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Guy H.




Location: Texas
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 6:04 pm    Post subject: Looking for advice on Suit Armour         Reply with quote

Hello all, I am looking for some dealers/makers in the U.S.A that make full armour suits. I'm not looking to spend a fortune (at or under $3k tops). Any links or ideas? I am mainly interested in "functional" metal sets (no pvc).
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Ian S LaSpina




Location: Virginia, US
Joined: 01 Jun 2010
Reading list: 5 books

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PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 6:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

First, what is your intended use of the armor? For costuming purposes you can get fairly cheap mass-produced armor that will break if it gets hit with a weapon, but if you just want to look cool, there's a lot of stuff out there. By functional, do you mean used for live-steel combat? SCA style stick combat? Just for wear? Interested in a specific time period? The answers to those questions will drastically change what kind of armor you should be looking at. For example, SCA stick-combat armor is generally heavier than historical armor, because it needs to withstand the rigors of constant blunt-force-trauma.

For very functional armor at the price point you're looking at, let me be the first to recommend Mr. Allan Senefelder at Mercenary's Tailor. His armor is functional and will withstand the abuse of fighting in it. He personally frequents these forums, and is top notch when it comes to customer service. His work is very competitively priced for the level of armor that he makes. His work is definitely a cut above anything else you would find at his prices. His website is http://www.merctailor.com. I've had nothing but positive experiences with Allan, he's a professional, and wonderful to work with.

Historical accuracy, materials, and fit are some of the major factors that dictate price point. If you want spring steel, historical dimensions, and a custom fit, you're looking at something in the neighborhood of $10,000 on up for a custom suit. If you're willing to accept historical concessions, mild steel, and munitions grade armor, then the price comes way down.

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Guy H.




Location: Texas
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello and thanks for the info! I have found several mass produced sets and as you mentioned & they are junk. I would like armour similar to the items offered by the maker you recommended. I am not looking for specific time period but I do like the Gothic fluted styles. I did stumble across Illusion Armoring and Pitbull armory. They look to have nice suits also. Im not overly interested in using it in live steel matches but would be nice to be able to if given the opportunity. It would be great to look cool and be "functional" to a degree.
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,492

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 7:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

With your budget I'd highly recommend looking at and considering some of the Czech makers. Just flip through the "Show us your kits and harness" thread to get an idea why.

Also consider that there can be a lot of good options if you don't have to get a full suit.

If it has to be American made at that price point and if it has to be a full suit, Allen is going to be about your best option. As a bonus he'll turn the work fast. Actually he'll turn it darn fast from what I've seen. No matter what you're going to do with armor though, start with base layers. Nobody ever wants to do it this way because you don't instantly have the cool armor to wear, but if you don't start with an arming coat you're never going to get the fit remotely right which matters big time. Poor fitting armor is beastly uncomfortable, looks bad, and is going to give you some serious misconceptions of what armor should be and how it works.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Guy H.




Location: Texas
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 8:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I did see some of the CZ makers and most that I have found want 6k or more for a suit. I will look at the thread you mentioned. I bought a padded gambeson and thigh pads, arming cap etc.
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Quinn W.




Location: Bellingham, WA
Joined: 02 May 2009

Posts: 197

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 8:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To second a previous comment, make sure your gambeson and under armor are adequate. I decided to get the cool stuff first, and it has been my biggest regret.
Allow me to also put a word in for Alan at the Mercenary's Tailor. He's got the best price to quality ratio I've seen out of anybody, and it won't take you years of waiting for him to finish. Fit is very, very important in the world of armor (and that may still not be enough "very's" thrown in to adequately emphasize my point), which is why you'll have a hard time with mass produced stuff. Allan's stuff isn't custom fitted, but you can still send him your measurements if you want and he'll make sure he uses a pattern that is appropriate to your body type. I bought a pair of arms from him that fit me perfectly, and the quality on them is outstanding.

"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"


Last edited by Quinn W. on Wed 04 May, 2011 11:13 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Guy H.




Location: Texas
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK, as for the other under armour, what else is needed besides the gambeson & some chain? Total noob here so be kind! lol.
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Ian S LaSpina




Location: Virginia, US
Joined: 01 Jun 2010
Reading list: 5 books

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Posts: 301

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A padded gambeson with a full maille haubergeon is appropriate for a late 14th cenutry knight. If you're talking about 15th century, a tightly fitted arming jacket with little to no padding and strips of maille sewn directly to the jacket in the gaps left by the plate (called voiders) are appropriate. Full late 15th century gothic plate, as you said you liked, would be worn with the latter.

As plate defenses became more complete, better fitted and articulated, the need for a padded garment and maille became obsolete. 14th century armor saw the transition from virtually all maille to mostly if not all plate, so thats why the padded under-maille gambeson was the appropriate arming garment.

Leg armor does not really require padding underneath if properly fitted and suspended by a garment like a pourpoint. The key with leg armor is to have a garment (some folks use a belt, but a garment is way more comfortable) that is tightly fitted around your hips so the weight of your leg harness is suspended from your hips, and not transmitted up to your shoulders.

And, yes, I've got to agree that getting a well fitted set of arming clothes is essential. I was impatient and bought armor first, and ended up having to re-buy a lot of things after I learned how to properly wear it and realized I had made a lot of bad decisions.

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Guy H.




Location: Texas
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Wed 04 May, 2011 9:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, every body and their brother on here has recommended Mercenary's Tailor, so i am going to take the hint and call them in the a.m.

I bought the GDFB closed front gambeson and it fits well. Not baggy but not so tight that i can breather or move normally. Before I buy any other items, I will take your advice and NOT buy the armour first. That was exactly what I was going to do.

Now that I started reading this forum in depth, I quickly realized I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Thanks to information on this limited post, I don't think I will screw my self now! If any members have any comments on other armor makers or other advise as to places to buy proper under armour items (so I don't get hosed) please feel free to let me know.


This is the first post I have made and I find this forum and community to be of the highest caliber members. No terse comments, no jibes to my obvious ignorance. I am very happy to be a member.
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Mark T




PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2011 3:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guy: Yep, you've come to the right place! Happy

I think you're taking the right path in not buying yet before you do more research. A few solid weekends (or months!) doing searches here will put you in good stead. Doing searches for 'arming doublet', '15th', 'Gothic', 'voiders', 'skirt', etc - and reading almost every post you find - will give you a lot to be going on with ... and your knowledge will just keep building - that's been my experience with this fantastic resource!

A judicious look over posts by Ben van Koert and Aaron Schnatterly will also probably help, as they have some of the better 15th C kits here.

Also do a search for the Company of Saint George's male clothing guide, which has been posted here - will tell you all you need to know about arming garments, and will give some background as to why folks above have recommended an arming doublet rather than a gambeson.

I'd also recommend grabbing some of the recommended books in the myA books section ... Edge & Paddock, if you don't have it already; the two books of medieval costuming / living history by Embleton; The real fighting stuff, as it has some really useful info and a neat arming sequence; and the 'Mars and Venus' medieval housebook (a search here will find it) for some source and background material.

Just a couple of extra beginning points! Have fun!

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

Schallern sind sehr sexy!
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Brad Harada




PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2011 4:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You might want to take a look at Historic Enterprises http://historicenterprises.com/ for arming garments and general soft kit. You'll get excellent quality for the price. White Rose Armoury produces some fine brigandine, which you may also want to consider as an option. Definitely concentrate on your soft kit first; it's critical that it fits you properly as this is the foundation for your armor. You'll also find that (unless you have the means to do so) due to the cost you'll be putting your harness together piecemeal - a helmet here, a cuirass there, paudrons & arms, legs, usually from various makers. Also, depending on the maker, be prepared to wait: a made to measure/order piece will take a while, especially if the smith has other clients before you in a queue. The most important thing is to take your time, do your research, get your measurements right and don't buy on impulse!
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Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,492

PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2011 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're talking to Allen anyway, ask him whose arming clothes he recommends. I suspect he'll send you to Historic Enterprises or Revival Clothing in the US for something off the rack. Assuming they have stock and size no faster way to get something reasonable. Both a pretty good option from what I know. However, I would be most inclined to recommend somebody like Matuls out of Poland who will custom make the clothing based on your measurements (really not sure if HE and Revival do custom tailoring).

Today we're very accustomed to buying off the rack, and that generally works for what our street clothes are.

Still, when you go to buy a good suit that sucker gets altered and customized to get the fit right for you. Rarely is a suit a same day affair. Arming clothes are more complex still and IMO they are really meant to fit differently than modern clothes in a very specific way. They need, heck probably even want, to be tailored.

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy


Last edited by Joe Fults on Thu 05 May, 2011 6:04 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Guy H.




Location: Texas
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2011 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, i spoke to Allen today and he is going to make me a full suit. He also mentioned Revivalclothing. I now see the difference between the arming jackets and gambesons. I now have a much better understanding of what I need. He is a great guy.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 05 May, 2011 6:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guy H. wrote:
Yes, i spoke to Allen today and he is going to make me a full suit. He also mentioned Revivalclothing. I now see the difference between the arming jackets and gambesons. I now have a much better understanding of what I need. He is a great guy.



I also highly recommend Allan for his work and work ethic and AAAAAA+ customer service.

Revival Clothing is also a good choice but you could also look up Jessica Finley who custom made me a training jacket but she can also make anything else you might want or need for arming clothes and even civilian period kit.

http://greatplainsfechtschule.webs.com/finleycustomuniforms.htm

She got my measurements and my Medieval Wrestling jacket fits perfectly. ( Oh, for custom work her prices are very reasonable and even good compared to off the rack stuff ..... and it will fit properly ).

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




Location: Texas
Joined: 09 Mar 2011

Posts: 24

PostPosted: Mon 09 May, 2011 9:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am so glad I went with Allan at M.T. He spent over an hour on the phone discussing my armor & needs and did not charge me a thing.

Previous to talking to Allan I tried (tried being the key word) to get in contact with Illusion Armory. I told them I wanted a full Gothic suit. I also offered to pay their consultation fee. I received only one reply stating they had opening for armor to be finished for December 2011. I had sent near 4 more emails requesting more info on payment, armor types etc. and NO response. No response even to me asking how I can pay for their consultation.

Just to be clear, I am not bashing Illusion (perhaps business related issues?). I just wanted to relate the experience from the point of view of a novice (that would be me). Allan is a professional and great guy to deal with. I am happy that the members here recommended him .
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Quinn W.




Location: Bellingham, WA
Joined: 02 May 2009

Posts: 197

PostPosted: Mon 09 May, 2011 11:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm really glad to hear that. Communication is very important in the armor industry because you can put a lot of money down on a project that takes time to complete, and it's really, really unnerving when you give someone your money and then can't get a hold of them.
I'm sure you'll be very happy not just with the service, but with the end product as well. I haven't heard a negative word about Allan yet, and I can safely say the arms he built for me are my favorite part of my entire kit.

"Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past, so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth"
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