Blade choice

I’m in the mood for some feedback this morning. I’m still a little sick, but feeling a lot better. An online conversation this morning got me thinking about my rapier. I love this blade. Chris Moone did the furniture on it, around a Del Tin bated rapier blade. He’s been fighting me for years, and paying close attention to how I fight. He noted the ways in which other handle types were not working for me, and incorporated some features that worked with the strengths of my fighting style.

You know a blade is perfect for you when it seems to disappear in your hand, and anyone else who picks it up instantly hates it. I absolutely love this blade. It’s changing my fight game in ways I don’t even know yet.

Over the years I’ve owned a lot of blades. I’ve used a dog-food bowl fiberglass simulator. I’ve used a lot of hanwei stock rapiers. I’ve owned three different Del Tin blades, all mounted with different hardware. I’ve handled hundreds of other swords. I’ve noticed people either love or hate their personal sword…but most people love them.

Tell me about your sword. What is it about your favorite sparring sword that you love, or hate? Sadly, WordPress seems to make it tricky to upload photos in comments, but feel free to link to pictures.

What’s the story of your sword?

21 Comments

  1. https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/320_29069446765_1421_n.jpg

    Both of my current swords. The lighter Gen 1 single wide, it’s time is near done. It’s whippy and too light versus many of the heavier blades out there. It gets pushed around and easily bullied.

    The other is my Del Tin bated in a Darkwood Ring hilt. The thing is an anchor and slow. But at least with it I can be the bully and not the bullied.

    The next set up will be with the new Del Tin single wide I recently purchased…just have to find the right guard for it.

  2. I’m still throwing our original Hanwei blade around because a giant pile of money has so far failed to materialize in my gear bag, but Malie and I were lucky, and these seem to be two of the best Hanwei’s I’ve ever seen, as far as not being whippy, and having held up to many beatings. I’ve thought about what I might upgrade to, but I’m not sure a lighter blade would make sense to me. Like you suggest, I think different hardware would make a bigger difference at this point than a change in blade.

    • If you could find one, you might really benefit from a longer blade. The hanwei blades are inconsistent, some of them are really good. The hilts universally suck, though. The weight distribution is pretty wonky, and makes them awkward blades, so different hardware can make a real difference.

  3. i’ve had my custom, left-handed Darkwood rapier for just over a decade now. 3 rings, but done with bar stock instead of round- matches my dagger as well. There are many like it, but this one is mine. 😉

    • I do love the look of bar stock hilts. I might re-do my dagger someday, probably when my old scotty breaks for the last time….

  4. I’ve got a 37″ Zen Warrior that is, for all intents and purposes, the sword I started with and to this day feels most like an extension of my arm. It started with a cup hilt, but quickly replaced that with a swept hilt which is the one it wears still. Since the tang was shortened for the cup hilt, I had to shorten the handle on it, which means it handles different from other weapons with the same stock furniture. The 35″ blade that it started with broke five years ago, so I’ve had this 37″ in it ever since. And I love it, love the balance, love everything.

    I’ve got a 45″ Darkwood for my Italian rapier fighting, but it still feels slow and clunky in comparison. I had a long-ish phone conversation with Brian that started with me asking the impossible: “Can you get the balance point an inch from the guard?” This winter is going to be spent fighting single sword with the 45 to get my arm better adapted to it.

    I did handle a sword, once, that I would have killed a man for if my life depended on having a good sword. A guy down here did custom furniture on a Zamorano blade (the good old sort of Zamoranos…) and it balanced so perfectly that it was like holding nothing in your hand. That was seven years ago and I still remember that blade with lust in my heart.

    • I thought I had the perfect sword once…then it got stolen. The new one is even better though, so…never hurts to keep your hopes up.

      Switching to a proper length rapier from a shorty can be a game-changer. It really helps to keep the balance in line with the period blades, a little farther out from the guyard. You have to adapt yourself to letting the blade do more of the work for you, and start developing a more footwork oriented tactical game.

      It’s a fun transition. Enjoy it. I did!

  5. It’s a beater by Pavel Moc (I’m assuming you’re talking training swords here), with a canted handle, that ACTUALLY handles like a central european sabre is supposed to, rather than the boat-anchors more popular in the west. Very forward balance, but is still light and quick in the hand given its thickness and lack of edges.

    • WANT. I have a real need for at least two…four…good training sabres. What did that run you? I gotta sell some screenplays…

  6. I have a 38″ Darkwood bated blade in their two ring hilt which I had lightened. It’s a great middle ground between fast and light and slow and strong.

  7. I have a 42″ Darkwood bated in an old darkwood guard (Luther’s old guard). Untill about four months ago I was using my old Hanwei guard on it, but the change over to a darkwood guard dropped a significant amount of weight away from the guard, and increased the protection of my hand. With the new guard it handles beautifully.

    My old blade was a 36″ Hanwei with a custom grip and pommel. It made a great close range cutting weapon. I still have it, but I love the Darkwood.

  8. Angus Trim blade with a Darkwood English Rapier hilt. It’s both heavy and fast. A lovely piece of work.

  9. My 1st generation Albion Liechtenauer is my favourite. But it is not really for sparing because it not very forgiving in the thrust and eats later generation so Albions in the cross.

    For sparing I like my Darkwoods backsword with an Early English basket hilt. It’s is a bit too long but I can cut or thrust and not worry about actually taking a limb off. I am jealous of your thumb ring, Randy. Do you use it much?

    • Constantly. My grip has evolved to the point where I mainly use index fingertip and thumb exclusively, with occasional assistance from my pinky and ring finger. It’s as nimble as a cane.

  10. I have a 42″ Del Tin on a Darkwood rig I bought well over a decade ago.

    It was a SCA war (Gulf Wars). I hadn’t been planning on buying a sword, but a friend said there was a custom rigged sword I just had to see. So that last day of the war, as they were packing up, I went over and picked it up and proceeded to not put it down for 20 minutes. Merchants packing up around me, my wife wanting to get back to camp & do our own packing, and I’m working throug lunges and parries and cuts in the middle of merchant row with this thing. Finally, one of the people working the booth (not Scott or Leslie) says, “So, cash or credit?” I looked at my wife. She rolled here eyes and nodded, since it was clear this was The One.

    After all those years and all my fighting, I still have the original blade mounted on that rig. A lot of people say I should get a blade w/ quillons on both sides (the rig has a forward quillon, but no back–only a knuckle bow), but how could I replace or change my baby? Every other sword I’ve gotten since, while they are all lovely, still play second fiddle to that one.

  11. My first was a Hanwei. After using it for about a year I realized I needed to get a dagger. I made the totally rational and not at all questionable decision to get a rapier that matched the dagger . . . so that I could save on the shipping -cough-. It’s a 42″ Darkwood blade on a Darkwood Pappenheimer III hilt and I love it.

  12. I’m going to have to find a plugin for wordpress that lets me “like” comments…

  13. Alex Putnam0Spreier

    I still haven’t found “The One” yet. I’ve used a Hanwei Tinker longsword for the last few years and have used Albion’s, A&A’s and whatever else I could scrounge when I’ve needed to. Of those, my favorite are slightly modified A&A Fectherspeils that the Northwest Fencing Academy picked up quite a few years ago.

  14. I have a 42″ darkwood blade mounted on a plain pappenheimer guard made by the person who sponsored me into my SCA household.

  15. I have 35″ Angus Trim blade that i won at a tournament, with an italian cut and thrust guard that Armand made. I like the weight for moving things around. Plus its balanced just perfect.

  16. Hard to choose just one but I think this one serves as a good example:

    https://plus.google.com/114467820077055345022/posts/FVmRhaR5K2E

    It is a hand fabricated hilt by Dennis Graves, mounted to a Spanish 39 inch rapier blade by Scott over at Darkwood. Total weight is 27 ounces. All my EDCs are custom made by Dennis and almost every one of them has a blade made by Scott.

    Why choose this one? For me this rapier flies in the face of what most people think of as a rapier, i.e. heavy, long, of a pre-determined hilt type, etc. This sword is wicked fast and yet strong enough to withstand encounters with other sword-types. I use it as it should be used, without accompaniment. Another reason for this choice is that I documented the process of its creation between swordsman and cutlerer. From the initial conversations Dennis and I had about it, to his rough sketches, and ultimately what I have in my hand. This relationship is an important, and sadly, fading component to our lives as ‘people of the sword’.

    Apologies if the picture link does not resolve, its sourced over at G+ – happy to supply more if needed/wanted.

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