Trim produces the sword equivalent of a Indy 500 race car, performance built from the ground up to do exactly what it was designed for, place a razor thin wedge of steel at a precise point on a target and shear through said target. This sword does that and does it effortlessly and consistently.
The Sword of the Ranger is a limited edition of 50 pieces with furniture handcrafted by Christian Fletcher. In addition, for an extra fee, Christian offers a custom scabbard that is a masterwork that complements the Ranger beautifully. Other options include a number of suspension types, including a belt specially designed for the Sword of the Ranger.
Angus Trim swords are performance pieces, pure and simple, and as befits a working tool, oftentimes are not polished to as high a degree as other maker's blades. The Sword of the Ranger's blade finish is a satiny, grainy finish typical of other ATrim blades I've seen. This is no liability for me, as I prefer a less shiny finish, as would the Rangers of the North. The blade is razor sharp and ready to cut straight out of the box. Fittings are top notch with the quillons showing graceful curves and subtle decorative touches. Everything is tight and well put together. The handle has tight leather over hardwood wrap with an accent ring beneath the leather rather than the metal fittings of other interpretations of the Ranger sword.
The Scabbard and Belt
Made in a traditional fashion from thin layers of leather and wood the scabbard is first lined with naturally tanned soft leather to protect the blade. Next wooden slats form the main structure of the scabbard. Third the raised relief designs that make the scabbard as much of a work of art as the sword it holds are attached to the wooden framework. Fourth, the exterior of very thin calfskin is added this is then custom dyed. For my sword I chose a deep crimson red for scabbard, handle and accent lacing on the hanger. The color scheme is very attractive with rich dye work that highlights the leather's fine grain. Finally the scabbard fittings are added and consist of a well-made hand forged chape and locket accent band in the center of the scabbard. The Ranger's suspension consists of a black leather laced hanger and belt with contrasting laces in the scabbard and handle's red color. It is well made and durable, as well as provides another splash of color. The striking red of the scabbard provided inspiration for the name of this fine sword: CarandûnéRed Sunset.
The Sword of the Ranger is an amazing blend of modern manufacturing techniques and handcrafted artistry. Both Gus Trim and Christian Fletcher are very good at what they do and this piece showcases both their talents to full effect. The heroic dimensions of this piece are rendered usable by Gus' attention to detail as a machinist and designer, and Christian's artistic touch in his interpretation of Strider's sword turns this from what might be just another high-performance cutter from Gus with a ho-hum hilt treatment into something special and beautiful. Put the two of these fellows together and they truly can work magic.
About the Author
Gene George has been fascinated with weapons and armor as long as he can recall. A former archaeologist and historian, he lives with his wife 14 miles west of where they filmed The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) and 60 miles North-Northwest of where they filmed Captain Blood (1935). He has a big pile of swords and wants more.
Photographer: Gene George