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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Oct, 2008 10:14 am    Post subject: Windlass 5-lobe: a good entry level viking sword         Reply with quote

I have been trying to hold off buying anything while I wait for a custom job, but what can I say, I am an addict. So the other day I dropped by Reliks and picked up Windlass' relatively new model viking sword, the 5 lobe. Since there have been so many requests for information on entry-level viking replicas, I will post my first impressions here.

(Hopefully my picture will show up below along with some other viking items in my collection).

I think that the Windlass / MRL description of this sword is pretty accurate; it's a basic looking sword, no frills past the fact of the fairly standard lobated pommel. It is classic in its look, profile, and overall dimensions, and I would say is essentially representative of several historical examples other than minor details of construction.

Some Stats:
Overall 36.5 inches.
Blade 30.5 inches.
Feels like 2.5 pounds.
Grip 4 inches.
PoB - 5 3/4 inches.

This sword has a very solid, business-like feel to it without being overly heavy or sluggish. In fact it handles quite well - in my opinion with the right balance of blade presence and 'wieldability' for a sword of this period. The blade is a strong point - it has slight but even profile taper with a similarly tapering, medium-wide fuller in the classic Viking pattern. It can flex, but it is stiffer than most of their other viking models (e.g., Sticklestad, Ulfberht etc). The reason seems to be that the blade is slightly thicker than those other models, without being overly heavy. It does not have the sophisticated blade geometry of more expensive models (i.e., not much of a distal taper in thickness until near the end), but in terms of handling, seems to get by without this. Overall, a good compromise between strength, weight, and balance.

I have not tried to cut anything with it yet (and my model is not sharpened), but I am guessing that it will compare favorably to other models in this class. This guess is based on the blade geometry and harmonics, which seem decent for a sword in this class. Overall it is not especially prone to vibration, and the nodal points are close to where they should be. (Mind that I am comparing this to similarly priced swords).

The grip is a little longer than average for Viking swords, but within historical limits. It is just long enough to use a hammer grip for those who do not like the handshake grip. This is facilitated by the outward curving upper and lower guard, which make holding this sword comfortable compared to many viking types. It also works fine with a handshake grip, or transitioning between the two grips. The rounded rectangular grip provides good control, and the leather of the grip is smooth but not slippery. Some won't like the protruding stitching - it doesn't bother me.

Overall the finishing is quite good. Without looking down the blade toward a light, grind marks are generally not visible and the fuller is quite even for its full length. The ground-out and polished lobes of the pommel are not sophisticated, but OK. The pommel appears to be peened on but the peen is barely visible. Interestingly there is a tiny 'riccasso' buried within the slot where the blade joins the cross. I have not seen this before but saw it on another new Windlass model...I wonder if this is supposed to improve strength at the joint. My understanding is that these 'built up shoulders' appeared in earlier iron age swords and later renaiscence swords, but should not appear on Viking swords. However, you have to look for it to see it, so it's no big deal. Similarly, the pommel is in one piece whereas I think that most historical swords of this type would have a pommel attached to an upper guard, but this is splitting hairs on a sword in this range.

So far the hilt is tightly assembled with no loose fittings, but only time will tell....

All that is just reporting, as accurate as I can be. The real reason I am writing this is because, although this is not an exciting looking sword, it is rapidly growing on me. It has that solid functional feel that makes you appreciate its simple appearance the more you use it. I'm really happy I bought this sword and (at this point in time) feel confident to recommend this to anyone on a budget looking for a decent viking replica. It's a good sword for the money! (I'm a pretty critical guy, so that's about as enthusiastic as I get).

In this sense, this sword reminds me a lot of the Windlass Type XIV - kind of a plain Jane at first glance, but earns its own reputation in time. I think they got this one right and I hope that they will keep making them for a while.

Disclaimer: there are always variations in the hand-made items from this manufacturer...the next one down the line may not be as good, so one needs to take a close look at each one.

- JD



 Attachment: 42.07 KB
Winldass 5-lobe 2.JPG
Windlass 5-lobe Viking pictured with Valentine Armory Spangenhelm and Beowulf & Grendel Shield


Last edited by J.D. Crawford on Wed 22 Oct, 2008 3:01 pm; edited 2 times in total
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J. D. Carter




Location: Az.
Joined: 09 May 2007

Posts: 79

PostPosted: Mon 13 Oct, 2008 10:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looking at the close up shots at KoA of the five lobed I can just make out the beginning of the shoulder you describe. It wouldn't be a deal breaker for me.

Glad your pleased with your purchase. Another bonus IMO is although the scabbard pictured may not be period accurate for a purist it is somewhat more embellished than the standard scabbard Windlass mates with most of their swords.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Oct, 2008 10:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh yeah, forgot to mention the scabbard. Standard hardened leather with some criss-cross 'viking' stylings and sewing up one side. It fits, neither loose nor too tight, which is about all you can ask from these things. Unfortunately the picture was too big to post, I'll edit it down some time and try posting it again.

Speaking of scabbards, they (Reliks) just got in the new Valiant/Trim/Fletcher Castile sword a day or two after I was there. That could very likely be my next impulse purchase...the scabbard alone looks to be worth it. Not that I am already regretting the 5-lobe: I foresee a glorious showdown between my new sword and some local pumpkins very soon...it's that time of year.
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Wed 22 Oct, 2008 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Picture loaded. The handle is not that shiny looking -it's just the flash.
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Tim May




Location: Annapolis, MD
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 12:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sounds pretty good. Have you handled the Sticklestad though? From all accounts it is extremely stiff, though they might share the same blade, I've not looked closely enough. Personally I've become interested in the Norwegian Viking, a bit heavy, but that seems to be from the fittings, and because of this will probably handle as if it is much lighter than it is.

Thanks for the feedback!
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 23 Oct, 2008 5:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Tim,

I haven't handled the Norwegian, but I have a Sticklestad. The blades of the 5-lobe and Sticklestad are similar but not identical. The Sticklestad blade is a bit longer, has more profile taper (starting out a bit wider and ending up more narrow), and likewise the fuller is much wider at the guard and tapers toward the tip. The PoB is a bit further out on the Sticklestad but it handles very easily because it has such a light blade. The 5-lobe has a slightly thicker blade with a more narrow fuller, thus it's a bit heavier and definitely stiffer (at least comparing the ones I have).

I like them both, but if I was to jump in a time machine and go a-viking I would take the 5-lobe.

Regards, JD
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just for fun, here is a non-scientific comparison of the Windlass 5-lobe, Sticklestad, and Ulfbert cutting through a pumpkin with a 52" circumference. In each case I aimed a downward slice from the right shoulder, taking one step. Then rotated the pumpkin to get a fresh cutting angle until it was destroyed. None of these swords are sharpened.

For reference: in my hands, a 1&1/2 hand war sword will shear right through a pumpkin of this size, whereas a light cut-and-thrust will go about halfway through.

First Cut: the Sticklestad. Pretty clean cut of 31" circumference, but veered off course slightly near the end. Seemed like the cut entered near the optimal striking point, but the tip did not have enough weight to carry through.



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Stickle-pumpkinn small.jpg
Sticklestad


Last edited by J.D. Crawford on Thu 30 Oct, 2008 3:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Third cut: Ulfberht

The overall penetration was a bit deeper, with a circumference of 33". Again, the tip failed to follow through. The big problem here (hard to see from the picture) was that about halfway through the cut I felt a strong torque on the sword, lost control, and it veered strongly to the side. Have noted this previously on swords with wide, very flexible blades.



 Attachment: 67.08 KB
ulfbehrt-pumpkin small.jpg
Ulfbehrt
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J.D. Crawford




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PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 3:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

2nd (shown), 4th, and 5th cuts: the 5-lobe

These gave the deepest cuts, 36" (shown), 37", 38" circumference, finally bottoming out. In each cut the sword penetrated evenly (i.e., the tip following through), cut straight, and imparted a solid chopping feeling like an axe cutting through...well a pumpkin.

The winner!

Again, none of these swords are sharp, so their performance here is likely a function of speed, mass distribution, and blade geometry. Sharp blades against lighter targets, e.g., water bottles, could very well give a different comparison. I would attribute the better performance of the 5-lobe against this medium to the properties mentioned above in my mini-review, as well as near-parallel blade giving a greater weight toward the tip. One can see why Vikings would like this type of blade configuration for chopping through shields and light armor...despite the cost in handling characteristics.



 Attachment: 64.71 KB
5-lobe-pumkin small.jpg
5-lobe


Last edited by J.D. Crawford on Fri 31 Oct, 2008 6:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gavin Kisebach




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PostPosted: Thu 30 Oct, 2008 4:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JD I love fun non-scientific tests with swords. After all, it's not like we're curing cancer here. Big Grin

The Sticklestad is a really attractive design IMO. There's some imbellishment; but not cheap imbelishment for it's own sake, and the more pointy lobed pommel is an interesting variation. I almost bought that one but Albion released the Valkyrja and it was game over for the poor Sticklestad. Maybe in a couple of years....

There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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Tony Peterson




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PostPosted: Fri 31 Oct, 2008 2:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey J.D

Thanks for sharing the tests with us. Im always eager to hear how the various viking swords out there hold up. Impressive looking shield also, you should post more pics of that in the shield thread! Wink

Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!

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