Del Tin 2161 Late 16th Century Sword
A hands-on review by Bill Grandy

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Many Italian masters of the 16th century taught the use of the sword as one of the principle weapons of the fight. Giacomo di Grassi, in his 1594 fencing manual His True Arte of Defence, stated "that amongst all the weapons used in these days, there is none more honorable, more usual or more safe then the sword." The Italian Renaissance masters are best known for their use of the thrust-oriented rapier, though many forget that this style of sword did not develop out of nowhere, nor was it the only type of rapier used. Earlier swords utilized the cut as well as the thrust, and later developed into primarily thrusting weapons. Such a cut- and thrust-styled blade is referred to today as a spada da lato, or "side sword", to differentiate it from more thrust-oriented blades though period literature often didn't make that distinction.

Italian maker, Del Tin Armi Antiche, has been a mainstay in the world of production swords. The Del Tin line covers a wide array of European styles and time periods, from the Bronze Age through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and beyond. These swords are shipped unsharpened, and the geometry of the blades blend the line between a sword meant for sharpened use and a sword meant for blunted use. The DT2161 reviewed here was left unsharpened for martial arts use.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:3 pounds, 3 ounces
Overall length:44 1/4 inches
Blade length:35 1/4 inches
Blade width:1 3/8 inches at base, tapering to 5/8 inches
Grip length:6 1/2 inches
Guard width:9 inches
Point of Balance:4 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~21 1/2 inches from guard

Replica created by Del Tin Armi Antiche of Italy.

Handling Characteristics
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Grip and Pommel

The DT2161 has a very pleasant feel to it. It is a blunt sword, as all Del Tins are created, but it is not heavy for its type. While fingering the ricasso, I could make very quick cuts from guard to guard. The Italian systems make use of many deflections of an opponent's blade with the false edge of the sword, and I found this sword feel very natural for this. Tip control is quite good, and I could technically even use this short blade with rapier techniques intended for those longer swords. The sword feels comfortable in the hands, and the thick wire used to wrap the grip is filed down so as not to irritate a gloveless hand.

The sword has held up to basic bouting against other blunt swords. The steel seems to have a good temper, and shows no unusual wear. The hilt has taken a few strong hits and has survived without any problems.

Fit and Finish
At a price point of about $500 US, this sword is a very attractive piece. The lines of the blade are clean and polished to a satin finish. The complex guard is cast, and the decorative elements, while not completely crisp, are still well-defined and add a sense of elegance to the sword. The wire-wrapped grip is capped with cast brass ferules that are made to look like Turk's head knots, a way of keeping cost down while still providing a good looking grip.

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Guard Detail
When I first received this sword it seemed very solid. After a couple days of doing nothing but basic dry handling, the wire-wrap started coming loose. I had ordered the sword through Art Elwell's A Work of Art, so I contacted him about what I should do. Art very graciously took the sword back and personally fixed the wire-wrap himself, which is now tighter than ever. Unfortunately after I received the sword again, the grip started to slightly shift around when swung, something that I have had trouble with in the past with other Del Tin swords. Del Tin uses the compression method of holding the grips together; that is to say that when the hilts are made, the wooden grip is slipped on the tang, then the sword pommel is put over it and peened into place. This construction is adequate, but does mean that the sword will have to be re-peened in order to tighten the grip once again.

Del Tin Armi Antiche's model DT2161 is a nice piece for someone looking for an attractive side sword that is not too expensive. It is quite suitable for bouting or stage combat, but could be sharpened without much trouble should the owner so desire. While there were issues with the hilt construction on my particular piece, it has still held up nicely, and I would recommend this sword for someone interested in the style.

About the Author
Bill Grandy is an instructor of Historical European Swordsmanship and sport fencing at the Virginia Academy of Fencing. He has held a strong passion (obsession?) for swords and swordsmanship for as long as he can remember. He admits that this passion comes from a youth spent playing Dungeons and Dragons, but he'll only admit that if there are no girls around.

Photographer: Nathan Robinson

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