A sensible progression for buying longsword equipment

Sparring Gloves and an Albion Meyer
Sparring Gloves and an Albion Meyer. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2015.

When people begin training at a club, it is only reasonable for them to be able to borrow some equipment from the club. After all, no one can reasonably expect that a complete beginner will run out and buy themselves all the protective gear to participate in high intensity longsword fencing, right from the first session! However, people will inevitably want to begin to acquire their own kit – or, if they don’t, the club may need to wean members from borrowing equipment after a while, to free it up for newer members.

This article will attempt to advise a sensible progression for buying equipment for learning to fence with the longsword, along with suggestions for items that might be most suitable and useful.

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Review of the Armour Class sharp longsword (MS6T)

Results of a cutting session with a sharp Armour Class longsword. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2016.

Armour Class has been around in the re-enactment and HEMA communities for at least a couple of decades. Their swords have an excellent name and reputation in re-enactment circles, although they haven’t always been so popular in HEMA clubs: the blunt swords are designed for re-enactment purposes, and are usually too heavy and unbalanced for historical fencing. However, they do make custom swords, and their sharp and semi-sharp blades are perfectly suitable for HEMA.

I bought my Armour Class sharp longsword (model MS6T on their website, perhaps more fully named their “14th Century Hand & a Half Medieval sword with thirty five inch blade”) several years ago, and have been using it for cutting practice ever since.

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Review of the Carnage Claymores “technical” sabre

Carnage Claymores “technical” sabres. Image from the Carnage Claymores page on Facebook.

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.

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Review of the DOHEMA sword sheath

Albion Talhoffer
Albion Talhoffer in a DOHEMA sheath. Photo by Keith Farrell, 2017.

I was recently given a DOHEMA sword sheath as a gift. The item was not given to me for reviewing, but I would like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts about it.

The DOHEMA sheaths by Black Armoury are made from a modern synthetic material, they come in a functional matte black colour, and they work very well. A sheath is not a very complicated piece of equipment, and these do exactly what they are supposed to do!

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Review of the Carnage Claymores broadsword

Carnage Claymores broadsword. Image from the Carnage Claymores page on Facebook.

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. Read more