When the Hanwei Tinker Line Bastard Sword first came out it was met with great expectations.
After all, Michael "Tinker" Pearce (pictured right) had been engineering swords for over 30 years and his partnership with the Hanwei forge to create a line of swords with harmonic balance designed for optimal speed and cutting performance - and sell them for under $300 was every lover of medieval swords dream come true..
But it got of to a bit of a rocky start..
Time to hand over to medieval sword expert Tom Kinder for the inside story on what happened and what this sword is all about.
Review by Tom Kinder OR, UNITED STATES
A while back when the Hanwei Tinker line Longsword came out there was a lot of excitement about it until we met them and saw their dirty secret: a bad secondary bevel.
Then more swords came out in the Tinker line and slowly word started getting out that the edges were better, but some still said they weren't right or were dull or were badly beveled. It didn't seem like a straight answer was available.
Then in order to try and clear things Mr. Tinker himself made an appearance here on our forum and addressed the issue. Yet still there were doubts and naysayers. Then I had a little extra money and I bought a replacement blade to do a custom mounting job on since I wanted to do that anyway. I started conversations and threads and did videos and even after seeing them the stubborn doubts clung on. So I decided that I would offer a free sharpening job for anyone who bought a Hanwei/Tinker model sword I hadn't seen. I only got one taker, Forumite Kokoro who bought and sent to me for sharpening one Hanwei Tinker Fullered Bastard Sword.
The box was a little banged up but the sword inside was unharmed.
The sword looked nice, it was long and skinny and and slender and thin and fast. I noticed that there were a few issues right away the worst of which actually made me chuckle.
VIDEO: Drawing the Blade
Swords don't usually go "SchhhWiiiing" when drawn except in Hollywood, right? WRONG!
Also I noticed pretty quickly that the leather grip wrap looked a little cheesy and the scabbard and its associated fitting and furniture just felt wrong more on that later. None of this was bad enough that I was really worried I was just annoyed that this sword's little issues were readily noticeable.
Among the first issues I noticed was the dull looking secondary bevel on the blade and on closer look I noticed that the central ridge wasn't perfectly straight and the fuller was uneven in depth.
None of these things were really bad or would make the sword not a good sword but they did make it seem just a little sloppy if I really looked close at it. I'm sure there are people out there who would never notice many of these small imperfections, I'm just not one of them. the deeper I looked the more little inconsistencies I found. The edges weren't straight and when I went to sharpen it I found areas that gave under the belt faster than others making me thing the Heat Treat wasn't even. Not that any of the blade was soft, no this sucker had the legendary Hanwei/Tinker hardness but in some areas it was more like a normal sword.
I won't speculate on RC hardness numbers as that may not even be the issue not to mention I am in no way qualified or equipped to comment on that. I know I'm listing a LOT of nit-picks but even with all these picks I really do like the blade. Enough so that I'm tempted to buy one for myself. They are little things. Devil in the details and all that I guess. moving on:
As this is a thrusting sword as much as a cutting sword (and argueably more so) let's give the point a little love all to itself.
This is a sword point designed for thrusting. It is more awl-shaped than the rest of the sword blade but the transition from cutting geometry to thrusting shape is very subtle. I was expecting more of a thick, reinforced point than it has but there is a definite geometry shift that starts about an inch and a half behind the point. it seems to be strong but I wasn't going to push it.
Up on extremely close inspection I noticed that the point of the sword deviates a little to one side. I don't have calipers or any such high-precision measuring tools so I stacked playing cards as a sort of impromptu feeler gauge. The point leans about two playing cards to one side of center line. I almost didn't notice it. If not for the fact I was intrigued by the subtle geometry shift and closely examining that I doubt I would have seen it.
The grip is long and slender and wrapped with thin leather, glued on with a butted seam. it's done pretty well, I had a hard time getting a photo of the leather seam. here's what I got:
This was taken after cutting, handling, and sharpening, right before I boxed it up to ship out. It shows about one day of common use compared to this one taken before I had done anything with it when it had spent less that an hour in my presence.
Another nit pick: the pommel doesn't line up perfectly with the cross guard.
It's not too bad though and I didn't see it right away either. I could happily own a sword with a pommel fit like this. Might bug some folks though.
The hilt came apart pretty easily and underneath I saw nothing but healthy sword parts. A very nice thing to see on any production sword. I have no worries about this sword's hilt and construction being solid and as safe as can be expected.
The scabbard at first looks like your normal production model affair. Plain black semi-shiny leather (probably chrome tanned) with steel throat and chape.
The above video demonstrates the poor fit of the throat that causes it to rub the blade. this also dulls the blade as I later found out. If not for this one issue (which is my biggest issue with the whole sword) I would actually like the scabbard quite a lot. It is solid and evenly done. The chape and throat are nice looking and not too cheesy.
Here's what the throat looks like now that I have opened it up a bit with a Dremel. You can see on either end that the opening in the steel part is now wider than the opening of the scabbard core. Now the sword will ride on the scabbard core instead of the steel throat. Much better for the blade I think.
Finally, the fun stuff!
This sword is one of the fastest, lightest feeling and easily turnable bits of steel I have ever touched. The moment you hold this sword all the little issues are forgotten. This is where this sword excels. Ok video time:
First, out of the box.
VIDEO: Out of the Box
Testing the sword with the factory edge
Next after I sharpened it.
VIDEO: After Sharpening
After sharpening, the sword reaches it's true potential
The original video got canned by youtube because of the music I used so here is a replacement video of the same thing with no music.
Despite the poor detailing and the damn annoying throat on the scabbard I really like this sword and can recommend it to people who want a real bastard sword and not a sword that is a longsword that is light enough for one handed use occasionally. I will recommend it with the provision that a little simple work will need to be done (sharpening and modifying the throat). I will recommend it because this sword is F-U-N!
I hope this review of the Hanwei Tinker Pearce Bastard Sword was helpful. Click here to return to Affordable Replicas of Medieval Swords from Hanwei Tinker Line Bastard Sword Review