Windlass Steelcrafts Scottish Dagger
A hands-on review by Nathan Robinson
During the final years of the Renaissance and the period following, Europe was filled with a great number of forms of daggers, ranging from styles from the previous century to specialized and fantastical forms spurred by furious innovation. The dagger served as much as a tool as a weapon, and was as ubiquitous as any other daily item. Its use ranged from that of a common household implement, to a backup or close-quarters weapon, and then finally to an essential defensive component of certain styles of fighting. Commoners, soldiers, and nobles alike all would have owned and carried various types of daggers.
Museum Replicas Limited (MRL) is a production and distribution company that has been selling weapons and armour inspired by authentic pieces given to us by history. Since 1985, they've been producing a catalog with a great variety of edged weaponry, including many styles of daggers, generally available at affordable prices. Today, most of their items are created by Windlass Steelcrafts.
As a collector, it's often desirable to have a matching dagger to go alongside one's sword. Historically speaking, most daggers were not made to match a specific sword, but were rather more often made to follow established forms defined by contemporary fashion or trend. Additionally, many daggers were made to be quite unique, created to establish the maker's position as an artist and to portray his craft.
It wasn't until after the first quarter of the 16th century that companion daggers had started to become more common. These daggers were made en suite to a specific sword, sharing a similar form or decorative style to its larger partner. Often, companion daggers were used as an off-handed parrying weapon, or simply as a concession to fashion, creating a matched set for one's style of dress.
Perhaps spurred more by the modern collector's taste than historical precedent, Museum Replicas created a companion dagger to match their Scottish Backsword, previously reviewed by us at myArmoury.com. MRL dates this piece at around 1650, though there aren't any particularly unique characteristics that would limit it to that period.
Measurements and Specifications:
Replica created by Windlass Steelcrafts of India.
How much can be said about the handling characteristics of a dagger? Well, in the case of this piece, it certainly could be said that it would successfully fill its intended purpose as a left-handed companion weapon. The balance point, right at the cross-guard, keeps the weapon secured in one's hand and enables a very quick pivot point for the quick parry with a strong foundation.
As a primary weapon, it could be effective in close-packed mêlée style combat, but its short cross-guard might not provide enough protection to give a sense of security. Also, its close-in point of balance does not provide for a powerful or controlled thrust or cut, and so may render such actions as those of last resort. Certainly, its role as a back-up weapon overshadows its possible use as a primary weapon.
Fit and Finish
As has been our experience with many recent MRL purchases, the finish of this piece is executed well. There are no gaps, rattles, or movement to the components whatsoever. The cross-guard is finished with subtle details, such as beveled edges and faceted ends. The quillon block is finished with deeply carved details, and the pommel is gracefully formed into an apple-shape matching the backsword perfectly.
The leather grip covering is very tight and has a center area ridged to help provide a more secure grip. A minor complaint is that the stitching, on the side of the grip, is quite large and a bit rough. More subtle stitching with a lower profile would certainly be a welcome aesthetic improvement.
The blade shape is very appealing and the fuller nicely executed. In fact, the fuller is smoother and more evenly finished than many, many pieces available on the reproduction market today. A small ricasso exists, giving a slightly modern look to the blade, but luckily this is balanced by the fact that the fuller extends all the way through it and under the guard.
A leather scabbard with metal fittings is also provided. The scabbard is of typical quality for Museum Replicas, is nicely executed, and actually fits the review sample. Many such scabbards are made quite loose so perhaps this reviewer got lucky with a secure fit.
On its own, this piece by Windlass Steelcrafts is an adequate choice for the consumer looking for a functional dagger at this price point. While it has no qualities that particularly differentiate it from others available in the reproduction market, it may still be a good buy to those who are attracted to its appearance.
However, if a collector already owns the MRL Scottish Backsword and is looking for a complimentary dagger, I can wholeheartedly give my recommendation on this piece to complete the set.
About the Author
Nathan Robinson has been interested in history and the hobby of reproduction arms and armour collecting for well over a decade. A professional Web developer in San Francisco, he started myArmoury.com as a resource for like-minded people and hopes to help educate and entertain enthusiasts and consumers alike. He strives to push the sword community forward, helping create a healthy market with functional and historically-researched pieces available for us all.
Photographer: Nathan Robinson