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Raymond Deancona

Joined: 04 Mar 2004

Posts: 430

PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 11:43 am    Post subject: Information on John Barnett swords         Reply with quote

Does anyone have information on this line of swords from the UK?
They are John Barnett swords, and supposedly used and tested
by the Royal Armoury. Any info would be appreciated!
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David Wilson

Location: In a van down by the river
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have actually handled a couple John Barnett swords....
An Early Scottish basket hilt looked nice, from a distance. In the hand, it was overly heavy and poorly balanced. I would describe the sword's handling characteristics as awkward and clumsy.
The single-hand Irish sword was better -- still a bit too heavy though, IMO.
A Celtic Anthro-hilt leaf blade was also a bit on the heavy side. Handling was neutral.
The Roman Spatha was the best handler of the lot. Fairly light and pretty well-balanced.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
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Colin F.

Location: Bradford, UK
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 1:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Barnett Swords Review

I've handled one before (the 13th Century Medieval Sword) and can only back up what was said in the review. I was not impressed.

Plus, I've been to the armouries quite a lot, I train there and I have seen what they use (I was fortunate enough to see some of the interpretation depts weapon collections) and they do NOT, to the best of my knowledge, use John Barnett swords. They use Del Tins and Carpathean amongst others. I think they do sell them in the shop though.



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Lee O'Hagan

Location: Northamptonshire,England
Joined: 30 Sep 2003
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PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The few i've seen i'd have to say they are still some way behind,Windlass,and not a patch on DT.
nice if you just want a hanger,but not a patch on some of the items you've sold,
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Raymond Deancona

Joined: 04 Mar 2004

Posts: 430

PostPosted: Fri 21 Mar, 2008 3:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for all the info! I suspected as much from what I saw online, as well as the scant information the seller had about construction, etc. But it is always best to get a "hands on" review from some one who actually handled the pieces. The deciding factor for me passing on the swords, was no guarantee against breakage, despite the fact the seller lists the pieces as steel combat and stage combat ready. Very suspicious... Thanks again!
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Mark Gates

Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 02 Jan 2012

Posts: 18

PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2012 3:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have several John Barnett swords / daggers. I agree they are a tad heavy to handle and are not particularly well balanced. I will be honest, I have Hanwei and Tinker Pearce swords in my coillection and they are far lighter and easier to handle than JB swords. However, on the up side JB swords are tough (well mine are, ive beat them half to death and they are fine) and have far less blade flex than say a Windlass.

I wouldnt say JB swords are cheap or suspiciously constructed, affordable is a fairer description and as far as a guarantee goes, I havent needed one. They are made with full tangs, hardwood grips and some have leather covered hardwood scabbards. If like me your budget is limited, they are a good alternative.
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Peter Messent

Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

Posts: 226

PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2012 8:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I bought a John Barnett Viking sword in my impressionable youth. It cost me 30 as it was a former display model. It was worth every penny Wink The blade was too wide (2 3/4") the pommel and guard were enormous and made of either alluminium or magnesium or something like that. The crossguard rattled often and if the pommel was tightened enough to hold it, it generally worked its way crooked. There was no distal taper to speak of - in fact, to get the fuller to taper with the blade shape, the fuller gets shallower as you approach the tip, meaning that it effectively gets thicker rather than thinner. The thickness in the fuller at the lower guard is about 1mm, but towards the tip is 3mm. The handle was too long (11.5cm). The sword weighed 1.7kg (3.74lb). The grip was hardwood with a twisted wire wrap. It was too big and clunky for me to use one-handed and I'm 6'4" and well used to smacking things with over-heavy objects Big Grin

Two good things about the sword: the blade was EN45 and the scabbard was leather-wrapped wood. If a 30 sword can have a wooden scabbard and carbon steel blade, IMO any production sword can have, and that is a constant source of disappointment for me! I ground down the blade to make something else (I can't even remember what now) long ago, as I considered it beyond worthwihle repair. That is, however, the only JB sword I am familiar with. I'd much rather go a little more expensive and buy a Paul Chen practical Viking. I had one of the fourth generation ones (with the stupid looking triple fuller) and it was far lighter, better balanced, better handling and better looking. I believe the fifth generation practical viking even has the historically-correct single fuller back so it could probably be sharpened if desired - but I'd check to make sure that people have the new stock rather than the old stock. Therion Arms, I believe, has the new stock. The blade was pretty whippy on mine but I'd definitely prefer it to the JB. They're fun to customize. A little more expensive still and you have the Windlass swords - I just bought my Windlass Leuterit sword for $200 and it's much better than the JB or PC swords I had, and still cheap enough to customize.

Hope this helps somewhat!
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Julian Reynolds

Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 30 Mar 2008

Posts: 271

PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2012 3:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Barnett swords have a poor reputation in WMA or re-enactment circles here in the UK. They are more suited as wall-hangers for the tourist trade.

I have worked on a number of John Barnett swords and daggers (mainly converting them to useable weapons for members of my salle who were unfortunate enough to believe the sales blurb). I've found that none of the sharp blades were properly tempered (they all took a set when flexed), and the 'practical' blunt blades are so thick, heavy and overbuilt that you may as well arm yourself with a crowbar. The castings for the pommel and guards on many is very poor grade steel which just cracks and crumbles when machined, or simply snaps when struck. The welds on complex hilts are often shoddily done and prone to fail. On some swords, the grip is held in place with a nut, hidden inside a cavity in the pommel, which is further held on by a threaded pommel nut, and the threaded tang is then peened over that. Most strange. A lot of the hilt and blade designs are simply ahistoric and some hilts are chrome plated. All are made very cheaply in India, and it shows. You get what you pay for.

Julian Reynolds
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Neil T
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Location: York, UK
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Nov, 2012 2:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I used some John Barnett swords in my early days as an interpreter, when first learning stage combat. Admittedly due to numbers I volunteered, as the biggest of the team, to use a 13th century JB sword whilst my colleagues all got the lighter Hanwei swords. I have to say considering the cost I really enjoyed using it and found the fittings to be of adequate detail and construction for the purpose of stage combat. I've been trying to find out who produces these for a while now; I'm basically trying to find a wholesale supplier; any ideas? Any clues are much appreciated.

Much love!

Neil aka Sigwulf
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Isaac H.

Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Fri 23 Nov, 2012 1:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Last month,I was in Scotland ,near Edinburgh castle,when I came across a dealer who sold John Barnett swords. The blades were overpriced ,and obviously catering to tourists who wanted to bring home "a real sword from Scotland !" As some may know, John is ,or at least I was told, a native of Scotland, and his blades were a VERY mixed bag. Many of them were extremely awkward and unweildy,being twice the weight of the real thing,and with strange and robust proportions that even William Wallace might have had a hard time using. I spoke with the representitive selling the swords, and he tried to explain away the unweildy blades by telling me all sorts of hype about crude "peasant weapons" of Scotland ,lol.

Others, like the 17th century English short sword,and the single hand Irish ring hilt,I wouldn't have minded taking home with me. My impression is that John Barnett swords are very much hit and miss. Perhaps too inconsistent to invest in the gamble.

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