Pavel Moc's "Italy" Sword
A hands-on review by Björn Hellqvist

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Czech swordsmith Pavel Moc isn't very well known to the international sword community. The Czech Republic has a fairly long tradition of stage combat troupes, and in order to supply those with serviceable weapons, there are many makers of arms and armour. Pavel Moc is among the best of those swordmakers, supplying reenactors, collectors and museums with quality reproductions. He also does restoration work for museums, which is good both for learning more about swords, as well as a testament to his skill. As I was curious of his work, I decided to order a sword from him. My choice was the "Italy" model, an attractive sword in mid-15th century style. I had handled several of his other sword models in a shop, but this would be the first time I would be able to test one.

I wiped off the oil and had a look at the sword. Nice, clean lines, steel furniture, grip wrapped with dark red leather (later dyed black). Swinging it, I found it well balanced and pretty easy to control. Closer inspection showed that there were no noticeable grind marks, but that the sharpened edges weren't perfect (varying sharpness and some minor grind marks). The blade was pretty stiff; it flexed a couple of inches and returned to true. The whole sword arrived tight, with no gaps or rattling.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:approx. 3.1 lbs. (1.4 kilo)
Overall length:38.9" (98.9cm)
Blade length:31.6" (80.3cm)
Blade width:2" (5.1cm) at base
Blade thickness:0.16" (4mm) at base; 0.14" (3.5mm) at 4" (10cm) from the point
Grip length:4.3" (11cm)
Point of Balance:3" (7.5cm) from guard
Center of Percussion:~18.3" (46.5cm) from guard

Replica created by Pavel Moc of the Czech Republic.

Handling Characteristics
I made a few swings of average force against a tough cardboard tube. The sword didn't cut that well, so I took my sharpened Del Tin Armi Antiche 5150 (similar hilt, but less tapering blade) and made some comparison cuts, which didn't go any deeper. I made a few thrusts as well, where the "Italy" fared a bit better as the point is more acute than that of the 5150. I made some cuts against wooden targets, and when hitting with the Center of Percussion (CoP), the sword bit pretty deep. Off-CoP cuts caused vibrations (which was to be expected).

Over a dozen swings at fairly massive wooden targets didn't loosen the hilt or damage the blade. Despite the weight, the sword handles well, and I think that this is a sword best suited for use against armoured foes. Compared to a couple of original swords with Oakeshott Type XV blades, which I handled in The Wallace Collection, it felt about the same.

Fit and Finish
The distinctive fishtail pommel is made from forged (not cast) steel, well executed with graceful lines and no sharp edges. The cross is forged as well, and is of the same quality as the pommel. It differs from the one in the picture on the Web site by having two grooves cut close to each other about 0.4" (10mm) from the cross ends. The tang is peened—something that is made harder by the concave top of the pommel. The grip is wood bound with cord and then wrapped with leather. It is comfortable, offering a good grip. As previously mentioned, the sword arrived with a grip wrapped with red leather, which I dyed black.

The blade is a Type XV, but with less pronounced diamond cross-section. It has an even taper to a sharp point. The blade is about 20 mm's longer, as well as 11 mm's wider at the base—greater than the listed 40mm, but I don't mind, as it looks better and improves the handling. It is made from steel, Czech designation CSN 14331, using stock removal. It is tempered to RC 50, which is a good compromise between flexibility and edge holding ability. The blade is stamped with Moc's marks: a rose and some alchemical symbol looking like a "4".

The sword is of high quality, easily on par with Del Tin Armi Antiche, and in some aspects even better (such as the hilt). As the suggested retail price, it is a serious contender in the production sword market. I have inspected some other swords by Pavel Moc, and found the workmanship and finish to be of equal quality as my review sample. For those who are into stage combat, it might be of interest that the swords can be ordered with a safe, rounded edge—about 0.12" (3mm). This throws the balance a bit, but based on the couple blunted swords I've handled, they are still manageable.

All things considered, I think that many of the swords by Pavel Moc are well worth a look for those who want authentic-looking swords at a good price. I know of no US retailer. A word of advice: it can be hard to get in touch with Mr. Moc. His English is passable, but if you can write in German, or better yet, Czech, you might get more info.

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

Photographer: Björn Hellqvist

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