Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Darksword Armory : Current state of balance Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 9:02 pm    Post subject: Darksword Armory : Current state of balance         Reply with quote

I'm considering a purchase, and I'm wondering if anyone has up-to-date knowledge of Darksword Armory's quality where sword balance is concerned? There are lots of posts dating back more than a decade, that express concerns over practical 'authenticity' issues: Weight, balance, and so-on. I'm aware the armory discontinued any number of swords and updated many of them over the last ten, fifteen years. So I'm interested if anyone has up-to-date first-hand practical knowledge of their swords' balance and weight characteristics - someone who's involved in reenactment or role-play, so has had one in their hand for practical purposes of 'combat', rather than just evaluating one for their collection.

When I began research a few weeks ago, I was looking for a practical, well-enough balanced, single-handed, 'battle ready' sword, probably in 5160 steel, and being a close approximation of the Oakshott X blade. I prefer the Type VII crossguards, and those seem to tend to have Type-I or wheel pommels. Windlass actually make exactly that - the "Classic Medieval Sword" - but I get the feeling its balance isn't one of its features. I prefer these plain weapons to purported 'authentic copies', and as a historian I don't particularly care for the cheesy 'crusader' themed embellishment on many of them. I also prefer brown leathers, not black.

... and all that that led me to the Darksword Armory's Waylander blade. In time, perhaps the "Norman" from Albion. The Waylander says : "Superb balance helps this sword to feel light and responsive in the hand ..."

So, that's my question: Does anyone know where the balance quality sits at Darksword currently, and is this more marketing blurb than practical swordsmanship speaking?

------
For context, I wouldn't buy a purely decorative sword and I wouldn't buy one that was considered a 'beater', but had poor balance. I take the view that a 'beater' and a 'functional' sword purchase should have little practical difference where blade balance is concerned - if I can't rely on the blade to be practical to wield, then it isn't worth buying no matter how cheap it is. It can have 'cheap' finishing and a basic scabbard as long as its soundly forged and well balanced. In time I might well spend a couple of thousand on a high quality Albion, but the reality is that an Albion in the hands of an un-practiced swordsman isn't much more than a fancy club - it's like the guy at the range who bought a $4k Custom Les Bauer 1911, but can't hit the center round at 50 yards anyway. I've sport-fenced Foil and Sabre, so while I'm not a 'swordsman' in the reenact-er context, I do have some background with sporting/competitive sword play; enough to understand that embarking on an adventure with 'real' blades is pointless if all I get is a hunk of ambiguously balanced metal that screws-up my wrist. arm and shoulder learning how to use it.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Roger Hooper




Location: Northern California
Joined: 18 Aug 2003
Likes: 1 page

Spotlight topics: 4
Posts: 3,928

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 10:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There isn't much distal taper on that blade, which isn't a good sign -

http://kultofathena.com/product.asp?item=DSA1539BR
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 10:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm confused. You mention wanting something that is a close approximation of an Oakeshott Type X blade but you are looking at a Darksword Waylander sword (not a Type X). What's up with that?
.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 10:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's not easy to see the distal tapering properly, so that is a thought. I was viewing the product images at the maker's site though: http://www.darksword-armory.com/medieval-weap...nder-1539/

I think some of the reviewers on a re-seller site mentioned it being 'good' and the blade being well balanced and light.

But, the guesswork is why I thought I'd see if anyone has first-hand current experience of this maker's blades, and maybe this one. A dozen people can look at the marketing materials and have two dozen different opinions, but nothing can substitute for having had one in your hand,


Last edited by Richard W. on Sun 03 Sep, 2017 10:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan, don't get too confused Happy I described how I got started a few weeks ago, not where I ended up. The Waylander is perhaps closer to a Type-XVI blade, though it not being a 'replica' of anything specific, I'd hesitate to put my hand on my heart about what type it is. I think the "Classic Medieval Sword" at Windlass is a Type-X ... and that was how I got sidetracked looking at other Type-VII-like crossguard swords.

But let's not get hung-up on that: The question I asked was whether anyone had current Darksword Armory hands-on experience. I'm trying to find out if their balance characteristics have improved a lot from the decade-old questionable reviews. If someone's had a Waylander in their hands specifically, all the better.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Phil D.




Location: Texas
Joined: 23 Sep 2003
Reading list: 56 books

Posts: 590

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 11:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm with Nathan. That is NOT a type X plus in the same price range(and MUCH better quality) you should look at Valiant Armoury.
"A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world." -- Louis Pasteur

"A gentleman should never leave the house without a sharp knife, a good watch, and great hat."
View user's profile Send private message
Sam Barris




Location: San Diego, California
Joined: 29 Apr 2004
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 617

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 11:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you're just starting out, I wouldn't recommend even bothering with a sword yet. Instead, I would humbly suggest investing a smaller sum in a waster and some books, finding a good group to train with, and worrying about actual weapons a bit later.
Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
View user's profile Send private message Yahoo Messenger
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Sun 03 Sep, 2017 11:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard W. wrote:
Nathan, don't get too confused Happy I described how I got started a few weeks ago, not where I ended up.


Okay. Got it.

Richard W. wrote:
It's not easy to see the distal tapering properly, so that is a thought. I was viewing the product images at the maker's site though: http://www.darksword-armory.com/medieval-weap...nder-1539/


You can't really see distal taper in online photos. Roger mentioned that the sword doesn't have much based on Kult of Athena's measurements: Thickness: 4.6 mm - 3 mm

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,605

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 5:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Richard,

I also spent quite a bit of time on entry level swords before going to higher end products. The challenge you face is getting one that is reasonably historical accurate, and does not handle like a piece of rebar.

First, if this is your first sword and you plan to handle it I strongly suggest you stay away from sharps. Swords feel very awkward at first. You are liable to cut yourself or someone else until you get used to it and hopefully get some lessons. Second, as I guess you saw, the Kult of Athena site has statistics (including weight and distal taper) on all of the swords that would likely interest you.

Regarding Darksword: people around here don't like them because of questionable business practices, odd claims, and inconsistent customer relations. They are also a bit pricey, based on the controversial claim that they are hand forged in Canada. But looking objectively at what they have (using stats on K0H...I gave up on them a while back), the standard 'Norman' is an odd looking thing from historical perspective and as said above has little distal taper. Interestingly, the 'Norman Practice Sword' (a blunt) is much more historical looking and has a much stronger distal taper (7.3 mm - 2.7 mm). The 'XII practice sword' has the same blade (more like a transitional Xa-XII) but has a Brazil Not pommel, also reasonably accurate. Both are a bit heavy like many blunts, but should handle OK with that distal taper. I nearly bought one myself for practice a while back, except their web site said you could order in two blade styles, and when I ordered they said that was not true (!!!????). I'd put more trust in ordering from K0H.

Regarding Windlass Classic Medieval - there is nothing wrong with its handling for an entry level sword of this type: swords of this type (an Xa) are intended to be powerful choppers, not for fencing. In general Windlass is up and down from one model and even one piece to the next, so its better to look at them in person when buying.

Another brand to consider is Hanwei (especially the tinker line, some sharp, some blunt). I don't like their finish but this line has sweet handling properties from my experience, are lighter, and less expensive. Their new St. Maurice looks quite good in pictures and stats seem OK, although a long bladed one-hand sword (XI) is likely to challenge a beginner.

A bump up in price would be Valiant, which seems to have improved its statistics in the 'special edition' line (for example, see their 'Norman', which might be called an XIa. Although Its sharp.

Hope something there is helpful.
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Phil D. wrote:
I'm with Nathan. That is NOT a type X plus in the same price range(and MUCH better quality) you should look at Valiant Armoury.

For sure Phil, I know it isn't - see above.

Thx,

--R.


Last edited by Richard W. on Mon 04 Sep, 2017 1:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Barris wrote:
If you're just starting out, I wouldn't recommend even bothering with a sword yet. Instead, I would humbly suggest investing a smaller sum in a waster and some books, finding a good group to train with, and worrying about actual weapons a bit later.


While I certainly appreciate the thought Sam, this thread is only asking about current experience with DSA's blades. What I use for education and practice, that's a completely different subject with lots and lots of existing opinion threads for me to read through already, and a rabbit hole I'm trying not to go down here 😊
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi JDC,
Thanks very much for the observations. Very helpful.

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Dear Richard,
I also spent quite a bit of time on entry level swords before going to higher end products. The challenge you face is getting one that is reasonably historical accurate, and does not handle like a piece of rebar.


For sure. This is why I started with a survey of retailers now, making notes on whose blades they sold ... long task.

J.D. Crawford wrote:

First, if this is your first sword and you plan to handle it I strongly suggest you stay away from sharps. Swords feel very awkward at first. You are liable to cut yourself or someone else until you get used to it and hopefully get some lessons


As it happens, it's only my first medieval blade, but not at all my first real blade.

I was trying to avoid too much background narrative to prevent off-topic digressions, but perhaps I should give a little for the sake of anyone who might protectively feel the need to novice-coach from the touchline Happy

I've taught a number of Japanese martial arts since I was 15. For weapons practice my bag contained bokken, shinai, and wooden tanto, as well as shoto and at one time a subrito .. and a few knife analogues. I owned a sharp Katana/Wakizashi pair that was a gift from a Japanese friend I made when my Shodan was being registered at the Kodokan, so they came from Japan and I have no idea who made them. I never owned blunted versions for demo - I once saw a man lose an arm from the mid-forearm in a choreographed demo at an exhibition, when his partner should have been using a blunt blade that turned out to be a 'sharp'. He missed a step in the Kata, and at speed that's all it took. Japanese blades and the lack of armoring or use of lame, make live-blade demos a more hazardous proposition than European blades, where it is more customary to also wear period armament. The incident left a lasting impression and I never did bladed demos at all as a result.

I fenced foil and sabre, and a little epee. Even won some tin at foil after I first did the FIE Bronze Award. My training kitbag had various Leon Paul (European maker) products - basic weapons as well as electric for competition. I owned a blunted Italian swept-hilt rapier, which it turned out had poor balance and couldn't well be used for demonstrations - too point-heavy, made my forearm ache after a while. I tried a few others, but the only sharp-blade rapier I owned was a European made Spanish Cup Hilt. Nice balance, very simple design, very easy to spar with in a 'heavy' lame underjacket/plastron for demo's.

In both cases we use representational 'weapons' as training tools and I have a few decades of experience as a competitor in weapons and weaponless combat arts.

These older medieval weapons are somewhat new territory, but the path to technical competence is familiar. Obviously, I'll have similarly representational training 'weapons' to learn swordsmanship, form and technique. But I don't need the same "take a few years" before deciding if I'll probably own a blade. That said, a blade, blunt or otherwise, is a process of armory education and choice, which is what this thread is part of.

J.D. Crawford wrote:

Second, as I guess you saw, the Kult of Athena site has statistics (including weight and distal taper) on all of the swords that would likely interest you.


I hadn't noticed the stats at KoH until this morning ("Thickness: 4.6 mm - 3 mm"), so I'll go back and look at a number of blades for comparisons.

J.D. Crawford wrote:

Regarding Darksword: people around here don't like them because of questionable business practices, odd claims, and inconsistent customer relations. They are also a bit pricey, based on the controversial claim that they are hand forged in Canada. But looking objectively at what they have (using stats on K0H...I gave up on them a while back), the standard 'Norman' is an odd looking thing from historical perspective and as said above has little distal taper. Interestingly, the 'Norman Practice Sword' (a blunt) is much more historical looking and has a much stronger distal taper (7.3 mm - 2.7 mm). The 'XII practice sword' has the same blade (more like a transitional Xa-XII) but has a Brazil Not pommel, also reasonably accurate. Both are a bit heavy like many blunts, but should handle OK with that distal taper. I nearly bought one myself for practice a while back, except their web site said you could order in two blade styles, and when I ordered they said that was not true (!!!????). I'd put more trust in ordering from K0H.


The advice on KOH has been helpful - I hadn't been aware that they were well regarded as a source and I tend to lean towards 'horses-mouth' purchasing rather than middle-men, so I might have missed that otherwise.

I'll give it a few more days to see if any current/recent DSA purchasers can offer an update on their handling characteristics, but perhaps silence is as much a measure of feedback as anything.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 1,605

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 2:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Please excuse my assumptions. You might get more feedback on DSA at the 'Sword Buyer's Guide' forum. They have their fans. (Not so much here where the focus is on historical accuracy.)
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 3:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Please excuse my assumptions. You might get more feedback on DSA at the 'Sword Buyer's Guide' forum. They have their fans. (Not so much here where the focus is on historical accuracy.)


Oh, hey, nothing to excuse. You were really helpful. Forums are notoriously challenging when it comes to keeping folks on-topic and getting an answer, right?! Already at least half the replies to this one were off-topic with honest protective 'novice' advice, so I figured I better give the narrative background to try keep it on-point. It's a risk because there are always folks who don't read your actual question before firing off 'replies' that might be 'true' about some aspect, but aren't pertinent, right Happy

So, no worries, and thanks for the pointer to the other forum. I'll give it a read and we'll see.

--R.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Johannes Zenker





Joined: 15 Sep 2014

Posts: 77

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Considering the rather pronounced profile taper of the Waylander I'd say a 4.6 to 3mm distal taper over the rather short blade should be adequate enough. It's the combination that matters, after all.

For context: Maciej Kopciuch's marvelous Marienburg Longsword (http://artofswordmaking.com/gallery/marienburg-longsword-late-14thc) only goes from 4mm at the base (measured by yours truly a minute ago) to 2.5mm near the tip. Both have similar profile taper. I've fallen so much in love with the Marienburg Longsword that I've commissioned a blunt version with Maciej to emulate the handling of the sharp for training and light sparring.
View user's profile Send private message
Richard W.




Location: Ohio
Joined: 03 Sep 2017

Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Johannes Zenker wrote:
Considering the rather pronounced profile taper of the Waylander I'd say a 4.6 to 3mm distal taper over the rather short blade should be adequate enough. It's the combination that matters, after all..


You may be right Johannes. To be honest, the reason I asked for feedback from recent purchasers, or those with recent with hands-on, was because there are always conflicting opinions when making educated guesses from just data at-hand. I've bought enough equipment in life that _should_ be fine, and wasn't once it was in my hand, that I do try to get first-hand accounts if I can.

After I read about the properties of these old swords I couldn't help see the similarities with Fluid Dynamics and Harmonics in aerodynamics. It's absolutely over-thinking the problem, but I'm an engineer so that's an occupational hazard, so I did wonder briefly why there wasn't a Type-norm treatise on blade profiles & stats/use-objective, and their optimal performance.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Tom King




Location: florida
Joined: 11 Sep 2009
Likes: 2 pages

Posts: 428

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At the 500 mark you have much better options. Most of their lineup is the same from when I had my first and last DSA and the only other person I know with one has never been happy with his either. The swords have no flex, poor balance, very overweight, no distal taper, and usually don't have a straight line or seam on them. The Scabbards do not fit the swords and are very crude once you have one in your hand with pretty poor leather quality. Grips are executed wrong; it's a proper cord wrapped grip yet the leather is not taut to the twine underneath. Their calling card of "durability" is... debatable... as well.

https://customswordshoppe.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=60&product_id=73
for less money you can get this. A true Type X properly executed with excellent scabbards and grips, a great cutting blade, and American made (versus allegedly forged in canada...)

https://www.facebook.com/Valiant-Armoury-Custom-Sword-Shoppe-105805759496056/
high res photos of most of thier models are available on their facebook page. Valiant Armory has been around for quite a while and has a very good, transparent, track record of producing excellent swords and scabbards.

Valiant Armory, Many of the new Hanwei Western swords, Del Tin (an old yet solid name in the sword community despite being a bit hefty), Arms&Armor, or a Albion Squire Line sword would serve you much better as a proper entrance into hema
View user's profile Send private message
Nathan Robinson
myArmoury Admin


myArmoury Admin

PostPosted: Mon 04 Sep, 2017 10:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I had the opportunity to handle a few models this last year. A couple of them were newer models and one model that's no more than a couple years old. I was not impressed with any of them. Overall, the fittings were poorly designed, having poor shapes, proportions, and weights. The dynamic properties were not very good for any of them with the 14th century sword being the worst. The Norman practice sword was probably the best of the lot.

There are better options out there. That's about all I'm gonna say.

That's my opinion. Mileage varies.

.:. Visit my Collection Gallery :: View my Reading List :: View my Wish List :: See Pages I Like :: Find me on Facebook .:.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
Joined: 29 Nov 2006
Reading list: 7 books

Posts: 2,689

PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 1:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since the DSA sword is already over $400, maybe you'd like to consider Albion's Squire Line 13th century sword instead at $479 or so. The $70-ish gap translates to a pretty considerable improvement in balance, fit, and finish.
View user's profile Send private message
Bryan Heff




Location: Philadelphia
Joined: 04 Mar 2012
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 358

PostPosted: Thu 07 Sep, 2017 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As others have mentioned, you can do better. For what ever reason there is a fan base...even after thread after thread after thread has condemned Darksword for a number of reasons, you will still get plenty of people who are fans. I am not. For what they charge...you can do better. If you take all the drama and bad press out of the picture and start fresh right here and now, I still think they are overpriced for what you get. This is just my personal opinion.
The church is near but the roads are icy. The tavern is far but I will walk carefully. - Russian Proverb
View user's profile Send private message


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Darksword Armory : Current state of balance
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum