Pavel Moc's "Violet 1½" bastard sword
A hands-on review by Björn Hellqvist
Czech swordsmith Pavel Moc is among the least known of the multitude of Czech sword makers. The Czech Republic has a fairly long tradition of stage combat troupes and reenactment groups, and in order to supply those with serviceable weapons, there are many makers of arms and armour of varying skill. Pavel Moc is among the best of those swordmakers, supplying reenactors, collectors, and museums with quality reproductions. As I was curious of his work, I decided to order a few swords from him. One of them was the "Violet 1½" 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. The ordering process was rather chaotic, as Mr. Moc's English isn't the best. It is good if one can write in German, or better yet, Czech, as that makes communication far easier. A few emails were lost and there were delays, but the swords showed up eventually.
The "Violet 1½" is one of three varieties offered by Mr. Mocthe sword is available as a single-hander, a bastard sword (reviewed), and the original-styled greatsword. The swords are 38.25" (97cm), 45.75" (116cm), and 49" (150cm) long, respectively. It is based on a (supposedly French) 15th century sword described in the French 19th century historian Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc's Encyclopédie Médiévale. I don't know the current whereabouts of the original sword, but a similar sword (A.474) is kept in The Wallace Collection, London.
The sword is graceful, with nice, clean lines, steel furniture, and a grip wrapped with black leather. The blade is very flexible; it flexes quite a bit and returns to true.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Pavel Moc of the Czech Republic.
The sword is very easy to swing, both with one and two hands, due to the heavy pommel. I found it easy to control, and it feels like a good sword for longsword fencing. I made a few swings of average force against a .75" (2cm) thick branch, which was cut trough. The point took a very slight set. The sword is a bit hilt-heavy, and with the Center of Percussion (CoP) almost at the middle of the blade, it isn't the best of cutters. Off-CoP cuts caused vibrations, which was to be expected. Compared to similar swords made by Peter Johnsson, the hilt-heaviness became even more apparent.
Fit and Finish
The sword is of high quality, easily on par with Del Tin Armi Antiche, and in some aspects even better (like the hilt). Close 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 whole sword arrived tight, with no gaps or rattling. If it is intended to resemble a sword like the Wallace A.474, it is moderately accurate, but the general impression is that of a genuine weapon. It is a good contender in the mid-range market at its price point.
The long-necked, pear-shaped pommel (Oakeshott Type T5) is made from forged (not cast) steel and is well executed with no sharp edges. It is possible that the original pommel was of a flatter shape. The cross (Oakeshott Style 11) is forged as well, and is of the same quality as the pommel. It has knobbed ends and a small, well-defined écusson vaguely resembling a leaf. The tang is peened. The grip is wood bound with cord and then wrapped with black leather. It is comfortable, offering a good grip.
The blade is most closely resembling an Oakeshott Type XVIIIb, with a flattened diamond cross-section. It has an even taper to a slightly spatulate point. It is made of spring 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 a symbol looking like a "4".
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 of about 0.12" (3 mm) thick. 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 created by Pavel Moc are well worth a look for those who want authentic-looking swords at a reasonable price.
About the Author
Björn Hellqvist is a Swedish optometrist with an interest in historical European swords.
Photographer: Björn Hellqvist