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K + K Art KP-1.2 Customized and Patinated 17th Century Rapier
A hands-on review by Björn Hellqvist

Together with a practice rapier, I ordered a patinated rapier for decorative use. K + K Art is one of the more prolific of entry-level reenactment and stage combat weapons makers in the Czech Republic, but this rapier is found in their "museum quality" range. I ordered it through a friend, so I didn't experience the service first-hand, but the whole order was executed in less than two months, despite some language difficulties.

I went for the KP-1.2, but with the less elongated pommel of the KP-1.4. It is a rather typical design from the first half of the 17th century. As the rapier is intended for decoration, speed and good handling wasn't a priority for me regarding this particular piece.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:2 pounds, 8.5 ounces
Overall length:44 7/8 inches
Blade length:38 inches
Blade width:3/4 inch after the ricasso
Grip length:4 1/8 inches
Guard width:7 7/8 inches
Point of Balance:2 3/4 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~25 inches from guard

Price as of mid-October 2003: $367 US, shipping not included.

Replica created by K + K Art of the Czech Republic.

Handling Characteristics
The rapier handles well; especially considering it's a decorative piece. The pivot point is situated a bit up the blade, which isn't that good for a thrusting weapon. The blade is rather stiff, and flexes a little more than halfway down the blade.

Fit and Finish
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The Forging Flaw

The craftsmanship is superior to that of its low-end brother, and the lack of the K + K Art eagle-head and sword mark makes me think it was made to other standards than the stage combat swords that make up the largest part of the production. I would say that it isn't dissimilar to rapiers made by Del Tin Armi Antiche in terms of workmanship. The welds on the hilt are well made, and there's no rattling. The dimensions of the quillons, bars and guards are within historical parameters, but the hilt may be a bit on the large side by, say, 15%. The pommel shows signs of being peened in place. The grip is wound with twisted steel wire, is well made and tight, and looks really attractive, even if a couple of Turk's heads would've been nice. I miss a quillon block, but that's no major problem. The blade has a forging flaw about halfway down the blade, which adds to its antiquated look, but which would be a serious problem in a rapier intended for use. The edges aren't sharp, but the point is very acute, and not to be trifled with.

I've handled many old steel weapons, hailing from the Iron Age to the early 20th century, and several of them have been very corroded, or heavily patinated. The patina on the reviewed rapier might fool someone with little or no experience of old weapons, but it shouldn't be a problem for those with some knowledge. The surfaces are heavily pitted, and polished to a sheen that offsets the dark pits. The patina was probably acquired through heavy use of acids and salts, and then brushed and burnished afterwards. While this kind of patina is possible to find on real antiques that have been over-cleaned, any sword looking like this in Internet auctions should make the prospective customer wary. Also, when telling this "fake" from an original, the degree of pitting would indicate a grip in very decayed condition. Considering the look of the grip on the reviewed rapier, it looks like it was replaced, or at least rewound.

At around $370 US, the rapier might be seen as a bit pricey for a mere display weapon, but I'm rather pleased with it. I will hang it next to my royal decrees against dueling. The antique-ish look gives it a certain flair, and it makes a nice contrast to my other weapons.

About the Author
Björn Hellqvist is a Swedish optometrist with an interest in historical European swords.

Photographer: Björn Hellqvist

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