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Robert Morgan

Location: Sunny SoCal
Joined: 10 Sep 2012

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 4:44 pm    Post subject: Great Ouse River Sword         Reply with quote

Hi all,

Iím curious about the Windlass Great Ouse River Sword. Some have claimed that the weapon is whippy. However, I havenít seen many commentaries from those who have actually owned and handled the sword. However, a comparison of the Windlass offering with the prototype held in the Fitzwilliam Museum shows that while Windlass made the blade rather longer than the prototype, they also made it a centimeter wider, which may potentially combat a certain amount of flexibility and whippyness. The added length probably at least partially accounts for the Windlass swordís extra weight, which Oakeshott claimed was just over two pounds. Its interesting that Records of the Medieval Sword supplies a rather different weight for the prototype than the museum does.

Actual Windlass
Length overall 105.5 cm 117.475 cm
Length of blade 82 cm 91.44 cm
Blade width at hilt 3.7 cm 4.7625 cm
Weight 2.53 lbs 2.75 lbs

* dimensions taken from the Museum Replicas and Fitzwilliam Museum websites. Any imperial to metric conversion errors are my own.

So, Iím curious if anyone has actually handled the Windlass sword, and what their direct observations on it are. Iíd be using it for HEMA training in my backyard were I to acquire one, so Iím perhaps less concerned with any perceived whippyness than with actual handling. Iím also aware that Windlass didnít quite get the Type XVII blade quite correct in profile, but that isnít a huge concern given what Iíd be using it for; I wonít be hitting anyone or anything with it, just practicing guards and footwork. Iím predisposed towards simple, workaday weapons so the Great Ouse River Swordís simple lines appeal to me. Its on clearance over at Museum Replicas, so Iím wondering if I should get one while its available.

Thank you for any observations!

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J.D. Crawford

Location: Toronto
Joined: 25 Dec 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 7:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't have it but since no one else is responding I'll give it a shot.

There's a youtube review here:

You will also find more stats on the Kult of Athena web site. The point of balance is just over 3"

I owned quite a few Windlasses in the past. The 'whippiness' problem result from them using 4mm stock from most of their swords (including this one) combined with a flexible temper. That is fine on some types of shorter swords but does not provide enough support for a longer blade and is not appropriate for a type like this which is intended to be very stiff for thrusting. The commentator above notes that it has some problems with thrusting, which is kind of a deal breaker if you are looking for an historically accurate thruster. I don't know precisely, but off hand one would think an XVII ought to have have a blade about twice this thickness.

You say you don't care about contact but want good handling. Based on the profile and PoB this one should be very easy to handle. But it would not feel like an original.

For what its worth, I also think its attractive and looks decent for the price. Can't think of any other XVIIs at this price point.
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Matthew P. Adams

Location: Cape Cod, MA
Joined: 08 Dec 2008
Likes: 8 pages

Posts: 462

PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If it were my money I'd look at the Hanwei Tinker Longsword.
"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Robert Morgan

Location: Sunny SoCal
Joined: 10 Sep 2012

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Windlass gives its width as 3/16" if I'm reading their site correctly. I'm not seeing a blade thickness spec here at the Fitzwilliam's site:;oid=18841

There was another Youtube video that seems to have disappeared showing a man chopping and hacking small palms and such with the sword, making me wonder if it isn't slightly better as a cutter than advertised. It looks like Windlass didn't quite replicate a proper Type XVII blade, as it doesn't have the hexagonal profile that the type used, which may account for the blade's flexibility. WIndlass may have used a regular old piece of oval or flat stock and then shaped and fullered it. Hmmm...

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William Swiger

Location: Reston, VA
Joined: 23 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 10:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have owned many MRL/Windlass swords over the years. Some were pretty good for the price and I have kept them in my collection.

The sword you are asking about had a brief stay at my place before I passed it on. The blade on mine was not stiff at all which for the type was a big negative for me. As an example, placing the tip against a thin cardboard box and pushing just resulted in the blade flexing. It did not perform much better with actual thrusting.

I would also like to mention that I have owned more than one of the same sword from Windlass with variations in blades. One example was the now discontinued Baron sword. The first one had a very flexible blade. I sold it but ended up buying another one on sale that had a very stiff blade.

Non Timebo Mala
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Robert Morgan

Location: Sunny SoCal
Joined: 10 Sep 2012

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Wed 25 Feb, 2015 11:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all or the ideas and suggestions. I wound up ordering one from KOA. I hadn't intended to, but then it vanished from the MRL sale page so I thought there might not be another chance. Anyway, I plan to use it solely as a training sword so even if its not perfect, it should get the job done.

Thanks again,

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Robert Morgan

Location: Sunny SoCal
Joined: 10 Sep 2012

Posts: 90

PostPosted: Wed 04 Mar, 2015 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Okay, mini-review time! She showed up earlier today and I've been dry handling her indoors, just doing the few guards I'm capable of (ortho surgery, so try to imagine sitting on a couch arm while handling the sword; no actual footwork). This is a quickie first impression run-down. My impressions may change after I'm able to actually get up and practice with it properly, but as I'm out of work for another two months due to injuries, it'll be a little while. I've wanted this sword for long time solely because I just love the looks of it, so when Windlass put it on clearance I got worried. When it disappeared from their website, I grabbed one from Kult of Athena. By the way, props to KOA. The sword and two books arrived well-wrapped in a large cardboard box, well-protected.

Back to the sword... This thing is light! Really light! I can see this gal being a great training and dry practice sword when all alone in my yard. It moves well, and I can tell that even while sitting down and handling the weapon at very low speed, it seems to go just where I want it to. The weapon is lightning fast and active in the hands. My Great Ouse River Sword was unsharpened, but beware the tip, which is potentially lethal, another reason this will simply be a dry practice sword for me.

As Savage Survivor stated in his Youtube video review, its whippy like a well-balanced fishing rod, and that's a perfect description. I actually don't think the whippyness is untenable, especially for a training sword. I tried the bend test, placing the tip on the ground in a nice cushioned cloth and then seeing how easily the blade would bend - not to breakage or anything like that, just a small deflection to see how readily it flexed. The answer - it flexed pretty easily, but only the area near the tip, about where the fuller ends and the diamond cross section begins. From studying the sword's dimensions with the prototype's published dimensions, Windlass actually overbuilt some of the blade, while admittedly getting the blade profile incorrect. That may account for the lack of flex for the first two thirds of the blade, where its actually reasonably stiff; its actually wider than the prototype, while lacking the Type XVII's characteristic hexagonal cross section. However, they also made the blade slightly too long, which also may account for the blade flex's location. Were the blade the correct length, the flex would doubtless be reduced.

I also wonder if the reason the Type XVII wasn't as popular nor long-lived as some other types was because the smiths experienced difficulties making the blade as stiff as desired. Oakeshott mentions that many Type XVIIs are heavy and uninspiring to handle, and this may due to the smiths overbuilding the blade to introduce more stiffness, and in the process creating a heavier, less lively sword. Just an idea.

The grip is interesting, a brown leather with what is likely some sort of a cord wrapped underneath. You can really feel it underneath the leather, but it doesn't feel bad, Actually, it makes the grip feel more solid against my palms, and seems to make the grip more "attached" in the hands. I may change my view a couple of months from now when I'm actually able to do more with the sword, but for now, it feels fine.

The bottom line - if you enjoy stout, stiff blades this sword isn't for you. However, if you enjoy lighter, snappier blades and aren't put off by the flex, then this sword may be for you, especially of you're going to use it for training purposes. I ran across a Youtube video (since taken down) last year showing this sword sharpened and its owner happily cutting down shrubs and small palms with it with one stroke, so there's no doubt that it can function as a mean cutter. As a thruster, the flex may very well make the sword less ideal. I wonder how this blade would perform with a small ricasso, or the proper blade profile? Probably much stiffer, and more like the prototype which Oakeshott stated handled beautifully.

Anyway, that's about it for now. Thank you again for all of the suggestions and pointers.

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