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Congrats you guys! Have a good time with the new sharpy pointy thingys...
I just received the Italian Cut and Thrust today, and thought I would share my first impressions. (Photobucket is giving me problems right now for some reason, so I'll try again later.)

After receiving, the box had to pass my security test. After sniffing it over my cat found no traces of bomb residue or drugs, so I was cleared to open it. I will be comparing it to my Hanwei Bone Handled Rapier because that's probably the closest I've got to a similar sword.

First impressions:
Firstly I should mention I have no real experience with this type of sword, antique or modern, so anything I say may be wildly off-base and due to my ignorance of what a sword like this should be.

The Italian Cut and Thrust is somewhat heavy, weighing in at 3lbs 6oz, or 1.53kg if you swing that way. (Swing, heheheh, see what I did there?) It balances at about 3", 7.6cm out. As a thrusting weapon my inexpert opinion is that this doesn't really matter much, but as a cutting weapon it feels like it is a little awkward. Part of this may be due to the hilt, which feels too thick (4", 10cm at its thickest part). On the other hand, the Hanwei is only about a 1/4" thinner at its thickest part, though this is in the middle rather than near the crossguard, which feels more natural to me. If it were sharpened I would expect this to do quite a bit more damage in a cut than the Hanwei Rapier, which is obviously quite fitting. Speaking of comparison, the Hanwei Rapier is more than a pound lighter at 2lbs, 3.5oz, with the PoB an additional 1/4" out. It is also longer, with a blade about as long as the entire Cut and Thrust.

Another point of interest: The side ring for the Cut and Thrust is tighter than the one for the Rapier, making it a tad more difficult to switch from simply gripping the hilt to fingering the cross. I find the easiest way to switch is to let the hilt slide forward in my hand and use the extra space this creates to slip my finger through.

In conclusion this seems a fine sword, but certainly handles differently than the more "sporty" Hanwei Rapier that arguably has been designed to handle too much like a modern fencing "weapon" than the real deal. I would think the heavier mass of the Cut and Thrust would allow one to more easily fend aside the Hanwei in a bind, and if you got past one another's points, the Cut and Thrust would be more effective with cutting action, as well as allow for some close-in half-swording that the Rapier would be ill-suited for. All in all, it is an interesting addition to my little collection and represents a sword type I am not very familiar with, so certainly something to experiment with.

Thanks again Nathan Robinson for this contest and Michael Quinlan for providing the prizes.

Oh, and P.S. If anyone knows about the sizing for the original piece's hilt dimensions, I'd be curious to know how they compare with this reproduction. I would theorize this piece suffers from "Big-Hand Syndrome", but history can be surprising.
You guys are SO lucky!
:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
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