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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Sep, 2012 9:21 am    Post subject: A closer look at the MRL 'Create Your Own Sword' (Type XIa)         Reply with quote

Museum Replicas Create Your Own Sword (Type XIa)



Intoduction

Museum Replicas released their 'Create Your Own Sword' product late in 2011. The concept is simple, working with a WYSIWYG interface on their website, you can combine various guards, pommels, blades, and scabbards to make your own custom sword.

While a novel idea, I was skeptical that such elements could work well together without proper fitment, weight distribution, and harmonic balance. However, knowing it Windlass smiths have been pounding out swords for a very long time, I wonder if they simply addressed this by making all of the various pommels and guards weigh the same.

Biting the bullet, I ordered one for use with my Game of Thrones Night's Watch inspired covention/ren faire kit. The final price was $166 using the SBGWEB coupon 10% off discount code available to SBG forum members.

Historical Overview

I ordered my sword to closely resemble at a glance the Sword of Saint Maurice, with a Type A pommel and a Style 6 cross. It seemed the natural choice for aesthetics when going with the blade offered. Though the Sword of Saint Maurice is considered to be a Type XII and the blade form chosen by MRL for their CYOS is more of a XIa - it made little difference in that this is a sword for a fantasy kit. It seemed to flow better than the other guards/pommels offered and the general look is very prevalent in the HBO Game of Thrones series.

I'd definately call this sword an XIa as a whole. Although the central ridge after the fuller terminating at the end of the blade is incorrect for the form, the other aesthetics would be at home in the type, with the thinner blade, shorter blade length (33"), narrow fuller running most of the blade length, parallel blade edges, and more acute tip.

This however, is only a passing classification to slap a name on it. I doubt if much ado about the typology was considered in the construction of this sword other than the fact the components fit well together. Laughing Out Loud

Stats

Blade: 33.0"
Handle: 4.5"
Overall length: 40.0"
Guard width: 8.5"
Point of Balance: 5.0"
Centre of Percussion: 25.0"
Weight: 2lbs, 9oz

The Blade

The 33" blade is satin finished to around 400 grit, with a well-executed narrow fuller running 7/8s of the length. The blade bears a nominal amount of distal taper, which is suprising at this price point. Held to the light, you can tell this blade was forged by hand and hammers, as their are slightly detectible ripples in the surface of the blade itself. The edges and fuller are even with no wavering. The blade flexes well under pressure, and returns to true denoting the standard Windlass temper. The blade had good rigidity, not offering too much flex - it holds a level plane when held parallel to the ground with little or no tip sag.

I opted for my initials - J.S. - to be put onto the shoulders of the blade. Now, I have no idea who did this, but when they engraved the initials, they put the J on one side and the S on the other. Being that the engraving was only $5, I won't bitch too much about it, but seriously...would the logical approach not be to put both initials on the same side? :roll:

The blade has a nice deep, lasting ring when struck; signaling to me that it's solidly peened.





The Guard

This is the same Style 6 guard as used on the Windlass Classic Medieval Sword. It's a wide guard, which turns downward toward the blade. The guard is even to the eye, with no deviations in tooling or casting. The guard is not overly thick, as on some Windlass models. Originally, it has a chome-like finish, but I drew it back to a satin luster to better match the blade.

The guard is nice and tight with no rattle or play whatsoever.





The Grip

The rather plain grip has a distinct rectangular profile with a stitched leather wrap. I opted for 4 evenly spaced risers on mine, although other options are available. I am not a fan of the stitching, as it causes a definate ridge on the grip. This stitched ridge wears a bit on the inside of the hand when wielding. At some point, I plan to rework the grip into something better, but for now, it works.





The Pommel

The pommel is a Type A. It's good for the form, being that it's rounded on the bottom as well and not flattened out like pommels of this type are frequently done on inexpensive replicas. It's fairly wide, being nearly 3" in width and 1.5" thick. It's just under what I would call a massive pommel, but it's sculpted well and counterweighs the blade nicely. All in all, it's a pretty nice Type A pommel, I have seen much worse.

The peen is barely visible, being finished off very well on this particular sword.



The Scabbard

I did not order the sword with a scabbard. Why would I? I make custom scabbards for other people. Laughing Out Loud

I did however make a scabbard for this sword. I wanted an attention-getting rig which looked over the top, so I went with a busy cross-hatch riser pattern on the black cover, finished off with a mild steel chape. The suspension is a simple hand-tied knot which supports the thin leather baldric. The baldric has a quick-release trigger snap on my chest - so it can be removed easily at events without having to remove a cloak or mantle.





Handling/Performance

The sword is decent in the hand. It's not what I would call a quick blade, but it's plenty wieldable. Recovery is moderate from swings and the tip tracks adequetely, though neither attribute is what I would call stellar. It's faster than a Type X but slower than a Type XII - which is to be expected for what kind of sword it is. The sword has a nice powerful presence, standing ready to issue a wide shearing or slashing cut in the hand. The blade has alot of authority, and would serve it's intended purpose well.

The pommel anchors the sword excellently in the hand, and changes from hammer to handshake grips are fast. The grip is a little too long for the type, but it works. Together the grip, pommel, and risers give a very secure feeling - a fact that would remain even if the sword were wet.

Pros/Cons

Pros

- Solid construction
- Good, consistant finish
- Handles well for the type
- Excellent value for low cost


Cons

- Sort of a grey duck which does not fit exactly into the typology due to blade form
- The CYOS interface only offers 1 blade type and limited pommel/guard combinations
- Initials were engraved on opposing sides


Conclusion



All in all, my particular Create Your Own sword model came out suprisingly well. I truly feel that my modest $166 investment paid off in a decent sword which I can use in lieu of more expensive swords at events where a blade could be dinged, damaged, or stolen. For the sword collector, I feel that the CYOS swords offer a budget level customization service which results in a sword that is both decent looking and practically functional.

I own numerous swords which shadow the my CYOS blade, in both cost and performance. But given the amount paid and the product received, I am quite charmed at MRLs efforts. While the MRL CYOS might not be everyone's cup of tea: it is honestly a well-executed, inexpensive sword for the money.

If MRL continues this to develop this project down the road and offered more options as far as blades, guards, and pommels: it would be one of the best values out there.

J.E. Sarge
Crusader Monk Sword Scabbards and Customizations
www.crusadermonk.com

"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Benjamin Rial




Location: Northern Minnesota
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Sep, 2012 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent review. I haven't had an opportunity to handle one of Windlass's CYOS products yet. Sounds like you got a good one, particularly at that price point. The scabbard looks great!
"The only thing new in this world is the history we don't know."-Pres. Harry S. Truman

www.forgedintime.com

Vel Arte, Vel Marte
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Jeremy V. Krause




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PostPosted: Sun 16 Sep, 2012 12:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not bad for under $200.00!

Really not bad.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Sun 16 Sep, 2012 1:48 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very good and fair review. I've long been a Windlass fan in the sense that (despite their variability in quality) on a good day they can give you twice the sword you paid for. Its interesting to consider where these particular parts originated. The pommel comes from their Ulfbehrt sword. They have used this cross on more than one sword but most notably the 'classic medieval'. The blade in slight variations has been used in various incarnations for years, but most notably on the Kingdom of heaven swords. I've owned all those in the past and liked them all for the money spent; so interesting to see how they work together here.
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William M




Location: Buckinghamshire , England
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Sep, 2012 2:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice and pretty good for that much money. The guard looks a bit out of place on the sword and I think that is the only thing I don't like, bearing in mind the price.
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Peter Messent




Location: Texas
Joined: 03 Jan 2009

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PostPosted: Mon 17 Sep, 2012 8:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is beautiful! I can't comment or criticize too much on the blade form/crossguard/pommel combo as it's a bit later than I tend to look into, but it is certainly pleasing to the eye. I think the wide crossguard sets it off quite nicely, and fits very well with the Game of Thrones look you were going for.

The scabbard is fantastic. Not much more to say, it's awesome!

I find it amazing how superior it looks to most windlass swords simply based on the finish - most of the ones I've seen have poor/moderately executed mirror-polishes which tends to look tacky - while the base sword was decent, I put a fair amount of work into my Windlass Leuterit to get it to a level I liked, whereas this looks like it was much closer to ideal to begin with. The well-finished tang peen, in particular, is very refreshing to see from Windlass and I hope they pursue such levels of finishing within that price point in the future.

I may need to take another gander at the CYOS thing again, my wife has wanted a sword fit for Jon Snow for a while now.
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Mark Moore




Location: East backwoods-assed Texas
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Sep, 2012 2:42 am    Post subject: Way cool for Windlass.....         Reply with quote

Looks great! Sword and scabbard are a low frills fighting mans rig, and you pulled it off with just enough flair to make it a real hit at the fairs and reenactments. Now....if Windlass would just add a CYOS Viking and longsword line......Hmmmmm. But ,alas, I can understand that the cost of doing so would run up the prices. Neat to think about though! Once again, great choices on your part all around. Kick-butt.....just plain ol' kick-butt! .......mcm. Cool
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