Carnage Claymores is a new smithy that has opened in Scotland recently, with a focus on making Scottish swords for the HEMA community. Thomas McConnell is the smith behind the company; he is also the instructor at the Highland Broadsword Fencing Angus club, and he participates in and teaches at events across the UK.
The broadsword that I received for testing, feedback and review is the prototype for his “standard” broadswords that will be intended for people who want a relatively cheap and cheerful steel broadsword for training.
This review: motivation and transparency
I was sent this sword prototype for testing and review, and then I sent it back to the smith once my testing was complete. Since I am close friends with the smith, and I quite liked the sword, I wanted to share my thoughts about it.
The dimensions are as follows:
- total length: 100.5 cm
- blade length: 84 cm
- weight: around 1.43 kg
- point of balance: around 10 cm in front of the hilt
The dimensions are broadly in line with the shape and size of basket-hilted broadswords in museums, such as those in the Scott Collection in the Glasgow Museums.
The weight is very similar to that of original basket-hilted broadswords that I have had the opportunity to examine in the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. The balance and handling is very reasonable; in fact, I have never felt a sword perform cut 3 (a rising cut from the dominant side) so happily and smoothly before!
This particular model is 1.43 kg, although I have suggested some modifications to the smith that should reduce the weight to around 1.39 kg while improving the moment of inertia to make it slightly more lively in the hand. The smith has taken these suggestions on board, and further swords of this model should have better handling characteristics than this prototype.
The bade does not look like it is very flexible, but it is not as rigid as it first appears. By measuring the dynamic flexibility using the method outlined in this article, the measurement is 9.83 kg, which shows that it is in the more flexible half of the single-handed swords measured in the article. What this means in practice is that receiving thrusts will not be comfortable (they never are!), but they will not be particularly uncomfortable or unsafe either. The sword probably should not be used to give thrusts against a training partner wearing only a t-shirt, but it will not be a problem against someone wearing a proper HEMA jacket.
It is worth noting that the point has been thickened (as per this article) so that the surface area is increased during a thrust, in a fashion that is unlikely to break. Thickened points are my preferred form of point on a sword, I feel they are much better than rolled points, and I am happy that this broadsword has the thickened point.
The basket is made from steel and has been fully heat treated, which provides considerable protection for the hands. It is large enough to use while wearing lightly padded gloves. The two lugs protruding from the front of the basket feel pretty solid, they don’t feel like they will bend or deform easily.
The projected price (at the time of writing) for these “standard” broadswords from Carnage Claymores is £500. That puts it broadly in line with other swordsmiths, although it is worth noting that the blade is fully forged by hand, there are no machines involved in cutting the shape of the blade from sheet metal.
This is an excellent prototype for a “standard” line of steel broadswords for HEMA training. It handles well, and further swords of this model should have improved weight and liveliness in the hand. The projected price is quite reasonable for the way the sword handles and for the amount of work that goes into hand forging a piece like this.
I have high hopes for Carnage Claymores in the coming months! I hope that people support this new company and help the smithy become a regular name within the Scottish broadsword community.
Keith Farrell teaches HEMA professionally, often at international events (why not hire me to teach at your event?), and has an interest in coaching instructors to become better teachers. I teach regularly at Liverpool HEMA, and help behind the scenes with running HEMA in Glasgow at the Vanguard Centre.