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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Wed 08 Sep, 2021 12:40 pm    Post subject: Valiant Craftsman Suontaka Sword - not your father's Valiant         Reply with quote

Valiant Armoury Craftsman Series Suontaka Sword

Introduction

Valiant Armoury is a small Texas company run by Sonny Suttles, currently with his son Zach. They first created a niche for themselves selling swords with Asian-made blades (which are OK for what they cost, but not refined) fitted with their own grips and scabbards (which for my money are the best value on the market). More recently they have taken Ďa stabí toward the higher end production market, with what they call their Ďcraftsman seriesí. These swords are forged and finished by Sonny and/or Zach themselves and approach A&A and Albion in price, albeit usually with a scabbard thrown in as well. The question is, are their higher end swords worth the money, and can they compete in this range of the market?

The Valiant Suontaka Sword.

The Suontaka sword is one of the best known, and often replicated Viking/Medieval age swords. It was found in the last century in Finish grave site, attached to a womanís grave, although a very recent study disputes the latter (https://www.utu.fi/en/news/press-release/weapon-grave-of-suontaka-hattula-in-finland-reveals-flexible-gender-roles-in-the ). The sword, dated to ~1100 AD, has hollow bronze fittings and a wide blade that seems to taper rapidly toward the end toward a highly corroded tip. As noted above, it has inspired many recreations, from entry level Asian-built swords to high-end production and custom pieces. However, I have never seen an exact replica, in particular most have avoided the bronze grip.

Iíve had an eye on tis piece for a while. Valiantís initial version was coupled to one of their Asian-built blades that only generally approximated the original blade. More recently they came out with a craftsman series version, which might be the priciest production item in the line. I ordered one late 2019, but there were various delays related to outsourcing the bronze castings. Sonny was upfront about this and apologetic. However, things came together this year and the piece arrived, with scabbard, on my doorstep several months ago. I chose the leather colours based on Valiantís extensive online catalog.

Overview and Statistics.

The Valiant version appears to follow the proportions and decorations fairly closely. One exception is the grip, where they have gone with a leather-covered wood grip and centre bronze ring, and I assume the castings are solid because they feel quite heavy. Like the original, it has a type X blade (Geibig type 3?) combined with a Petersen type AE hilt. The speculative tip is quite pointy, reasonably following the curvature of the edges and contour of the fuller terminus.

Statistics (in inches unless otherwise indicated):

Overall length: 36-3/8
Blade length / width: 30 / 2-3/16
Fuller length / width: 27-1/4 / 1-1/8
Blade thickness near guard / end of fuller ~4.5mm / ~2.5mm
Guard / pommel width: 5-1/2 / 2-5/8
Grip length: 3-3/8
Weight: 2.6 lbs
Centre of Gravity: 4
Proximal / Distal pivot points: ~ 26 / 7 from blade tip.
Distal harmonic node (optimal striking point): ~11 from tip
Proximal harmonic node: at guard

Fit and Finish

Valiant did a great job on the blade: the lines have a very organic, curvilinear look. Hand-made, but clean. The wide fuller (hard to do) is very well executed without wavers. The tip is a flat lenticular. The edge will cut paper and has no secondary bevel. The finish is very smooth, with a final polish grade slightly coarser than Albion. It has a few faint scratches, but nothing worth commenting on. The bronze castings are very nice, capturing the original design and dimensions with no edge burrs and minimal pitting. The quality of the grip (with two risers and overwrap impression) and scabbard are Valiantís usual standards, with designs worked into the latter to match the hilt. My only nit-picky complaint is that the scabbard chape, although nicely designed to match, looks somewhat bulky and, being pressure fit to the leather, can and does fall off.

Handling

At 2.6 pounds, not a lightweight, this sword has a very solid, authoritative feel to it but at the same time is very maneuverable. Chalk that up to the heavy hilt, relatively near CoG for a Viking sword, and low mass near the tip. The acute tip is relatively easy to aim by Viking age standards. The grip is short (although long by type AE standards) but is very comfortable due to both guard and pommel curving away from the hand. It works well with both a hammer and handshake grip (pistol gripping the flat guard is possible but not necessary). Transitioning between grips is easy, although one feels the square edges of the bronze. It almost handles as well as, e.g., a later Oakeshott type XIV sword. I canít comment on the durability of cutting performance of the blade but have no reason to expect it wouldnít do well in that department, especially in the thrust compared to most type X blades.

Overall, this is one of the best handling of the various Viking swords Iíve owned, and the best of the few AE variety Iíve handled.

Overall Conclusions

Was it worth it? Hell yeah! IMHO this is a beautiful sword, 9/10 on historical accuracy, and great handling to boot, if you like a meaty Viking sword. Iím proud to display it among my current Albion and Custom Viking swords, and keep it close by for dry handling whenever I get the chance. Well done Valiant!



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Jeff Cierniak




Location: NE United States
Joined: 17 Sep 2020

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Sep, 2021 5:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

whaaaaaaaaaaat

Beautiful, man!
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Jeremy V. Krause




Location: Buffalo, NY.
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Sep, 2021 6:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thatís a handsome sword. The tip section is especially nice- along with the hilt decorations- of course.
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Sep, 2021 10:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

More and more, Valiant is becoming a good alternative to Albion.

Very well done on this one, congrats. Keep me in mind if you ever need to move it along. Happy

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Tue 14 Sep, 2021 2:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks guys. Patrick: I will keep you in mind, but I don't plan to move this one any time soon.

By the way, the reason for the odd smirk in the last picture was that I was trying to look fierce but couldn't keep a straight face. Happy
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Carl W.




Location: usa
Joined: 07 Aug 2008

Posts: 171

PostPosted: Sun 19 Sep, 2021 7:55 am    Post subject: Re: Valiant Craftsman Suontaka Sword - not your father's Val         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:

Valiant did a great job on the blade: the lines have a very organic, curvilinear look. Hand-made, but clean. The wide fuller (hard to do) is very well executed without wavers.


Thanks very much for the full review. Picked out above as Extra Nice. Congratulations on a nice find.

Maybe missed but don't see it on Valiant's web site now.

Patrick got in first dibs on the sword but I still like that shield.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Tue 21 Sep, 2021 6:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Valiant Craftsman Suontaka Sword - not your father's Val         Reply with quote

Carl W. wrote:
J.D. Crawford wrote:

Valiant did a great job on the blade: the lines have a very organic, curvilinear look. Hand-made, but clean. The wide fuller (hard to do) is very well executed without wavers.


Thanks very much for the full review. Picked out above as Extra Nice. Congratulations on a nice find.

Maybe missed but don't see it on Valiant's web site now.

Patrick got in first dibs on the sword but I still like that shield.


I think that Sonny only lists the sword when he thinks he can supply it. The availability of the sword is limited by their source of good quality bronze castings, which apparently is sporadic. If you want one, I suggest you get on the waiting list.
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Greg E




Location: Nebraska
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Sep, 2021 1:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow that is very nice. From my couch that looks like the best version of the original I have seen yet. I am colored green in my envy.
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J.D. Crawford




Location: Toronto
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PostPosted: Fri 01 Oct, 2021 9:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Greg E wrote:
Wow that is very nice. From my couch that looks like the best version of the original I have seen yet. I am colored green in my envy.


I researched this quite a bit before choosing Valiant.

Some of the higher end comparables are Albion Valkyrja (sold out, hard to find), Rob Miller / Castle keep (very pricey in the pattern weld version) and MacDonald Armory in UK (I'm not very familiar with them, but it looks nice). There are some more versions online and a few one-offs from various smiths, but the good ones tend to be quite expensive. The lower end ones (e.g., Darksword, Windlass) may be OK for people on a budget or casual collectors, but are not in the same ballpark.

For my money, the Valiant version offers excellent quality at a (relatively) reasonable price.
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