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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > My DA Squire Sword and Elf Fantasy Dagger Review Reply to topic
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Tue 22 Jul, 2008 8:26 am    Post subject: My DA Squire Sword and Elf Fantasy Dagger Review         Reply with quote

So at long last, after months of waiting, I finally received my Squire Sword and Elf Dagger from Darksword Armoury, and I thought I should write a review to let you all know what I think of them.

Keep in mind, however, that this is the first "genuine" sword I've ever bought, and certainly I'm no authority on the practical qualities of production swords, having never handled any high-end reproductions or authentic antiques. So I can't say for sure how they measure up. Rather, I judge these items after my own expectations vs my impression upon getting them, and my admittedly limited understanding of how they are supposed to look and behave.

That said, here are my reviews:

Darksword Armoury Squire Sword

Fit And Finish:

My first reaction when getting this sword out of the box was: "Damn, this is bigger then I had expected." I knew it would be long, but the sheer size of the blade made me realize why they are so often referred to as "broadswords" in popular culture. (As historically incorrect as they term may be.)

That said, it's actually pretty nice. It's not as shiny as I would have liked -that is to say, I can't use it as a mirror nor does it reflect the sun to blind my enemies on bright days- but the satin polish is smooth and consistent. The edges and fuller, etc, are fairly but not perfectly symmetrical suggesting they have indeed been worked on by hand.

I'm completely sold on the design, anyway. With risk of sounding overly romantic, this is a very "heroic looking" sword.

There are only two things I'm not entirely satisfied with. The first is that the grip is fairly misaligned. I'm not terribly picky but one thing I tend to insist on when it comes to swords is that they should be as straight as possible. This one isn't so bad as to detract much from the sword's handling or even looks, since you need to give the sword a close inspection to even notice it. Still, it irks me as I can't pick it up without a slight feeling that something is off about it. This is most likely due to the tang being a bit bent.

This brings me to my next little annoyance. I've tried taking the hilt apart to inspect the tang, but the pommel won't come off. I have yet to attempt using actual violence, but I suspect it might have been super-glued in place. If so, this is unfortunate since while structural integrity is nice, some of us do enjoy taking swords apart to see how they're put together. And besides, if the sword won't allow disassembly you might as well go all the way and peen it all together by the tang like on historical swords. No half-measures, please.

Blade:

The blade of the Squire is just about 30 inches long, 1.9 inches broad at the base tapering to about an inch before turning into a gentle but acute point. The blade is fairly thin, has no distal taper to speak of, and features a shallow fuller running along each side of the blade before stopping at about four inches before the point.

I'm no expert, but if I'd have to classify this blade according to the Oakeshott typology I'd probably have to call it a type Xa.

Hilt:

The cross is a Style 8 variant very similar to the one on the Albion Prince. The pommel is a wheel type, not sure how to classify it. It's mostly smoothe except for the center where it shows very obvious traces of milling.

Over-all, I guess this hilt and blade combination is fairly ahistorical, this hilt style being younger then the blade style. Though don't quote me on that, I may be wrong.

The grip is 4.7 inches long, slightly larger then my hand and fairly comfortable to grip. When putting a finger over the cross I can place my off hand around the pommel for some pretty comfortable half-handing.

In terms of aesthetics, it looks really nice with the blue leather and silver wire, which was one of the main reasons I settled for this sword in the first place. However, the leather is dark blue as opposed to the more ultramarine shade shown on the older pictures, which was what I had in mind when I ordered it. The reason being that the sword was out of stock by the time I placed my order so I got one of the new batch instead. It doesn't matter much, though I think I would have preferred the old color. There are some small damages to the leather here and there; they look like nicks or scratches. Not sure what to make of those. They are very minor, though, and nothing I feel upset about.

Scabbard:

Oh dear. This isn't very good at all. The scabbard the sword arrived with is a big, clumsy, boxy thing that is simply too large for the blade it's supposed to house. When placed in the scabbard the Squire will rattle something fierce and even slide out at the slightest tip.

It's just supposed to be a bonus, I guess, but with this level of quality I'm probably much better off simply making my own scabbard in the end.

Handling Characteristics:

The sword's weight is advertised as 2 lbs, 8 oz. If my metric conversions are correct, my Squire is more like 2 lbs 24 oz. Heavier, in other words, but not by any great extremes and still below what most of DA's other swords are officially listed as.

Never the less, this sword feels pretty imposing to me when I pick it up. The only other swords I've actually handled are my quite lighter sabers so it's hard for me to compare the Squire to anything, but I wouldn't describe it as lively. Keep in mind, though, that despite my impressive nine feet in lenght and broad shoulders I'm really not especially strong, so for people who are used to these kind of large medieval swords it may appear more nimble. It does feel like a dedicated cutting instrument, though. When swung in dry handling the blade is hard to stop, as if it really wants to hit something. If sharpened, I'm sure it would do okay for cutting exercises.

It does seem to vibrate a bit, though. I don't know much about blade harmonics but I can't seem to find that sweet spot I've been hearing about. I haven't tried wacking anything with it yet, but I suspect that if I did I would probably feel it in the hand, so that may result in a lower average provided my understanding of this sort of thing is accurate.

Conclusion:

I feel that I basically got what I payed for here. It's a not a perfect sword but I certainly wouldn't call it bad either, and at least it has a very good look going. If the blade is as durable as I have been led to believe by other reviews, it should probably be a good cutter once sharpened. I'm not sure what more one can expect from a production sword at this price range.

Though, I still wish I could get the hilt apart and see if there is anything I can do about the misalignment. It's really too bad, because if it wasn't for that one minor flaw, I would have been perfectly satisfied with this sword.

Darksword Armoury Elf Dagger

Well, this was a pleasant surprise. I got the dagger as a free bonus for back ordering the Squire sword. I actually wanted the Ranger dagger but it turned out all models save the Elf was out of stock. Since I was getting it for free anyway I didn't press the matter, but I didn't expect much either.

Turns out, this baby is actually very nice. It's much larger then I had imagined but feels very lively in the hand, the point of balance being pretty much exactly on the cross. It's comfortable to grip, feels sturdy, and looks great. The closest word I can find to sum it up would be "playful"; this dagger is actually fun to handle. I get a strong "hobbit sword" feel out of it. In fact, if I had been handed this dagger at the age of, say, ten and asked about it, I would have happily referred to it was a "shortsword."

The only thing I can criticize is -again- the scabbard, which has exactly the same problems as the scabbard of the Squire sword: clumsy, and oversized and won't actually fit the blade. It looks better then the Squire scabbard due to it's much smaller size, but it's still pretty bad.

Over all, though, I'm happy I accepted their free dagger offer. It's not the Ranger I wanted but I find myself liking it so much it's hard to really care about such a minor detail. Happy

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.


Last edited by Anders Backlund on Tue 22 Jul, 2008 8:46 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Tue 22 Jul, 2008 8:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anders,
I am glad your wait is finally over. I have a hard time being patient when I know a sword is on its way. Regarding the weight, 2 lbs. 24 oz. is 3 lbs. 8 oz., so it would be a full pound heavier than advertised. That is a big difference!

Jonathan
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Mike Arledge




Location: Indianapolis, IN
Joined: 05 Feb 2006
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jul, 2008 8:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for taking the time to write this. Glad you are satisfied with your new sword(s). Some pics would be nice as well if you have the time.
Mike J Arledge

The Dude Abides
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Tue 22 Jul, 2008 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
Anders,
I am glad your wait is finally over. I have a hard time being patient when I know a sword is on its way. Regarding the weight, 2 lbs. 24 oz. is 3 lbs. 8 oz., so it would be a full pound heavier than advertised. That is a big difference!

Jonathan


16 oz is a pound, huh? I didn't know that.

In that case it's actually slightly heavier then what most of their one handed swords are supposed to be. Kinda makes me wonder what they weight. Confused

Edit: Of course, I may simply have miscalculated. That does happen when one is used to the metric system. I'll have to make a double check to make sure.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Tue 22 Jul, 2008 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well this is one of the swords that has been rather notorious for gaining weight in transit. I did hope they would fix that issue with the new batch of swords...guess not. Not good hearing about the scabbard either since that was something else that was suppose to get worked on as well. At least the actual sword fitting seems much improved...but bent tang you say? This is the third time I have heard about that from the recent DSA batch (one anduril, one norman and now yours). That doesn't sound encouranging....
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Tue 22 Jul, 2008 9:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
At least the actual sword fitting seems much improved...but bent tang you say? This is the third time I have heard about that from the recent DSA batch (one anduril, one norman and now yours). That doesn't sound encouranging....


Bent tang or maybe one cut at an angle or not centred ? hard to tell if you can't take the handle apart to see the tang.

I assume that it's a screwed on tang and not a peened tang !? Could be epoxied or maybe just an over-enthusiastic use of locktite ? ( Easier to take off if it's just locktited: Maybe you can e-mail the maker and ask ? ).

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Wed 23 Jul, 2008 11:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
Well this is one of the swords that has been rather notorious for gaining weight in transit. I did hope they would fix that issue with the new batch of swords...


That or just list the correct weight on the website.

Quote:
Not good hearing about the scabbard either since that was something else that was suppose to get worked on as well. At least the actual sword fitting seems much improved...but bent tang you say? This is the third time I have heard about that from the recent DSA batch (one anduril, one norman and now yours). That doesn't sound encouranging....


You don't say? That's really too bad.

I recently noticed the grip on the Elf Dagger is actually slightly awry as well, but it's angled to the edge rather then the flat, so it doesn't feel as bad when I handle it.

Seems like this is something DSA needs to look over.

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Bent tang or maybe one cut at an angle or not centred ? hard to tell if you can't take the handle apart to see the tang.

I assume that it's a screwed on tang and not a peened tang !? Could be epoxied or maybe just an over-enthusiastic use of locktite ? ( Easier to take off if it's just locktited: Maybe you can e-mail the maker and ask ? ).


There's no chap on the pommel nor any traces of peening, and since the older models has screwed on tangs I'm assuming the same goes for this one.

I certainly hope it's not expoxied, and if it is, that it's just the pommel. I'd really, really hate to have to destroy this nice grip just to get a look on the tang, should my curiosity and "inner swordsmith" finally get the better of me.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Wed 23 Jul, 2008 3:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well the other two were bent in cutting. The anduril vs wood block (which I admit is abuse) and the norman against water bottles.

As for the pommel...yeah the new batch seems to be glued on somehow. I have been told that some heat will loosen whatever it is they used so you can unscrew the pommel off. This rather half hearted attempt at fixing an issue with their swords really does lower them in my eyes...and they were pretty low to start off with.
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Fri 25 Jul, 2008 7:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
Well the other two were bent in cutting. The anduril vs wood block (which I admit is abuse) and the norman against water bottles.

As for the pommel...yeah the new batch seems to be glued on somehow. I have been told that some heat will loosen whatever it is they used so you can unscrew the pommel off. This rather half hearted attempt at fixing an issue with their swords really does lower them in my eyes...and they were pretty low to start off with.


Heat, huh? I might try that. Thanks for the tip.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Sun 27 Jul, 2008 7:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I did get the pommel off, but it turns out they glued the whole hilt this way. I used boiling water to loosen the pommel, but I'm worried trying that is going to ruin the grip. Tricky.

But you know what the really freaky part is? I actually thought the sword handled slightly better without the pommel on.

Sure, the POB was moved further out on the blade -though not by very much, a few centimeters at the most - but without the extra weight the sword did somehow feel more responsive and less sluggish.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sun 27 Jul, 2008 11:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good to hear that heat worked. My friend used a blow torch instead of water...of course that has it's own set of having to be careful. He sorched the handle core a smidge in the process. All in all, I think the water is a better idea Wink

Interesting note about the weight though. Something I hsould try out on some DSA swords when I get the chance. I do know that the ranger sword is bad with something like this since steve on the SBG forum made a rosewood handle to replace the metal one while it was being re-gripped and he noticed it being lighter but MUCH more sluggish due to bad balance.
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

Posts: 629

PostPosted: Tue 12 Aug, 2008 4:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Update: I finally got the rest of the hilt off!

It took some mild violence in the end, and I ended up having to saw off the last millimeter or so of the tang since a slight deformation made it impossible to screw the pommel back on. But now my Squire can be safely disassembled. Happy

Turns out, the tang is actually pretty straight, except at the very end where the pommel goes on. It looked far worse then it is because the hilt itself is a bit wry.

I took it apart, reversed the grip and put it back together again. This time the pommel ended up pretty off center but on the other hand it resulted in a much "straighter" feel when holding the sword. Finally a blade I can use! I might even be able to fix the pommel as well with some tinkering.

Also, I must say I'm kinda impressed with how tightly it fits together. Even without the glue, both taking it apart and putting it together is a minor challenge. I can't even twist the pommel off and on by hand; I need to use a vice! Makes me wonder why they thought gluing it together was necessary in the first place. WTF?!

Over all, this isn't a flawless sword but I like it. So far it has not shown any problems I don't think I can fix myself and it gives me the opportunity to learn new tricks. (Next up, I'm considering making a whole new grip and cross and see how it effects the handling.)

In the end, I'm satisfied. Though I do think I'll write back to Eyal and kindly suggest they reconsider the glue. This is a sword where the option of disassembly is a good thing to have.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Tue 12 Aug, 2008 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good to hear you like the sword Happy . But all that you had to do get a working sword makes me cringe a bit. I honestly don't find that acceptable just because the sword is sub 300.
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

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PostPosted: Thu 14 Aug, 2008 8:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

P. Cha wrote:
Good to hear you like the sword Happy . But all that you had to do get a working sword makes me cringe a bit. I honestly don't find that acceptable just because the sword is sub 300.


Eh, the glue was the hard part. If it wasn't for that I would have had the grip fixed on day one.

Anyway, saying that it didn't "work" as I got it would be an exaggeration. I'm just a major perfectionist about this sort of thing, you see. For example, neither of my brothers even noticed that the hilt was wry when they tried the sword; I had to point it out to them. It could still be used as a sword, it's just that I kept getting that little gnawing feeling of wrongness every time I picked it up.

Really, it depends on how sensitive you are.

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Thu 14 Aug, 2008 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah...okay thanks for the clarification Happy . I had something much worse in my head it seems hehe Happy .
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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
Joined: 24 Oct 2007

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PostPosted: Sat 16 Aug, 2008 4:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Slight update: I straightened out the end of the tang. The pommel now goes on much straighter, but it turns out that tight fit I was talking about was partially due to that little flaw. It's still sturdy, but it does come off easier now. Oh well, that saves me some trouble anyway.

I forgot to mention this, but my previous modification made the blade come off as angled to the side edge-wise. (As opposed to flat-wise.) The reason I didn't mention it was because I considered it minor; as long as the edge is in line with the hilt I'm okay. However, the more I looked at it the funnier it appeared, and I soon found that this misalignment was due to the blade slot on the cross being deeper on one side then the other. Fixable but tricky. That's a point off, I'm afraid.

Just to test the theory I made a mock-cross from a piece of oak, and it worked: the hilt is now almost perfect. For now, I'll probably keep the oak guard on for when I'm to use the sword for training.

However, after swinging it around a bit I found that the decorative metal wire on the grip had loosened from the spiral grove in the leather. I simply reinserted it but I expect this issue will return with more frequent use. That's another point off.

Actually, the more I tinker with this sword, the more I find that the blade is great but the hilt components are kinda shoddy, the pommel so far being the exception. I think that to appreciate this sword, you need to be either very forgiving of these kind of flaws or handy enough to do something about them.

P. Cha wrote:
Ah...okay thanks for the clarification Happy . I had something much worse in my head it seems hehe Happy .


Mind you, my brothers probably couldn't tell a cutlass from a bayonet, so we're sort of on the opposite sides of the spectrum. Razz

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
-Homer Simpson.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sat 16 Aug, 2008 4:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, well I'm overly picky as well...so I notice Happy .

Although that cross being skewed is new. Usually you get ones that are too big so being off kilter like that isn't noticed. And being too big is a pretty easy fix (yeah for shims hehe) .

I get the feeling that by the ends of this year, you will have a new hilt assembly for the DSA hehe.
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