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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Nov, 2008 7:35 pm    Post subject: Review of the DSA Black Knight...         Reply with quote

Overview of the DSA Black Knight Sword by JE Sarge



I've been looking at this sword since its debut and had been considering adding it to my collection. So, I went ahead and purchased this sword last week from the SBG Store. I ordered it in sharpened from DSA for an additional $25.00, so the total cost weighed in right at $299.99. With free shipping and a free bonus DSA stiletto (normally $49.95), I figured that I saved in the area of $70.00 easy. The shipping was prompt and the customer service excellent from SBG, all of my questions were answered quickly and accurately.

Packaging:

The sword arrived well-packaged, wrapped securely in bubble wrap, tape, and cardboard with care given to ensure that nothing with an edge protruded from the box. The bonus stiletto was also included in the package.

Historical Basis/Typology:

Based on a museum piece in Copenhagen, the DSA Black Knight is basically a slightly short-bladed Oakeshott Type XVI with an octagonal faceted K Type pommel and a Style 8 crossguard. The whole sword has been heat blued to a beautiful deep blue/black luster.

The Black Knight is essentially a single-fullered DSA version of the Albion Prince, but for considerably less cost (and 6" less length). Of course, you sacrifice the historical authenticity and other superiorities of the Albion line, but for the price, this DSA cannot be beat.

Specifications:

Material: Tempered 1060 Carbon Steel (RC Hardness of 53)
Finish: Heat Blued
Weight: 3lbs, 2ozs
Overall Length: 36.0"
Blade Length: 26.0"
Handle Length: 8.0"
Edge: 1.5mm stock (DSA sharpened version in this review)

The Grip:



The wooden grip is wrapped with a nice grain leather and stitched. There are risers in the middle of the grip, offering a solid grip for even large hands like my own. The grip is worlds beyond alot of the other sub-$300 swords, and to be honest, I even like better than the grip on the VA Signature Castile. Even though the DSA BK is stitched, it does not catch on my hand like the leather edge on the Castile grip. The weapon fits firm in my hand, and the texture does not allow it to slip at all.

The Blade:







The blade is made from the same durable, nearly indestructable 1060 that all other Darkswords are made out of, with the exception of a deep heat blue finish. The finish is nearly perfect, giving a mirror-like sheen. The tip and fuller are ground just a tad bit off center, but you have to look very closely to notice this. There are some minor tooling marks under the blue, but they do nothing to effect my overall impression of the blade.

This sword is fast, as indicative of all Type XVIs. The tip tracks exactly where you want it to go; when you want it to go there. The weight of the sword rests close to the grip, so its quite managable even for its slightly heavy weight for the type it represents.

The factory sharpening job gives enough of an edge to make quick work of water bottles and pumpkins alike, yet could be improved upon a tad.

Thrusts are phenominal with this sword, being exceptionally accurate. Its like you are poking the pell with a dagger, not a sword - which made me laugh out loud at points. What else can I say, this sword does exactly what it was designed to do.

The Pommel and Guard:





The pommel design on this sword is a simply beautiful octagonal faceted Type K. Even though it is not peened, it appears as if it is. Its nice and tight and mates well with the grip. The same goes for the crossguard, its a perfect fit. There is no play whatsoever, offering a good quality feel. The hardware is symmetrical, well-crafted, and gives a great practical and asthetic quality.

I've not disassembled the sword, and really don't plan on doing so because I don't want to disturb the 'hot threading' done at DSA unless I have to. Besides, I've seen enough DSA tangs to know what they look like.

The Scabbard:





I was prepared for the worst when it came to the DSA scabbard. I had read that the quality was really low. However, the scabbard was not that bad in my opinion. It's a far cry better than a Windlass sheath. It's wood core and leather wrapped with nice stitching up the back. It has a matching blued formed locket and chape, which goes nicely. It does lack a bit in fitting the geometry of the blade, which could be improved. The scabbard is noticably wider than the sword, but it is cut to the correct length.

Sheathed in the scabbard, the sword gave a little rattle front and back, but this was cured by soaking a small fold of leather in oil and dropping it into the scabbard. When the sword was inserted into the scabbard, it moved the leather wedge down to the chape where the tip of the blade now lightly catches. The result is no more scabbard rattle.

Bonus Free Stiletto:



Hey, what else can I say. It was free and I'd hate to be stuck with it. Nice sharp point and solid construction. Definately a nice little freebie that I can give to someone as a Christmas gift this year and save some money. ;D

Overall Impression:

I am greatly impressed with this quality sword, and wonder to myself why I have not tried a DSA product before. As for my tastes, the DSA Black Knight is a great sword for the money, filling a niche in my personal collection. It's beautifully constructed, fitted solidly, and made to a standard much higher that other sub-$300 swords.

I would give this sword 9 out of 10 for the price. The only real improvement could be the scabbard fit. I am very pleased with the purchase of the Black Knight and find it to be a significant value for the money.

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Bryan Johnson




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Nov, 2008 8:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan

You've got yourself a nice new sword there. Good overview too. I would certainly like to see and handle it.

Bryan

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Ian Hutchison




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Nov, 2008 11:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow, that really does look nice. Way better looking than the majority of swords at that price.
'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart


Last edited by Ian Hutchison on Sat 15 Nov, 2008 2:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Nov, 2008 11:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glad you like your purchase but I wonder how well that finish will hold up with use.

Not that it will matter that much to most people at this price point but I am curious how its held for you so far in your play?

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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Nov, 2008 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is beautiful. It's good to know that there's a producer of quality non-historical swords and the like out there. See about getting this posted up in our review section!

M.

EDIT: I've never heard of these guys -- I might just buy a dagger from them.

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JE Sarge
Industry Professional



PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 1:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Suprisingly, the finish has held up better than I would have expected it to. I've noticed no wear/scratches on it (yet...) - but then again, I have only cut water bottles, milk jugs, and pumpkins. I keep it well lubed with gun oil and keep the hilt wiped with a silicone gun/reel cloth. I don't mind wear on the pommel, because it just gives it a nice antiqued look.

To cover any scratches that might creep up on the blade in the future, I would simply apply a little chemical blue (Birchwood-Casey) to a Q-Tip and gently rub the scratch until it darkens as I want it. I've been doing this to firearms for years with pretty good results. Of course, if the blue does begin to wear excessively and become a nuisiance, I will just refinish the blade to its natural color and forget about it.

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 1:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
That is beautiful. It's good to know that there's a producer of quality non-historical swords and the like out there. See about getting this posted up in our review section!

M.

EDIT: I've never heard of these guys -- I might just buy a dagger from them.


Funny thing...they are trying to make historical swords. In fact I was in a rather big debate over the historical accuracy of their swords in the SBG forum not too long ago (I was in the they really aren't camp). And yes I am aware of how laughable some of those claims are...especially when you see the effigy that the 100 year war sword they have is suppose to be based on. I don't mind if you don't make very historical sword...but he did start that one. Thread link if your interested in what was being claimed.

http://sbgswordforum.proboards70.com/index.cg...hread=6740

Actually, what I'm curious about is how the cross is sitting on the blade. DSA seems to never have really done this right as they basically gouge a huge channel on the cross so the blade doesn't sit flush with cross. And in many cases doesn't sit straight. If they are fixing that with their new sword designs that would be very nice. I know their older line hasn't had this issue fixed since syn's squire from the latest run I know has the same badly done crossguards...and her first sword was mounted crooked to boot. Also JE, so your going with this as a XVI blade now instead of a XIV you had in your orginal review? I do admit that it looks more like a XVI then a XIV in the pictures. And I too am curious about the finish...although some tastefully mouned rubies in the pommel with a red re-grip would looks wicked with this sword. Then again, the rubies would probably cost more then the sword :P .
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 2:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My original review on SBG was a simple typo...transposed XIV instead of XVI. I just never changed it because I did not notice it until I reposted the review here. It always seems I am writing after a long night at work...

The cross seems to sit fine with the blade, though the actual fit could be improved upon. The overall fit is better than other DSAs I have held. It does seem that they are moving in the right direction with their craftsmanship. I plan on picking up a few more DSAs this year

Rubies would look nice, though cost prohibitive. Could use fake ones and pull it off though. Laughing Out Loud

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good review. You will forgive me though if I still remain in the "Doubting Thomas" camp about Darksword products. I just see too much wrong to justify spending $300 on one of these instead of adding a few more hundred too it and getting something better. There is too much in the market right now coming in under the $500 mark to make darksword appealing enough to forgive the QC problems and generally ipressions I had in the past of clumsy awkward and poorly thought out products.

I'll admit things look light year better, but for under $450 you can get an Albion single had squireline, an of the Angus Trim Maker's Mark single handers and the Tinker lineup through Hanwei.

Good review though, thank you for taking the time and energy to post this.

Mike J Arledge

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 6:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
That is beautiful. It's good to know that there's a producer of quality non-historical swords and the like out there. See about getting this posted up in our review section!

M.

EDIT: I've never heard of these guys -- I might just buy a dagger from them.


If people want to submit official reviews for our Reviews section, they're welcome to contact us. But if they've posted the same text in the forums, we likely won't publish it as it is no longer newsworthy. So if people want to have an official review published, they should contact us first.

Our official hands-on reviews get far more traffic than the forums, actually. A review published there will have a better long-term impact than a forum post.

By the way, Darksword has indeed been discussed here before (numerous times). The Search function will yield more info on them.

Happy

ChadA

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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can definately understand the doubts about Darksword. I have seen some real poor QC on a few of their other items. But then again, I have seen the same type of poor QC on Windlass, Hanwei, Valiant, and others in the past. I have seen cracked/busted grips, loose pommels/guards, missing lockets/chapes, and even cracked blades/tangs on new swords right out of the box. Darksword exhibited none of these problems on this model, so I am pleased for the most part.

This particular sword is a step up from previous Darksword products I have seen/held. Now, it might be that just this sword uniquely came out right or that the Black Knight line is made to a higher standard or that there has been a shift in QC and design at DSA. I'd like to think the latter, but honestly it could be one of those reasons or it could be a mix of all three.

In my opinion, the DSA Black Knight is what it is, a good-looking beater. It cannot realistically be compared to a higher-dollar historical recreation, for that is apples and oranges. You would not catch me wearing out an Albion or A&A on a pell, bottles, melons, or otherwise. Even the Squire lines, requiring a re-grip and wood core scabbard will run you over $700 easy (unless you don't re-grip and get a scabbard). For $300 - this sword is where I personally need it to be; which is sturdier and better gripped than an Indian or Chinese import, yet not cost prohibitive enough to worry about if I damage it during cutting.

Could be a few months down the road I might change my opinion as I progress in the ownership of this sword. But for now, it suits its place in my collection just fine - its a good looking beater that can take a licking and keep on ticking. And that is what a beater is for!

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 7:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well for a lot of us, the jump from 300 to 450 isn't too bad. For me, that is about 2 months of saving. For others I would assume it's even less. But for many people, that 150 dollar could be a year or more of saving. So while for my situation, saving is better, I can't say that will be best for all. Especially in this economy.

As for the DSA line up, I think their new sword designs are probably better thought out then their old ones...but I do find it annoying that they aren't implementing what they learned for all their swords and still doing the horrible crosses on their old designs. The scabbard on this one is definately leaps and bounds better...but once again, their old design swords still have the same old PoS we all expect from DSA in the scabbard department. Eyal promises new and better things this next run so we'll see what he comes up with next.

As for fake rubies...even synthetics are pretty expensive. A 8mm synthetic ruby will still run you more then 300 for a good one. Imitation is bit cheaper...but around 50-100 bucks. And they won't have the proper briallance. CZ is the same...only much cheaper. I make jewelry as one of my hobbies...because tuning my car, target shooting and collecting swords don't cost ... enough ... money WTF?! ....Umm...yeah. Hehe Happy .

As for damage...Atrims and Albions are much better made then DSA swords so they will endure better then the sub 300 swords will for cutting use. In fact for a sword to use just for cutting, I would look no further then Atrims honestly.

Speaking of 700 dollars...my gen 2 will probably cost me that much by the time I am done with it hehe (reshaping the blade, re do the HT and tempering and have the hilt redone in the process). Yeah...sub 300 swords just might not be my niche.
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 15 Nov, 2008 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JE Sarge wrote:
Suprisingly, the finish has held up better than I would have expected it to. I've noticed no wear/scratches on it (yet...) - but then again, I have only cut water bottles, milk jugs, and pumpkins. I keep it well lubed with gun oil and keep the hilt wiped with a silicone gun/reel cloth. I don't mind wear on the pommel, because it just gives it a nice antiqued look.

To cover any scratches that might creep up on the blade in the future, I would simply apply a little chemical blue (Birchwood-Casey) to a Q-Tip and gently rub the scratch until it darkens as I want it. I've been doing this to firearms for years with pretty good results. Of course, if the blue does begin to wear excessively and become a nuisiance, I will just refinish the blade to its natural color and forget about it.


There is one small cosmetic change I would do if it was my sword: The sharpening ends a bit suddenly near the guard and the secondary bevel there looks sloppy. I would use a diamond hone and smooth the bevels there and have them fade gradually as one gets closer to the guard.

One could go the extra step of going over the whole sharpening job and blend it into the main bevel in appleseed style ?
or at least polish the secondary bevel and remove any irregularities like sharpening passes that where not at the same angle.

Not very important on a beater but it would look neater to me.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 1:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Has anybody else taken note that this DSA sword differs from the antique sword documented in Records of the Medieval Sword in the same details as does the Albion Prince model? I imagine the odds are quite large that two inspired designs would end up having the same deviations when compared to the original.

The historical record has left us with many swords to serve as inspiration for contemporary designs. Many of these are in publicly-viewable collections, others in private collections, some photographed and published, others available for sale in auctions. The list goes on and on. Given the immense source of inspiration for replicas, I find it absolutely unbelievable that makers need to step on each other's toes and go after the same designs time and time again. More to the point, I find it highly suspicious that any maker's offerings would so closely match another's offerings even to go so far as to include variances unique only to the modern version and not to the antique.

Does this bother anybody?

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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 4:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Has anybody else taken note that this DSA sword differs from the antique sword documented in Records of the Medieval Sword in the same details as does the Albion Prince model? I imagine the odds are quite large that two inspired designs would end up having the same deviations when compared to the original.

The historical record has left us with many swords to serve as inspiration for contemporary designs. Many of these are in publicly-viewable collections, others in private collections, some photographed and published, others available for sale in auctions. The list goes on and on. Given the immense source of inspiration for replicas, I find it absolutely unbelievable that makers need to step on each other's toes and go after the same designs time and time again. More to the point, I find it highly suspicious that any maker's offerings would so closely match another's offerings even to go so far as to include variances unique only to the modern version and not to the antique.

Does this bother anybody?


Now that you point it out in plain sight, yes!
Many darkswords back in the day were ripoffs of DelTins and Sampson designs.

Mike J Arledge

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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 7:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Does this bother anybody?


Yes, but then again, in most cases I find that the firms that do rip off other modern designs engage in multiple practices that demonstrate a lack of integrity. And they tend to do this repeatedly. I just don't do business with firms that are apparently compelled to show me that are not trustworthy in myriad ways.

Cheers!

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 7:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan Robinson wrote:
Does this bother anybody?


Yes, actually. Happy

Both are said to be based on the same sword in Copenhagen. No problem there; it's an attractive sword. Both are sized down from the original sword in varying degrees. Both sport a single fullered Type XVI blade instead of a double fullered Type XIV blade. Both ended up with an 8-faceted pommel instead of the original 10 faces. Both include a peen block, though the DSA version seems to be integral with the pommel. The grip on the DSA has a riser at each end and multiple risers in the middle, as does the Albion Prince (though it's 3 instead of 2 in the middle). The original sword has no grip.

Now, you can make a case that DSA is using similar grips on other swords. Okay, I can see that. They also might have chosen a single fullered Type XVI blade because one fuller is easier/cheaper to put in than two and the diamond section tip of a XVI is likely easier than the proper lenticular one of a XIV. But the change in the number of pommel faces and the changes to the guard and some other things all add in with the blade change and grip similarity to make me think they've simply copied another designer's work.

Of course, no one (living, at least) can lay claim to the design of a sword made hundreds of years ago as intellectual property. If multiple people make exact repros, they should all be the same (excepting changes in how people replace missing elements like the grip). But if someone makes a sword "inspired by" originals and adds their own flair, that becomes their version of it. People copying the altered version are cutting corners and building on others' work in my opinion.

DSA has done this before. It's one thing to see what's popular on the market and try to design something to be competitive, but it's another to simply lift significant portions of your design from other people's work. I personally find that distasteful, though I know this stuff goes on in the business world. In an economy where a number of US makers are struggling, what economic impact will the "borrowing" have on the business whose original design is being lifted? Hopefully not a significant one, but it makes you think.

I have no doubt that someone from DSA will step in soon and tell us (quite vehemently, I'm sure) we're wrong, but I invite people to look at the pics of each and draw their own conclusions.

I'm glad people enjoy their Darksword pieces. They're an interesting offering. I would note, though, that there are other good swords, and certainly more historic options, available even in the sub-$300 price range. The Windlass "Type IV" [sic] (which I've handled and cut with) is much better looking, more accurate, and handles great; that's one example and it can be bought for less than $200. It seemed quite solidly put together and has a much more sharpenable edge. The Gen 2 Henry V handled well and looked good and was quite solid. If they've sorted out the QC issues that caused a bunch of swords to ship with overly aggressive hollow grinds and weak tips, they'd be a fantastic option, still at less than $300. It's sharp, has a nice scabbard, and still looks better than the DSA swords I've seen pictures of.

The blade edge on this one looks a lot like a Starfire dagger I had sharpened. It's a very obvious, unattractive secondary bevel. I have yet to see a historic sword with anything like that. I guess I understand why they make the blades so thick, but the sharpened end product will be a less efficient cutter than one designed to be sharp (or less blunt), not to mention the look of that bevel, which I don't care for.

Happy

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Mike Arledge




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well spoken Chad. I wish I had seen a voice like this 5 years ago when I made the darksword mistake...
Mike J Arledge

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R D Moore




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 10:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes vote here I'm afraid. Replicas of originals should replicate the originals not other maker's products. Having said that, I understand JE Sarge's logic in buying a beater to beat up. As someone mentioned earlier, a bit more saving would put a buyer into a price point similar to the Squire line category though.
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P. Cha




PostPosted: Sun 16 Nov, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

: : The Black Knight sword : :
"The Black Knight" Medieval Sword is Inspired by E.A. Christensen's sketch work, found on p. 121-122 of Oakeshott's "Record of the Medieval Sword". Remaining true to it's historical form, the black knight sword is one of the perfectly balanced swords of the medieval era. The original, dated at 1475 (with some controversy), is double fullered at the blade. Our rendition of the sword, is forged with a single fullered blade.

From their website. See the bolded part. Obviously a laughable claim. Not to mention that they use the word inspired just like albion does in the sentence before.

Chad does bring up a good point about having better low end options...even if one could not afford an Atrim or albion squire line.

And considering the stark difference between their new line of sword and their old line that they for some unknown reason can't get near the same level...one has to wonder if they are importing the swords from two different sources.

As for them copying the prince...imitation is the sincerest from of flattery. But it still bugs me. But considering how many other things I have issues with DSA, I consider it something small.
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