Del Tin 5140 Hand-and-a-Half-Sword
A hands-on review by Björn Hellqvist
This sword is a reproduction of the sword IX.16 in The Royal Armouries, Leeds, UK. The Armouries acquired it sometime before 1859, thought to have been found in the Thames River near London Bridge. It is well known, as it is often featured in books on arms and armour. Del Tin Armi Antiche of Italy, one of the veteran makers of production sword, replicates the sword. The firm has been in the business since 1966. I have ordered many times from Del Tin, and while the waiting list is long (ten months), it is possible to get stock items from the retailers.
This sleek longsword is typical of its time. It was designed to pierce the joints in plate armour, which came more and more into use during the later half of the 14th century. The long blade has a diamond cross-section and tapers to a narrow point.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Del Tin Armi Antiche of Italy.
When used with both hands, the sword is well balanced and fast, making it a good choice for 15th century-style swordplay. In my opinion, it's a slightly on the heavy side for one-handed use, but handling improves if you place your index finger over the guard when holding it. The point of balance is 11.5 cms/4.5" in front of the cross. The center of percussion is about 36 cms/17" from the point; about 40% of the blade length. This is an acceptable measurement for this type of sword. As far as I can determine, the DT5140 has decent harmonic balancing. I haven't tried any test cutting with it, but the blade is pretty stiff, which ought to at least make it a good thrusting sword.
Fit and Finish
By mid-price reproduction sword standards, the DT5140 is an accurate version of the original sword kept in the Royal Armouries. It is about 125 grams (4.4 oz) heavier; otherwise it's true to the original (Okay, the blade is a little bit thicker, but given the rather corroded state of the original, it was probably about the same thickness). The point of balance is in the same spot as on the original, which is uncommon for reproduction swords in this price range.
The ricasso is long at 1/5th of the blade length and features two shallow fullers on each side of a deeper one. Due to its shape, the blade is rather stiff, but having enough flex to allow fencing. The steel cross-guard is a straight, no-frills affair, while the steel pommel is fig-shaped and faceted, allowing a hand to comfortably grip it. I've noticed that the pommel on my older sword is slightly different when compared to newer specimens, and I don't think it is caused by wear and tear. Maybe the moulds were changed somewhere along the line. The grip is long enough for two-handed use, with room to spare. It is of wood and covered with black leather. Halfway down, it's wound with two pieces of cord under the covering, intended to further enhance handling. I found it comfortable, but a friend with smaller hands thought that a waisted grip would improve handling. I customized the grip on my sword (not the review sample), and made the grip more rounded. One of the cords on the grip of the reviewed sword was somewhat off, giving an uneven impression, but apart from that, there was very little to complain about.
The sword is one of my favorites, and among the most accurate of the lineup from Del Tin Armi Antiche. If you are interested in the swords of the early 1400s, this is a very attractive piece, and very well worth considering.
About the Author
Björn Hellqvist is a Swedish optometrist with an interest in historical European swords.
Photographer: Björn Hellqvist