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Zlatko Vlašic




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Feb 2007

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 12:57 am    Post subject: Cut-and-Thrust shopping advice         Reply with quote

After years spending on just reading about it on this site and others, I am finally able (financially) to take the plunge and obtain my very first sword.

Obviously, I have zero experience with this sort of thing - starting from manufacturers, vendors, little tricks and issues I should check before buying etc.

All I know is what I want - and that is a mid 16th to early 17th century type side sword/cut-and-thrust sword.
And I also know that this being my first sword, I should not spend too much money on it - a sensible 200-300$ at most. And after I get my first blade, we'll see where this hobby of mine takes me.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a great deficit of decent side sword/cut-and-thrust swords on the market, especially at the 200-300$ price range (compared to say viking or roman swords which seem to be everywhere).

In any case, I have sort of narrowed down my preferences to these three options:

1. Munich cut and thrust sword by Windlass
http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=5011...rust+Sword

Looks great, seems sturdy, windlass is apparently solid manufacturer (is it really?!), blade seems to have a lot of presence and is not fullered (which should mean that it will not be whippy right?).....

2. Saxon Hilt Cut and Thrust by Windlass
http://www.kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=...rust+Sword

Looks pretty much the same thing as number 1, the blade to me even looks the same, but I read somewhere that it is too whippy. Does anybody have any first hand experience with this sword??
I actually prefer this one to the Munich sword, I like the guard better.

3. Final option, and to me the least desirable, is to get a composite sword from darkwood armoury, using an english or german 2 port cross, like this
http://www.darkwoodarmory.com/index.php?main_...cts_id=170

Obviously, this is my least desired option, since it seems to be a little to pricey for a first time sword, and I would only go for this if all else fails. Also, I don't know if they sharpen the blades?

I would greatly appreciate any advice and firsthand experience from other users.

"To you, Baldrick, Renaissance is just something that happened to other people."

Edmund Blackadder


Last edited by Zlatko Vlašic on Fri 04 Jun, 2010 12:59 am; edited 1 time in total
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 12:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

#2, the Saxon Hilt Cut and Thrust by Windlass is a terrible sword. The hilt is terribly inaccurate and the dynamics are very bad. I'd take it off the list immediately. It's of a very, very different form than #1... not sure why you think they are the same.
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Zlatko Vlašic




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Feb 2007

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 1:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All I have are the small pictures on the manufacturers and vendors sites - the blades do look similar, that's all. It could be that the pictures are no good, and ofcourse I have very little experience so I probably overlook important details that distinguish them.

All right, so #2 is no good.....

"To you, Baldrick, Renaissance is just something that happened to other people."

Edmund Blackadder
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 1:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Zlatko Vlašic wrote:
All I have are the small pictures on the manufacturers and vendors sites - the blades do look similar, that's all. It could be that the pictures are no good, and ofcourse I have very little experience so I probably overlook important details that distinguish them.


Sorry, it's late and I misread what you typed. I didn't catch that you said the blades look the same. Happy

Quote:
All right, so #2 is no good.....


Yeah. Unfortunately, I'd have to say that #2 is really a dud. However, whoever said it is is "whippy" (I hate this term), is nuts. It's a very stiff blade.

I'd be interested in knowing more about The Windlass Munich cut and thrust sword

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Jim Mearkle




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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 4:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Darkwood's specialty is training blunts. If you wanted to use it for sparring, I'd definitely recommend it. I don't know if you can get a sharp blade from them, but it wouldn't hurt to ask,

One advantage is customization. Want a heavier or lighter pommel? Easily done. Want a blued hilt? Well it will cost a bit more, but again, easily done. Same with grips, blade, quillon shape, etc.

A disadvantage is, he doesn't usually do direct reproductions of historic weapons, if that is what you want.

I have a shell hilt I bought from him probably 15 years ago. It's still in good shape, despite being my primary fencing sword for 10 of those years.

Jim
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Dan P




Location: Massachusetts, USA
Joined: 28 Jun 2007

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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 6:57 am    Post subject: Re: Cut-and-Thrust shopping advice         Reply with quote

Zlatko Vlašic wrote:

3. Final option, and to me the least desirable, is to get a composite sword from darkwood armoury, using an english or german 2 port cross, like this
http://www.darkwoodarmory.com/index.php?main_...cts_id=170

Obviously, this is my least desired option, since it seems to be a little to pricey for a first time sword, and I would only go for this if all else fails. Also, I don't know if they sharpen the blades?

I would greatly appreciate any advice and firsthand experience from other users.

I have a Darkwood rapier that I ordered sharp, and they did a fine job. Much better than the ugly secondary bevels that sometimes get slapped onto Windlass or Cold Steel swords, it'll cut as well as swords with heavier, wider blades but cruder sharpening. Plus the balance and length are perfect and the construction is completely solid.

Consider the Hanwei Sidesword:
http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=SH2203
I have one of these. Its not particularly outstanding in any respect but has no glaring flaws like some of the Windlass blades you mentioned seem to, but for less than $140 it's a pretty good deal. Plus there's a blunt sparring version available.
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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 7:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Saxon blade is fine. The hilt is the problem. I haven't handled the "Munich" but I would guess that it's a good introduction to collecting. The grip is longer than it should be, but that's not a huge problem and it's easily fixed if you ever want to start working on swords. You could also blue the hilt, which was typical for this type. The blade is thinner than it should be, but I doubt you'll notice that unless comparing directly with an outstanding reproduction or original of the type.
-Sean

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Josh MacNeil




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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 6:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan - I'm curious about your impressions of the MRL Saxon Hilt, as I've yet to handle it, nor am I super familiar with the type, but I recall seeing a photo of a group of antique swords of similar types with one in particular bearing a striking resemblance to the MRL one in another thread. I'll have to do some digging, but I'm certain I saw it here somewhere and thinking, "hey that looks like the Windlass one." What exactly is it that makes the hilt so terrible?

-JM
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 6:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Windlass Saxon sword's hilt details, proportions, size, etc. are quite bad.
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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Fri 04 Jun, 2010 10:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good evening,
A few more specifics would really help determine what sword would be best for you. Do you plan on cutting with the sword? Wearing it around Renaissance Festivals? Participating in Living History? Practicing Western Martial Arts (solo or with a partner)? Fighting in re-enactment battles? Decorating your wall? etc. etc.
Knowing what you plan on doing with the sword will help us give you better advice. Obviously you can't fight in a re-enactment with a sharp blade... nor can you cut with a blunt. The various manufacturers each have their own strengths and weaknesses.
The more you study the sword, the more specific your needs, and taste, will become. As such a first sword is often looked at later in a "Why on earth did I buy this?" manner. Determining your exact needs and wants beforehand can help mitigate this problem later on.

I will now discuss the makers you brought up, and make any suggestions I can...
I will start with your foremost, Museum Replicas Limited. MRL has a history of being a hit and miss affair, they have made some wonderful pieces... and some complete rubbish. As such MRL has a tendency to get a wide variety of recommendation, from high praise to bitter regret. Having seen a wide variety of their products over the years I have to say they are better than many of the other low end makers... in certain ways. Some of MRL's designs are okay, but most are pretty anachronistic. Often blending elements from several different centuries. Most of MRL's pieces however are made of decent material, but poorly assembled. My verdict is that their pieces can be made fantastic, but require a bit of work to reach that. The handle is often wrong in every way, from length to cover material, and requires replacement.Hilt fittings are generally poor in terms of looks and fit (they will become loose and rattle), they can be alright, but generally require major modification in structure and design. The blades are decently made and fairly well heat-treated, details such as ricassos and geometry are often erroneous -stay away from these models- blades that are correct in structure can be superb. With a little hand sanding, sharpening, and proper polish these blades are some of the best in the low end market.
I will briefly mention the two other big names in this market. Hanwei/Cas Iberia and Cold Steel. Hanwei is 99% rubbish, they have far better design than MRL but are poorly constructed... flimsy... the handles and scabbards are often constructed of plastic. Cold Steel is also rubbish poor design, over built, and still poorly constructed.
Darkwood is a large step up from any of the aforementioned makers. The pieces are decently made and contain a decent level of design. Darkwood bridges the gap between the low end market (MRL, Hanwei, Cold Steel, etc.) and the high end production market (A&A, Albion, Atrim, etc.)
Another you didn't mention that might be a good bet is Del Tin. They used to be carried by MRL, until MRL became solely Windlass Steelcrafts. Most of MRL's designs are copies of Del Tin designs (or at least used to be). Del Tin tends to be better than MRL in terms of design and construction... but are notoriously heavy and soft (not particularly well heat-treated). If you have the ability to thin the various components down you can make a very nice sword.
With out more details I cannot give really any more advice.
Cheers,
Hadrian

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Zlatko Vlašic




Location: Croatia
Joined: 11 Feb 2007

Posts: 32

PostPosted: Sat 05 Jun, 2010 12:34 am    Post subject: Re: Cut-and-Thrust shopping advice         Reply with quote

Dan P wrote:

I have a Darkwood rapier that I ordered sharp, and they did a fine job. Much better than the ugly secondary bevels that sometimes get slapped onto Windlass or Cold Steel swords, it'll cut as well as swords with heavier, wider blades but cruder sharpening. Plus the balance and length are perfect and the construction is completely solid.

Consider the Hanwei Sidesword:
http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=SH2203
I have one of these. Its not particularly outstanding in any respect but has no glaring flaws like some of the Windlass blades you mentioned seem to, but for less than $140 it's a pretty good deal. Plus there's a blunt sparring version available.


I am sure that any Darkwood poduct is top notch. My only reservation is the price - 500-550$ plus shipping. A bit steep for a first sword....

I have considered Hanwei sidesword. Of all potential side swords on the market, this one actually is to me the most aesthetically pleasing, the guard is simply wonderful. But I have read some extremelly bad reviews, like this one...
http://sbgswordforum.proboards.com/index.cgi?...hread=3242

If you own one, perhaps you can provide some additional detail on the sword? Is it really that bad as the review makes it sound? Plastic grip that comes loose after a few solid swings? What are your experiences with it?

@Hadrian
My intention with the sword is primarily some light cutting and stabbbing (plastic bottles, cardboard) and 'empty air' swings (maybe trying out some typical stances, swings, footwork etc., things I can extrapolate from available literature), and of course decorative to an extent. I do not plan on doing any reenactments/living history, nor sparring at this time. There are no organized groups practicing western martial arts at this time in my country, and if they ever get organized I will of course get involved, but for that I intend to get a dedicated sparring piece, preferably one that is sturdy as an Abrams tank Wink .

I agree completely with your 'why on earth did I get this' comment. Which is why I hesitate to go for the Darkwood option, for a first piece it is too expensive.

I am not really a macgyver sort of person - if I start tinkering with a sword, I am more likely to do damage than improve the product. So I doubt I would be able to significantly improve any sword I buy, at least not before I gain some experience with the whole sword thing. I am a complete novice.

I have looked at Del Tin, they have an interesting range, but the prices are close or near identical to Darkwood. If I do decide to take the plunge and go for the more expensive sword of the bat, my preferred option is Darkwood, using a 2 point cross hilt anmd probably a side sword blade. But the price gives me pause. Complete with wire wrap handle (which I would prefer to wood), fullering, sharpening, and a scabbard (I am quite sure I need that Wink), it will be in the 500-550$ range.

Finally, I would like to thank everybody for helping me with their experience and expertise. It is greatly appreciated. Happy Big Grin

"To you, Baldrick, Renaissance is just something that happened to other people."

Edmund Blackadder
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Jun, 2010 6:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hadrian Coffin wrote:
Del Tin tends to be better than MRL in terms of design and construction... but are notoriously heavy and soft (not particularly well heat-treated). If you have the ability to thin the various components down you can make a very nice sword.


A number of Del Tin swords have weights in line with their inspiration. Some are actually lighter. And a good number are heavier. It varies by model.

I've not heard of any that weren't well heat-treated, they just might be heat-treated to a hardness that is softer than some people prefer.

They are also all blunt and need to be sharpened. The weight issues some have are because they are overbuilt to handle the needs of people that need durable blunts. If they were building sharps from the ground up, you might not see so many overweight swords.

Happy

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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sat 05 Jun, 2010 9:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Del Tin hardness is 50Hrc, definitely higher than both Windlass, Hanwei and Gen2, only new Hanwei Tinkers are harder, Darkswords claim to be 53Hrc etc... But 50 is definitely not soft, once sharpened well it holds edge very good and durability of Del Tin blades is fantastic. I have 2 and plan to buy more, if you handle a Del Tin before buying and you feel it's a good handling design, than it will be an excelent sword. I have used all these swords except Darksword and these are my observations.
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Hal Siegel
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Jun, 2010 5:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Zlatko Vlašic wrote:
All I have are the small pictures on the manufacturers and vendors sites -
...
All right, so #2 is no good.....


I'm afraid I can't help you with pictures of the Saxon hilt - one look at it and I decided it wasn't one of the Windlass swords I wanted t offer my clients - but I can help you with detailed pictures of the Munich sword:







measurements and more pics here - Curassier's sword / Munich sword

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Jun, 2010 6:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

careful...
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Hadrian Coffin
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Jun, 2010 6:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:

A number of Del Tin swords have weights in line with their inspiration. Some are actually lighter. And a good number are heavier. It varies by model.

I've not heard of any that weren't well heat-treated, they just might be heat-treated to a hardness that is softer than some people prefer.

They are also all blunt and need to be sharpened. The weight issues some have are because they are overbuilt to handle the needs of people that need durable blunts. If they were building sharps from the ground up, you might not see so many overweight swords.


hmm...
I suppose I shouldn't have spoken as generically... I haven't seen all of the Del Tin models, and wasn't impressed with the ones I did see. I have seen four... A katzbalger, type XI, a falchion, and a rondel. Each was from the 90's or so, I guess they may have improved since then. No one I have spoken to recently had indicated differently, so I assumed they were still the same. The pieces I examined were very soft. The katzbalger had a set to the blade, and all four were quite heavy.... more like a group of clubs than swords. I suppose I was arguing a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter. My appologies.

Quote:
My intention with the sword is primarily some light cutting and stabbbing (plastic bottles, cardboard) and 'empty air' swings (maybe trying out some typical stances, swings, footwork etc., things I can extrapolate from available literature), and of course decorative to an extent. I do not plan on doing any reenactments/living history, nor sparring at this time. There are no organized groups practicing western martial arts at this time in my country, and if they ever get organized I will of course get involved, but for that I intend to get a dedicated sparring piece, preferably one that is sturdy as an Abrams tank

A Windlass/Museum Replicas will probably be sufficient for this sort of application. My only concern would be that it will most likely begin to rattle as the hilt will loosen from mild cutting.

One thing I had overlooked was the fact that you are located in the EU. Most American swords are quite a bit more expensive in Europe. I would suggest (unless you have a local importer) looking around at other EU sword manufacturers.
Cheers,
Hadrian

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Zlatko Vlašic




Location: Croatia
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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jun, 2010 2:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
A Windlass/Museum Replicas will probably be sufficient for this sort of application. My only concern would be that it will most likely begin to rattle as the hilt will loosen from mild cutting.


Exactly what I would like to avoid...is there any danger of a hilt breaking off from the rest of the sword eventually?


Quote:
One thing I had overlooked was the fact that you are located in the EU. Most American swords are quite a bit more expensive in Europe. I would suggest (unless you have a local importer) looking around at other EU sword manufacturers.


Haven't been able to find any, except Del Tin. Any suggestions maybe?

"To you, Baldrick, Renaissance is just something that happened to other people."

Edmund Blackadder
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jun, 2010 5:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you aware of this: http://www.replikart.com/ ? He can get anything by Del Tin, Hanwei, Viktor Berbekucz and he has some windlass stuff. Web catalog is outdated, you should call and ask what he has in style you like. I think he has in stock Hanwei sidesword and Cromwell, both cut and thrust 17th century swords.

If you don't know about berbekucz, here is his site: http://www.berbekuczviktor.hu/
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Jim Mearkle




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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jun, 2010 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since you are in Europe, have you looked at Armour Class (http://www.armourclass.com/) or other makers on your side of the pond?
Jim
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PostPosted: Sun 06 Jun, 2010 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Zlatko Vlašic wrote:
Quote:
One thing I had overlooked was the fact that you are located in the EU. Most American swords are quite a bit more expensive in Europe. I would suggest (unless you have a local importer) looking around at other EU sword manufacturers.


Haven't been able to find any, except Del Tin. Any suggestions maybe?


The best way really is to go to a fair of some kind. Many european smiths travel the fairs. That way you can test and feel a couple of swords before you buy one. Also, buying directly from a smith at a fair is usually cheaper then getting one from a reseller, and you save on shipping.

Some european smiths:

http://fabri-armorum.com/
http://www.kovex-ars.cz/
http://swords.cz/

There are many more.
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