Carnage Claymores is a relatively 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.
This sword is the “technical” sabre model that is intended for relatively light, gentle practice with a focus on technical work. It is not intended or designed for full-contact, high-intensity sparring, so the maker cannot provide any guarantee of its durability if it is used for an inappropriate intensity of sparring.
I feel that it is good to have this kind of division between sword types. Various makers offer “light” and “heavy” blades, or “soft” and “hard” blades, or “flexible” and “stiff” blades for different intensities of training and sparring, so it is a tried-and-tested idea used by several well-known HEMA smiths. It means that when you order and receive your sword, you know exactly what kind of training is appropriate and inappropriate, and you can use the right kind of sword for any given activity. Obviously taking a light blade into a competition could result in a broken blade, and using a painfully stiff blade for regular training is just not very friendly towards your training partners.
This review: motivation and transparency
I bought one of these swords to offer as a prize in a competition I had organised. I received the sword a couple of weeks before the event, and played with it a little for solo drills. 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: 94 cm
- blade length: 83 cm
- weight: around 0.775 kg
- point of balance: around 18 cm in front of the hilt
Weight & Handling
The weight is just 775 grams, making it a pleasantly light sword to use. The point of balance is about 18 cm in front of the hilt, giving it a slightly forward-weighted feel, but it remains a nicely agile sword.
Flexibility & Point
The bade is quite flexible. By measuring the dynamic flexibility using the method outlined in this article, the measurement is 8.02 kg, which is one of the better flexibility scores on the table in the article.
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 sabre has the thickened point.
The basket is made from steel and has been fully heat treated, which provides considerable protection for the hands. It has a set of vertical bars, that extend quite far around to the right, giving quite considerable protection for the fingers where most other training sabres offer no protection at all.
The hilt on this particular sabre is quite small, but after providing feedback to the smith, further sabres of this model will come with slightly larger hilts to facilitate a slightly more comfortable grip.
The projected price (at the time of writing) for these “technical” sabres from Carnage Claymores is £280. That puts it broadly in line with sabres from other swordsmiths, although it is worth noting that the blade is fully forged by hand, the price reflects several hours of effort.
This is an excellent prototype for a “technical” line of steel sabres for HEMA training. It handles well, and further swords of this model should have improved hilt dimensions. The bars on the hilt provide excellent protection for the hand during training without adding the weight of a full basket. For a light training sword, I think it ticks all the boxes and is well worth the purchase.
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.