Last Legend Generation 2 Lucerne Sword
A hands-on review by Bill Grandy
Swords with Oakeshott Type XVa blades are specialized weapons that saw their development around the same time as plate began to supersede mail defenses. The sword style is designed to have a strongly tapered tip specifically designed for thrusting into the open joints of plate armour. Even if those joints were protected by mail voiders, the tapered tip could possibly fit through the openings of individual rings; at very least it might painfully drive the mail into the person's skin.
Because of the specialized nature of this style some of the cutting ability of the sword must be sacrificed. Since such a design needs a rigid blade, this requires a thicker spine, and on such a drastically tapering profile, the edge geometry tends to be more obtuse than on more cut-oriented designs. Swords of this type are still able to cut, and can be devastating to an unarmoured opponent in that respect, but against even heavy padding the thrust would become a much more preferred method of attack.
Last Legend Competition Blades has more than one line of swords, each catering to different customer bases. Their Generation 2 line is for the most part dedicated to European-styled swords, and even this is divided into sub-categories: "Historical Recreations", "Stage Combat Line" and "Martial Arts Training Weapons". The sword being reviewed here, the Lucerne Sword, is part of the Generation 2 Historical Recreations.
According to the sales literature, the Generation 2 line is designed to pass the "Steel-to-Steel™ Competition". Apparently this involves chopping into 2" by 4" slats of wood, and then beating the swords into steel (another sword?) nine times with supposedly no damage. I did not test the review sword in this manner, though I did do some light test cutting with it.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Last Legend Competition Blades of El Dorado Hills, California.
As far as hand and a half swords go, this sword feels pretty good in the hand. I was pleasantly surprised when I picked it up. It handles ideally for an Oakeshott Type XVa, which is to say it feels good in both cut and thrust. The balance is fairly close to the guard, allowing a feeling of quickness and precision. It is primarily a two-handed sword, but is not difficult to use in one hand.
Drawbacks to the handling appear in the hilt. The grip is fairly bulky. This isn't much of an issue for me, as I have large hands, but I can easily imagine this being uncomfortable to those with smaller hands. The other issue is only a problem if one prefers to grip the pommel: the corners of the pommel are quite sharp, and are very uncomfortable to bare hands. When handling this sword the user will either need to avoid holding the pommel or should consider wearing gloves.
The blade has a nice sharpness for its type. The edges are just sharp enough to perform cuts well but are not sharpened to a razor edge. I did some light test cutting on pumpkins and found that it performed just as expected for a sword of this type. It was able to make good cuts, though because of the taper towards a fine point it did not really want to cut all the way through without some extra effort on the user. This is to be expected of most swords of this type. Thrusting required no effort, as the blade was very stiff and the point is very acute. This sword would be a good choice for thrusting into the mail-covered joints of plate armour. Techniques of the half-sword, where the blade is grasped with the off-hand, would probably require a glove for a modern, non-calloused hand, as the edge is still pretty sharp. This is not unrealistic, as historical swords of this type would have varied in just how sharp they were. The heat-treatment seems to be very good for this sword as well.
Fit and Finish
Considering the fact that this sword is part of the Generation 2 Historical Recreations line, it leaves a fair amount to be desired. This line is advertised as being historically accurate: a debatable claim. According to the sales literature the Generation 2 line "has become the forerunner in recreating swords that actually existed in the past. The new Generation 2 Swords are replicas of actual museum pieces with the same characteristics…" A casual glance at a book of antique swords will show that this sword clearly does not look historically accurate. I will concede that it at least captures the general form: If I drew an outline of the weapon and did not draw any details, I would say the sword has very nice proportions.
The pommel is acceptable, though a bit unrefined, and there is still the issue mentioned earlier of the corners being too sharp to grip. It is peened onto the tang.
The fittings and blade are polished to a high sheen. Many sword enthusiasts might find this to be a positive trait. For me, it seems to highlight the unrefined look of the hilt components, and a lower polish level might actually hide this better.
Despite my complaints on appearance, the general proportions are still much better than those of many lower quality swords, and I do applaud the designers for at least attempting to base the general look on a historical design. Also, the hilt construction feels rock solid. It is obvious that epoxy is used to help ensure that the hilt does not come loose, as the epoxy is visible at the junctures where the grip meets the other hilt components. But when cutting with this sword I had no concerns of it becoming loose or failing.
The scabbard is above average for the price. It is not too bulky, and is wood wrapped with leather. The leather, which is also used for the grip, appears to be a rough pigskin, and the black dye is overly shiny. Aside from that, though, the metal parts are tastefully applied, and to have a wooden scabbard at this price range is a nice bonus. The leather frog to attach the scabbard to a belt, however, is very crudely made and unattractive, made of very cheap and fragile feeling leather. This is really not a major concern, as it feels more like a freebie thrown in than a true selling point.
This sword from Last Legend Competition Blades has its pluses and minuses. Considering the price point, the buyer should really decide what they want in a sword. If the goal is to have historical accuracy, a piece for your reenactment kit, or aesthetics, this sword will probably not fit the bill. If the goal is only to have a tough sword that handles decently and cuts well for its designed type, then this is a sword worth considering. It isn't outstanding, but it certainly can fill in the niche for tough beater swords that handle well but don't break the budget.
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