Del Tin 2102 Viking Sword
A hands-on review by Patrick Kelly, with contributions by Russ Ellis

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In 1919 Dr. Jan Petersen developed a typology of the Viking sword that centers primarily on 28 different hilt styles. In 1991 Alfred Geibig developed a typology that identifies five separate blade types used throughout the Viking Age (see our Oakeshott Type X Spotlight). Despite all of this variation, the Viking sword stayed essentially functionally the same from the 8th century through a good portion of the 11th. They were intended primarily for cutting, with wide double-edged blades and a relatively rounded tip. Almost all Viking blade types have a wide fuller of varying lengths.


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Original in the National Museum of Denmark

IIn 1965 Silvano Del Tin began manufacturing replica arms and armour in the city of Maniago, Italy. Joined later by sons Flavio, Maurizio, and Fulvio, their company, Del Tin Armi Antiche, has produced affordable and functional replica arms for the collecting community for many years. At the time, Del Tin's swords were first imported to the US (the mid 1980s), there was a general lack of quality replica swords on the American market. Del Tin's offerings were greeted with high enthusiasm and its arms became known to many as the benchmark for their price range. The company, now run by Fulvio Del Tin, offers a wide range of reproduction arms and swords of the Viking Age are well represented in their product line.

The DT2102 sword that is the subject of this review is of Petersen Type D. The original sword that inspired it was found in 1883 in the lake of Sonderso, Jutland, Denmark, and currently resides in Denmark's National Museum. That sword features a pattern-welded blade in such bad condition that it is in three pieces. In his book Swords of the Viking Age, Ian Peirce described its hilt as having an iron core "onto which has been applied, in deep relief, a layer of bronze or brass diamond-shaped stellate devices surrounded by silver wire strips parallel to the length of the blade upon the guards and pommel."

We asked Mr. Del Tin how he decided what sort of blade to make since the original is so badly perished that it is impossible to discern its original form. He replied that he picked a blade form that he thought would go well with the sword. Therefore, this sword should be considered his interpretation of the original. As usual, Del Tin chose to strike a balance between being faithful to the original sword and keeping reproduction costs at an affordable level. Unlike the original, the Del Tin sword features a mono-steel blade made from Chrome Vanadium steel tempered to a Rockwell hardness of 50HRC. The hilt is cast bronze rather than having an iron core, but Del Tin faithfully copied the original's pattern of stylized stars.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:3 pounds, 12 ounces
Overall length:39 inches
Blade length:33 3/4 inches
Blade width:2 inches at base, tapering to 1 1/2 inches
Grip length:5 1/2 inches
Guard width:4 inches
Point of Balance:3 1/2 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~23 1/2 inches from guard
Oakeshott typology:Type X blade

Replica created by Del Tin Armi Antiche of Italy.

Handling Characteristics
Del Tin's DT2102 cannot be described as an agile or responsive sword. Its blade features a minimum amount of distal taper, and only a moderate amount of profile taper. In spite of a Point of Balance fairly close to the hilt, the sword's distribution of mass results in a very point-heavy feel. When combined with the sword's solid bronze hilt components, these attributes result in a sword that is heavier than most practitioners and collectors would find desirable. As with most swords in this price range, the DT2102 has a rather "dead" feel to it and its dynamic handling properties can only be described as poor.

The sword also exhibited a lack of responsiveness during drills performed with a replica Viking shield. While the sword tracked fairly well into the cut, its weight and lack of proper dynamic qualities caused recovery from the cut to be slow. Even though thrusting ability is not a focus of the sword's design, it did follow the point well into a thrust. Due to Italian regulations, Del Tin swords are not sold sharp and the DT2102 was delivered blunt. As such, no cutting exercises were performed.

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Sword in Hand

When taking these observations at face value, one would think that the DT2102 isn't worthy of consideration. However, Del Tin's production philosophy should be considered so that the sword can be viewed in the proper context. Fulvio Del Tin manufactures a product that is intended to appeal to a wide audience. Del Tin swords are widely used by stage combat and re-enactment troupes. Consequently, Del Tin swords are generally overbuilt so that they can endure the abuses of these activities. Fulvio also attempts to keep the cost of his product at an affordable level. Because of this many of the fine aspects of sword geometry and proportion found in more expensive replicas will not be present in a Del Tin sword. Despite these factors, the DT2102 is still superior to many other swords in its price range.

Fit and Finish

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Hilt Detail

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Pommel Detail

The DT2102's blade has been given a satin finish that is standard on all Del Tin products. This finish is reasonably attractive and would be easily maintained throughout the rigors of use. The blade has also been given a clear lacquer coating to protect it from the elements. While this coating would be easily damaged during use, it provides excellent protection for the sword at any other time. The blade's fuller has been cleanly machined and does not exhibit any wandering throughout its length. The edges of the fuller have been slightly rounded off during finishing, and this lack of crispness gives the fuller a slightly washed-out appearance.

The sword's hilt has been cast from bronze and consists of two components. The pommel and upper guard have been cast in a single piece, rather than as two separate components, as is typical historically correct. The casting's decoration gives the impression of a two-piece assembly, however. While this effect is not totally convincing in the case of the DT2102, this method of construction is acceptable given the sword's cost. The grip and the lower guard have also been cast as a one-piece component. This feature is also inaccurate when compared to the original that inspired the DT2102. Again, this simplifies production and is also acceptable given the price point.

A thin leather bushing has been inserted between the pommel and the grip component. This is apparently done in an attempt to prevent wear between the two components during use. While this should achieve the desired result for the sword's immediate future, a loosening of the hilt assembly may occur over time as the leather dries and shrinks. While the hilt's decoration is in the same spirit as the original sword it does lack the fine detailing and crisp definition of its inspiration. However, this is again acceptable on a sword in this price range, and the overall effect is visually pleasing.

The DT2102 should be seen as affordable replica that is well-suited for theatrical and re-enactment work. While it lacks many of the finer points of a more expensive recreation, it is a solidly built sword, and should give its owner quite a bit of good service. For over 40 years Del Tin Armi Antiche has been providing the replica arms community with a product made from quality materials and offered at an affordable cost. The company continues this practice under the guidance of Fulvio Del Tin, and the DT2102 is a good example of that philosophy.

About the Author
Patrick is a State Trooper serving with the Kansas Highway Patrol. He has been fascinated with edged weapons, particularly the medieval sword, since early childhood. Not only is Patrick thankful for any opportunity to indulge in his favorite hobby, he is also blessed with a wife who tolerates a house full of sharp pointy things.

Photo of original hilt © Copyright the National Museum of Denmark

Photographer: Patrick Kelly

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