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Lin Robinson




Location: NC
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 4:56 am    Post subject: Armour Class Basket Hilts         Reply with quote

I am about to take the plunge and order a basket hilt from Armour Class. I just have to decide which one I want. I read a review done by Chad Arnow on his cup and ring hilt and read a Sword Forum magazine review of the same sword. Both were quite favorable and from other accounts I have heard and read I think their swords are definitely worth the price. But, I would appreciate having the benefit of any ideas from fellow forumites who own or have had the chance to handle these swords.

Being a low-ranking Highlander (as if there is such a thing), I am leaning toward a fairly plain hilt but, who knows, I may manage to steal a large herd of coos and therefor be able to spring for something a bit more fancy.

Thanks in advance for any comments, suggestions you can provide.

Lin

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Chris Goerner




Location: Roanoke, Virginia
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 7:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lin,

You won't go wrong with Armour Class. I owned one of their Glasgow hilts a few years back and it is one of the few pieces I've regretted selling. The quality was wonderful.

The only complaints I had with it were concerning the lobes below the rams horns. They were solid, so I drilled and filed a heart piercing on each side. That was pretty easy to do. However, AC leaves these lobes projecting straight down rather than bending them in towards the blade as is common on original baskets. The metal was too tough for me to bend in a controlled manner, and I was afraid of messing up the basket, so I left that part alone. However, since the folks at AC are good about customizing orders, that is something you could request they do.

I am not a big fan of the "cup and ring" hilts myself. If I didn't want to go with a fancy Diamond, Sterling or Glasgow basket, I would lean more towards their "S-hilt" for the same price. But that is just a matter of personal preference.

Again, I am sure you will be pleased with whatever you chose from AC. Kind of cool to have a Scottish sword that was actually made in Scotland!

Sic Semper Tyranus
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The hilts on the Armour Class swords are quite good. However, they tend to be over-built, somewhat simplified, and slightly too large. The standard blades are created for modern-day sparring and so are not representative of anything historical. You can specify another type of blade (a "sharp") but my experience with AC is that they never quite get the blades to mimic historical blades. The completed swords are often too heavy for their types. That's my experience, but mileage varies.
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Nathaniel Jeffries




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 9:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have one armour class basket. It's the diamond style. It is by far the lightest basket I own. I ordered it with a Sharp blade and many pumpkins and pool noodles have fallen to its might in my backyard. Its balance is excellent and I world not hesitate to buy another piece from armour class. They were spectacular to work with and nothing but pleasant. They are great if you want a few custom changes as well.
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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 9:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What he said(above.) The baskets are about 20% too large, meaning they fit a modern hand about right but are larger than the originals. I have both a cup and ring (acually the one previously owned by Chris) as well as the "S" hilt. Lin, if I were you and was going for the sub-tenant of a tacksman type of persona, I would recommend the "S" hilt strongly. The cup and ring is nice, but I think the "S" hilt is personally my favorite unless you get into the more ornate Sterling or Glasgow hilts. Also, quite frankly, I really like the weight and the blade. The sharp is springy and quick and the couterbalance is just about right agaist the hilt. Of course, everyone has their own taste but I do like the sharp blades quite a bit and don't think you would go wrong with the "S" hilt.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe modern hands are the same size as hands were in the 1800s.
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David Wilson




Location: In a van down by the river
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 6:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While the AC baskets may tend to be larger than most historical examples (and they do tend that way, but to be honest, some historical baskets weren't all THAT confined), they aren't obnoxiously large (in my opinion, of course). Of my two AC baskets hilts, the Stirling-style "Wave" hilt is the heavier of the two, weighing a couple ounces over 3 lbs. Balance however is quite close, making handling dynamic and even "lively" despite the weight. The claidheamh cuil (backsword) blade is quite nice, with even parallel fullering and a nice edge. The basket, however, is obviously made from a pattern, and is not entirely accurate (the saltire pattern stops at the front, in an open area with a single wavy bar, whereas in the original the design continues around to the other side. Also the rear guards are not stepped where they cross the rear quillon).
The "Diamond" hilt is much lighter, at about 2.75 lbs, and the difference is noticeable as it is the superior handling of the two swords. The basket has similar accuracy deficiencies (the front guard however is better on this one). The Claidheamh mor (broadsword) blade is unusual, it has quite a bit of profile taper, and the twin fullers run into each other and become one wide fuller right above the CoP. The fullers are somewhat wobbly and uneven, unlike the backsword blade. The blade is very flexible.
All in all, what do I think of the Armour Class basket hilts? Well, I do like them, very much. They are the best semi-production Scottish basket hilts available (AFAIK) and much better than any other maker in similar or lesser price ranges. Are they as good as, say, Vince Evans or ElJay Erickson? Certainly not, but we're talking about a whole different level of maker there. I would recommend them, just be aware of their limitations and "niche".

David K. Wilson, Jr.
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 6:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The AC "Daiamond" hilt and the "Cup and Ring" hilt are my two favorites from their line-up. The Diamond is a good weight and balance and the Cup and Ring is a reasonably good size.

I've done a disservice in my previous post by not mentioning that Armour Class or Darkwood Armory would my first choices for production basket-hilts. I tend to like the hilts on the ACs a bit more and I like the blades on the Darkwoods better.

For what it's worth, I think David's advice above is spot-on.

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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 7:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks very much for all the great replies and anaylsis. Glen...I was leaning toward the S hilt myself. Nice mix of form and function without being overly fancy. But the others are appealing too. There is no need to rush so I will carefully review everything you guys wrote before making my choice. I really appreciate the information.

One other thing. How are their scabbards?

Thanks again.

Lin

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 11:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One of my AC's (the "Diamond" hilt) has an AC scabbard. It's pretty good, it fits and hold the sword excellently and is not too bulky. The main problem are the seams on the leather that covers the scabbard. They're inconsistent and a bit loose in parts (the leather seems to be secured by some kind of glue, and is not stitched). The mouth and chape are nice. I don't know if this is the usual quality for an AC scabbard, however.
David K. Wilson, Jr.
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jun, 2011 3:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David Wilson wrote:
One of my AC's (the "Diamond" hilt) has an AC scabbard. It's pretty good, it fits and hold the sword excellently and is not too bulky. The main problem are the seams on the leather that covers the scabbard. They're inconsistent and a bit loose in parts (the leather seems to be secured by some kind of glue, and is not stitched). The mouth and chape are nice. I don't know if this is the usual quality for an AC scabbard, however.


Thanks David...

I cannot tell very much from the picture of the scabbard on the site. Thank you again for the information.

Lin

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Henrik Bjoern Boegh




Location: Aust Agder, Norway
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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jun, 2011 4:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As the others, I agree with David.

Most the ACs I've handled have been fitted with the bulky reenactment blades, but even with these they handle very well. They are sturdy as hell and will stand up to a lot of beating.
If I were to get a basket hilt again I would probably go for Armour Class.

As to the scabbards; they have a good fit and are well made. However I don't recommend them if you want to get it with a chape and a tip, as the one they made me weren't secured in an historically accurate way. What I'd do, is to order the sword with a leather scabbard and then I'd get hold of one or two of the nice scabbard lockets from Smiling Fox Forge and attach them to the scabbard, which would be authentic. http://www.smilingfoxforgellc.com/details.asp?id=321

For a front ranker of enough means to own a basket hilt (you'd have to have decent clothes) I'd opt for either the Cup and Ring, the S-hilt, or the Early basket (shown at the last page of the 17th century stuff). Or you might go for the cavalery three quarter basket and claim it's a captured sword Wink

Cheers,
Henrik

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William Goodwin




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Jun, 2011 7:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

have only handles one of the A-C basket-hilts, but from the experience from owning my Mortuary hilt from Armour Class for these many years,
they will always get a thumbs up from me.

cheers,

Bill

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Neal Matheson




Location: sussex UK
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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2011 1:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own several armour class swords, for the money there are none better they handle in a similar fashion to originals I have held, and while they are overly robust they will take plenty of rough use. They are pleasant to deal with though you have to be quite precise with them and sometimes very,very patient. They spent alot of time in the collections of the Royal Armouries and in talks with them have shown a really good knowledge of the subject.
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Ben Sweet




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2011 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can anyone of you who own Armor Class baskets post up your actual owner photos?
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Sun 19 Jun, 2011 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay! Here ya go.... my two AC swords (and an A&A Claymore in one shot).....


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David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

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Neal Matheson




Location: sussex UK
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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2011 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

bulky blunt blade 17th century basket (I have a sharp blade for this) It's the only picture I have.
Near indestructable blade, but now I use a "pseudo sharp" blade for wma, it handles wonderfully and has the closest feel to a "real" sword that I have experienced.


By rangifer at 2008-04-19[/img]
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2011 4:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am really leaning toward the S Hilt, a photo of which is attached. It looks rough and ready, the kind of sword I would probably have carried in a former life. I have looked diligently through my fairly extensive library for a photo or illustration of an original similar to this hilt, without success. Does anyone have an illustration of an original sword in this configuration?

Thanks again...



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Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Neal Matheson




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2011 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Is this one close enough? It has the "S" pattern.


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p.s. I have small hands
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Mon 20 Jun, 2011 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Armour Class Diamond basket and Darkwood armory dagger



I had Ian at AC make me a mod on that sword that allows me to swap a sharp and a re-enactment blunt. They sent me two blades with the basket. tr
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