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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Fri 03 Jun, 2011 11:22 am    Post subject: Good Beginner Armour?         Reply with quote

Hello,

I've got my hands on a number of swords and my interests are expanding...

Armour has always fascinated me, *especially* medieval plate and most of all Gothic-style armour from Germany. The sallet is probably my favorite helmet type; it's just such a clean look and suits the Gothic aesthetic so well.

That said, I do realize fully that plate is, well, expensive, especially if made to be functional. But why buy a suit of armour if you aren't going to wear it, possibly use it :P

So, what are your opinions on these pieces...

-- Windlass Steelcrafts sallet and bevor?

-- Windlass Gothic three-quarter armour?

-- Deepeeka Gothic gauntlets?

-- Armstreet sabatons, greaves, etc?

-- Get Dressed for Battle wedge-riveted maille?

Recommendations are also appreciated, as are notes on how to economize aside from making it all myself-- not within my range of skill!

Thanks,
~Jeff
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Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


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Location: Alexandria, VA USA
Joined: 25 Aug 2003
Reading list: 43 books

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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jun, 2011 12:00 pm    Post subject: Re: Good Beginner Armour?         Reply with quote

Hi Jeffrey,
It's going to depend on what exactly you want the armour for. If it is primarily for costume or Ren Fairre type usage, all of the above are perfectly fine. If it's for WMA usage, some of it will function well enough but not great, whereas some of it will be worthless. If it's for Living History where historical accuracy is paramount, most of the above will not be worthwhile at all. If it's for the purpose of personal collecting, where you want something reasonably accurate and functioning, but you don't mind some corners cut, then many of the pieces above will be alright.

Jeffrey Faulk wrote:
-- Windlass Steelcrafts sallet and bevor?


For decorative or costume, they are good for the price. They look the part well enough. With some work, they can be made for reenactment purposes if you are not fighting in them. They are too thin for combat sports, and you will not be able to see very well because the visor is not close enough to the face (which is the case with almost all "off-the-rack" helmets of this type)

Quote:
-- Windlass Gothic three-quarter armour?


Again, it looks pretty good for costume or decoration. Some of the pieces are better than others. The arms are decent for the price (though the elbow is large). The cuirass is also decent, but pretty big, and if you wanted it for martial arts usage you would probably have to have a few things modified (specifically the lames of the fauld). The gauntlets are garbage, functionally (though they're quite pretty). The pauldrons out of the box are non-functional (you can't lift your arms very high, and you'll stab yourself in the neck constantly), but can be salvaged by a good armourer. The legs are semi-functional out of the box, but don't have a full range of motion. I own a pair and had Allan at Mercenary's Tailor fix them to make them functional for WMA usage. (I only bought mine because I was able to get them dirt cheap, but otherwise it would probably be cheaper to just buy good ones in the first place).

Quote:
-- Deepeeka Gothic gauntlets?


Worthless as armour. Gauntlers are really something that you simply just have to fork up the cash, as they are very complicated to make right.

Quote:
-- Armstreet sabatons, greaves, etc?


No experience with these, so I can't say. I suspect the frontal greaves are just fine, though.

Quote:
-- Get Dressed for Battle wedge-riveted maille?


Pretty good for the price. You're not going to find much better without spending a significant amount more.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Bill Grandy
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Alexandria, VA USA
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PostPosted: Fri 03 Jun, 2011 12:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for recommendations, I have three routes to tell you.

Route 1 (the route I personally took):
Start putting money aside for the armour while you research what exactly you want. Even cheap armour is very expensive, so make sure you know what you want before you start spending. When you get a good idea of what you want, then start buying piece by piece. When I started my 15th c. Gothic harness nearly a decade ago, I decided to go full custom on my cuirass, and found a good armorer to make one that fits me perfectly. It meant waiting longer on getting the other pieces, but I've never regretted that. I then used cheaper pieces to get me by (GDFB and Museum Replicas), which completed the look more than the function. This allowed me to have a reasonable harness in a shorter amount of time. I have since then been casually upgrading pieces here and there, and am getting to the point where I have a very nice harness that I use for martial arts, and is also historically accurate.

Route 2 (the route most of my WMA students take):
Most of my students have a padded gambeson for free play. Until recently, most have stayed clear of armour due to the expense, and have practiced harnisfechten (armoured combat) on a more theoretical level. I started encouraging them to get some of the cheaper GDFB pieces, and this has really worked out well, because now I have a lot of student who have partial harnesses who otherwise would probably never have bought any armour at all. The GDFB breastplate is inexpensive, and while it has a lot of flaws, it functions well enough over a gambeson (and we've also discovered that if you take off the lower plate it fits most people much better). Add a pair of arms or jack chains and a pair of gauntlets, and you have a partial harness right there. The helmets from GDFB are okay for the price (and can be made even better if you have the patience and tools), and the legs are also reasonable for the price.

If you go with Route 2, it will be cheaper, it will get you outfitted sooner, and it will be "good enough" in many respects. It won't be great armour, but it's been working well for my group so far.

Route 3 (probably the best route in the long run, but the least satisfying in the short run):
Save your money and eventually buy a fully custom harness. It will take time and patience, but you'll be happiest in the longrun. But, yeah, I realize everyone already knows this, and I realize how much harder it is for people to do it anyway. Wink



 Attachment: 215.17 KB
group-sm.jpg
A few of my students who have armour after a night of harnisfechten practice. Note that some of them are using GDFB as their starter armour. I'm the one the 3/4 gothic harness, second from the left.

Virginia Academy of Fencing Historical Swordsmanship
--German Longsword & Italian Rapier in the DC Area--


"A despondent heart will always be defeated regardless of skill."
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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
Joined: 15 Sep 2010
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Posts: 243

PostPosted: Fri 03 Jun, 2011 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr. Grandy speaks the truth. I'm currently going route 2. Happy

Although I just have to add that if the stuff doesn't fit right it might not be good for costume armour either. If a piece rubs you wrong or if a visor just won't stay up or if a helmet keeps rocking around on your head it can be a real pain, even if your just walking around a ren faire.

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Jeffrey Faulk




Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Sat 04 Jun, 2011 6:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, thank you both for your responses...

Firstly, the Windlass sallet will be too big then I take it? I have a fairly large head, it might not be an issue. I'm not sure how exactly one would measure a head for custom fitting a helmet though aside from just running a tape measure around the forehead... Are the GDFB sallets any better? Have you seen any similar long-tailed sallets in the $200-300 range that would do better?

Secondly, I was pretty sure the Deepeeka gauntlets weren't all that functional. The thing is, I love their aesthetic with the Gothic hinged wrist, fluting, and cut-outs. It's fairly difficult to find similar but more functional gauntlets for a price like Deepeeka offers ($170 before shipping on Kult of Athena). Again, any suggestions?

Thirdly, regarding the arms, I actually would prefer full vambraces, and I realized just last night the Windlass arms don't have that. Together with the difficulties with the pauldrons, I'm thinking about getting a full Gothic arm and leg set from ArmStreet... costs a good deal more, but might be worth it if ArmStreet is a decent armourer.

As for my intents with the armour... I think it's best summed up as personal display with possible living history and harnisfechten applications. I might wear a piece or two to a Ren Fest or whatever, but unless I get more involved in WMA beyond cutting a few bottles, it would mostly be standing in a corner at my house! Display or not, I would still like to know that if I put it on and someone took a swing at me, I'd come out pretty much in one piece.

So, yeah... that's what I'm looking for. Thanks again for everybody's answers, I look forward to hearing more!
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