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Jerry Knox




Location: Palm Bay, Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Jun 2007

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 11:59 am    Post subject: Modern US military dress swords         Reply with quote

I am facing the pleasant and rare dilemma of having money to spend and not being sure what to do with it. My favorite swords could be typified as spadroons or "fencing sabers", typically light, stiff, straight-to-slightly curved swords meant for fencing, but still capable of cutting on unarmored targets. Think of what Hanwei's "Hutton Saber" would be if it were a sharp, and you pretty much have it.

I am lucky in that the original swords are fairly common, and can be had for about the same price as reproducions in decent shape, but unlucky in that they are almost always sold in auctions. i do not like auctions. I am distinctly a "see it, like it, buy it" type, and the prospect of bidding on something, even on nice friendly ebay, does not appeal.

So, is there a place out there that anyone knows of where these kind of 18th-20th century swords are sold rather than auctioned?

My other option is the set of current us military dress swords. I know that they're stainless, but I have a good deal of experience with stainless in my work, and have used an old rehilted United katana blade as a machete on small woody saplings for years, so i have a pretty open mind about the material. My question here is, does anyone have any hands-on experience with these swords? what is the quality of the blade steel? (i.e. hardness, springiness, corrosion resistance, any catastrophic breaks?) has anyone taken the hilt apart to see how they're put together? Any qualitative opinions on how they feel?

I don't intend to actually fence with the sword, just to "play" with it and probably to cut fruit and cardboard boxes. but I like to know that it COULD work as it was intended.

What's everyone's opinion about the best course here?
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 1:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Given your interests and intent, I'd suggest a good reproduction 19th c. sword. If you're on a tight budget, Windlass sells a few you'd probably like.

I was very impressed with the CSA Windlass sword reviewed here:
http://www.myArmoury.com/review_ws_cfo.html

This is a wonderful sword-light and well-balanced, with an excellent carbon steel blade. I think it's discontinued, but the U.S. Model 1850 Foot Officer's sword is almost identical, and is currently on sale for $120 (that's a steal).

http://www.atlantacutlery.com/atlantacutlery/detail.aspx?ID=635

If you want something more like a spadroon, try the Mod. 1840 NCO sword:

http://www.atlantacutlery.com/atlantacutlery/detail.aspx?ID=641


If you can spend just a bit more and really want a British military sword, you'll get good selection, accuracy and detail at Military Heritage:

http://www.militaryheritage.com/swords.htm
(WARNING: You'll want to own approximately 80 percent of the swords you see here).

Several of their swords--the Royal art. sword, 1897 inf. officer's sword and 1908 cav. trooper's sword might be good for Hutton, but they're at the top of the price range for this sort of thing--around $250.

If I were in your shoes, I'd go for the Windlass U.S. mod 1850 Foot Officer's sword. Again, if it's anything like it's CS brother, it'd be a treat for cutting and training.

-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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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,919

PostPosted: Tue 16 Dec, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jerry,

Two sources in the states for newly made American military patterns are

http://www.marlowwhite.com/

and

http://www.amessword.com/

The former sells goods from WKC in Germany and are suited for dress more than sharp use. The swords are certainly substantial enough to have an egde put on them (Albiet a chromium steel but heat treated and tempered) but you may well be more suited to other reproductions or sturdy originals.

Ames sells a variety of swords but they too will probably not sell sharps. They do list non-chromium steel as an option. One might contact their slaes office for more particulars.

Ebay and other venues sell ample examples of period swords and a good many are buy it now options. The ist of sources for all manner of period swords would fill many pages of my dealer bookmarks. I cannot fathom that someone seriously pursuing the market would not take a look at internet sources for just about anything. Start at a search engine and plug in a specific sword type. Virtually anything is available. If one were to narrow that interest to a specific type, I would be glad to share some specific sites for you.

Antique spadroons are certainly an option but most of the prettier examples probably do deserve not using for heavy practicing, including cutting. None of the following table shown here were terribly expensive and all from dealers, no auctions. I do handle and flourish these swords quite often. There has been some very minimal cutting but I have others (reproductions) for that purpose.


If I were starting a search for types again myself, I would concentrate perhaps on diffrent types. One quite spadroon like sword that is quite common both as period swords or reproductions are the American 1840 non-commision type sword. It is on our left in the above picture. A spanking new like Ames 1864 1840 nco that was never sharpened and actually a lot more wrist and handling friendly than some may think. On the reproduction side, they are quite inexpensive and one might even find someone on youtube cutting water filled bottles with one.

Of the light sabres, one might enjoy the mid era American naval officer swords. They are plentiful and usually less than $500. The 1902 all officer sword might be another less expensive period sword that appear in bushel loads. WWI period German swords are a dime a dozen, many of which are light sabres.

A bigger long term quest for you might be a book such as Harold Peterson's tome on American swords. Although a bit dated (1954, my age), it really is still the bible and would give some insight into what you might be interested in. Again, there are other reproductions in all varieties that might suit your fancy. Considering the wealth of period swords out there, it makes little sense to me to pursue a great many reproductions unless one is looking at a collection of each that is sturdy and cost effective for continued cutting practices. I look at the antiques mostly as objects of history worthy of a quiet rest. Noen of what I pictured above is as expensive as the higher tiers of medieval reproductions.

Virtually anything one is looking for, it is available aside from auction houses. I would suggest spending some time with the market in general and my wants in orders of preferences. I ended up with a reproduction sabre for heavier wind swording and cutting practices. I may some day add more but one has been more exactly what I was looking for and suits my needs.

Cheers

GC

(II've several hundred dealers bookmarked, any number might suit your specific needs)
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Jerry Knox




Location: Palm Bay, Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Jun 2007

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 6:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the great replies! You both hit some of my favorites right on the head.

Sean, my current favorite sword is the windlass 1840 NCO sword. My wife gave it to me as a wedding present (we even cut the cake with it, though the church made me leave it in the car for the ceremony). The blade loosened initially with serious cutting, but I was able to grind out the peen, take it apart, recess the guard to tightly grip the ricasso, and fill the handle with shims to tighten it all up. It now rings like a bell with the lightest tap, and "sings" when I draw it from the steel scabbard. Oh, and it cuts like a little katana :-) It is "my sword", the one I would carry if our culture still allowed it.

I think I may have to grab that foot officer's sword. I have always preferred the Confederate version on its merits as a sword, but am not sure how i feel about the bold CSA's all over it, and you can't beat $120!

Glen, have you noticed any differences between your authentic 1840 and the windlass version? The windlass sword has almost no distal taper, which makes it satisfyingly stiff, but i wonder how it would handle with a bit less meat at the tip.

I think I'll also contact Ames about their carbon steel blade, you never know. I have a spot in my heart for the naval officer's sword since it is the sword that Heinlein modeled Lady Vivamus after in "Glory Road". i wish the current model had the slightly curved blade of the originals, though, which is still retained on the marine nco sword.

I think I'm getting inspired to post some pictures of the swords i have made in the years that I have wanted a sword like this, but not had the money to get one. They're all hilted with pieced-together, second-hand bargain basement stuff, but the blades are all good, and I am pretty proud of a couple of them.

Thanks again!
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Jerry Knox




Location: Palm Bay, Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Jun 2007

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 6:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, i meant to ask, what do you think about the windlass patton sword? It looks like it might be too "dead" for decent fencing, since it was essentially a lance-surrogate, but I know patton mentioned that it would also cut if needed.

has anyone got any impressions of this sword?
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 532

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jerry,

As Sean said you might want to check out militaryheritage.com

Their 1796 Pattern British Infantry Sword and British 5-Ball Infantry Officer's Sword might interest you.

'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
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,919

PostPosted: Wed 17 Dec, 2008 9:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Regarding differences between an original 1840 nco and most of the reproductions is the blade grind themselves. Some of the earlier reproductions actually get it right and every other one gets it wrong. As with many period spadroon blades, the fuller extends right up to just behind the point. My 1864 Ames is actually quite a stiff sword. There is a fair deal of distal taper to my original, let me grab the calipers here. 8mm to about 3mm just as the fuller ends. It is a lot more linear than some of my older spadroons. keep in mind that these swords were more for pointing at the other guys to shoot than serious cutting. I'm sure they skewer quite nicely. I have been somewhat bemused by the youtube clip cutting with these and wish them well but the sword types were never meant to take arms off or cut down trees.

On the Patton from Windlass, I have handled both originals and my reproduction. Neither are ungainly at all but the extra weight in the reproduction is all in the hand. For me, I find swords like that have a good bit of oversteer. Meaning once in motion, the point control tends to suffer as the momentum of the hilt will drive the point wide of the forward pivot. The originals are a lot more nuetral in steerage for me and actually quite a delight compared to the Windlass. I actually like a little understeer instead of heavy feeling hilts. Power to the point finds a better line for me (front wheel drive). Sound originals still carry about a five hundred dollar price tag to start and they go up from there to a median of about $700 for premium examples.

On the Military Heritage front, many may do better price wise by approaching this vendor. He has indicated he can beat the MH supplier and appears to be gearing up to be a lot more managable for many worldwide. He is also fielding information from Weapon Edge to offer sharps (at a cost)
http://www.weaponedge.com/stromlo/

There are also retailers both in the UK and in France that sell the Weapon Edge goods.

One very sad thing about the current Weapon Edge spadroons of all models are anachronistic regarding the blade grinds. As with the reproduction 1840 ncos, the fuller really should et ground to be full length fullers instead of what the manufacturer is doing. Some of the other sabres reviewed have actually looked quite good and distal properties more in historical parameters.

Also keep in mind that as with the reproductions, spurious attempts surface. Someone recentlyclosed an auction of the new five ball spadroon and fetched near $800 for a sword that someone thought with their sky's mind instead of reality. While no serious student of historical spadroons would miss the error, it appears that some will leap before looking closely. The bad blade grind is just one absolute that no one should have been fooled. There are other traits as well.

I was hopeful that the new spadroons would be quite nice but the fact they blew the blade properties is both a good thing and a bad thing. Someone could regrind the fullers of the new ones and it might turn out quite nicely.

Atlanta Cutlery does offer the benefit of a sharpening service. Sutlers such as www.legendaryarms.com will sell many more of the similar types. I bought my sabre from Blockade Runner and although it is a (fairly poor attempt) reproduction of a CSA sword, I selected it based on blade length and other characteristics. It has been fun but still lacks the more wonderful feeling period swords. Most of these issues will revolve about originals vs modern specification regarding thicknesses and distal properties.

The American civil War naval swords were a broader and slightly curvier blade. The 1872 to WWI era naval swords are a bit curvier and broader than the later attenna size dress swords and can be found in good shape. The originals from the ACW are pricy and really too valuble to be playing one with lustfully. I have cut with some of my old swords but keeping it in lighter context of use and not really doing it a great deal.

The reproductions may really hit the spot for some and I would never suggest continual use of a less common antique but there really are a lot of sound swords that would suit and were produced right into the last century.

Again, I would be looking at types I like and start a methodical search for possibilities if looking at originals.

Cheers

GC
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Sean Scott





Joined: 02 Apr 2007

Posts: 21

PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2008 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The M1902 Army Officer's Saber differs from other regulation swords in that, by specification, the blade is not made of stainless but of tempered carbon steel that is nickel plated. Examples with stainless blades are not to spec and should be considered replicas.

Marlow White, as mentioned above, exclusively sells WKC products which, with the demise of Wilkinson, are probably the best quality available. They import finished products, so customization options are about nil aside from laser-etching your name in the plaque.

Ames also imports their blades (rumor says from Windlass but I called and they will not confirm that), but manufactures and fits all of the furniture themselves. They also do the etching, so it's possible to get a more customized product from Ames.

If you want an "original" M1902, look at buying an example manufactured by the Springfield Armory. First-etch patterns are relatively easy to find and are actually not much more expensive than a quality modern saber.

I have owned copies of the M1913 "Patton" saber from 3 different manufacturers. To the eye they ranged from a very good reproduction to one looking like it was hammered out with a rock. None approached the balance and handling of an original, and originals are still not too far in price from a repro.

Det er ikke å unngå fare det vi har komme!
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Jerry Knox




Location: Palm Bay, Florida, USA
Joined: 12 Jun 2007

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2008 10:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What about the Cold Steel "Indian cavalry sword" it looks like it should be better-handling. I remember Atlanta Cutlery listing it for a month in their catalog before it disappeared to reappear with the patented "cold steel markup" of almost $200. Turned me off of a sword i really like the look of.

Sean S., that's interesting about the army sword still being plated carbon steel. I have an antique bavarian saber with a nickel plated blade that i am very fond of, of course, if I sharpened it it would ruin the look and the corrosion protection, but it's still a great rust-resistant coating. I just wish i liked the looks of that sword better. the finger grooved handle always looks to me like it would feel terrible if you actually tried to use the sword.

Glen, do you know where I might find one of these: http://arms2armor.com/Swords/1852navy.htm It's the aforementioned "real" lady vivamus. These swords are very attractive to my tastes, so any fairly similar sword is also of interest.

I'm still thinking nice thoughts about that windlass union officer saber...
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,919

PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2008 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Jerry,

If looking for a reproduction of the old naval swords, there is a choice of etched or plain via these guys
http://www.legendaryarms.com/civilwarswords.html There are other vendors as well but be aware that there are typically three grades of ACW reproductions. They range from quite dismal, such as the Deepeeka range to better from folk marketing Windlass goods (even some of them are pretty awful) and then you see a higher tier that often reflects getting what one buys for. Blockade, for instance, will openly sell you a cheap light cavalry sword or a much better one.

One that lingers at a dealer right now is a relative bargain for a mid era naval sword and he can be found here
http://www.gundersonmilitaria.com/picturedisp...esentation Nope, no scabbard for it but a good example of the era at a budget price.

I link it from convienance really, I know there are more of this range from about 1872 up through the first war. As to the fatties of old, I would really regard them as more investment type antiques, as the good ones are quite good and even the relics tend to pull a draw.

Good luck in the quest. I tended to look at the market for almost a decade of antiques that I have seen one after another fall of the charts. There are really too many dealers to list and that is why I suggest some surfing if looking for a specific genre and date timline.

Cheers

GC
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Shahril Dzulkifli




Location: Malaysia
Joined: 13 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Thu 18 Dec, 2008 4:48 pm    Post subject: Modern US military dress swords         Reply with quote

Jerry,
I think you should go to this website http://www.usmilitaryswordsonline.com/
Here you can find lots of modern U.S. military swords; some are authentic, some are replicas.
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