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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
Joined: 16 Jun 2014
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Posts: 82

PostPosted: Tue 28 Apr, 2015 4:22 pm    Post subject: Just discovered... Armour Class Swords!         Reply with quote

I've been into swords for decades. Haunting museums, skulking about flea markets and estate sales and such. I am now at a point in life where I have discretionary money and more importantly, time to spare.
I've been collecting replica European swords for the past few years, and thanks to sites and forums such as this, I've picked up some quality pieces. All are functional, though some more than others and some are a lot of fun for backyard cutting and "air sword" play. I'm happy to say that I now have a couple of favorites that are TONS of fun and sturdy as heck.
I'm thrilled to have discovered swords from Armour Class of Scotland. I had heard of them through Kult of Athena and seen a couple of their older swords reviewed here, but KOA seemed to only have Armour Class on back-order and finding any place that consistently carried them was futile.
Since I wanted to find a good cutter and wasn't worried about displaying the sword, I ordered a blemished arming style sword. What I got was FUN, FUN FUN!
I don't claim to be a metallurgist but I am an engineer, so when I saw that the swords were made with EN45 steel (which I had never heard of) I looked up the specs and found that GM had started using that steel for some of their larger truck suspensions. The specs indicated that it behaved like or similar to 6150 steel.
The sword came very sharp, but a bit rough and had terrific balance at just over one inch from the guard. This is an ugly Betty if there ever was, but it's a great cutter and unless you're planning to display it as a showpiece, it looks fine at arms length.
Does anyone else have experience with Armour Class medieval European or Viking style swords? I really feel like I found a diamond in the rough, and I'd like to hear from you.....
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James Moore





Joined: 27 Jan 2011

Posts: 61

PostPosted: Tue 28 Apr, 2015 6:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

their sharps aren't particularly well-known, but their blunts for re-enactment are pretty much a go-to standard for medieval and ECW events in the UK, as well as basket-hilted swords for Jacobean era, and also pretty highly regarded for Viking age events, solely on the quality and durability of the blades. I've got a rather weathered old Viking hilted blunt of theirs from when I was re-enacting, that'll probably become an ancestral heirloom, not for its value, but just because its so tough!

They also do a smaller number of higher-end weapons ( a beautiful reproduction of the Mortuary sword of Oliver Cromwell is one of their highlights - properly gilded and blacked, not painted like hanweis' effort.) which are really impressive - sadly, their website is something that crawled out of the pre-Cambrian age, so I cant find nice pictures of it.


EN45's got a reputation over here for being an incredibly durable steel - I know that Armourclass, Tim Noyes, Paul Binns, JG Elmslie, Mark Vickers, Paul Macdonald and Rob Miller all use it in the UK, (and I think Tod's Stuff use it too - but cant remember for sure.). Of the re-enactment makers, Armourclass is the one that is best known, they've been doing it for 20 years or so now, using that one specific steel.

I know that both Leo Todeschini and JG Elmslie have used Armourclass' blunt blades for custom-hilted weapons as well in the past. And if thier heat-treatment is good enough for Tod's Stuff, Well, its good enough for me.


From what I've read, EN45's not a very tough steel - hardened to its hardest practical levels, its not nearly as hard as many of the tool steels used for knives, O1, D2 for example (hm. Is O1-D2 a knife-making droid in star wars, I wonder?) - but its extremely resilient to impacts, and has great shock absorbing qualities. All the sort of things you want in a sword blade, really.

As for Armourclass, well. myself? personally their basket hilts are brilliant, but their medieval hilts are ugly as sin, and really let down the quality of the blades.

So, sadly, despite praising their qualities, I would go to a better craftsman - Tod, Mark Vickers, or JG for a custom hilt, before buying another AC sword - but if I were buying on a tight budget that couldn't stretch to a custom job, they'd definitely be well up the list, above any of the Asian or ex-soviet bloc European makers. Though I'd also expect a wait - as a result of that reputation among the re-enactors, I understand orders are at least 6 months, and I've heard stories of people waiting years for them to finish custom stuff.
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Chad Arnow
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Apr, 2015 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We have two Armour Class swords on our Reviews page. I did one of them. Happy

My Cup and Ring baskethilt is a favorite. It's the oldest sword in my collection. Considering how ADD my collecting can be, it says something about the sword that it hasn't been sold.

I believe their basket hilt swords are the best non-custom basket hilts out there.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Ant Mercer




Location: Leeds, UK
Joined: 23 Jan 2007
Reading list: 13 books

Posts: 193

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2015 4:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Being in the UK, Armourclass are very well known over here. I have a couple of swords from them (blunt and sharp), and one on order.

Unfortunately, as James said, their website does not do them justice and could really benefit from an overhaul.

One thing that they donít advertise enough is their custom work. Not only do they offer options on stock items (leather/ ray skin grips, in different colours; with/ without wire-wrap; hilt blueing/ browning/ shiny/ matte; acid etching, etc), but they also make one-off custom pieces, and are more than happy to re-hilt existing blades if requested.

I recently requested that they re-hilt by Hanwei William Marshall sword, as I liked the blade, but didnít like the stainless fittings. They quoted a very good price and, as I had asked for a stock hilt to be fitted, got it turned around quite quickly. Iím currently in the process of re-wrapping the grip, but when Iíve finished Iíll post some pics.

I own one of their basket hilts (the ĎEarly Basket Hiltí Ė the cheapest one they do) and am very happy with it. I requested some changes from the stock version on their site: ray sking and wire wrap instead of leather; browned furniture instead of bright; and a leather half-liner for the basket. All were factored into the price, and didnít really add that much extra: something to consider if you fancy tweaking something youíve seen on their site.





The only thing that I might wish to change, if given the chance, is the blade. I requested a sharp, and received one, but to my mind the blade is a little narrow and thin, and is over-weighted by the basket. Iíd like to replace it with a broader, more meaty blade. Apart from that, though, itís lovely


Another thing worth mentioning is their waiting list. This can be quite long, but they are open about this from the time you order, and, in my experience, respond to e-mails very quickly if you feel the need to chase your order up.

Cheers,

Ant
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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2015 10:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I ordered a sharp Mary Rose-inspired sword from them, supplying exact measurements. After passing the due date I started chasing them and had to keep chasing them for a few months until I eventually got the sword... which was completely different to the stats I had sent them. It's not an awful sword, it's okay, but it wasn't what I ordered and it was a pain in the bottom to get it from them.
I had held a fairly low opinion of their standard swords for a few years, with their too-thin stock, resulting in floppy blades (on sharps), their standard cylindrical rather than oval grips, their weird grip ferrules at top and bottom that often don't fit with guard or pommel etc. However, I have seen some customs swords from them which were good, which is why I decided to take a punt with the Mary Rose type. I was gravely disappointed and wish I had gone to a different maker. These days I would not even think about buying from them, not for one second, especially when there are far better makers like Danelli Armouries, who make better swords for only slightly higher prices and more reliable waiting times.

Matt

Schola Gladiatoria - www.fioredeiliberi.org
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria
Antique Swords: www.antique-swords.co.uk/
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Matt Easton




Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK.
Joined: 30 Jun 2004

Posts: 238

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2015 10:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, also, their standard viking-era hilts are MASSIVE. Way longer than actual Viking-era hilts..... which sort of defeats the whole distinguishing feature of the Viking-era hilt.
In fairness to Armour Class, their shorter sharps, such as hangers, are okay. They don't suffer so much from the thin stock floppy blade effect because of course they are shorter. Their short broad medieval arming sword sharp is also functionally okay and cuts pretty well. But beg them to give you an oval grip instead of their retarded round grips if you must get one. Even better, buy elsewhere.

Schola Gladiatoria - www.fioredeiliberi.org
YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria
Antique Swords: www.antique-swords.co.uk/
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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
Joined: 16 Jun 2014
Likes: 22 pages

Posts: 82

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2015 11:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Great feedback! I'm not really concerned about the historical accuracy of the swords produced by Armour Class. I like the sword that I purchased because it's such a good cutter on the targets/media that I use. It's as I said : FUN

At the price of their production swords, I wouldn't expect great historical accuracy. The fact that the grip or hilt size of their Viking style swords is not a problem for me. The historically accurate Norse swords have short grips that aren't very comfortable for lengthy cutting sessions. I have a great sword from Arms & Armor that is as accurate historically and cuts great, but it cost three times as much as an Armour Class. (By the way... there is a great discussion on this site regarding how the Viking raiders might have gripped their swords)

From what I've seen of the back swords offered by Armour Class, some are works of art and true heirloom quality. But for the type of sword that I was looking for, many of their products are right on the mark.
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David Wilson




Location: In a van down by the river
Joined: 23 Aug 2003

Posts: 774

PostPosted: Wed 29 Apr, 2015 6:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I own two Armour Class basket hilted swords. I would not compare them to top-of-the-line custom-made swords, but it does say a lot when you own swords by those makers, yet still keep an AC or two around. They do miss some of the details of the originals, but overall they are very attractive, and handle excellently. I will say that the blade on one of my swords (A Stirling-style Diamond hilt) is odd, with a double-fuller that morphs into a single fuller further up the blade, and the blade is a bit thin and "whippy" (the other one, a backsword blade, is quite nice). I don't mind this so much, as the sword weighs and handles wonderfully, but then I haven't done a whole lot of cutting with it, so I may not be the best judge. I believe Chad's evaluation was correct when he said that the AC basket hilts are among the best non-custom basket hilts on the market.

I have handled an AC "Saxon" sword. Despite it's numerous historical flaws, it is one of the best-handling single-hand swords I've ever handled. So much so that I very nearly considered purchasing it, despite it's problems. It floats through the air, and seduces you to cut with it. That's how good it handles.

David K. Wilson, Jr.
Laird of Glencoe

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Mikko Kuusirati




Location: Finland
Joined: 16 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Apr, 2015 2:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have a custom Armour Class spadone waster, bought second hand through the Marketplace. At 140cm it's actually pretty small for a spadone, though still larger than anything else I own... and also one of the liveliest swords I own!

It's almost as heavy as the size would suggest, but the balance is such that if you grip it right up at the guard it's downright easy to wield even with one hand (although naturally the long grip does get in the way). The blade is extremely springy and plenty flexible enough to be perfectly safe for thrusts despite the considerable mass behind it - but only assuming a rubber tip and proper sparring gear! I already made a neat little hole in my pine wood floor when I put it up carelessly and it slipped off its wall hooks, falling from about a foot's height... It does feel quite weighty in motion, but in a good way where the mass and momentum help rather than hinder you. If it was a "real" sword, sharp and rigid, it'd be a real terror in open combat. It's wonderful.

The subtle tongue, the sophist guile, they fail when the broadswords sing;
Rush in and die, dogs -- I was a man before I was a king.
-- R. E. Howard, The Road of Kings
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Richard Miller




Location: Santa Barbara
Joined: 16 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Thu 30 Apr, 2015 1:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nice to hear from both Mikko and David and the rest as well. I'm particularly pleased to have read David's positive words about the handling characteristics of the Saxon Sword. I just ordered one and I hope to be able to post some comments about it in the not too distant future.
Armour Class is indeed quite up-front about the wait time for their products, so I'm not holding my breath. I'm sure that there will still be plenty of long days to do some destructive testing once I receive the sword.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Tue 05 May, 2015 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Best of luck doing the destructive testing... I've found them to be pretty tough.

Although when fully employed waving swords about as a job my main weapon of choice was made by Tim Noyes at Heron Armoury I owned many AC swords. I still have about 25 of various styles and types. I only ever had an issue with one, a big flake that came off a blade and they replaced it pretty quick. There is often variation in temper and that needs to be watched when buying weapons 2nd hand but both as workhorses they are fine and if you really sit in them for the bespoke stuff, pretty good and the best in that price bracket by far.

Currently working on projects ranging from Elizabethan pageants to a WW1 Tank, Victorian fairgrounds 1066 events and more. Oh and we joust loads!.. We run over 250 events for English Heritage each year plus many others for Historic Royal Palaces, Historic Scotland, the National Trust and more. If you live in the UK and are interested in working for us just drop us a line with a cv.
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