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Philip Cole




Location: VA
Joined: 11 Nov 2007

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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 9:44 pm    Post subject: Badger Blades         Reply with quote

First off, I would like to introduce myself. I am a junior in college majoring in history, focusing primarily on medieval and 20th/21st century history. Being a college student, I have a natural deficit of large sums of money and a desire to own things out of my budget; swords, guns, and sportscars being the three major temptations Big Grin . I just recently purchased a relatively inexpensive carbon steel sword for display/beating [it's my first "true" medieval sword].

However, noting above desire for weaponry, I am looking to save up for and purchase a sword from badgerblades.com. They have a booth at the local Renaissance Fair every year, and their product seems to be very well made for the money. I do know, however, that no company would blatantly publish the faults or shortcomings of their own product in comparison to a better product. So, i was hoping you all might have some feedback/experience with a badger blade's sword, especially a bastard sword or two hander.

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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 10:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Philip, and welcome to the forums.

I've handled them before... I guess it just depends on what exactly you want. They make swords that are very tough. On the other hand, you express wanting a "medieval" sword, and there is nothing "medieval" about the ones I've seen. I personally don't care for their swords at all. They are what I would consider heavy blocks of steel with hilts. They do not have the physical characteristics of typical medieval weaponry, and they handled very poorly, being sluggish and poorly balanced.

On the other hand, if your goal is simply to own a sword that you can beat up and not fear damaging it, then their pieces seem to be quite tough. It all depends on what you're want for your money. Despite the fact that I don't care for their swords myself, clearly others do like them.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Philip Cole




Location: VA
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 10:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, I know they're not very medieval or historically accurate. They even say so on their website Happy Right now I'm looking for a sword that leans in the more functional, less showy/true medieval direction, and that's why i wanted some feedback, good or bad. Since I already bought a good looking [albeit inexpensive] sword and a wall mount plaque, I now am looking towards a sword to have fun with. I'd rather find out exactly what their swords are like before I give them my hard-earned money Big Grin . I do like the fact that all of their swords are hand forged and are not mass-produced, factory ground bars of steel that look like swords. And, all of their swords have a very good warranty on the blades.

So I guess I'm really wondering if the exchange of authenticity for functionality is worth it when it comes to a badger blade sword.

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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 10:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Philip, and welcome to myArmoury!

Regarding hands-on impressions of Badger Blades, I did a quick Forum Search and found these two threads on the subject I am sure will help you. I have not personally handled or seen their wares before, but briefly checking their website I can give some impressions. They are very ahistorical in appearance, and according to their specifications vary from reasonable to excessively heavy. For the prices quoted online, you could get some significantly nicer items, in my opinion, in terms of appearance, craftsmanship, and performance.

On the subject of "authenticity vs. performance," the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact I'd argue that "beater" swords are not really functional in the sense of performing the way a real sword should. A properly made sword will be strong and durable because of heat treatment, steel quality, grip assembly method (e.g. hot peening), grip materials, etc. - not because of overbuilding and excessively heavy construction. By that same token, a properly made sword will handle correctly, meaning weight and balance will be neither too slow (for obvious reasons) nor too fast (since cutting and parrying power is related to momentum).

Since you've already purchased an inexpensive sword to satisfy the short-term itch, I'd strongly recommend waiting and learning before spending any more money. A few months, or even weeks, of exposure to the field can quickly change one's interests. On that note, you are welcome to explore myArmoury's resources. We have a number of Feature Articles and a dedicated Books section, including an article titled The Paper Armoury: Our Top Shelf for suggestions on reading material. For a sampling of modern reproductions, you can check out our collection of Hands-on Reviews and explore our Links page.

If I was going to recommend a great starter sword for a budget-oriented enthusiast, the Albion Armorers Squire Line 13th Century Knightly Sword would spring to mind. For a current price of $389 + $25 for the optional sharpening, you would be getting a far more accurate item for comparable prices to the maker you are considering, and from a company with a sterling reputation. Remember, an accurate sword means a strong, dependable. and combat-effective one, not just a pretty one. Also in the Squire Line are a Late 15th Century Bastard Sword and a Late 13th Century Great Sword, each for $444 (currently) + $25 optional sharpening.

However, as I already mentioned, I believe you really should take the time to do careful research and learn as much as you can stand before opening your wallet again. Worst-case scenario, you waste some time and eventually decide that Badger Blades makes precisely what you desired all along - except that it wouldn't be a waste of time, since you would at least now know that they were the best choice for you, and maybe learned some things along the way. Happy

Cheers,
-Gabriel L.

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 11:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What Gabriel said. Happy

Functionality is about more than how much punishment a sword can take. It is a combination of handling characteristics, cutting/thrusting performance, as well as a number of other complicated factors, including toughness.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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James Barker




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Man I have not been to the faire in 6 or 7 years and these guys are still making the same junk? Philip I don't even think of these blades as functional; they are heavy and un-balanced, for the price your are better off buying two Paul Chen practical blades or an Albion squires line or an armor class reenactment blunt blade.
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Anders Backlund




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm myself a major fan of "ahistorical" swords... but really, these items don't even look nice. WTF?!

Gabriel and James are right, you can probably get a much better sword for pretty much the same cost elsewhere. Give it some time and take a look around before you decide.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suspect that you'd be happier in the long run--and spend less--with something from MRL. They have several swords on sale right now for under $200 and all of those are much more historically plausible than the ones you're looking at. It's a case of Apples v. Oranges, though, since the Badger swords make no claim to historical design. Tip: Look through the Windlass (MRL) swords at ( http://www.kultofathena.com/windlass.htm ) and you'll see better photos of the MRL swords, with better prices than MRL in some cases. You could get two of these swords for less than the price of one Badger sword. I recommend the "German Bastard Sword"
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Philip Cole




Location: VA
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you, everyone, who has replied. I have a few more questions regarding not only the Badger Blade's swords, but functional swords in general.

Given my limited exposure to quality blades, I must say I was impressed by the performance of the Badger blades in a few specific areas, and I was wondering if these are true of other quality blades.

1. The demo guys took a katana, bastard sword, and a 2hander and proceeded to slam the blades edge down onto an iron anvil. Not only did the steel "sing," but there was no damage to the blade or to the edge.

2. Demo guy took three previous swords and one by one thrust them into an upright 6x6. He would then pull down on them and bend the blades [at least 45 degrees, but I'm not sure exactly how far]. They would then spring back to true. He did this a few times to each blade.

3. Two Demo guys took two bastard swords and did some steel on steel drills, some of them with a fair amount of force. The blades again "sang" and there was no damage to the blade or the edge. [The guys there really ramped up the fact that their swords "sing" because they are hand forged.]

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Jessica Finley
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 10:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have found that the "sing" of a sword has much to do with hilt composition and nothing at all to do with whether a sword was forged or stock removal. If the parts fit well (or are welded) there is nothing to vibrate and dull the sound. Sorry, but demo guys' jobs are to sell swords, not give accurate info.

The maker of my stage swords would do the anvil "trick" as well. It has more to do with the edge composition than anything else. My stage blades were made without the edge geometry to cut (at all) and were, therefore, quite blunt and thick on the edge and able to take the punishment we put them through week after week. Once again, this doesn't necessarily say that it's a "better" sword than one which is built for cutting or accuracy, but that it's built with a different intent in mind.

The ability of a sword to be bent and for that bend to not set is a function of many aspects of swordmaking that someone more well versed could expand on, but in short, this is not something that badgerblades has the market cornered on. In fact, most (all?) swords should do this, unless they are made of stainless or have an exceptionally bad heat-treatment.

I've seen and handled badger blades and considered them from both a stage sword and WMA perspective, and they really don't add up at all. Not to mention I think they are ugly as sin.

Jess
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Bill Grandy
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Philip,

Philip Cole wrote:
1. The demo guys took a katana, bastard sword, and a 2hander and proceeded to slam the blades edge down onto an iron anvil. Not only did the steel "sing," but there was no damage to the blade or to the edge.


1a. "singing" just means that the hilt is tightly assembled. You can do the same thing with any metal object.

1b. This is just a marketing trick. The same thing will happen if you swing a crowbar at an anvil. The reason they can do this is because they heat treat a fairly thick piece of metal that has a very poor edge, so there really isn't much to damage.

Quote:
2. Demo guy took three previous swords and one by one thrust them into an upright 6x6. He would then pull down on them and bend the blades [at least 45 degrees, but I'm not sure exactly how far]. They would then spring back to true. He did this a few times to each blade.


2. That shows the steel is heat treated properly. That's a start.

Quote:
3. Two Demo guys took two bastard swords and did some steel on steel drills, some of them with a fair amount of force. The blades again "sang" and there was no damage to the blade or the edge. [The guys there really ramped up the fact that their swords "sing" because they are hand forged.]


3a. This is mostly answered in the above, but it's because they have a poor edge and thick cross section, so as long as the steel is heat treated, then the swords will be tough... just like a crowbar. As said above, toughness is only one out of many aspects of a weapon. Your sword could be made out of space-age super metal and be nigh industructable, but if it won't cut well and feels like a brick when you swing it, then it is just another piece of metal.

3b. The "singing" thing is a complete fabrication. A school bell isn't hand forged, and it will rings quite loudly when hit. To be honest, the fact that you say the demo guys make a big deal about this gives me more reason to discourage you from buying their product. They are either completely ignorant of blade properties or selling you a pack of lies, or both.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 10:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You know Philip I think it comes down to this. If you want one, get one. Really any quality sword will do most if not all of the things shown to you by the demo guys at the booth. Hell, I had a vendor at a known both at the New York Ren Faire tell me his sword would cut right through my Albion Brescia Spadona. His job is to sell me his product and that's the bottom line. A well made historically accurate sword will outperform these swords when use as intended, plain and simple. So now it all comes down to you. If your intent is to learn and understand how swords we're really used then I would stay away. But if your intent is to have something to cut 6x6's for s@#$s and giggles then I'd say go for it. But remember that the Badger will not do well in HEMA so if you intend it for both I'd rethink it. Well that's my 2 cents. Good luck with whatever you purchase.
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Gabriel Lebec
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[Edit: looks like Bill, Mike, & Jessica beat me to the punch Happy]

Hi again Philip. I'd like to add to Jessica's comments about "singing," and agree that it's a function of vibration, and not directly due to anything with the steel or the forging method. I've noticed some western-style swords (as opposed to my principal focus of Japanese blades) have more of a ring to them, and I think it's a matter of a couple factors: 1. a grip design that places the primary hand directly over one of the vibrational nodes, thereby reducing the dampening effect of holding the blade; 2. a more flexible and springy geometry and heat treatment than the Japanese blades I am more familiar with; 3. a very tight grip assembly with permanent metal fittings. To compare, a Japanese blade will not ring nearly as much, partly because the very different handle construction deliberately dampens vibration, and partly because the blade geometry and heat treatment create a more rigid blade.

The above are two different approaches and neither is obviously better than the other; the "singing" effect is just a by-product of the way many western-style swords are constructed in general. But it has nothing to do, as far as I can tell, with the forging method.

Regarding the torture testing and flex test, I second Jessica's comments.

From what I've heard of Badger Blades since you posted this question, I'd say that they at least seem durable, which is much more than I can say of some "wallhanger" type blades. But the "beater" category has competition as well, and personally I'm interested in neither.

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science." - Albert Einstein
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Last edited by Gabriel Lebec on Wed 14 Nov, 2007 10:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

1. The demo guys took a katana, bastard sword, and a 2hander and proceeded to slam the blades edge down onto an iron anvil. Not only did the steel "sing," but there was no damage to the blade or to the edge.

Doesn't really mean anything. You can slam a crowbar down on an anvil (the next time an anvil attacks) and not cause significant damage to the crowbar. If anything, I'd be concerned about a sword edge that can survive this kind of abuse. They were not meant to do so, historically. Albion will test a blade against the rim of an oil drum, but that's a different kind of target, though still rather extreme.

2. Demo guy took three previous swords and one by one thrust them into an upright 6x6. He would then pull down on them and bend the blades [at least 45 degrees, but I'm not sure exactly how far]. They would then spring back to true. He did this a few times to each blade.
This is a (welcome) sign that those blades have been heat treated. All functional sword blades must be strong enough to withstand the stress of use, returning to true and generally exhibiting an optimal balance between flexibility and stiffness (which would vary, depending on the design/intended use of the weapon). Even the low-price blades you get from Hanwei, MRL, etc. are heat treated, and will exhibit the characteristics observed in the Badger weapons. I should note, however, that repeatedly flexing a blade like this is a very bad idea.

3. Two Demo guys took two bastard swords and did some steel on steel drills, some of them with a fair amount of force. The blades again "sang" and there was no damage to the blade or the edge. [The guys there really ramped up the fact that their swords "sing" because they are hand forged.

Those sword blades have extremely thick edges, probably made so to withstand this kind of use. They don't really correspond to anything historically, including purpose-made sparring longswords. I'm not going to touch the "edge v. flat" debate, but suffice it to say that a sword that can survive any amount of use/abuse probably doesn't have much in common with historic weapons.

Now, none of this is to say that the blades in question aren't exactly what they purport to be, and only you can determine if they're priced fairly because only you can know what you want. If you like the looks of these products, buy them (none of the other stuff--singing, flexing, surviving sparring contact, etc. is unique to these blades). If you want something corresponding to historical swords, I would encourage you to at least delay your purchase, spend lots of time looking at the Reviews section, reading the manufacturing-related articles in the Features section and generally getting a sense of your options before investing.

I would especially encourage you to read these articles:

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_properties.html

http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_heymister.html

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Philip Cole




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey, thanks for all of the quick replies again, everyone.

It sounds like a lot of you have seen these guys before, and I'm glad I started this thread. You all have answered a lot of questions [and settled some doubt in my head as well.]

Like I said earlier, I'm in no position right now to buy ANY sword with tuition bills and Christmas looming on the horizon. I had simply seen these guys before and wanted to know exactly what their product was like and have some questions answered about them, which, I might add, you all have done admirably. I think I can safely say that I will be bypassing these guys when considering my next sword purchase.

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 5:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not going to disagree with any of the points made, but I am going to say this, IMO with a few exceptions Badger Blades are better than most of the sword-ish things that you will find for sale at Ren Faires. However this in itself is less a statement about Badger Blades than it is about what typical faire vendors are pushing. Many, if not most patrons, are looking to drop a fairly limited amount of currency for something cool (an impulse buy) and that really seems to limit the pool of merchants that can sell. Most faire patrons (in my experience) are not educated consumers and most of them probably have little or no intention of ever being educated (but a fair portion will passionately deny this) so product of dubious quality but compelling price dominates.

Showmanship closes deals, entertains and draws a crowd.

Badger Blades are what they are. I've never seen the local Badger guys try to represent the product as anything other than what it is. If you like a Badger I say go for it. Someday if you really get into swords you'll probably outgrow it. If you don't get into swords, whatever you buy just going to sit in a closet, attic or garage anyway (there are more important things in life).

Besides many of us buy swords that are significantly worse our first time or two out.

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Ed Toton




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 6:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Everyone else has raised some really good points with regards to the sales demonstrations and general characteristics of the swords, so I'll add some more anecdotal thoughts.

I visit the Badger booth usually a couple of times each season. I've thought about adding one to my collection occasionally, since I do like to support the art at the faires and have a representative cross section in my collection. I own a variety of swords that are far worse than Badger's (you can find swords that are little more than reshaped bar stock at some of the other renfaires). But every time I handle the Badger swords, I never find one that "speaks" to me. They're all just simply too heavy.

These sorts of sales pitches where they demonstrate striking anvils or cinder blocks look impressive to the typical renfaire crowds, but swords aren't meant to be used as demolition tools. These sword makers are competing against the other sword vendors who sell the mass-produced stuff from CAS/Hanwei, Windlass, United Cutlery, Museum Replicas etc... so if they're going to justify a higher price tag, they need to do it in a showy way that makes the sales.

So my impression is that these swords are intentionally over-engineered specifically to be able to make these sorts of claims about how strong the swords are, what sorts of abuse they'll withstand, etc. In the end you end up with something that's not historical in appearance, weight, or balance.

As someone else said, if you want it, buy it. For the right price, any sword can have its place. I have $30 wall-hangers that I'm pleased with, because they're being used as decoration and not "collectibles".

But I think it's worth knowing what you're getting first, since buyer's remorse can be a real problem if you learn a little more about it a month later and decide it would have been better to put the money towards an Albion, or ATrim or something like that.

-Ed T. Toton III
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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
"Besides many of us buy swords that are significantly worse our first time or two out.


God is that the truth!!!! I think tomorrow I may start a thread about this so I don't have to further hijack this one. In closing though Philip, I have Albions and gen 2's in my collection. Each has it's place and and it's purpose. In the end if you buy something like this and get years of enjoyment out of it, well that's what it's really about in the end because I don't think any of us would do this if we didn't love it.
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