A Resource for Historic Arms and Armour Collectors

Last Legend Generation 2 Twelfth Century Medieval Sword
A hands-on review by Bill Grandy

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It was not very long ago that if a person wanted to own a sword, the only options on the market were purely decorative. It is a fairly recent trend, within the past decade or so, that companies have striven to make "functional" replicas. Naturally, any sharpened piece of metal can be considered "functional" as a weapon, but today it has become more and more common for collectors to want swords that would have performed as period originals did, even though the weapons themselves will never be used as such. Perhaps collectors feel they have a better tie to history by understanding realistic swords. Perhaps collectors love the fantasy ideal of knighthood in a modern day. Or perhaps the collector is a practitioner of historical martial arts and wants a replica for test cutting drills. Regardless of the reason for ownership, sword makers have stepped up to this demand, and today it is very common for sword makers to use terms like "battle ready" and "fully functional". The question remains, though; what does "fully functional" mean to the seller, and what does it mean to the buyer?

This Twelfth Century Medieval Sword belongs to the Last Legend Competition Blades Generation 2 Historical Recreations line. The sales literature boasts that this line is comprised of "Historically Accurate Swords designed for the Steel-to-Steel™ Challenge!". This Steel-to-Steel™ challenge, according to the sales literature, involves striking 2" x 4" wood slats and steel (though it is not specified if "steel" refers to another sword or a random piece of metal). This review sword was not put to that rigorous of a test, though it was used in test cutting.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:3 pounds, 6 ounces
Overall length:43 inches
Blade length:34 1/2 inches
Blade width:2 inches at base, tapering to 1/4 inch
Grip length:5 3/4 inches
Guard width:8 1/4 inches
Point of Balance:5 3/4 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~17 inches from guard
Oakeshott typology:Type XII blade, Type I1 pommel, Style 1 guard

Replica created by Last Legend Competition Blades of El Dorado Hills, California.

Handling Characteristics
This is not an agile sword. In fact, it is a bit of a clunker in one hand. One of the problems of this sword is that it is difficult to decide whether it is to be a one-handed or two-handed weapon. The grip seems very long for a typical single-hander, but too short to be comfortable with two. When used single-handed, the sword feels very heavy and has a balance that causes it to be very slow when recovering from a cut. It feels incredibly powerful in the first swing, but doesn't encourage a follow-up cut. When hefted with two hands the sword feels awkward and "dead" in the hand. Based on heft, the sword feels best in one hand, but is too heavy for serious use. If this were a sword intended for mounted combat against foot soldiers, this may not be so bad, but for foot combat this would be far from the ideal weapon to use.

If one looked at it as a knightly weapon to be used from horseback, the handling is not as bad as it first seems for mounted combat against foot soldiers as opposed to mounted combat against other mounted warriors. The heft of the blade could be used for powerful downward cuts and the blade has enough reach. This sword actually makes much more sense in this context. However, even assuming that this is a sword intended for mounted combat, the pommel seems very small as it is only barely wider than the grip. I would worry that in this style of fighting that the sword could easily be yanked out of my hand particularly if I were cutting while the horse was in motion.

In test cutting against hard-shelled pumpkins this sword had absolutely no trouble with broad chopping motions through the targets and cut with incredible ease. Once the sword finished its cut, however, it felt done. I like to practice follow-up cuts under the assumption that my first cut may miss. I felt like I needed to fight the sword in order to get it to do that. The sword also primarily needed to be used with cuts from the shoulder, as cuts from the elbow were slightly difficult, and cuts coming from the wrist were clumsy at best due to the weight.

Fit and Finish
For a sword that is supposed to be a historical replica, this one only very loosely fits the bill. The blade is a good shape, for the most part matching historical blades, though I would have liked to have the fuller extend all the way to the guard if not into the tang. In fact, I would say the blade is the most attractive part of this sword, being of a bright finish with mostly clean lines.

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Underside of guard

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Grip detail

The hilt is not very attractive. The first thing that jumps out is the thick, chunky guard. There was a definite attempt to make the guard into a hexagonal cross-section, but it only barely shows this, and if one looks from the top-down at the guard it is very wide. If it had tapered further towards the tips it would have had a more elegant look, but as it is it looks clunky. The pommel is much better in appearance, having an octagonal shape that is fairly well formed. Unfortunately it does not transition into the overly thick grip well, which strongly detracts from its appearance. In fact, the thick grip makes it look like it doesn't belong on this sword.

The grip itself is too thick. I personally have big hands so it doesn't bother me, but I am certain those with smaller hands will complain. It also has two steel washers on the ends that look very modern, and further detract from the look.

Despite the aesthetics, the hilt does feel very solid and showed no signs of loosening during handling or test cutting. There appears to be some epoxy showing at the ends of the grip which seems to be used to reinforce the assembly.

The sword comes with a decent wooden scabbard that is wrapped in rough pigskin leather. The scabbard fits snugly without being too tight and is a rather nice addition considering the price. The leather is the same type used for the grip and is not very high quality, but does appear to be very durable nonetheless.

As far as inexpensive swords go, I cannot say I would give this particular Last Legend Competition Blades example very high marks. It does capture the general look of a medieval single-hander but only in terms of its basic proportions. After that it very much looks like a modern-made sword. In terms of functionality it is only adequate. The construction and durability appear to be sound and would do well for someone wanting a sword to beat around. However, if someone wanted a sword to supplement any form of martial training, this would not be my first suggestion. It isn't out of the question in terms of handling, but it is a far cry from ideal, even for its price range.

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: Bill Grandy

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