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Mike Arledge




Location: Indianapolis, IN
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PostPosted: Mon 23 Jul, 2007 8:16 pm    Post subject: Initial Impression: Hanwei Sidesword         Reply with quote

Stats:

Weight: 2 lbs 8 ounces
Overall Length: 38 inches
Grip: 4 inches
Blade Length: 30 inches from end of guard
Blade Width at Cross: 1 and 3/8 inches
Point of Balance: approx. 2 and ½ inches from grip or ½ inches from guard
Center or Percussion: approx. 18 inches from guard

Initial Impressions:
Outstanding detail in the grip and guard, excellent looking blade, well-balanced.

Appearance:
I have always been attracted to this piece, but for whatever reason either bought another piece when I found it in stock, or did not have the money to buy it until now. I am not a big fan of rapiers or similar “classical fencing” weapons, but this Sidesword is very cool. I have always liked the complex guard and the wire wrapped grip. All of the fittings of this sword are impressive, especially given the price range. The blade is also elegant and pulled off with precision. This is a real gem visually if you like this style of sword. The fuller is nice and clean, extending for most of the forte of the blade. Additionally there is a noticeable distal taper to the blade, although I cannot yet measure the taper due to my lack of calipers. For the money, this is a very attractive sword. On appearances alone, I would have felt good buying this sword.

Handling:
I was shocked to see that this sword weighed in at about 2 and a half pounds. It does not feel that heavy whatsoever due to the very close balance point. This is a lively blade that moves lightning quick through the various guards and defenses I know. I feel in complete control of the point through thrusts. Recovery is easy and fast. I do not have the experience with rapiers and Sabres that I do with Viking and Medieval blades, but handling this sword certainly is renewing my interest in learning classical fencing again. The blade flexed very well, but is not what I would consider whippy in any way.
In the past, I have been very wary of using Hanwei blades for cutting exercises, but I had to know how well this cut and thrust blade would cut. I initially hung a water filled milk jug for some thrusting work, which the Sidesword excelled at. I then attempted a full cut. I was expected the factory edge to make rather messy work of the milk jug. I was nicely surprised to find that it cut through the entire one gallon jug with ease, leaving a very clean cut, with no fraying. My verdict is that this handles well for both the cut and the thrust, and is sharp enough out of the box for cutting of soft targets.

What you should expect:
For about $170 after shipping, you might not expect much from this sword. If that is the case, you will be thrilled with the complete value of this sword. It’s a very nice sword that handles incredibly well. I have not handled a large number of similar swords, so I cannot rate that well how it compares to Hanwei’s rapiers, or others of similar price. But I cannot imagine you will find other swords of this style on the market that look this nice and handle as well. Owning this piece makes me eager to add some of Hanwei’s rapiers to my collection. The scabbard fits tightly and securely, and unlike almost every other production scabbard I have owned, will hold the blade tightly when held upside down.

Mike J Arledge

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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 9:26 am    Post subject: Re: Initial Impression: Hanwei Sidesword         Reply with quote

Mike Arledge wrote:
Stats:
.


Good review, interesting too. Sounds like it's quite good for the lower end of the spectrum. I wonder if some of our more prominent mid to higher end replica makers are getting nervous. Any problems with the hilt? And it ships sharp?

Keep us informed how it holds up, especially if you do any cutting on harder targets. I think I may need to get one of those myself. Be interested to hear anyone elses reactions.


J

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 9:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What's up with all this increasd interest in cheap swords- it's like there everywhere now. Waste of time- waste of time
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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 9:32 am    Post subject: Re: Initial Impression: Hanwei Sidesword         Reply with quote

Jean Henri Chandler wrote:
Mike Arledge wrote:
Stats:
.


Good review, interesting too. Sounds like it's quite good for the lower end of the spectrum. I wonder if some of our more prominent mid to higher end replica makers are getting nervous. Any problems with the hilt? And it ships sharp?

Keep us informed how it holds up, especially if you do any cutting on harder targets. I think I may need to get one of those myself. Be interested to hear anyone elses reactions.


J


Jean,

This hilt is very solid, and it ships sword sharp. As to hard cutting, I don't intend to do that. I mean, what is the point given that this is a sword type not meant for use against hard targets. I think hard cutting would be borderline abust to any sword of this type.

Mike J Arledge

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
What's up with all this increasd interest in cheap swords- it's like there everywhere now. Waste of time- waste of time


That's your opinion and not everyone will share it. Not everyone can afford more expensive swords or wants more expensive swords. There are some sub-$300 swords that are very good, especially considering the price.
I know one collector who owns Albion pieces but has bought MRL swords because he can let his sone use them without fearing accidental damage. He can also push them to limits he might not push a more expensive sword to. There's value (to someone) to swords of all kinds. To call discussions about them a "waste of time" shows a lack of willingness to appreciate other's viewpoints and/or needs.

I'd humbly suggest that if you don't like lower priced swords, then don't participate in discussions about them and don't buy them. Pretty simple.

Happy

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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok Ok- I've been called on this before= fair enough,
The tension has been building however- it seems like more folks are giving these sub $300 things a go. .
Now back to the discussion with no more of my contributions.
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeremy V. Krause wrote:
Ok Ok- I've been called on this before= fair enough,
The tension has been building however- it seems like more folks are giving these sub $300 things a go. .
Now back to the discussion with no more of my contributions.


Why is it a problem if "more folks are giving these sub $300 things a go"? People can and will buy what they want. They're obviously a market for sub-$300 swords or there wouldn't be any made. Happy

And that market is improving, in some cases dramatically.

I photographed two MRL pieces this weekend for future reviews. Both were better than previous MRL offerings. One was head and shoulders above. Both can be bought for less than $200. Are they as good as a $700+ Albion or A&A? No. But they're not $500+ worse. The Albions might be a few hundred dollars better, but not $500-600 better. Newer MRL's can be attractive, well put together, and more historically detailed than in the past. They can be great values. I also think that MRL is watching the market closely and is well aware of what customers want. They're improving their product line based on that and are making some nice swords for bargain prices.

Chen is getting there, too, at least in some cases. I have a Chen prototype here for review right now. The suggested retail price is less than $800 ($759, I think). I expect online retailers will sell it for $550-650. It comes with tons of detail, a nice woodcore scabbard, a rayskin-wrapped grip and gold-plated fittings (hilt and scabbard mounts). It's based off an important historical sword and has more detail than anything in its price range, hands-down.

It's not an Albion or A&A or custom piece, so some will poo-poo it because of that. But it's entering a new price point for Chen European swords, a price point that will move it into more direct competition with the big boys. I think it will be a competitive offering.

I have yet to see this sidesword in person, but it looks pretty nice and may be an option for many people as the next step up in quality (to something like A&A) comes with a much heftier price tag. if I were in the market for a complex-hilted sword, the Hanwei would be much more attractive to me than anything else, based on its price and apparent (on the surface at least) quality. I simply can't afford a $700 (or more) sword right now.

The sub-$300 market is evolving and has the room to do so because the $500-1000 market is pretty saturated and getting more expensive. If the sub-$300 guys can keep improving their products, then it's going to get very interesting. Happy

Happy

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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 10:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://sbgswordforum.proboards70.com/index.cg...amp;page=1

I'll let the pictures do the talking.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 11:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Grayson C. wrote:
http://sbgswordforum.proboards70.com/index.cgi?board=euromedieval&action=display&thread=1173406565&page=1

I'll let the pictures do the talking.


On that one, they used plastic for the grip. Has it failed? The threaded rod is welded on. Did it fail?

Many people are down on welded tangs, which is unfortunate. Del Tin uses welded tangs. Peter Johnsson has even stated he's used welded tangs before (I'm guessing forge-welded). The key is the quality of the weld. If done poorly, failure happens. Many historic swords had tangs of softer material (iron or less hard steel) forge-welded on. A softer tang can be of benefit

Does anyone know of this sword failing in use? That would be the real indicator of how badly those cut corners turned out. While I don't personally dig threaded pommels, it's what we see a lot of on swords in this price range. Some loosen up over time, but can be easily fixed with leather washers or Loctite. Some never come loose. Does this pommel loosen over time?

Bill Grandy reviewed the practical version of this sword and neither of the construction issues showed in those pictures seemed to cause any problems.

I agree it's not ideal or even my personal preference in swords I own. It's slightly disturbing actually. However, until reports of failure due to those issues surface, I'm not going to condemn it outright because of it. They use these features to help keep the cost down and appear to be doing a decent job. If one expects the same level of accuracy out of a Chen sword as they do an A&A or Albion, they'll be disappointed. Happy

Happy

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The low end certainly can be a crap shoot, as the SBG thread demonstrates. However, that's part of the reason I think swords in that category deserve some serious examination from time to time instead of simply being ignored. The high end stuff is great, but its price can make getting started in the hobby a real hard choice, and there are times in life when it just plain becomes inaccessible. Sure you can try saving, but how many times along the way does the savings get diverted?

Unemployment...have to use it.
Education...have to use it.
Sports camps...dipping again.
Unexpected hospital visit....gone.

Life happens and I think there is a real need for more low priced stuff that is decent. Decent...not great...but decent to get people in. Sometimes to keep people in.

Its a shame to see some vendors take shortcuts that are just plain short sighted and do lasting damage to their name. I think its probably a poor choice, but since it keeps happening it must not be. Still you can find some low cost gems that are not loaded with problem causing shortcuts, sometimes from the same vendors.

I'm glad to see information, like what is in this thread and the referenced thread, getting out there.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Tue 24 Jul, 2007 11:44 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 11:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its also worth noting in the SG thread that another fellow bought one a bit later, has been using it, and has not experienced any difficulties. Guess part of the lesson in the low end is to buy from a reseller with a decent return policy.
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not a fan of screw-on pommels or plastic grips, but I am curious how detrimental they might be. In the past, Hanwei has used stainless steel for many of their complex hilts. So I guess plastic is par for the course...
Happy

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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Chad.

I don't know if you consider it an outright failure, but the tang bent from hitting a bottle. Seems like a failure to me ;D

Here's the thread from the guy who bought it later:

http://sbgswordforum.proboards70.com/index.cg...1176007843

Still, after what happened with that first sword, it will be hard to convince me to trust it. That's a little sad as I really like the look of this sword. Hopefully this gets fixed.
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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 1:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Grayson C. wrote:
Hey Chad.

I don't know if you consider it an outright failure, but the tang bent from hitting a bottle. Seems like a failure to me ;D

Here's the thread from the guy who bought it later:

http://sbgswordforum.proboards70.com/index.cg...1176007843

Still, after what happened with that first sword, it will be hard to convince me to trust it. That's a little sad as I really like the look of this sword. Hopefully this gets fixed.


Am I reading that thread correctly? It looks like that person was using this for thrusts against armour? Hitting against his house? Come on!

This type of sword is not meant for that kind of abuse. Buy an axe or a crowbar.

From his post
"The day I brought this sword home I proceeded to give it a bit more of a workout than I would have if I'd not heard of at least one Side Sword that failed under use, with the threaded pommel actually bending, causing the entire hilt to shift out of position.
At this point, I should also fess up and admit that I had, and likely still do not, have any clue on how this sword should be properly used.
Bearing this in mind I did massive research on old Erroll Flynn movies, paying particular attention to the thrusting and slicing while standing on a stairway.
Fortunately, I managed to avoid any damage to our house, and I was wise enough to not to attempt my imitation while the wife was home. My recommendation on this exercise; Don't. Not ever.
Retreating to the backyard where there was lots of open space and no bystanders I pulled my first soda bottle volunteer out and very carefully lined up my swing, and...it was a line drive to center field.
I repeated this another three or four times with the exact same result.
I became rather disgusted with the sword and thrust it at the juice bottle that was on the stand, and just about fell over from the lack of resistance.
This thing went completely through it like it wasn't even there, and the cut was surgical enough that when I withdrew the blade, only a few drops of water oozed out of the barely visible hole I'd just stabbed through the bottle.
I was deeply puzzled, it had, obviously, a very fine point, and the edges were sharp enough to continue the thrust halfway up the blade and leave only a fine entry and exit "wound" on my plastic victim.
So why wouldn't the blasted thing cut?
I began to wonder, after some time, if it wasn't the sword that was the problem, but my ever humble self. Fortunately I've gotten into the habit of recording myself as I make cuts, mostly so that my wife will know what happened if she ever finds me laying face down in the grass, and I made an amazing discovery.
I'm an idiot.
I was so unfamiliar with not only the Side Sword, but of one handed swords altogether, being mostly a Katana person, that I was swinging this blade completely wrong.
Oh, Mr. Flynn, how could you have let me down so?
In making my stroke I was actually holding the blade hilt low, blade pointing slightly upward, and striking way to far down on the edge.
As a Tennis stroke, it would have been pretty fair, as a cutting stroke it was merely god awful.
Going back out into the yard I forced myself to carefully line up everything, and attempted to modify my stance to what at least seemed to be a more proper position and swung that sword in a manner that would have made Babe Ruth proud.
Wheet! Splash!"

What a joke.

Mike J Arledge

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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 1:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Arledge wrote:
Am I reading that thread correctly? It looks like that person was using this for thrusts against armour? Hitting against his house? Come on!

redjohn wrote:
[...]At this point, I should also fess up and admit that I had, and likely still do not, have any clue on how this sword should be properly used.
Bearing this in mind I did massive research on old Erroll Flynn movies, paying particular attention to the thrusting and slicing while standing on a stairway.
Fortunately, I managed to avoid any damage to our house, and I was wise enough to not to attempt my imitation while the wife was home. My recommendation on this exercise; Don't. Not ever.
Retreating to the backyard where there was lots of open space and no bystanders[...]


I think he is saying that he was attempting to imitate Erroll Flynn while standing inside his home, but decided it would be safer to go outside to continue.

Jonathan
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Before this gets to heated, I think some of the posts now being discussed are a bit tongue in cheek for entertainment value.
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Arledge wrote:

Am I reading that thread correctly? It looks like that person was using this for thrusts against armour? Hitting against his house? Come on!

This type of sword is not meant for that kind of abuse. Buy an axe or a crowbar.


I'm not reading that at all...

Am I missing something? As far as I can tell, this is pretty quotidian compared to what can be (and often is) done.

Lets try to be a tad more civil though. I'm sure the reviewer wouldn't like to know someone is talking about him like that.

edited to add: Remember the sword with the bent tang was from a simple water bottle. The owner of this sword (not the reviewed one that mike arledge commented on) is a member here, Mike Harris.
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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok,

My larger point is this. I feel a sword of this type is meant for light cutting against unarmoured opponents or soft targets. Its really pushing the limits of its designs to expect it to cut thicker plastics like 2-liters or gatorade bottles, whereas softer plastic gallon milk jugs are more in line. The major way to inflict damage against an opponenet with a sword of this type is through the thrust, with the cut being secondary. To further test this sword, I took it out for more cutting against another milk jug, and a hard plastic gatorade bottle. It cut through the milk jug like butter. The pic is below. It could not after several attempts cut the powerade bottle. It left marks that let me know the edge was alligned properly, but it just doesn't have enough wieght behind it, or the right edge geometry to tackle this kind of a harder target. The good news though, no rattles in the hilt, even after 3 strikes against the hard target, and no bends or sets to the blade. I feel quite comfortable using this to cut against light targets.

Mike J Arledge

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Grayson C.




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 3:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, but I can cut milk jugs with the dullest of swords - I don't think any type of plastic bottle (that I'm aware of...?) should have been too hard.

Agree to disagree.
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Dan P




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jul, 2007 4:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all,
I bought the Hanwei side sword as my first "real" european style sword. The first thing I did was stand up the box it came in, and then run it though and slice it up a few times.
All my training and practice has been with smaller, shorter, and lighter weapons compared to the side sword, so I was very surprised as to how well balanced and controllable it felt in my hand. To me its definitely a thrusting weapon; the most likely way I see to cut with this sword is with the tip, at unarmored parts of an opponant's body, such as the face or lower legs.
I've cut a variety of things with my side sword, and poked it though various targets, and I'm pleased to say that I have yet to observe the kinds of rattling and loose-hilt feelings that one tends to associate with swords that are cheap in construction as well as price.
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