I have been using the Red Dragon synthetic longsword for HEMA since they were first introduced to the scene. Although many people dislike them for being plastic and floppy, I find that they have many advantages and I use them regularly as loaner swords when teaching at my club.
This review: motivation and transparency
I have been using these swords for several years and am receiving nothing from the maker in exchange for writing this review (which I have written because I want to publish a review for each of the various swords I use for training).
The dimensions are as follows (assuming an all-plastic construction, with the standard scent stopper pommel):
- total length: 124 cm
- blade length: 96 cm
- grip length: 20 cm (excluding pommel)
- grip length: 26 cm (including pommel)
- pommel: smooth scent stopper (comfortable to hold)
- weight: around 800 g
- point of balance: around 15 cm in front of the hilt
The sword is long with a reasonably broad base, and is reminiscent of swords from the 15th and 16th centuries in general. It could be used quite reasonably in practices following any of the 15th and 16th century longsword sources.
Weight & Handling
At around 800 grams, the sword is very light, much more so than any steel sword, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage: the lightness of the sword makes it an excellent tool for people who need something that is not too heavy (people with injuries, or who need to build up the physicality for using a heavier tool), but on the other hand it does move much more easily than a sword with a more realistic weight.
That being said, the balance is very good, and it still manages to feel like a “real sword” in every way except for weight.
The blade is incredibly flexible. By measuring the dynamic flexibility using the method outlined in this article, the measurement is 3.4 kg. It is perfectly safe in the thrust.
However, the sheer flexibility of the blade does make it quite floppy. If you do not perform with excellent edge alignment, then you will probably find the sword flopping about or bending around in your cuts and your parries.
It is easy to find these swords from lots of different HEMA vendors at a price ranging from around £50 to £70 or so. They are cheap and cheerful!
The Red Dragon synthetic longsword is a good training tool for beginners. I have written previously about the reasons why I like to use them in my club, and I think you cannot go too far wrong with them as long as you acknowledge that they are cheap and cheerful and that you should use them as a tool for promoting good fencing practice as opposed to abusing them as a “toy” because they are light.
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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.