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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 8:08 am    Post subject: Albion Sempach review         Reply with quote

Overview
The Sempach is a late Medieval long sword made by Albion. Its a long, heavily tapered sword that's primary purpose would be to thrust and stab. According the Albion Europe's website its usage would have fell in the period 1355 to 1425 when armor began advancing to include a lot more plate. Doing damage to a heavily plated soldier with a sword primarily designed to cut was probably not the best tool. Swords that are stiff and with excellent points designed to puncture gaps in armor became more and more prominent. The Sempach is an excellent and classic example of such sword types.






Purchasing/shipping

The sword was purchased directly from Albion and arrived in the usual Albion white box with no issues.

Specifications
Overall length - 45 5/8"
Blade length - 36"
Blade width at cross - 1 3/4"
Grip length - 6 3/4"
Weight - 3 lbs (from Albion's website)
POB - 4 1/2"

Blade

This blade is very stiff. It's classified as an Oakeshott XVII and has a very interesting hexagon cross section. The first 1/3 of the blade starting from the cross has a well defined fuller that terminates softly into the flat hexagon section of the blade. From that flat section the edge bevel drops down to the edge proper with no secondary bevel. The sword came sharp and the edge is very nice and extremely clean. The overall profile has a significant taper, is of a basic triangular profile with long straight edges all the way to the point where it finally turns to a slight convex curve to the point for the last few inches. The last 1/2 inch of the tip shows the flat of the hexagon section turns into a diamond. The Sempach has a very stout tip. It reminds me of an ice pick, not so much the shape but the design of it in relation to its purpose. This tip I am pretty confident could easily punch holes.









Grip

The grip is in Albion's red and is very nicely done. The seam can be seen and does wander around a bit. Some other Albions I own have less visible seams. Also there is some dark almost black colors around the seam area, most likely from the gluing process. The seam cannot be felt. Overall I like the leather work on the grip quite a bit. The seam area which you could argue is not pristine visually does not detract much at all from the sword and is not anything I would consider a big deal. Its plenty long, especially with the pommel shape to achieve comfortable two-hand usage.







Pommel

The pommel is probably an Oakeshott type T2. It is in the scent stopper family of pommel types and has a lot of interesting facets and faces to it. The very bottom where the peen is has several decorative cutouts or grooves. The peen is excellent and is almost invisible.







Cross Guard

The cross is of octagon cross section and is slightly down turned. Its widest at the blade and flares slightly towards the ends. The blades slot is excellent and with in extremely tight tolerances to the blade.




Performance

The sword feels good in hand. It feels quick but it does not float. There is a considerable amount of blade presence for a sword with such a radical profile taper. It certainly feels like a sword meant for fairly heavy work. The distal taper is not nearly as aggressive as what I have seen on some earlier types made by Albion. This makes sense when you are trying to achieve a sword that remains very stiff in order to increase its effectiveness in the thrust. That blade thickness makes for a sword that while thin in profile section, still has a substantial amount of steel present all the way along its length and that amount of steel translates to a sword that has good blade presence. I did not cut with the sword so can't comment on its cutting. It feels lively overall.

Overall

I like this sword a lot. For me personally it is a departure from the area of interest most of my collection fits which are earlier, more dedicated cutter type swords. This is a very interesting sword. The blade geometry and the pommel are the highlights for me. Both are visually very interesting with various facets and angles that taken as a whole make for a really elegant longsword but in hand that elegance starts to fade as you realize that this stiff and thick blade was designed with some serious brutality in mind. When in hand it feels great but I can't help also feeling like this is a seriously specialized tool, a tool, like an awl or ice pick that is designed to puncture and stab.



The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb


Last edited by Bryan Heff on Mon 17 Nov, 2014 1:51 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 9:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Good review of an interesting sword.

I checked over at KOA for distal taper measurements -

5.7mm at guard to 3.7 mm near the tip. (.224 to .145 in inches) That's about 35% overall distal taper. That is less that you would see in a dedicated cutter. Of course, there is a lot of profile taper.

It would be interesting to find out what is going on in the middle of the blade, thickness-wise. It wouldn't surprise me if the blade actually gets a little thicker towards the middle of the blade. We all need to buy a set of calipers!
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William Swiger




Location: Reston, VA
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 9:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for posting up sword info and pictures.

As you know, I have the Landgraf on order and enjoyed the photographs of your blade. Wink

Non Timebo Mala
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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 9:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The Sempach and Landgraf use the same blade, right?
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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 9:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys.

Roger -

I have a set of cheap calipers...for what its worth the blade does not appear to get thicker in the middle than what it is at the base. Like KOA's specs....seems to be a gradual taper all the way down from thickest at the base to thinner at the tip. Just looking at it with the eye from the edge, you can see that the point carries a lot of steel thickness.

William -

That is one of those things I have come to fully appreciate about Albion swords, its the historically spot on blade geometry and these Albion XVIIs seem to really nail it. I very cool and interesting blade the way it changes from the base which for the most part seems to be your standard fullered blade to where you see the fuller get thinner and you start to see the flats of the middle part of the hexagon and once the fuller stops you can follow that flat near to the very end. Only the very last little bit of blade at the extreme point does the flat finally stop and transition to a thick diamond cross section.

BTW...I love the hexagon blade shape. Now I feel like I need another hex type blade, something wider though like an XIX.

The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 11:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm a big fan of hexagonal cross-sectioned blades. Type XIX blades are my favorite all-around because of their versatility and intended use, but the Type XVII was really intriguing to me, too... the "can-opener" characteristization of these swords was something I wanted to explore; and in particular I was interested to see what could be done with the robust tip as far as half-swording and overall tip control. I really liked what the sword showed me--seriously impressive stuff.

I had the chance to cut with the Albion Sempach a couple years ago and was surprised at how fantastic it was as a cutter. Now, keep in mind that as you read that you must consider the ways these types of swords were used and the targets they were designed to face. These swords aren't built to slice apart milk jugs full of water or foam "pool noodles" or any of that kind of these. They're designed, as far as the cut goes, to give powerful shearing blows and this sword does that well. I used thick-walled cardboard tubes that are designed as carpet centers. It takes a lot to cut through these things and the Sempach busted these cardboard warriors into little pieces. Good times.

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Erik Heller





Joined: 10 Jun 2013

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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 5:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
The Sempach and Landgraf use the same blade, right?


Yes, they do. I have a Landgraf, and I would say that (with my limited experience), it sounds like the Sempach has similar performance, although I'm sure there is some difference due to the difference in the weight of the hilt components on each.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 5:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I love the Sempach. It's a great piece. I've taken mine to pumpkins. Of course, it wasn't as good as something wider and thinner (and with more mass) like the Baron. But it cut far enough into pumpkins and easily enough that I'm convinced it could do serious damage to a squishier target.
Happy

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William Swiger




Location: Reston, VA
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Roger Hooper wrote:
The Sempach and Landgraf use the same blade, right?


Same blade with different fittings. From what I have read, they have a slight difference in handling.

Non Timebo Mala
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Holger Mahling




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Mon 17 Nov, 2014 10:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very beautiful sword; so no flaws as the recently occured ones? Well i hope Albion gets back on track fast; or do we really have a problem with Albion Europe here?!

Hi Bill; you here too?
Big Grin
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William Swiger




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Holger Mahling wrote:
Very beautiful sword; so no flaws as the recently occured ones? Well i hope Albion gets back on track fast; or do we really have a problem with Albion Europe here?!

Hi Bill; you here too?
Big Grin


I am here as well as several other forums. Some weapons and other subject type ones.

I think in any production market, there will always be the rare ones that slip through quality control. Even happens to the pillars of the industry. The way these mishaps are handled is important and Albion will provide excellent customer service to take care of the "rare mishaps" that might occur. To my knowledge, there is no systemic quality issues with Albion.

Another point is these swords have a lot of hand finishing and will not be a perfect sword. I have over 28 Albion swords, numerous others from customs, A&A, ATRIM and the list goes on. You have seen my collection in person and I can say I do not own a perfect sword. I am not sure there is such a thing.

I have only purchased one sword from Albion Europe and it was fine. I personally do not think the Albion Europe swords are "seconds" by any means.

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Michael Couture




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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 12:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Question: what do you think of the grooves on the bottom of the pommel? From looking at pictures I have always thought they look a bit odd and out of place. Personally I would have picked something quite different for the bottom (but then again, what do I know?).

How do they look in person?
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Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
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PostPosted: Tue 18 Nov, 2014 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think they look good in person. Like you...I was not sure and in fact, the funny thing is the Sempach was NOT a sword I liked really much at all when I first discovered Albion. It was like the complete opposite of sword type I usually go for. But as my collection, knowledge and interest grew these long and thin, highly tapered swords began to become more appealing. The pommel was one of several things about the sword I used to not like about this model, but I have one now and I honestly have done a 180 degree flip. I still like broader cutting type swords more, as a general rule, but this Sempach, including the pommel has a very interesting appeal, for me anyway. It certainly is a unique pommel shape and decoration style.

This may sound weird in describing a sword that was popular 600 year ago...but the Sempach's pommel and overall look almost has a futuristic look to it, if that makes any sense. Maybe like an Art Deco vibe....600 years before its time Wink

But to answer your question...those grooves do actually work with the overall style of the sword IMO.

Also...I feel like I have seen examples of that pommel design with those grooves from a historical sword(s), but I can't find any pictures of it now.

The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
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Ryan Renfro




Location: Reno, NV
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Nov, 2014 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bryan Heff wrote:
Also...I feel like I have seen examples of that pommel design with those grooves from a historical sword(s), but I can't find any pictures of it now.


The Great Ouse sword of this type now at the FitzWilliam has three parallel grooves on either side of the peen, but no perpendicular ones.
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J. Hargis




Location: Pacific Palisades, California
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PostPosted: Wed 19 Nov, 2014 4:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had the Sempach and the Landgraf under consideration for awhile so it's timely to see the Sempach scoped out here. Certainly a looker.
Fine review Bryan, thanks.

Jon

A poorly maintained weapon is likely to belong to an unsafe and careless fighter.
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Jimi Edmonds




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PostPosted: Wed 19 Nov, 2014 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Awesome, nice pictures. I really like the look of this sword. Hopefully I'll have a red gripped Sempach within the next couple of months. I'm looking forward to comparing it with my (Masetro) Liechtenauer in terms of handling from blunt to sharp.
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