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Mercer L. Blaire




Location: Ohio
Joined: 27 Sep 2013

Posts: 78

PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2014 4:15 pm    Post subject: Darksword Armory Black Knight. Review         Reply with quote

I'm very sorry if im posting this in the wrong place, im having trouble locating a section specific to sword reviews...moerators please put this in the proper spot and forgive me for the mistake.

Full Disclosure

I received this sword as a review sword from Darksword Armory and did not pay full price for it. Darksword Armory has been the subject of alot of controversy and public attention lately, several months back Robert posted in myArmoury that DSA was planning on sending some of their newer swords out for reviews. Being curious myself about what all the talk was about i contacted Robert and told him i would be interested in doing a review of one of their swords. I've handled a good number of swords now, and made several myself, so I feel like i have a pretty good grasp of what does and does not make a good sword. I did not have to pay for this sword, but DSA lists the price at roughly $360.00 Blunt, and $390.00 for the sharpened version so i will be doing this review keeping that price point in mind.



Initial Impressions

The sword came very well packaged, it was like trying to bust into a Tank to get at the sword. There was no chance of damage with the packaging. The sword was wrapped in multiple layers of buble wrap, then placed inside a box with foam and a rubber tip protector. Its certainly packaged better than i have personally sent out some blades. Ill give packaging a solid 10 out of 10










Statistics


Total length: 36"
Blade length: 28"
Blade width at base: 2"
Weight: 2 lbs 7 oz
POB: between 2" and 3" from guard



Components


The Blade:

The blade on this sword is very impressive to me, it has a hollow grind and a very attractive Just shy of mirror polish. Its a higher level of polish that i keep on my working swords, but it is very attractive without being gaudy. The grind is very smooth with no owave or ripple to the profile or edge. everything is very clean and crisp. The blade has noticeable distal taper and is not at all what i was expecting considering past reviews of DSA swords. The only real flaw to the blade itself is right at the tip the last 1/2 inch is thicker than the rest where the grinder didnt quite get it down. Neddle points can be very difficult to grind, but a flaw nonetheless.

Id give the blade an 8 out of 10 because of the flawed tip










The Handle:

The Handle of the sword is very well shaped and fits my small hands well, the grip is single handed, but it leaves about an inch of space between the bottom of the hand and the pommel. For me this is a major plus, alot of single handed swords have extremely short grips and it leads to the pommel digging into the wrist. This is not the case with this sword. The grip is a Bown leather wrap with a nice riser pattern that fills the hand well. One thing about this sword i have not seen on others is that the seam is stitched and is a very clean termination. you can feel the seam in hand when you hold the sword, but it is not uncomfortable at all. My only complaint with the grip is that the leather where it meets the guard and pommel could have been tucked under and executed a bit cleaner being that the sword is a bit higher in price point i wouldn't have left that detail out.

I give the grip and 8 out of 10 points













The Guard:

The Guard is well fitted and solid, and is aesthetically pleasing. It's a bit of a fantasy design, i don't think there is any historical one like this, but it is attractive and what i would describe as historically feasible. the guard has been buffed to a close to mirror shine, however there are some machine grinding marks that didnt get polished out along the top sides of the guard, but honestly its not that bad, its typical of what i would call "hand made" characteristics, but some people who prefer the 100% flawless machine look may find it off putting.

I give the guard a 7 out of 10 because of the machine marks.








The Pommel:

The Pommel is a sort of Octagon shape with a peen block on top and the flats are fluted/hollow ground. According to DSA it is a copy of a historic piece, and is pleasing to my eye. Like the Guard, it is very solid and tight. There is no play or rattle whatsoever. The pommel has a sort of Satin Brushed looking polish to it which IMO is nicer than the mirror buffed guard. the satin polish looks more realistic of what id expect a medieval sword to have and is very pleasing to my eyes. The Peen is clean but visible.

I give the pommel a 9 out of 10 because there is a bit of black crud inside the circular cut outs, but its kind of nit picking.








The Scabbard:

Since this was just a review sword there was no scabbard accompanying it, so i cant speak towards the quality of such. They look nice in the pictures lol



Handling Characteristics

This is where the sword shines, this sword is extremely well balanced and very lively in the hand. Tip control is excellent and even in my inexperienced hands i am able to hit my mark quite well. Im used to big wide bladed viking swords as far as 1 handers go, so this was new to me. The sword is very light and fast, and IMO if the blade was about 3 inches longer it would be my ideal dueling sword or civilian carry sword. It definitely doesn't look or feel like it was made for the battlefield where you would be fighting armored foes, the blade is too flexible to thrust through armor, but as i said, it would really shine in single unarmored combat. Single handers really arent my forte', i have a bad shoulder and its difficult for me to use a 1 handed sword for very long, but this sword really feels good to me. At least during my short dry handling sessions.

As handling applies i give this sword a solid 10 out of 10 which really surprised me.

Test Cutting (if applicable)

OK, so the review has been mostly positive up to this point, the sword is not without its flaws, but some issues that need addressed here. The sword received the darksword armory sharpening service and i'm sorry to say but it is utter garbage. They put a very steep >90* secondary bevel on the blade which is a damn shame...its a beautifully executed hollow grind and then BAM huge bevel. The bevel actually looks JUST like the bevels that come on a lot of really cheap SLO's advertised as sharp. Not only is there a secondary bevel but it is dull and doesnt even meet to create an "edge" i can drag the sword back and forth across my arm in a sawing motion and it doesn't even itch, let alone cut or slice. Despite my initial impressions i decided not to judge it until i tried it as i was surprised by the edge on my Hanwei Tinker Viking sword when i lopped a deers head off. BUT this was nit the case. I wasnt able to "cut" a single bottle. It looked like i was playing T Ball, batting bottles across my yard. The ones that didnt bat exploded and burst under pressure...the swords thrusting capability was excellent and i was able to consistently thrust through bottles. But the factory edge is quite frankly one of the worst i've seen.

I give the sharpening service a 0 out of 10




Conclusions:

Darksword Armory has really stepped up their game in the sword market by providing proper distal taper, very beautiful blade geometry and polishing, and tight fittings overall. Handling on this model was amazing, however as many other customers are...im a cutter. The sword can be the most beautiful sword in the world but if it wont cut its not really a sword in my book, more of a waster/practice sword than functional weapon. I would personally buy any of the DSA models i found pleasing, but i would not pay extra money for the sharpening service to butcher the blade. I have the ability to sharpen a blade on my own, a lot of people do, but if i didn't the edge alone would be a deal breaker on an otherwise amazing sword for the value. I think DSA needs to step up their sharpening standards and produce some proper cutting edges with better geometry and more attention to the detail of such, if they are able to do that they will be a very good option for those who don't have the budget for higher end swords, these mid grade swords are very pleasing, and IMO a step up from the Hanwei tinker line in terms of fit and finish and overall appearance, but its all for nothing if we cant cut with them. That being said ill probably be buying a Darksword armory Excalibur sword when i can afford it. But will be getting the blunt version and sharpening it myself.


Pros:

Beautiful polish and blade design
Solid fittings
comfortable grip
Top Notch Balance and Handling


Cons:

Edge was one of the worst I've ever seen. Sword will not cut.
Small minor rust spot on the tip, most likely from transit as it was fresh and came off with never dull.
Small machine marks on the guard.






The Bottom Line:
I would recommend this sword to anyone who finds this sword type appealing as long as they are able to sharpen it themselves, or prefer it to be blunt.

As the Points rank up, there was a possibility of 70 Points this sword could score based on all the aspects. This sword received 52, that's a 74% which is pretty low for such a nice sword. The real killer was the terrible sharpening job. You cant Polish a Gold Bar with Poo and expect it to come out shiny.

My plan of attack is to work this sword over, clean up the flaws, and do a full resharpening and then try to cut again and see what it can do...ill post the update to this review once i have done so. Cheers
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2014 4:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a great review. Thank you for posting it. I responded to your review topic on SBG and thought I'd share it here, too.

I like the design. It must be said, however, that this sword is complete fantasy. It isn't historically plausible. This isn't a bad thing, except that the maker's own description of it indicates that it's a historical sword with a few fantasy twists:

Quote:
The Black Knight" Medieval Sword is Inspired by E.A. Christensen's sketch work, found on p. 121 of Oakeshott's "Record of the Medieval Sword". While preserving the historical essence of the blade and pommel, our rendition of the battle ready sword was given a fantasy flare with it's morbid crossguard.

Inspiring an essence of strength and heroism, the blade and pommel on this 14th C. medieval sword remained faithful to historical models while the guard took a more inspirational twist. The richly decorated pommel crowns an equally embellished leather wrapped handle. The black knight gothic battle ready sword is fitted with a type XIV blade.


The blade is not an Oakeshot Type XIV. Type XIV blades have a lenticular cross-section. The geometry is completely different on this one. This has a hollow-ground section. The E.A. Christensen sketch shows a double-fullered Type XIV blade that not only has a different cross-section, but also a different profile than the "Black Knight" model.

The only thing in common between the two swords is a vague two-dimensional visual similarity to the pommels and the fact that there is a blade and hilt. The rest is completely different. Even the pommels themselves are going to be very different when compared at other angles. The "Black Knight" sword's pommel is significantly dissimilar in three-dimensions from antiques.

Why can't makers just indicate what the sword is, let it stand on its merits, and not try to propagate things that are factually incorrect? It's frustrating. I worry that those new to the hobby, or those inexperienced, are going to read the description and believe that they are buying a sword that is close to an extant original sword published in a book. This would be far from the truth.

This is a nice sword design and I'm going to assume that there will be a good size market for it. I applaud the efforts of putting out a good hollow-ground blade. I also really appreciate the fantasy design that isn't over the top and still has a nod to historical aesthetic sensibilities. This is the type of fantasy design that I personally like quite a bit.

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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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Posts: 233

PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2014 6:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice review, very complete. I am glad to hear of some improvements from DSA, especially with the straightness of the blade. The edge issues however seem to remain. I would be curious to know if the edge is fixable. In my experience DSA blades are not tempered evenly, and may not take an edge in places. My experience is limited to one example from several years ago. Sounds like the marketing/historical accuracy claims are still unchanged though.
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Mercer L. Blaire




Location: Ohio
Joined: 27 Sep 2013

Posts: 78

PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2014 7:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i will be attempting to sharpen the blade and fix the geometry of the cutting edge. will keep you guys posted
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 07 May, 2014 7:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I believe the hilt pieces are both originally from other models. The pommel is from an older model also called the Black Knight Sword. That earlier sword's hilt is closer to the Christensensketch, IMO. The cross guard is from the Black Death Gothic Sword (which looks a lot like a composite of a few Lundemo/Ko "Acanthus" collaborations, Ennorath and Glawar.
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Christopher B Lellis




Location: Houston, Texas
Joined: 01 Dec 2012

Posts: 268

PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2014 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for this review. Just by coincidence I have been looking at DSA pieces the last week for the first time in my collecting career and then you post this elaborate review of one of their swords Razz

I have become quite good at sharpening, so the one major fault you found I can overcome with my own skills. I would just buy the sword blunt and do all the work myself. Big Grin

I always new DSA my tight, solid swords but the handling part was in question, now I'm interested after what you told us here about that.

Good review!
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Joshua Waters




Location: South Carolina
Joined: 15 Dec 2013

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2014 1:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice review! good and thorough. And I do agree DSA's sharpening service is absolutely terrible, I made the mistake of getting their sharpening service once. So I am glad I did not make that mistake again, when I ordered the Crusader sword from them.
But I have a little bit of information I can contribute here. Not too long ago, in a post I had made about DSA, Mr. Roger Hooper had asked me about I comment I had made about DSA adding distal taper to their blades. So in response to his question I measured the distal taper on three of my DSA's, all of different ages. And here are my results.

The DSA Prince sword is about six or so years old, and out of production. Here are it's measurements: Distal taper at the base of the blade is: 6-mm, mid 5-mm, tip 5-mm. pretty much no taper.

Here are the measurements for my two year old DSA Crusader sword: the base is 4-mm, mid 3-mm, tip 2 1/2-mm.

And these are the measurements from one of their latest offerings, the WMA-701: the base is 5-mm, mid 3-mm, tip 2-mm.

So you can see a distinct improvement on their distal taper.

Benedictus Dominus Deus meus.
Qui docet manus meas ad prælium, et digitos meos ad bellum.

Deus vult!
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Dean F. Marino




Location: Midland MI USA
Joined: 24 Aug 2011

Posts: 229

PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2014 2:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
I believe the hilt pieces are both originally from other models. The pommel is from an older model also called the Black Knight Sword. That earlier sword's hilt is closer to the Christensensketch, IMO. The cross guard is from the Black Death Gothic Sword (which looks a lot like a composite of a few Lundemo/Ko "Acanthus" collaborations, Ennorath and Glawar.


THANK YOU Jonathan! Happy.

I managed to get a DSA hilt "set" of this nature recently... about to build it up on a Hanwai bare blade. I was unaware of Glawar (sunlight in Sindarin). Having see it? I'm going to be doing some serious grinder work to the DSA pommel... Happy.

In edhil, hai edhil. In edain, hai edain.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2014 8:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joshua Waters wrote:
So in response to his question I measured the distal taper on three of my DSA's, all of different ages. And here are my results.

The DSA Prince sword is about six or so years old, and out of production. Here are it's measurements: Distal taper at the base of the blade is: 6-mm, mid 5-mm, tip 5-mm. pretty much no taper.

Here are the measurements for my two year old DSA Crusader sword: the base is 4-mm, mid 3-mm, tip 2 1/2-mm.

And these are the measurements from one of their latest offerings, the WMA-701: the base is 5-mm, mid 3-mm, tip 2-mm.


For clarity's sake, what you've measured and posted is blade thickness, not distal taper. Distal taper is usually expressed as a ratio or percentage between one thickness measurement and another. Your thickness measurements show there is distal taper. However, when you said the "distal taper at the base of the blade is 6mm" that's actually the thickness there. Happy If something tapered from 4mm to 2mm, that would be 50% distal taper.

Happy

ChadA

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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
Joined: 14 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2014 8:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guys, another thing to keep in mind is that these DSA blades may require more then sharpening skills to fix edge problems. I know I am speaking from the experience of one sword, but sharpening that blade would require changing the temper, and not evenly along the length of the blade. Good luck with that........
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Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,836

PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2014 9:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg Ballantyne wrote:
Guys, another thing to keep in mind is that these DSA blades may require more then sharpening skills to fix edge problems. I know I am speaking from the experience of one sword, but sharpening that blade would require changing the temper, and not evenly along the length of the blade. Good luck with that........


How so? I have been able to sharpen mild steel and dulled ceramic blades to shaving sharp. Two extremes. Then take (for instance) Michael "Tinker" Pearce, who has often ground his swords and knives of pre marquenched/hardened, and tempered blanks. Then actually drawing back the temper of the body of the sword. The edge sharpened while in the state it was before grinding (very hard).

An anomaly of Darksword Armory is that despite they tout the ability to forge and grind, the same source can't put a decent edge on their sharpened swords.

Go figure Wink

Cheers

GC
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Joshua Waters




Location: South Carolina
Joined: 15 Dec 2013

Posts: 37

PostPosted: Thu 08 May, 2014 9:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
For clarity's sake, what you've measured and posted is blade thickness, not distal taper. Distal taper is usually expressed as a ratio or percentage between one thickness measurement and another. Your thickness measurements show there is distal taper. However, when you said the "distal taper at the base of the blade is 6mm" that's actually the thickness there. Happy If something tapered from 4mm to 2mm, that would be 50% distal taper.


Oh dang. Sorry about that mistake! I definitely presented my information incorrectly. You are correct. And I have made a rather stupid mistake. Worried
You have pointed out what I meant to. I had intended to show the blade thickness at the three intervals to show the occurrence of their improved distal tapering. I just happened to(like an idiot)write "distal taper" in the incorrect place in front of one of the measurements I gave.
And again sorry about the mix up.

Benedictus Dominus Deus meus.
Qui docet manus meas ad prælium, et digitos meos ad bellum.

Deus vult!
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
Joined: 10 Feb 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2014 7:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:


An anomaly of Darksword Armory is that despite they tout the ability to forge and grind, the same source can't put a decent edge on their sharpened swords.

Go figure Wink

Cheers

GC


I get asked about this source every so often, as they are Canadian. Having never seen or held one of their products, I can only defer to opinion on sword related sites like MA. This pretty much finishes my hopes for DSA. Regardless of what the maker claims about his shop, if he can't sharpen an edge properly, he isn't a smith. He's an assembler of parts sourced elsewhere. Sad really. Sad
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Mercer L. Blaire




Location: Ohio
Joined: 27 Sep 2013

Posts: 78

PostPosted: Fri 08 Aug, 2014 5:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

OK Guys, as promised in the review i finally got caught up a bit in my shop and the weather held out so i had time to sharpen up the Black Knight sword. For scientific purposes i sharpened one side of the blade to my standard, and left the other side of the blade as it came from the factory. Ill be purchasing a couple cases of bottles to do a video and show you guys the results of what this sword can do if you take 20 minutes to sharpen it up properly with a 1X30 harbor freight belt sander. I really wish their swords came with an edge as formidable as it is now. they would be a major player on the middle priced sword game. The sword is a pure joy to cut with.
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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug, 2014 6:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Another con you could add is the cast peen block is out of alignment. Its cast with the pommel (money saving but ugly, imo) and its off center, and quite visibly so.
Winter is coming
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Tom King




Location: florida
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PostPosted: Sat 09 Aug, 2014 11:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mike Capanelli wrote:
Another con you could add is the cast peen block is out of alignment. Its cast with the pommel (money saving but ugly, imo) and its off center, and quite visibly so.


I think they grind each one separately. I had a "von egolstein war sword" by DSA briefly that was the original source of this pommel in the DSA lineup. It was a bit better defined that the one Blaire received, but not by much. it was sloppily executed then and is still sloppy now.
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Mike Capanelli




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Aug, 2014 6:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tom King wrote:
Mike Capanelli wrote:
Another con you could add is the cast peen block is out of alignment. Its cast with the pommel (money saving but ugly, imo) and its off center, and quite visibly so.


I think they grind each one separately. I had a "von egolstein war sword" by DSA briefly that was the original source of this pommel in the DSA lineup. It was a bit better defined that the one Blaire received, but not by much. it was sloppily executed then and is still sloppy now.


It looks cast to me. It's the fake peen block that really mucks things up, IMO. If I were them I'd either do a real one or just leave it out.

Winter is coming
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Michael B.
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Location: Chugiak, AK
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PostPosted: Sun 10 Aug, 2014 11:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I also have a review of this sword on this site, and yes, the pommel is cast, and the "peen block" is cast with it. You can see photos here.
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Michael Bergstrom
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Mercer L. Blaire




Location: Ohio
Joined: 27 Sep 2013

Posts: 78

PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2014 3:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would like to update this review to reflect that after putting this sword through its paces both in the initial review, and cutting tests as well as extended sessions i decided to email Robert and Eyal and purchase the sword from them. This ones a real gem and fits my style quite well despite any flaws i mentioned.
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Viktor Johansson




Location: Stockholm
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PostPosted: Sun 06 Sep, 2015 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

They could have left the tip more thick by choice, to reinforce it. Most of my Albions have the same kind of reinforced tip with a different thicker grind than the rest of the blade.
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