There are so many different types of euro swords out there from a vast group of manufacturers. Choosing a sword for your collection can be quite a daunting task. If you are looking for a real sword to add to your collection, or to start a collection, this article will inform you on what constitutes a real European sword and where you can find some. If you are looking for a wall hanger display sword, this article will probably go a little more in depth that you wish it would. However, you could find it interesting to know what makes a European sword a real one.
Stainless you say?
So I am going to start with the blade. This is one of the most important parts of the sword. It is the part that takes a lot of beating during cuts and thrusts, and therefore must be strong and well made. You will probably see many swords advertised as official replica swords featuring full stainless steel blades. These swords may even be advertised as being sharp. However, these blades don’t qualify as a real sword by an extremely long shot. Stainless steel is a horrible choice of steel for a real sword as it tends to be brittle and doesn’t hold an edge for crap. To make matters even worse, most if not all of these swords have a ‘rat tailed tang’ instead of a tapered design full tang. It’s OK if you don’t know what a tang is, all of that will be explained in the sword tang article. Aside from the fact that stainless steel is brittle, doesn’t hold an edge, and has a dangerous tang, stainless steel is heavy and makes the sword unbalanced and awkward to hold at minimum.
As far as steel is concerned, there are a couple acceptable and preferred types of steel for make a real functional euro sword. These types of steel include high-carbon steel (1045, 1060, 1095), spring steel (5160, 9260), and tool steel (T-10, L-6 bainite). If you are wanting to learn more about these steels, you can find more information in the steel type for real swords article.
Get the proper fittings!
Real swords, whether for display or use, need to be properly built and secure with every aspect of the sword. A sword that is poorly built even though it has proper steel still doesn’t qualify as a real functional sword in my opinion. What you get when you get a sword that isn’t properly built is something called ‘hilt shake’ or ‘hilt rattle’. Basically, when you shake the sword you are going to get movement in the hilt section of the sword, which includes the cross guard and grip of the sword. You may even get ‘hilt shake’ in the pommel if the pommel wasn’t put on correctly or is a screw on pommel. Watch out for this.
A hand forged or machined blade?
This one can get a little touchy with some people. However, I will do my best to try to explain it.
In my opinion, a machined blade can qualify as a real sword as long as it meets certain requirements. It needs to be the right steel and have proper fittings. There are many blade manufacturers that create sword blanks with a machine and then heat treat them to a certain hardness for the finished product. A huge name that comes to mind with this method is Albion Swords. They create beautiful and strong authentic functional swords using this method. You can find a video below which will hopefully give you an idea of how this method is done.
Now that you have seen that, there is the old method of forging a sword by hand. This is the traditional method and preferred method by many sword collectors around the world. There is more of an authentic feel knowing that your sword is both well made and forged out by hand. One of the best forges doing this right now is Darksword Armory. Eyal Azerad’s company really has a lot going for them as they make some of the most authentic swords on the market at the moment with traditional methods. You can see the video of Darksword Armory below.
There you have it. That is two very different methods of making a functional sword. I can vouch for both companies that they both make amazing swords that are properly made and functional. Whether or not you consider a machined sword real is up to you, but it will cut and hold up just as good as a hand forged sword. So… I say that both machined and hand-forged blades are considered real swords. If you want traditional, go with hand-forged.
So to recap on everything discussed in this article, a real sword is more than just a blade with a handle. You need to have the blade created with the right steel, have proper fittings, and less mentioned, a peened pommel. All of these ingredients under the supervision of a good swordsmith can yield amazing results that are worthy of being considered a real sword. If you are picky like I am and are wanting a sword that a knight may have used in the 14th century, make sure you look for what I have explained in this article when choosing your sword.
In closing, I will list a really good place to buy some swords that really come close to authentic originals. Make sure you check the specs on the swords to make sure you aren’t buying a wall hanger sword. This company DOES SELL REAL SWORDS!