Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Michael Pikula Type XIIIaProduct Review Reply to topic
This is a standard topic  
Author Message
Josh S





Joined: 15 Oct 2011

Posts: 74

PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2011 4:52 pm    Post subject: Michael Pikula Type XIIIa         Reply with quote

Thanks to a fortunate confluence of events, I was able to nab this item, first discussed in these forums here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=23945

I had already started saving up funds for eventual purchase of a couple of Albion swords, but when I saw that Mr. Pikula was offering this sword, along with several others, via his "winter auction" I knew it was an opportunity I could not pass up. I mean, how often does the chance to purchase a true beast of a sword that is not only well-made, but available at a reduced price, present itself?

So now I get to offer some initial impressions. Take note that I am still very much a newcomer to all of this. I have had a few swords in the past, but nothing spectacular; two wall-hangers, one Darksword Armory "German two-hander," a Windlass flammard-bladed two-hander with side rings and lugs, and an Irish hand-and-a-half sword which I'm pretty sure was the Gen2 model seen here: http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/irish-swords.html

These were all from about four or five years ago, and none of them were great. The Windlass piece was decent, although far too whippy. The Irish sword on the other hand, was far too stiff, the pommel was slightly loose, and the hilt components would audibly rattle when cutting. The DSA was thick(not just in the blade, but in the side-rings and cross-guard as well), weighty, ponderous, far too easily disassembled, and worst of all, the blade itself was axially twisted about three-quarters of the way down the blade by some ten degrees!

I've since gotten rid of all of them, and pretty much ignored historical European weaponry for a few years. So not only is this my first high-end sword purchase, it is currently the only sword I have - and needless to say, what a way to start. As I said, this thing is a monster. If there ever was such a thing as the Riddle of Steel, this sword embodies it fully Big Grin

At just a hair under four and three-quarters pounds, it is by no means a nubile, elegant weapon. And it is not supposed to be. One look at any of the photos Mr. Pikula has provided makes the sword's intent immediately obvious - this would sail through any sort of organic target you put in front of it. As I have yet to receive any formal instruction in using swords, I have limited myself to dry handling and cutting overgrown bush and crab grass stalks; nothing more than a few millimeters thick. I cannot stress enough how badly this thing just actively "wants" to do much, much more - and how challenging it is to resist that call once the blade begins to ring. Yes, even against these flimsy bits of grass the blade sings, loud and clear. Sounds like music.

Furthermore, a couple of times I thought I had missed the target because it didn't fly away upon being struck - only to see it fall to the ground once the blade had passed through entirely. The part of the blade that extends past the fuller is superbly thin, and I imagine that was the cause of this behavior; quite simply, all of the blade's inertia was put into the cut itself, with virtually none of it being transferred to the rest of the grass stalks in question. This is especially impressive considering that I was limiting not only my targets, but also my technique - these were not full-bodied, lightning-fast strokes. Slow, fully-controlled swings in which the blade's motion could best be described as "gliding," even with the use of the off-hand to pull on the pommel while the cuts landed. My movements were quite intentionally slow, and even so the described effect presented itself.

As for static handling, one is instantly struck by the weight when held point-out, but the sensation almost disappears when held point-up. Some of this is to be expected, naturally, but it is the difference in degree that makes me take note. Also of note was how different it feels when in motion. A balance point 4.6" from the guard seems to be quite standard for this sword type, but when in the swing it almost feels as if that center of gravity gets pulled forward down the blade. Again, this is to be somewhat expected due to basic physics, but the difference in simple feel is impressive. And once the motion stops, you can almost feel the balance sliding back up to its original position.

Aesthetically, there is absolutely nothing to say but "wow." We've all either heard or seen how well Albion does just by paying attention to the almost indiscernible interplay of subtle lines and proportions. I would say that Mr. Pikula has just much awareness of these factors, perhaps even subconsciously. The photos on his site, as excellent as they are, made the sword strike as being just a tiny smidge too squarish. The blade seemed to have a nearly-parallel profile taper, and the fullers the same. Of course one could see this to be untrue just by comparing the width of the blade at the crossguard vs. where the fullers end, but the overall impression when seeing the piece as a whole remained. This obviously didn't bother me, as I still eagerly participated in the bidding, it was just something I took note of. However, having now seen it in person, I would say this is just a matter of the differences in perspective that always shows up between camera lenses and human eyes. While nobody would mistake this blade as anything but a XIIIa by any means, its proportions are incredibly elegant, belying the initial brutish impression it gives. The profile is gradual enough to take nothing away from the blade's purpose, but (in my opinion) slightly more evident than in the photos on Mr. Pikula's site; just enough to make itself immediately evident, without being sufficient to define the blade's overall character.

Likewise, the pommel that seems almost too big in those photos, and the grip that seems almost too thin in the same, gain a much stronger unity when seen in person. By the time I took it out today to show it to my brother, it was already getting a bit too dark for good photos, but I can provide some tomorrow. Speaking of whom, he must have been paying attention years ago when I first started getting into swords. When I first told him about this one he asked how much it weighed, and when I said "about four pounds" he said "sounds kind of heavy!" I was in shock, haha.
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,189

PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2011 6:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations and thanks for giving us your impressions that sort of match my impressions of the Lost Oakeshott XIIIb, but at a larger scale. Wink Big Grin Cool

I would still be careful about what you cut because even the best made sword shouldn't be expected to cut small trees, although the light targets you cut so far do show it's ease of cutting qualities be careful of not trying to cut an " anvil " in half should you get over enthusiastic.

It does seem relevant and impressive that even a novice at cutting could get such impressive results: Actually, you probably got these results because you where cautious and this let the sword do the work rather than trying to muscle though target which I think is like trying to push/force through cutting media !

I'm far from an expert myself but what works is getting the sword up to speed and just letting the sword cut: if your edge alignment is good and stays that way through the target it seems to work as well as avoiding doing " J " cuts where the cut changes direction within the cut which can bend and distort a sword blade and potentially damage it in addition to spoiling the cut.

Like my type XIIIb this sword is a precision tool like a giant scalpel in spite of looking brutish in profile but not at all brutish because of distal taper and thinness of blade.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Josh S





Joined: 15 Oct 2011

Posts: 74

PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2011 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Congratulations and thanks for giving us your impressions that sort of match my impressions of the Lost Oakeshott XIIIb, but at a larger scale. Wink Big Grin Cool

I would still be careful about what you cut because even the best made sword shouldn't be expected to cut small trees, although the light targets you cut so far do show it's ease of cutting qualities be careful of not trying to cut an " anvil " in half should you get over enthusiastic.

It does seem relevant and impressive that even a novice at cutting could get such impressive results: Actually, you probably got these results because you where cautious and this let the sword do the work rather than trying to muscle though target which I think is like trying to push/force through cutting media !

I'm far from an expert myself but what works is getting the sword up to speed and just letting the sword cut: if your edge alignment is good and stays that way through the target it seems to work as well as avoiding doing " J " cuts where the cut changes direction within the cut which can bend and distort a sword blade and potentially damage it in addition to spoiling the cut.

Like my type XIIIb this sword is a precision tool like a giant scalpel in spite of looking brutish in profile but not at all brutish because of distal taper and thinness of blade.


Naturally, I stayed very far from trees when using it Razz I was initially going to just swing it in the air a few times to get a general feel for it, and cut nothing at all until a future date, after having received some instruction. But it almost felt disrespectful to put it back in its box without letting the edges slice into *something*. So when I noticed there some crab grass patches with stalks coming up about a foot from the ground, that struck me as just about the lightest target possible, and rather easy to hit as well.

"Giant scalpel" is indeed frighteningly accurate... The blade's thinness past the fullers is just as "ridiculous" as the sword's size. My brother held it out at a downward angle with the edges aligned vertically to get a look at the blade's thickness, and was astonished at how the blade just gradually disappears into invisibility when seen at that angle.

You procured one of the Viking swords he had in that auction, correct?
View user's profile Send private message
Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
Joined: 15 Mar 2004
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 1 book

Spotlight topics: 5
Posts: 8,189

PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2011 7:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Josh S wrote:


You procured one of the Viking swords he had in that auction, correct?


No I purchased the Castillion type XVIII ( Although it debatable if it's not more of a type XV ).

The Viking swords made by Michael are very impressive but where even at the sales price somewhat out of my price comfort zone and even more so since I had just blown the sword budget with the type XIIIb. Wink

Also, the Castillion was one I was very tempted to buy when I fist saw it but the type XIIIb won out by getting purchased first: At the sales price of $1000 for the minimum bid it was just to " under priced " to pass up. Wink Laughing Out Loud

If the bidding had pushed the price higher and I had lost it to someone else I think I would just have commissioned a similar sword eventually from Michael.

Michael is very much an artist in designing swords that handle like a dream as well as the other aesthetic and historically plausible qualities of his work: In period if I needed a sword to fight with I would have been very happy to have Michael make a sword on which my life might depend.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
View user's profile Send private message
Josh S





Joined: 15 Oct 2011

Posts: 74

PostPosted: Sat 12 Nov, 2011 7:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah yes. I just remembered that you had placed a bid on "something," so I must have figured there was a higher chance of it being a Viking sword simply because there were two of them and only one of the other types. It is amusing how everyone has a different opinion on whether that particular blade is more of a type XV or XVIII, but that just goes to show how fluid those categories can be. Maybe a (very large) XV that got ground down to have a secondary profile taper at the tip after a few too many thrusts into mail, hm? At any rate, I'm certain I'm not the only one who would like to hear your own thoughts on that item as well.

The lower price point was a definite factor for myself too. It's probably safe to say that if any of us had the funds to spare we'd have gladly snapped up all the items at once, regardless of the green-eyed ire we would attract! Even in photos Mr. Pikula's work is quite astounding, but in person it's breathtaking. My only concern is that I may have set my standards too high by making this my first "real," no-negatives-whatsoever sword. But not really; I'm the sort who thinks standards for quality can never be too high. I suspect Mr. Pikula just likes to push the limit and make us question ourselves regarding whether it is, indeed, possible for something to be TOO well-made... And then introduces a lowered price for it... What a prankster Razz
View user's profile Send private message
William Swiger




Location: Reston, VA
Joined: 23 Feb 2011
Likes: 50 pages
Reading list: 9 books

Posts: 443

PostPosted: Sun 13 Nov, 2011 1:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Congratulations on an outstanding sword. If I did not have a commission for a sword already with Michael, I would have snapped up one of the Winter sale swords he listed.
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Michael Pikula Type XIIIaProduct Review
Page 1 of 1 Reply to topic
All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum