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Ant Mercer




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

Posts: 194

PostPosted: Wed 02 Aug, 2017 5:19 am    Post subject: Kingmaker Vs Burgundian         Reply with quote



Overview

NB: For a better Kingmaker review than mine, please visit here: http://myArmoury.com/review_alb_king.html

Many of Albion’s swords share the same blade. The Norman and the Senlac share a type Xa; the Oakeshott and the Chevalier share a Type Xa; the Alexandria and the Principe a XVIIIc; the Kingmaker and the Burgundian share Albion’s very nice hollowground Type XVIII…
By combining blades with different hilt styles, the customer gets a little bit of choice when they’re looking to make a purchase, and a couple of different options aesthetically. But is the look of the sword the only thing that changes?





I have always liked hollow-ground blades. When I say ‘always’, I mean since I first visited Albion’s website in 2004 and saw their offerings. In those days, hollow-ground blades were a rarity in the production sword market, and good hollow-ground blades were like birds’ teeth. When I saw Albion’s Kingmaker, I fell in love and it immediately became the model I coveted above all others.
It wasn’t to be mine, though, until a good 12 years later when I saw one come up for sale on these forums. I snapped it up, and was very pleased that I did!
However, a few months later, I found that my tastes have changed, and that whilst I still enjoy the beauty of the blade and its classic proportions, the love I am feeling nowadays is really directed to bigger, broader blades. I therefore decided that I would try my luck and put it up for trade on the off-chance that something a bit different might crop up...

...Strictly speaking, nothing did, so I instead ended up part-trading it for the very similar Burgundian!

When I received the Burgundian it left me with a short window of time in which I had the opportunity to compare and contrast these two very similar swords before sending the Kingmaker off to its new owner. Fun times!



[NB: ignore the rust on the Burgundian - it was superficial and polished off as good as new in a couple of minutes.]

Stats





You can tell by the stats that these swords are very similar indeed. Frankly it’s to be expected, as they do share the same blade. However, there were some differences between them which might help to justify the different price-tags and help a buyer decide whether to choose owning one over the other.
A little caveat, though: the numbers above shouldn’t be taken as absolutes. I was only using a steel rule and cheap set of callipers, so the numbers might not necessarily match up… I tried my best, though!

<TO BE CONTINUED...>
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Ant Mercer




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

Posts: 194

PostPosted: Wed 02 Aug, 2017 5:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

<...CONTINUED>

Handling Characteristics
Kingmaker:
This sword is light and just seems to float in the hand. It certainly feels lighter than the stats would suggest, hinting at the skill that must have gone into its design. The blade is nimble and flows from guard to guard, with very little stress being put on the arm, and flicking cuts from the wrist are entirely possible with very little fatigue.
The only tiredness I start to feel is in my hand: I don’t think that I have massive paws, but they certainly feel big on this grip, and I feel that my grip isn’t as secure as it could be, at least when swinging the sword bare-handed. I put this down to the grip being tapered and slim. A pair of gloves – even thin leather driving gloves – improves things, but the narrowness of the grip still means that I struggle keeping it secure without tiring myself out. Fingering the guard certainly helps with this, and, indeed, it might be how this blade/ grip combination was intended to be held, as the point of balance being closer to the guard results in this being the most thrust-oriented of the two, and fingering the guard does make for better point-control and -alignment.







Burgundian:

According to the stats, you wouldn’t necessarily think this sword would behave much differently to its sister. However, the differences are greater than the numbers might suggest.
For a start, this is not by any means a heavy sword. It still flows nicely from guard to guard; it recovers easily from cuts from the shoulder, arm, and wrist; it is neither clumsy nor clunky – but it does swing with a little more authority and heft.
This authority is carried through in the cut, and is assisted by the grip’s design. Whereas the Kingmaker leaves my hand over-clenched, the Burgundian’s grip is a different story altogether. It is thicker, and it is hexagonal. I find this shape fills my hand just a little bit more than the Kingmaker’s, and allows for easier edge-alignment. The pommel shape means that it segues smoothly from the grip, and results in an extra inch or so before it could possibly come into contact with your wrist. Some people who have trouble accommodating a disc pommel when extending into the cut or fingering the guard might find this pommel a bit more accommodating.



Fit and Finish

Blade:
As can be seen from the measurements and the pictures, the blades on these two swords really are identical! There’s nothing between them. Even where the stats suggest a disparity, these can be accounted for by allowing for my measurements being slightly off one way or the other!
Both blades are beautifully evenly tapered, with a nicely-centred ridgeline free of wobbles.
Despite being familiar with the sword for a long time before buying, it still came as a surprise when I saw how narrow the blades were at the base: not quite two inches, in a world where a 2-inch-broad-base on a production sword seems to be quite the norm. Even to me, however: someone who loves a broad-bladed sword; the proportions of both the Kingmaker and the Burgundian are still beautiful and well-matched. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I wouldn’t have liked a beefier 2.5-2.75” blade on them, though!



Although both swords exhibit the standard satin polish we have all come to know and appreciate from Albion, in certain light and at certain angles, progressive ‘ribbed’ grind marks left over from the hollow-grinding can be seen on both of them. It looks worse in these photos than it does in real life, however, as I was trying to catch the marks just right.



Each of the blades demonstrates a strong secondary bevel right on the edges. This is a historically accurate feature of hollow-ground blades, intended to give an otherwise fragilely thin edge more meat and strength where it matters. Both swords exhibit it, and in both cases it is done well and evenly.

Both swords are sharpened to the same level of sharpness; i.e. just below paper-cutting sharp. There is still much controversy on the ‘net about what actually constitutes an acceptable edge on swords, with some arguing that a sword should be razor-sharp; and others raising the point that a sword is not a knife, and its edge needs to be more robust and able to cope with harder targets… I feel that the keenness of a sword’s edge is dictated by the type of sword we’re talking about. As such, the edges on these swords are perfectly acceptable.

Cross:
The Kingmaker’s cross is a graceful ribbon arcing towards the blade as it tapers out both in thickness and width from a nicely decorated escutcheon.
The upper side is flat, whereas the lower side is subtly triangular. The central ridge of this triangle is nicely centred with no wavering. The castings are clean with no flaws except for a little bit of roughness where the arms transition to the terminal knobs.



The pictures make the blade slot look larger and rougher than it does in real life. As far as I can remember, I had no complaints about the fit and finish of the blade slot. Any roughness that there was wasn’t obvious, and the gap between cross and blade was really quite narrow. I imagine that it must be difficult getting this aspect of the cross neat and tidy, given the dimensions and shape of the lump of steel you’re working with.

Although the Burgundian’s cross may look like a simple straight guard, it’s a lot more complex than at first glance. There are lots of lines, flares, planes and tapers – enough to satisfy even me – with the ends of each arm terminating in small flared fishtails which complement the pommel. This in itself makes the cross relatively unique, as pommels and crosses weren’t usually matched up like this.
The blade slot is nice and neat – marginally neater than that of the Kingmaker, which might be expected given that the Burgundian’s quillon block is flat on this surface.



Grip:
As mentioned above, the grips on these swords differ in shape and width. Both grips are well done. Although you can see the skived seems on each, they are not obvious. Perhaps more so on the Burgundian, but that’s just what you get with it being a lighter colour.





Both grips exhibit three risers – one on each end, and then a central riser. I enjoy central riser(s) on grips, I find they give more traction and help to fill the hollow of the palm more.
Both grips also have had the cord over-wrap treatment which we’ve all come to expect from Albion. This, again, gives the otherwise potentially slippery leather more texture and traction. There are differences between the two wraps, though, as the cord used on the Kingmaker appears to be a grade finer/ thinner than that used on the Burgundian. Aesthetically it’s hard to tell unless you have the swords side-by-side, but there’s definitely a difference. I’m not sure if this is deliberate, or if they just happened to use a different cord on the day. I’d be interested to know.
I did wonder if the shape of the grip might dictate the choice of cord used? When I received my Viceroy with half-wire wrap, I was surprised to find that the leather of the lower portion of the grip hadn’t received the overwrap treatment. Apparently this is standard practice for half-wire wrapped grips. I didn’t expect it, though, so after much umm-ing and ahh-ing, I decided to try and over-wrap the leather portion myself. I used fine waxed threaded cord, but the problem was that even though the cord did leave an imprint on the grip where there were angles and edges; it wasn’t bulky enough to make a mark on the flat sides. Now, I’m wondering whether Albion have to use a thicker cord for their faceted grips than for their rounded ones, because that’s the only way to ensure that the cord makes secure-enough contact with all the planes of the grip…? Just a theory… 



Pommel:
I love the Kingmaker’s pommel: it is well-cast and well finished. It exhibits a wonderful distal taper as it moves away from the grip, lending a fair bit of class and elegance to what could otherwise be a fairly dull pommel. The pommel is capped with a peen block: another elegant addition to a higher-class of sword. The peen is countersunk and polished flat with the block, making it almost invisible.



The only down-side to this pommel is how roughly the inside of the cavity has been left. I guess the owner could try to polish out any marks, but what would really set the pommel off, along with hiding any blemishes, would be the insertion of a coin or token into the hollow.



Now, the Burgundian’s fishtail pommel is what initially put me off the model way back in the 2000s. I must admit I wasn’t a fan of it: I found the pommel Type as a whole a little too fussy. Recently I’ve begun to appreciate it more on larger swords, but even though I have come to like the Burgundian, the one sticking point I have about it is the pommel.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s done nicely (I can find only 2 pin-prick-sized casting pits), and I can appreciate its functionality: it makes for a comfortable pommel, the ‘stem’ of the tail means that most of the mass is further away from the grip, and, in turn, your wrist. It’s very comfortable to grip in the off-hand, with all the edges nicely rounded off and smoothed out. I’m sure that after a while the functionality will trump its aesthetic appeal to me.
It’s thicker than I thought it would be: I thought it would be distally slimmer, but of course this would in turn have reduced the pommel’s mass.
The peen looks worse on the photos than it does in real life, especially now that I’ve given the mottled rust a bit of a clean up. Now it’s almost invisible. I’m especially impressed with this peen as it’s been done and polished within the groove left by the flukes of the ‘tail’ – something which wouldn’t have been as easy as on a peen block or on the outer curve of a disc.






Conclusion
I’m glad that I was in a position to handle both of these swords. Each of them exhibit Albion’s usual quality and class, and Albion still sets the standard in production swords. Fit and finish is equal across the board, as are measurements and – to a certain degree – handling. With them sharing the same blade – at different price points – it was interesting to make a direct comparison.
Ultimately, the final choice between these two swords is up to the buyer – you can’t go wrong with either.
I for one would be (and am!) happy to own either sword. If my goal was to own a beautiful sword which catches your eye whilst hanging on the wall, and is instantly recognised as a classic 15thC sword, then the Kingmaker would be my first choice. However, the more I handle the Burgundian, the more I appreciate its quirks as a practical fighting weapon. Not to mention the extra few quid in my pocket!

Cheers,

Ant


Last edited by Ant Mercer on Wed 02 Aug, 2017 3:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Gregory T Kallok




Location: Northern Virginia
Joined: 10 Jul 2017

Posts: 34

PostPosted: Wed 02 Aug, 2017 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well done review on 2 swords I haven't really considered. I agree about the thinness of some Albion swords grips. My Ghaddhjalts grip is thin in my Opinion but is fine with a glove. My hands are not overly large but with a glove on my hands fit is snug, bordering tight. I have a set of Clamshell Gauntlets I use for LARP, along with leather gloves and bracers. Holding the Ghadd is not possible which is disappointing. With my cheap bastard sword it's not a issue. My next Albion is a Munich in gothic and my Leather Clamshells, gloves and bracers will be ok. Anyhoo, great job on the review! Thank you for posting it. Now do one on the Munich and compare it to the Regent or one of the Museum line! LOL take care
Keep your nose in the Wind and your eye on the skyline.
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Peter Johnsson
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Location: Storvreta, Sweden
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Aug, 2017 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I enjoyed reading this review! Thank you for taking the time to reflect on so many subtle details in such a well considered fashion.
It is very useful for me as designer to hear what a dedicated sword enthusiast remarks on and values.

Good work!
:-)
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J. Nicolaysen




Location: Wyoming
Joined: 03 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Wed 02 Aug, 2017 6:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hey Ant, What a great review. I really appreciate the side-by-side and I think these are both very fine swords. Personally I also love the hollow-ground look but have not jumped on any sword with it yet. I have thought about both of these and your words help quite a bit. Would love to compare the A&A Henry V hollow ground with the Kingmaker to decide between those two. But the Burgundian has such great furniture. Very interesting that it is in some ways less quick than the Kingmaker, I would not have guessed. Thanks again.
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Ant Mercer




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

Posts: 194

PostPosted: Thu 03 Aug, 2017 5:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi All,

Thanks for your kind words, guys!


Gregory
– Yeah, I don’t tend to have many issues with grips in general. This one was a little too slim; and my fairly recent Type XVI from Mateusz also felt similarly narrow. I think it’s a personal thing really: everyone’s hands are different, and what might feel good to me might feel clunky to others. I’m glad that we’ve moved on from round, almost cylindrical grips of yesteryear though! I’d rather that grips be too slim than a tube!
Very happy to review any sword you’d like me to. I’ll PM you my address so you know where to send them to! Wink

Peter – thanks very much! Big Grin I don’t often contribute as much as others to this site, but I thought that having both swords at the same time for a little while was too good an opportunity to pass up, and might be useful to help other forumites decide between the two. Thanks for all your hard work designing them!

J – Cheers! I have also owned the A&A Henry V – one of the first ones that they did with the hollow-grind, I think. I ended up selling it a few years ago, though, otherwise a direct comparison would have been fun! I really liked the A&A, but it was quite a different type of sword, despite the similarities. From what I can remember, the Henry V was a bit more of a cutter. It was shorter and broader than the Kingmaker. Quite fast, but felt like it would be a beast if swung full-strength. I also didn’t appreciate its aesthetics quite as much – it felt like much more of a ‘working man’s’ sword; and there was a very short ricasso right at the base of the blade, where it met the cross. I think I read fairly recently that they’ve changed that on their current model, though, but don’t quote me! It was a good sword, and I wouldn’t mind owning it again.

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Aaron Hoard




Location: Seattle, WA
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Aug, 2017 6:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very nice review - thank you for posting.

I've always liked the Kingmaker because it's a great looking sword with a classic design. I had a chance to briefly handle both a few years ago and was surprised that I didn't like the handling of the Kingmaker as much as I was expecting. Equally surprising was how much I did like the Burgundian (a sword I hadn't really given much thought to up until then).

Both are nice swords, but that experience moved the Kingmaker off (or down) my wishlist and moved the Burgundian onto the list.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Thu 03 Aug, 2017 11:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Love it! Great detail in both text and pictures. I particularly like the picture of you holding both swords.
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Fri 04 Aug, 2017 4:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Love it! Great detail in both text and pictures. I particularly like the picture of you holding both swords.


Using the quote above as I have nothing original to add except that I also think that it's a great review with very good pic photography.

Oh, maybe one thing to add: I also find that some grips feel very very thin to me on some of my swords, I wonder if this is due to making them historically authentic/accurate ?

The thinner grips on my swords where made by makers who do know a lot about the historic dimensions, so there must have been a reason for making sword handle relatively thing in period. Question

Gloves used with swords .... maybe. Question Or smaller hands in period. Question

Maybe using a looser grip on the swords and depending on the large pommels to keep the swords from slipping out of the hand, or keeping a loose grip and only clenching the grip just at impact: What tires the hand with a slim grip is white knuckling it all the time, a more relaxed grip until impact might be a possibility. Question

Worse than a too thin a grip is a too fat grip I think. Exclamation

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Guillaume Vauthier




Location: France
Joined: 16 Jun 2016

Posts: 155

PostPosted: Sat 05 Aug, 2017 3:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Jean, and here is a personal example with my type XII (?) by Maciej Kopciuch. On this sword, the grip is quite thin compared with its width, as you can see here.

So when I hold the sword in a "hammer grip" fashion, naturally the grip is quite uncomfortable. But when I hold it using a more relaxed way, a sort of "handshake" grip, the control of the blade is very nice, and the grip rests very well in hand. A too fat grip would clearly be an issue, I think.

Personnaly I always preferred the Burgundian, and looking at your measures, I think that it is confirmed in my opinion. I like the crossguard shape, and this hexagonal grip looks awesome (I always loved them!). Your review and pics are pretty cool!
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Victor R.




Location: Spring, Texas
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PostPosted: Sat 05 Aug, 2017 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Enjoyed the side-by-side and hearing another's take on a sword I actually have - the Burgundian. It is one of three Albions I've gotten "direct from the source" - the other 5 were from fellow forumites - and one of only two single-handers in my collection. It is a favorite of my non-sword collecting friends because it "looks" like they think a sword should, and is easier to dry-handle than most of the rest.

Thanks for sharing!
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Greg Ballantyne




Location: Maryland USA
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PostPosted: Sun 06 Aug, 2017 5:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for posting this, Ant. Interesting and informative, and an enjoyable read.

Now if a similar opportunity would present itself to someone to do the same with the Laird and the Caithness....
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