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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Jan, 2012 3:06 pm    Post subject: Manning Imperial Greek Hoplite Sword -- First Thoughts         Reply with quote

This is not really an in-depth review, but more a first impression. That being said....

There has been some interest expressed, here and on other fora, in Manning Imperial's Hoplite Xiphos. But, for some reason, no one has ever done a review on one. Either no one owns one, or no one is willing to admit to it (if not, why not? It's a perfectly decent sword! But more on this below). And so I, ever so willing to sacrifice for the sword-buying public, went ahead and bit the bullet, purchasing one of Manning's 24-inch xiphoi. Just so I could let potential buyers know all about it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The Manning Imperial hoplite sword is based on the sword found at Campovalano in Italy. That sword is dated to the 6th or 5th century BC and is in pretty great shape. Now, how closely the Manning sword comes to the original, I have no idea; please bear that in mind. Now, with that said, I've read that the Campovalano sword has a 25-inch blade. The Manning sword is advertised with a 24-inch blade; Well, guess what? Mine has a 25-inch blade. The Campovalano sword has a central ridge running about halfway down the blade; The Manning's central ridge is a bit longer than that, at a bit over 3/4 of the blade length.

My first thoughts, upon first view of the sword, were about how massive this sword is. It is large, for a short sword. The leafy blade, at it's widest, is about 2.5 inches wide. It weighs in at about 2 lbs 9.5 ounces, which is on the heavy side for a sword of this size, but it's really not too bad all things considered. CoG/PoB is just a bit over 4 inches. The sword handles fairly dynamically and really comes alive in the swing -- it is definitely a hacking/slashing sword. I can imagine this sword being used in the hoplite warfare of Classical Greece, whether against other City-States or Persian invaders, being a great secondary weapon in combo with a dory and aspis.

The blade also seems to be well-tempered. Although fairly stiff, due to the central ridge, I was able to flex it a bit out of true. The blade popped right back, no problem (how much and to what degree I flexed it, I couldn't measure).

The hilt is assembled correctly, with a full-profile tang and "sandwiched" construction, with a layer of bone covered with sheets of iron, all riveted. The rivets are flush with the surface and it's hard to tell they are there unless you look for them. The grip is very comfortable, whether using a hammer or handshake grip ( the latter of which has become my preference as late when using open-hilted single hand swords). The scabbard is fairly attractive and well-made, but pretty heavy due to the large cast-bronze chape.

So, overall, what do I think of it? I like it. It's historically accurate (afaik) and it handles quite well. If you're looking for a 6th-5th century BC Greek Hoplite-style sword, here it is. Other than going full-on custom, there's nothing else like it on the market.



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David K. Wilson, Jr.
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Last edited by David Wilson on Mon 16 Jan, 2012 1:49 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 15 Jan, 2012 9:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From the review text I'm assuming that it's blade is steel since you mention the heat treat ( steel ), but in the pic the blade looks like bronze the same as the bronze chape ? Confused

Is this just a question of the colour balance of the pic and/or the lighting giving a yellow hue to the blade ?

Other than that it looks like an appealing quality sword for someone wanting one from this period. Big Grin Cool

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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jan, 2012 1:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yep, it's steel. The yellowish hue is just from the lighting.
David K. Wilson, Jr.
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Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jan, 2012 4:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the review! The other Xiphos you have is made by Shane Allee, isn't it? How do these two compare?
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Mon 16 Jan, 2012 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Thanks for the review! The other Xiphos you have is made by Shane Allee, isn't it? How do these two compare?


Yes, it is!
The two xiphoi are completely different from each other (because they are based on two different swords). The Iron Age Armory xiphos is based on a 4th century BC find from Macedonia; The Manning is a 6th-5th century BC find. As such, they reflect a change from a larger slashing sword, meant for a more individualistic style of combat, to a sword more useful in a regimented and confined form of battle, as you would find in a Macedonian-style phalanx. The only similarities are in the "full tang" blade construction and leaf-blade shape. Shane's xiphos is very compact and very light, which makes sense as a backup weapon for an Alexandrian-era phalangite.
In terms of numbers, the Iron Age Armory sword has an 18-inch blade while the Manning Imperial sword has a 25-inch blade. Shane's sword weighs less than 1.5 lbs, the Manning weighs a little bit over 2.5 lbs.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks! How do you feel they compare in terms of fit and finish?

Perhaps due to the strong Australian dollar (or the weak US dollar...) the prices seem to be quite similar. Manning's version is a bit more expensive, but you do get a scabbard...

But Shane does custom work, which is a definite plus in my opinion.
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Roderick Stacey




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Manning imperial does custom work too, its all they do.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
But Shane does custom work, which is a definite plus in my opinion.


As a fan of Craig's, I must reiterate what Roderick said. All of Manning Imperial's work is totally custom - their website merely advertises the work they've done to date.

This xiphos turned out splendidly, David. I particularly like his execution of the scabbard mounts. They appear to be very sturdy!

-Gregory
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 2:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Thanks! How do you feel they compare in terms of fit and finish?

Perhaps due to the strong Australian dollar (or the weak US dollar...) the prices seem to be quite similar. Manning's version is a bit more expensive, but you do get a scabbard...

But Shane does custom work, which is a definite plus in my opinion.


The blade finish is slightly better on Shane's sword, but the hilt rivets on the Manning sword are slightly better. Other than that, they're pretty close.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:


This xiphos turned out splendidly, David. I particularly like his execution of the scabbard mounts. They appear to be very sturdy!

-Gregory


Thanks! The scabbard mounts are very sturdy, that's why the scabbard is as heavy as it is!

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 2:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, by the way, here are both xiphoi, just to show off
(Also, FYI, If you have Mike Loades' Swords and Swordsmen, the original swords that the Iron Age Armory sword is based on are in there).....



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David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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William P




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PostPosted: Tue 17 Jan, 2012 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i havent seen this sword myself but ive seen other manning imperial items and they are all quite good.

by the way since the xiphos is hung from the shoulder by just a simple over the shoulder strap with no fastening to belts, how do you draw the thing quickly?
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 12:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
i havent seen this sword myself but ive seen other manning imperial items and they are all quite good.

by the way since the xiphos is hung from the shoulder by just a simple over the shoulder strap with no fastening to belts, how do you draw the thing quickly?


That's a good question I hadn't really considered.
This guy has some interesting ideas on that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULsbH8ZbUEc
Now, I don't know if I agree with all his points, but he does give some food for thought.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
by the way since the xiphos is hung from the shoulder by just a simple over the shoulder strap with no fastening to belts, how do you draw the thing quickly?


Well, I'd want to do some experiments with a good repro, but my guess is that it fits loosely enough in the scabbard to come out easily. At the very least, you should be able to pull the hilt downwards, tipping the point upwards, and pull against the baldric. This works better with the scabbard hanging rather high under the arm or more at the chest. It also flops around less with a shorter baldric.

David Wilson wrote:
This guy has some interesting ideas on that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULsbH8ZbUEc
Now, I don't know if I agree with all his points, but he does give some food for thought.


Sorry, but I think he's spouting garbage on this one! He starts with a LATEX sword, for heaven's sake, and never seems to consider that it MIGHT fit differently in its scabbard than a steel one. Then he makes the classic modern arrogant assumption that the artwork is all wrong and that our modern ideas of how WE would do things count more than the historical evidence! If you look at the detail in Greek artwork, it really doesn't seem likely to me that they would leave out something like a waistbelt if every hoplite wore one! And to just say that they "left out things like daggers and water bottles that we think they might have had" is just bizarre.

He's also flat out wrong about smaller swords. It's very true that many hoplite swords from the Archaic and early Classical era had blades 2 feet or longer, but he completely ignores the very well-known Spartan short sword, which WAS much like a big dagger. It's a post-Persian War development, of course, but it WAS used by many hoplites, and not just by Spartans. It should also be pointed out that the Roman gladius hispaniensis was 2 feet or more in the blade.

Anyway, enough negativity--Those are LOVELY swords you have there, David! Makes me want to go and improve my own home-ground hunk of junk. Thanks for sharing!

Khairete,

Matthew
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Johan Gemvik




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 3:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I like the sword a lot. Looks brutal and is probably a champ of a cutter for a short sword.
I wish they made one in bronze of course, or made one with bronze finish. But to be honest, this will stand up to cutting better and as I understand it there were late era iron xifos around historically, though we mostly think of them as bronze weapons. Anyway, at least this one has the right cross section geometry with the thick round ridge of a typical bronze sword.

The scabbard chape looks like one a friend of mine copied in wax trom a museum exhibit some years ago. A very nice touch and seems pretty much true to the original as far as I can tell from the photos.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge


Last edited by Johan Gemvik on Wed 18 Jan, 2012 3:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 3:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am quite positive that most if not all greek swords of period in question (6th to 4th century BC) were iron/steel.
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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
I am quite positive that most if not all greek swords of period in question (6th to 4th century BC) were iron/steel.


Thanks Luka!
Not my area of expertise, so I didn't dare state it for certain but I had a hunch. Wink The tin shortage and all of the late classic era would have made it more cost and availability effective to make ferric blades after all.

But the original for this specifc sword was bronze? Anyone have a link to the museum object or a good photo we can compare with?

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:

But the original for this specifc sword was bronze? Anyone have a link to the museum object or a good photo we can compare with?


The Campovalano sword was iron (6th-5th century is well into the iron age).
I found this picture here on myArmoury: http://i122.photobucket.com/albums/o276/kerav...1268264786

Here's a black & white picture: http://www.sanniti.info/sanimage/spada50.jpg

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 5:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
William P wrote:
by the way since the xiphos is hung from the shoulder by just a simple over the shoulder strap with no fastening to belts, how do you draw the thing quickly?


Well, I'd want to do some experiments with a good repro, but my guess is that it fits loosely enough in the scabbard to come out easily. At the very least, you should be able to pull the hilt downwards, tipping the point upwards, and pull against the baldric. This works better with the scabbard hanging rather high under the arm or more at the chest. It also flops around less with a shorter baldric.

David Wilson wrote:
This guy has some interesting ideas on that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ULsbH8ZbUEc
Now, I don't know if I agree with all his points, but he does give some food for thought.


Sorry, but I think he's spouting garbage on this one! He starts with a LATEX sword, for heaven's sake, and never seems to consider that it MIGHT fit differently in its scabbard than a steel one. Then he makes the classic modern arrogant assumption that the artwork is all wrong and that our modern ideas of how WE would do things count more than the historical evidence! If you look at the detail in Greek artwork, it really doesn't seem likely to me that they would leave out something like a waistbelt if every hoplite wore one! And to just say that they "left out things like daggers and water bottles that we think they might have had" is just bizarre.

He's also flat out wrong about smaller swords. It's very true that many hoplite swords from the Archaic and early Classical era had blades 2 feet or longer, but he completely ignores the very well-known Spartan short sword, which WAS much like a big dagger. It's a post-Persian War development, of course, but it WAS used by many hoplites, and not just by Spartans. It should also be pointed out that the Roman gladius hispaniensis was 2 feet or more in the blade.

Anyway, enough negativity--Those are LOVELY swords you have there, David! Makes me want to go and improve my own home-ground hunk of junk. Thanks for sharing!

Khairete,

Matthew


Yeah, I was thinking some of his ideas were off, but I wasn't sure how badly...

Anyway, I did some experimentation, and yes, the scabbard on my sword is relatively loose, not at all like the latex thing in that video. It does drag a bit, but the weight of the chape helps anchor it, somewhat. It helps if you hold your off-arm against it -- I can imagine this working out pretty well if you're carrying an aspis on your left arm.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

Now available on Amazon: Franklin Posner's "Suburban Vampire: A Tale of the Human Condition -- With Vampires" https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072N7Y591
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Wed 18 Jan, 2012 7:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johan Gemvik wrote:
Luka Borscak wrote:
I am quite positive that most if not all greek swords of period in question (6th to 4th century BC) were iron/steel.


Thanks Luka!
Not my area of expertise, so I didn't dare state it for certain but I had a hunch. Wink The tin shortage and all of the late classic era would have made it more cost and availability effective to make ferric blades after all.


Yeah, we're a couple centuries into the Iron Age by this point. There are still a few bronze spearheads around but all the swords are iron. We've had long discussions about the reasons behind the transition from bronze to iron, and I'm not sure we can blame it on availability of tin or copper, since overall there was a lot more bronze being produced and used in the Iron Age than there was in the Bronze Age! The Romans were still cranking out bronze and brass helmets (as well as cookware) right into the 3rd century *AD*.

Quote:
But the original for this specifc sword was bronze? Anyone have a link to the museum object or a good photo we can compare with?


Ah, I suspect you're thinking of that one bronze short sword that shows up in one of the Osprey books--it's some kind of model from a relief or sculpture, not a real sword. It's slightly oversized, for one thing. There's a serious shortage of published iron blades around, and the best known are actually from Italy (Campovolano, for instance), as are many of the well-known helmets and armor parts. Just a stronger tradition of putting good stuff in tombs in Italy in that era than there was in Greece!

The actual sword that carried over from bronze to iron was the Naue type II:

http://www.larp.com/hoplite/2Naue2c.jpg

TONS of bronze ones are known, and a number of iron ones identical in shape. That's what turned into the Greek xiphos. Interestingly, the Greeks added the leaf-shape as most of the rest of Europe was giving it up!

Khairete,

Matthew
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