There are literally thousands of swords in different styles, materials, and price ranges available today. This can make choosing a sword a daunting experience to say the least. Hopefully with this article we can help you narrow that down a bit, and point out a few things to watch out for.
This article is going to mainly cover blade materials and the situations they’re best suited for, how much time you want to invest in your sword, as well as cost. As for the style of sword, well that we can’t really help with. The style of sword is as individual to a person as the way they choose to style their hair or the car they choose to buy..
Right now we’re going to look at three blade materials. That’s right three. Two that we all know, Carbon Steel and Stainless Steel, and one that you might not know Zamak. Zamak is an alloy that resembles steel, but can not be sharpened.
Carbon Steel: Carbon Steel swords are real functional swords that will stand up to the riggers of use, but as with everything else they come in different grades. High Carbon Steel swords are best, both in strength and durability, as well as holding an edge. Carbon Steel swords are also the highest maintenance swords. They, if not properly cared for and kept oiled, will corrode very easily. If you see the term “Battle Ready” sword, that generally means a fully functional Carbon Steel sword.
These Swords are for the hardcore sword owner. Someone that needs the sword to be functional, and won’t mind spending the time needed to care for it. These are generally the most expensive swords, due to the fact that they are usually hand forged.
Cost: Carbon swords can run any ware from $30.00 to $30,000.00+
Stainless Steel: Stainless Steel swords are not real swords as far as function goes. They are primarily a decorative sword. They look real, feel real, and most will hold an edge, which makes them a great display sword. But to use them in any other manner is to invite injury. The compound ‘Chromium’ is added to steel and this is what makes it Stainless. It also makes it brittle. A good enough hit to something with a Stainless Steel sword will snap it, and possibly injure you or someone nearby. Stainless Steel swords are low maintenance, and need only be cleaned off once and awhile.
These swords are great for display, and re-enactments. They are good for people who want a sword that looks and feels like a functional sword, but without the work or cost. They are less expensive than Carbon Steel while maintaining quality, due to the ability to mass produce them.
Cost: On average these swords will run from $20.00 to about $400.00.
Zamak: Zamak Is an alloy primarily used by a company called Denix. It is comprised of 95% zinc (Zn), aluminum, magnesium and copper. Swords made from this alloy are purely decorative, and try as hard as you like you can not put a functional edge on them. This makes them, among other things, the perfect display sword for family or educational environments. These are very low maintenance swords. They will not corrode, nor will they etch from human oils.
These are perfect decorative swords for a person that wants a sword that will look real on the wall, but will probably not be taken down very often, if at all. Because of their blade material they are perfect in family settings for safety, and for costumes, re-enactments, stage, screen, or as educational aids. Also because of the blade material, cost can be kept low without sacrificing quality.
Cost: The cost for these swords range from $60.00 to $110.00
Tips on buying a sword
Now in general the old adage rings true. You get what you pay for. That’s not to say you need to spend top dollar for a quality sword. There are some very good midrange swords on the market, and even one or two low range swords worth looking at. Every rule has it’s exceptions.
What you need to decide first is how authentic your sword needs to be, and how much your willing to invest in it. This will help you narrow the field considerably.
Next you need to realize that not all dealers have your best interest at heart. There are a lot of cheap imitation swords out there, which, in their pictures at least, resemble popular and reliable top name swords. So how do you tell?
Most reputable dealers that know they carry top name swords will proudly state the name of the swords manufacture.
Lets say you have two windows open side by side comparing the same sword on two sites. The picture looks the same and the name of the sword is the same, but the price is drastically different. Site A has the sword at $57.00, while Site B has the sword at $230.00. Your thinking that it’s to good to be true! Guess what…it probably is. Now you look and see that Site B proudly states the name of the manufacture, it may even be a name that you’ve seen many times in your search. Site A on the other hand does not state the manufacture. Why? It could be that they don’t know the name…not likely. Or it could be that they know if they put the wrong manufactures name on a knock off they would be sewed.
Now that’s not to say that is the case every time, but the top is an example of something that did happen, and the sword was a knock off of the popular sword. Our advise would be to contact the web site and ask who the manufacture of the sword is. If the sword is on the level, they will tell you the name. If they won’t tell you the name, move on to another site. This is best done by email. That way you have a record of it in case you buy the sword and it is not what they told you.
This is most common with prop replicas. Our advice in this area, again, when in doubt ask. Also know your sword.
Here are two examples:
There is a cutlas on the market that is a knock off of a top name decorative pirate sword. It is being advertised as being from Pirates of the Caribbean. The sword is a basket hilt cutlas with a ship on the guard. There is no such sword in Pirates of the Caribbean.
Another favorite of mine is the Duncan MacLeod Highlander Katana. There is no jewel on Duncan’s sword! Walk away from it.
In closing I would like to start you on your way with a list of some of the more popular and trusted names in swords. This list covers quality swords from inexpensive to expensive.
Functional swords ( Carbon Steel):
CAS Iberia, Hanwei, Valiant Armoury, Cold Steel.
Decorative Swords (Stainless and Zamak):
Armaduras Medievals, Art Gladius, Denix, Fury, Marto, Maxam, United Cutlery.
FactoryX, LMTD, Master Replicas, Museum Replicas, NECA, United Cutlery.
This is not a complete list by any means, just some of the best. There are many more companies and private Smiths of out standing quality out there, and you’ll get to recognize them as you surf.
Good luck and have fun!