Category: Reviews

Review: Mora Bushcraft Survival Knife

Being Swedish, the town Mora more or less equates to knives and I would even go so far as to claim that “Mora” is pretty much a synonym for the word “knife”, here in Sweden, much like Wellingtons are a synonym for rubber boots in the UK. Say the word, and people will inevitably see a red-handled knife before them. Cheap, reliable, if you respect it, and very sharp, it is an icon ever since the 19th century, deeply embedded into the soul of Swedish culture. And over the last decade or so, the rest of the world has begun...

Read More

Review: Fällkniven A1, S1 & F1

Today we will review three knives by a Swedish brand that oddly enough is little known to the common Swede, but which is a proper success story of a company that enjoys great respect for their high quality knives, by professionals and civilians alike, worldwide. The company has a somewhat odd name, Fällkniven (Folding Knife) given that their greatest successes, and the very foundation of their existance, is fixed blade knives. Regardless, like so many other of the very best knife makers in the world, Fällkniven still remains very much a family business and as a result, they put great care into both their products and their customer relations,...

Read More

Review: ESEE-4, ESEE-5 & ESEE-6 knives

ESEE Knives, formerly R.A.T Cutlery is one of the most well-regarded cutlers in the USA, a cutler with a strong reputation for quality, and with the owners Jeff Randall and Mike Perrin standing by their products no matter what. Their personal integrity is renowned, highly respected and never disputed. Despite having looked I have yet to find a single complaint against them. Quite the contrary, I can find nothing but praise for this company. Why is that? The answer to that question probably comes down to two very important components. First of all, the no-nonsense attitude towards utility and quality, based on extensive experience of...

Read More

Review: The Böker Plus Schanz Dagger

Before we look at the knife in question for this review we have to step back in time a bit and look at where it comes from; i.e. the works of Col. Rex Applegate & Lt.Col. W.E. Fairbairn. Parts of these roots have already been described in the article The KA-BAR and the Fairbairn-Sykes: two fighting children of different philosophies. Col. Rex Applegate (1914-1998) Col. Rex Applegate was an American military officer who worked for the OSS, teaching and developing close quarters combat to commandos at Camp B (now Camp David) and at Camp X, in Ontario, Canada. Applegate would later also become friends with...

Read More

Fabrice Cognot – Bladesmith & Scholar

Today we are introducing Dr. Fabrice Cognot, Burgundian swordsman, polearms specialist and bladesmith. Many of you already know him well, but perhaps not his excellent work on knives as much. The article is split into part interview and part commentary on the actual knives that I have kindly been given access to. All three knives are up for sale. So Dr. Cognot, can you tell me… …a bit about yourself, and your own relationship to swords and knives? I am Dr. Fabrice Cognot and I’ve been living in Dijon, France for over 20 years, originally from southern Burgundy and moved here for my studies. I...

Read More

Review: Swordbag Liechtenauer

As much as I love the pioneering aspect of Historical Fencing some aspects of it have, at times, also been a bit frustrating as we have had little actual gear designed specifically for what we do, apart from… weapons, at least until rather late in the modern history of HEMA. However there still exists one quite elusive piece of gear for historical fencers and that is something good to carry the weapons in, i.e. a weapons bag. Consequently, I have myself used bags designed for completely different uses, like soft and hard gun cases, fishing rod bags, ski &...

Read More

Review: Ontario Knives Chimera

Among the countries of the world one stands out as truly blessed with excellent knife makers manufacturing big utility/combat knives. Why that is, is hard to tell. Size is of course one factor, but perhaps also a generally high living standard combined with a still fairly common need for the knife as a tool, both for utility and for soldiering. Maybe even combined with romantic ideas about the early days of the nation with Davy Crocket and Jim Bowie, with the WW2, Korea and Vietnam wars and surviving in harsh conditions and in parts just tied to a certain common love for weapons. Or all...

Read More

Review: Tinea Kombat Knife

  Today we are going to look closer at a fairly new modern Italian-design combat knife that not so many have heard of yet, a knife that due to its design, quality and price certainly deserves more attention. This is the Tinea Kombat Knife, designed by M° Danilo Rossi Lajolo di Cossano and Frank Beltrame of the famous Italian cuttler town Maniago. Background Fratelli Beltrame F&C Beltrame Cutlers was founded after WW2 by Vittorio Beltrame in Maniago, Italy. His father too was a blacksmith and had made sailor and multi-purpose knives, commissioned by various companies. Vittorio had a son in 1941 and...

Read More

Review: KA-BAR D2 Extreme Fighting/Utility Knife

  When it comes to combat knives, next to the classical Fairbairn-Sykes Fighting Knife, few are as iconic as the USMC “KA-BAR”. However, while the Fairbairn-Sykes represents a more elegant design and delicate use, made specifically for surprise attacks, the KA-BAR is also a great utility knife that can be used not just for fighting, but also for a variety of chores when hiking or living outdoors. It is the role-model, the grand-daddy of many modern military and survival type knives used today. It has changed rather little over time, but in its most modern form it carries some distinct improvements which we will look closer at. To really...

Read More

Review: SPES Dussack Waster

Given how important the dusack has been both in the fencing schools and tournaments, all the way from the very early 1500s up until Napoleon and the late 1700s, as well as on the battle fields as a weapon of war, it is somewhat surprising to see how comparatively little love it is given within historical fencing circles, at least when compared to the longsword and the rapier. Possibly this is due to two causes; both a still common belief that it was just a wooden toy sword – not quite understanding its historical role and use, but more...

Read More

Review: A history of Europe by Aneas Silvius Piccolomini – 1400-1458

  A ‘new’ book from the 15th Century has just been translated and published.  The book was originally published in 1458 by Pope Pious II, originally known as Aneas silvius Piccolomini. translated by Robert Brown.  Pious II was famous for being one of a handful of Humanist Popes, which seems an odd concept for most modern readers though we currently have a rather radical Pope in the Vatican today, so perhaps it’s not so strange after all.  Pious was something of a reformer though he was certainly no Franciscan.  He was known during his relatively short reign (1458-1464) as...

Read More

Review: SPES HEMA Jacket – Axel P model

Looking at how the HEMA community looks today it is easy to forget how hard we have been working to get the attention of manufacturers hoping to get proper protective gear for our specific brand of martial arts. Only three years ago things were very different and there simply were no good fencing jackets for HEMA, and what we instead used had several issues simply due to the fact that they weren’t originally designed for what we do. Things have changed dramatically though and today we even have several brands to choose from, some of them created by HEMA...

Read More

Review: Warring Maidens, Captive Wives, and Hussite Queens

Before I go any further, I would like to point out that this is physically a very nice book.  The copy I got was a small hard back with a blue cloth bound cover.  Good paper, a nice weight in the hand but not too heavy, it endured a rather intensive reading and period of going back checking and rechecking facts, and is now something of a resource for me in my research, and it remains very robust and elegant little book in spite of all that heavy use.  It is so rare these days to see a really...

Read More

Review: Black Lance 5-finger HEMA Gloves

  One of the most elusive pieces of protective gear for HEMA, the Holy Grail if you will, is good protective gloves that offer enough dexterity to not hinder us in our fencing, when we try to apply the techniques that we struggle to learn in the fencing treatises. For many years we made do with Lacrosse gloves, but those were still somewhat clumsy, and swollen, fractured or even broken fingers weren’t uncommon, especially in the tournaments where more tension and power often came into play. This is of course not so surprising as Lacrosse gloves just weren’t designed...

Read More

Review: Where’s my fighting trousers?

“A telegram? Oh, dear. It seems someone has been “biting me”…? Fetch me my trousers at once! No, not those. Those are my time travel trousers. No, those are my tea trousers… That’s it! Those ones. My fighting trousers! Ah, yeah!” When it comes to equipment HEMA has come a very long way in just a few years. Just two-three years ago it was still hard finding any equipment that suited our specific needs and which had a consistent look. Land hockey/soccer goalie pants, t-shirts, fencing coach’s jackets & medieval gambeson, Lacrosse gloves etc painted a rather ragged picture. Today, things are very different and we have a whole range of manufacturers catering to our needs. Still some aspects of this hasn’t really received as much attention and fighting trousers is one such area. It is easy to overlook this, but they really are an important part of a good HEMA outfit. Luckily, a few manufacturers like Absolute Force provide quality products in this area and this is what I will review today; the AF HEMA Black Pants. To put it short; I love these! They do have certain areas which can be improved upon, which I will return to later, but they have a rugged and tough design that really suits my tastes. The fabric is sturdy, the tailoring and fitting is really, really good and they look very sharp and...

Read More

Review: Regenyei fechtschwert

  The swordsmiths around the world have seen some pretty fierce competition developing over the last few years, especially the high-end companies like Albion, who suddenly find themselves being outrun by swordsmiths who directly target the needs of us HEMA-fencers, which Albion really doesn’t, instead more catering to sword collectors. One such swordsmith that I have been fortunate enough to follow is the Hungarian swordsmith Péter Regenyei. This review will discuss his training swords of the so called “feder” type. Data Manufacturer: Regenyei Armory Sword type: Fechtschwert Blade length: 39.4″ (100cm) – Can be modified to 35.4 – 40.9″ (90-104cm)....

Read More

Review: Arms & Armor Fechterspiel Sword

  Swordsmith: Arms & Armor Arms & Armor have been making swords for practice and sparring since the late 80’s which makes them a very old player in the HEMA field indeed. According to themselves, they felt that they originally had a hard time building a market for swords of the federschwert type, since most customers wanted something that looked like a “real” sharp, and it wasn’t until the late 90’s that they felt that there was a growing market for the federschwert. Still, that makes their federschwert one of the oldest and most tested training swords in HEMA, particularly...

Read More

Hands-on Preview: Pavel Moc Fechtschwert

HEMA has gone through a lot of progressive development in the last decade. The community is growing rapidly and bouts, tournaments and other forms of sportive sparring have become a standard part of practicing Kunst des Fechtens. The demand for weapons suitable both for practice and sparring is definitely as big as the demand for good protective gear. The Big Schermowski from John Meadowcourt on Vimeo. Unfortunately, most of the weapons used by hemaists today do not meet the condition of versatility. Despite the availability of well-made swords practitioners choose weapons which are sometimes not even suitable for proper...

Read More

Review: Lichtenauer steel longsword

In a way I think one’s first real sword is like your first love. It is something you will always remember in a special way, since it was such a strong emotion experienced for the first time. My first, was a Pavel Moc Dürrer. Since then I have bought several swords of his making, both sharp and blunt. Following a debate regarding the length of longswords, and having written a short article about How long a longsword should be, I was quite excited hearing that Pavel had designed a new really long longsword called the “Lichtenauer”. The images I initially saw didn’t exactly lessen this excitement. But first a little background on the maker of this sword: Pavel lives and works in Kolin, 45km east of Prague, and has been making swords professionally for 13 years. In his ancestry Pavel has blacksmiths going back several generations and this, in combination with his interest in history led him onto the path of becoming a professional swordsmith. In his factory he designs and produces swords both for reenactors, for HEMA-sparring and truly amazing high-end replicas for museums and collectors. The specific profile of his works is to create designs close to historic originals and still keep the price range in line with what is affordable to the wider swordsmen community. At this he is without doubt quite successful, although a certain...

Read More

Review: The Dave Rawlings/Knightshop Synthetic longsword – Pro-Line Extreme

Few HEMA-related products have caused as much debate as the Dave Rawlings/Knightshop range of Synthetic Swords. This comes quite natural as they were developed in close collaboration with the HEMA community, and the way we practice differ quite a lot inbetween clubs. So how has the Red Dragon Armoury succeeded in satisfying all our different expectations? The answer is complicated and to be perfectly honest, I find the Knightshop line of synthetic swords a bit tricky to review, which is the reason why the review was delayed quite a bit. Although I have had concerns for some of the characteristics of the blades and share other peoples’ concern regarding “whippiness” and a tendency to leave somewhat nastier bruises, I also think it is partly a matter of using the right tool for the job.  Furthermore, I am deeply impressed by the manufacturer’s ambition to improve on the blades to make them suit the HEMA fencers’ needs while maintaining a sustainable production method that works with mass production. With that said, the Knightshop synthetic longswords have both advantages and disadvantages. The blades are quite safe in thrusting. At the same time, a bit too large flexibility still makes working from the bind rather tricky and since this is essential in the fencing most of us study, it is a problem. However, it becomes less pronounced with each “generation” of these...

Read More

Review: Zugadore poly sparring sword by Revival.us.

This waster came seemingly out of nowhere onto the market, at a time were we are seeing very quick changes and developments in the line of sparring swords available for HEMA fencers. Its sleek lines and, for a Liechtenauer-fencer, odd-sounding name has raised a bit of attention amongst the HEMA fencers, but how does it hold up to closer scrutiny? Let’s find out… The Zugadore waster was designed by Revival.us in close collaboration with Brian R. Price, notable author of several books on medieval and Renaissance combat and the founder of Schola St. George, which today has 17 chapters...

Read More

Review: Norrlands waster by Plastsmeden

The best longsword nylon wasters I have tried thus far were hand made by Pentti of GHFS. Unfortunately he no longer produces these, so they are near impossible to come by. However, the little known “Norrlandswastern” is the next in line and it offers quite unique features. In fact it excels in many ways and makes the Penttis look crude. These too are handmade with quite a bit of love and pride, and they can be designed according to your specifications, with regards to length and balance. In fact, a small folder, describing how to shorten the grip to...

Read More

Review: Synthetic Longsword Type II by Purpleheart Armoury

This hand-made Synthetic Longsword II is actually a bit of an old Rolls Royce or a Bentley. The quality of the build and components is excellent and it is based on a design of wooden wasters that have been proven from more than ten years of use. It is very sturdy and will probably outlast many of the other nylon wasters. At the same time, in my opinion, the general design has been somewhat bypassed by synthetic swords of other makers, both in handling and with regards to safety characteristics. Looking at the characteristics it is roughly an equivalent...

Read More

Review: Synthetic Longsword Waster by Pentti of GHFS

I consider myself very fortunate having had the chance to follow the development and having been able to practice with the infamous Pentti nylon wasters, which in my experience is amongst the finest nylon sword simulators, if not the finest; due to a very simple reason, the quality of the material in the blades… Sparring clip showing the last generation of the Pentti wasters. Unfortunately Pentti no longer produces these wasters so they can only be bought second hand, if you are lucky enough to find someone who is willing to part with his Pentti waster. However, the blade characteristics of these are so unique that I feel that it is vital to take a closer look at the Penttis before discussing the other synthetics on offer by other makers. UPDATE: PurpleHearts makes very fine copies of these called Pentti+ and I can highly recommend them, as they are near identical in design, and above all uses the same high-quality material, rolled Amid PA6. Admirably, Pentti has never settled with a single design. On the contrary, he has listened to the opinions and thoughts of the rest of the club and has constantly sought to improve his designs, ending with a 4th generation of his longsword design. Cleverly, this has obviously been studied well during the development of the Knightshop synthetic longswords and it continues to influence other makers as...

Read More

Sparring swords – Introduction

What defines a good sparring weapon? A common notion is that it should be as close as possible to the real, sharp weapon it simulates, but be designed with safety in mind, thus lowering the risk of permanent injury. However, since a sharp weapon is designed to injure, this is an inbuilt contradiction. Due to this simple fact, safer weapons always have drawbacks since they just aren’t supposed to perform the same way as real weapons. This has lead to various forms of solutions by different makers, both historically and in modern times. Traditionally, there have been a few...

Read More

Review: Scimitars Fencing Shoes

Finding good, suitable equipment for Hema is a problem we all wrestle with and there are few products aiming to fulfill our particular needs. I have been looking at shoes for handball, basketball, land hockey, boxing, wrestling, budo and regular sneakers, but none of them really hold up to closer inspection. They do work of course, but they are designed for other uses and thus have features that are slightly “off” with regards to Hema. But, since we are fencing with swords, I thought I’d take a closer look at specialized fencing shoes. Having been naturally gifted with small...

Read More

Review: Albion – The Regent

Thoughts: The Regent belongs to a category of longswords that can be presumed to have its origin in the mid 15th century Germany. The pommel is a development of the fishtail type, the blade is hollow ground and thus has no fuller. What hits you when you at first see the Regent, is quite likely the beautiful lines. The hollow ground blade that curves to an aggressive point, the characteristic pommel type and the unusual grip combines into a particularly pleasing overall impression. The looks in particular has also made many reevaluate the hollow ground swords, and the Regent...

Read More

Review: Lutel 15019

Thoughts: Lutel 15019 is a typical sword created for modern training or steel sword sparring. The blade is simple and the edge is designed to take a beating and is therefore thick, and the sword’s characteristics are good, considering the price and the fact that it is a blunt weapon. There are a few problems though, the first being that the sword has a strong resonance and that the vibrations are considerable. The second is that such a heavy sword, that isn’t completely balanced, is straining in wrists and arms, to beginners in particular, whom likely are the target...

Read More