I have used a Destroyer Modz “Roughneck” gorget for protection in sparring for a few months now, and I find it offers me a combination of protection with mobility that I haven’t experienced with any other gorget.
The DM gorget has a layer of rigid plastic that sits on top of some soft padding that sits against the skin of the throat. The plastic covers probably half of the neck (all of the front of the throat, with a little overlap to each side). It is about two inches in height, so it does not protect the entire height of the neck (nor the base of the throat at the collar bones). I am quite aware of this unprotected area at the base of the throat, I have to admit.
Initially, I experienced a problem with the gorget. The neck is shaped like an oval, pointing forward. The gorget is also shaped like an oval, but pointing side to side; as a result, the first several times I wore it, I found that it moved on my neck under my jacket and mask, so that by the end of a sparring match or training exercise it was probably covering the left or the right side of my neck, but no longer the front. It was not too difficult to reshape the plastic, however, by applying some force and bending it so that it fits my neck better; it may be quite important to check how well the gorget stays in place on your own neck, and to reshape it accordingly. Since reshaping mine, I have had no further issues with it slipping.
In terms of protecting against a strong thrust to the throat, this provides a good level of protection and resistance against impact. I feel it is patently stupid to train with the longsword without a gorget of at least this much protection, if there is any risk of a thrust to the throat – masks bibs and jacket collars are just not protective enough, and I have written before about the importance of wearing a gorget. I am perfectly happy when I see people wearing the DM gorget in my training sessions and competitive events, and I consider them to have sufficient protection for the throat to be safe.
Sizing, bulk, and mobility
The DM gorget comes in just one size. It is fastened by a Velcro strap and has plenty of room for fitting around a much broader neck than mine, so sizing is probably not an issue. However, bearing in mind that it is only a couple of inches in height, and that I (as a relatively short person) am aware of places on my throat that are probably not being covered by the gorget, this may be something that taller people or those with longer necks may wish to keep in mind.
In terms of bulk, it is not very bulky at all. It is incredibly slim and does not get in the way of any other equipment or of moving the sword. Personally, I like to work with overhead positions when I fence with the longsword, and I find no problems at all while wearing the DM gorget with mask and SPES jacket. It is one of the least obtrusive pieces of equipment that I have worn.
Ease of fastening
There is a decent quality Velcro strap to secure the gorget around the neck, long enough to secure the gorget around a neck of almost any size. I have yet to find anyone unable to wear the DM gorget.
It is quick and easy to put on and to take off again, which is always an important characteristic for equipment.
Price and availability
It is not such a cheap piece of equipment, and there are not many vendors in Europe who stock it. Generally, it seems to cost around $45, £45 or €50, depending on your choice of vendor. Buying from vendors would seem to offer more success than trying to order directly from Destroyer Modz.
The Academy of Historical Arts online shop sometimes has DM gorgets in stock, or at least we can source them relatively easily – if you would like to buy one of these items, please do take a look at our store and see if we have them available!
When I see people wearing a DM gorget, I am satisfied that they are wearing an acceptable amount of protection for the neck. It is good quality throat protection and I would trust my own neck to it. It can resist a stronger, stiffer thrust than the PBT gorget, although it does provide less coverage of the neck. I am perfectly happy to keep one of these in my bag for training, sparring, and competitive fencing.
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.