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Sword Buyers Digest - April 2009
April 01, 2009

Paul Southren Well, I didn’t think of a better introduction to this months digest after all... ;-)

All I can say is that it’s a pretty big issue, with lots of exciting news to tell you and a chance to get some free swords. Need I say more?

Probably not, so let’s get started!


3. SBG COMPETITION: Free swords and the review team 4. COLLECTORS CORNER: Sword Storage and Display
6. VIDEO OF THE MONTH – ‘Museum Replicas’


The first part of the month of March I kind of ended up getting sidetracked by a major project that will be unveiled over the coming months, and there were not many visible updates.

However, in the last few days of the month I have been ‘burning the midnight oil’ trying to catch up as this project was taking longer than anticipated, and added several new reviews – including one of the Deepeeka Maintz Gladius, Hanwei’s Shinto Elite Katana and several others, including one here of the Hanwei bone handled Swept Hilt Rapier that is laying the foundation for a new page dedicated to Renaissance swords (plus, I am starting work on a couple reviews of my own on Renaissance swords! It has been a while since I have actually written one myself and I am getting review making withdrawal symptoms!).

One of the new swords from the pending Renaissance Sword section

Speaking of reviews, after a lengthy discussion with my sidekick and buddy Dan Dacombe, we decided to overhaul the old ‘point’ based review system, which marked a sword with certain characteristics out of 5 such as fit and finish, durability, etc.

This system worked fine when the site only had a handful of reviewers, but now that it has grown, and we are receiving reviews from people with vastly different levels of experience, we have decided to change to a basic ‘pros and cons’ format and summary at the end of each review that we hope will both sum up the review and give the reader a quick and easy way to see at a glance the given strengths and weaknesses of any particular sword.

Of course, this means that we will have to go over the 100 odd reviews that are already on the site and modify them accordingly. And while it will be a somewhat tedious task, I believe that the end result will be more beneficial to the sword community in the long run.

To keep up to date with all of these changes, be sure to visit the SBG News section or better yet – subscribe to the RSS feed for up to the minute additions.



As anyone who has been following the Custom Katana blog, we have had quite a few issues trying to get the orders placed in October-November out on time and it has been causing me no small amount of stress.

Fortunately, they are finally shipping by air from the forge and those of you who have been waiting will soon enough be rewarded for their patience.

Another small batch of orders placed in late Jan-Feb are on target for delivery within the 90 day estimated lead time, but to be safe I am still not taking any new orders until things are running smoothly again…

However, after receiving quite a few emails from people who kept missing out on the ‘window of opportunity’ between taking new orders and closing off to concentrate on them, I created a Custom Katana Notification List, where you can sign up to be emailed when I open up the floor again to take new orders.

Already, the number of people on the list is pretty formidable, but to keep it manageable I will be closing off quickly as soon as I have a given quota of orders. So if you haven’t seen the list already and want to get your own SBG custom Kat, you might just want to put your name down.

One of the guys at the forge doing the final polish on a custom Katana blade



A couple of relevant announcements from Hanwei for last month, one more immediate than the other.

The first bit of juicy news is that early in March, the first few swords from the Hanwei/Tinker Pearce collaboration landed and are now available to purchase at a variety of quality vendors.

These swords are beautifully balanced and tempered and unlike the first prototypes have NO SECONDARY BEVEL.

Early Medieval Sword Edge

While they are simple in appearance, their functionality makes them without question one of the most practical medieval blades on the market.

The second bit of news from Hanwei is their pending contribution to the through hardened Katana market...

While through hardened Katana are nothing new or revolutionary, Hanwei has never made a non-differentially hardened blade until now with their monosteel 5160 Spring Steel Katana range called ‘the Raptors’.

Early Medieval Sword Edge

Available in three blade geometries, including some styles often hard to find in the production Katana market such as the Shobu Zukuri and Unokubi Zukuri blade configurations, these simple yet durable swords are likely to be of interest to the more practically minded Katana enthusiast who likes a tough and reliable blade at the expense of tradition.

While they are still several months away from landing, the Raptors look set to ruffle a few feathers and knowing the high standard of Hanwei’s performance series, are certainly worth keeping an eye out for when they do become available.

To read the relevant articles in full and stay on top of developments in the sword industry as they happen, be sure to check the SMG Newsfeed often - or better yet, use the RSS feed to get announcements in your RSS reader.

SBG COMPETITION: Free Swords and the Review Team

As everyone should probably know by now, we are always looking for new faces to join our current review team. With 6 members currently on board, and 11 people in the shortlist to join, the time has come to welcome some new members in.

To select the new members of our team, I have decided to send EACH and EVERY ONE on the shortlist a sword to review which will be shipped primarily from one of three of our preferred vendors, Kult of Athena, Trueswords or the SBG Sword Store, depending on their location, interests and my budget at the time. ;-)

As we are not made of dough, it may be a bit slow going in getting all the swords out to everyone on the list. But once everyone has received it and submitted their review, I will be selecting two more members from the shortlist to join the main team, bringing the total number of members to 8, and then giving everyone who qualified for the shortlist, but who didn’t make it on to the team the honorary title of ‘SBG Honorary Reviewer’.

Where this benefits YOU (assuming you aren’t already a member of either list) is that I will be closing off on the shortlist on the 25th of May. So if you already have a few review points under your belt, or are willing to submit a few quality reviews within this time frame, you might want to get cracking on it. ;-)

” Sword Storage and Display”

Dan Dacombe If you’re anything like me (and I’m sure that even those of you who aren’t, still want to be on some deep subconscious level), at some point in time during your sword collecting days you start to realize that you’re going to need to actually put them all somewhere.

For me, it was transitioning from a couple small, attractive (I thought) Sword-Like-Objects on the shelves, to a fair-sized pile of sharp, Battle-Ready swords that I had no idea what to do with. I kept them oiled and looked after, but I had nowhere to put them – and there’s nothing that makes your spouse less likely to approve of your sword collecting when you actually don’t know what to do with them when you get them (and “arm the neighbourhood children in case of a zombie attack” is not a valid answer, apparently...)

So in order to maintain both your weapons and the tranquillity of your household, you will need a place to put them. I offer here a simple list of alternative for you that might be helpful in deciding where to put your recently acquired long sharp objects – take it or leave it as you will!

1. A locked display case or room – certainly the best choice when children are involved. The advantage here is that you alone have the access, and the room could double as a walk-in closet. (A walk-in closet is a wonderful thing, but you need to be careful not to let happen what my wife and I did – we had more clothes then we had hangers, so we had to develop a system that kept just enough clothing in the closet so that there would be enough hangers, with the rest of them either in transit through the laundry or on our bodies. In this way, I guess we were functioning a bit like the international economy and the sub-prime mortgage thing – our organized closet was an illusion, and if ever all of our clothes were clean at the same time, there would be piles of clean clothes on the floor, every hanger would be full, and the housing market would collapse.) The only downside is that it will take you a few minutes to get to them in the event of a zombie attack – and as we all know, in those cases a few minutes can be a lifetime...

2. Under your bed – a tried-and true solution. Close at hand should the zombies actually come in the night. However, this remains a fairly unsecure option – it’s not like you can lock your bed (unless you have the kind of bed that... you know what, this is a family-friendly publication. Nevermind.), and there’s just something distasteful about having a beautiful collection of swords and keeping them with your dustbunnies.

3. Hang them on the walls – This is the preferred solution – it’s simple, it’s attractive, it has a good balance between security (if you hang them high enough so the kids can’t reach them) and accessibility (again, zombies). But! There are several pitfalls here that must be avoided, such as:

a. Convincing Your Spouse That Swords are Excellent Decorations, one of the many fun games that married sword collectors enjoy. For some reason, CERTAIN PEOPLE (not going to point any fingers here) seem to think that artwork, photographs, pianos and other non-lethal objects (well, at least obviously non-lethal... but I knew a man who could kill you with a piano, believe it or not...) make better decorations than razor sharp objects that hang with their tips pointed towards the floor, also known as the realm of pets and small children. Assuring them that your swords are fine art in their own right is crucial to procuring premium wallspace for your collection (Consider mentioning the accessibility factor – procure photographs of zombies to add some “pep” to your presentation).

b. Overly Touchy Guests, who can’t help from handling the blades of all your fine swords when you turn your back and after you tell them not to, like naughty children sneaking another cookie before dinner. You often don’t realize you’ve been a victim of Overly Touchy Guests until a few days later when fingerprint-shaped rust spots start appearing on the swords you told them not to touch. The alternative is to cover them with thick coats of wax or oil, and then the prospect of having a bunch of greasy swords hanging around makes Convincing Your Spouse That Swords are Excellent Decorations much more difficult.

c. Going Against Tradition, one of the accusations levelled against people who, after overcoming Convincing Your Spouse That Swords are Excellent Decorations and Overly Touchy Guests, display their swords in such a way that (after sharing the new display with other collectors) are criticised for doing the display “incorrectly” – at least according to how they would traditionally be displayed. This is most commonly done with Japanese katana, where (according to a simply staggering amount of internet forum threads I’ve perused) improper display of the katana – if the handle is on the wrong side, and if the edge is in the wrong position – can mean anything from “I am a hostile host” to “I wish to murder you, my guests, because you are dogs in my eyes.” I’m all for observing proper traditions, but some people take it a bit far; as though at any moment they expected to, without notice, be required to host a party of very traditional, heavily armed and touchy samurai, who upon seeing the improperly displayed katana will become very gruff and possible furrow their brows, and immediately demand that your entire family commit hari kari (which is ridiculous, of course. The samurai would demand that you and your entire family commit seppuku – hari kari is an anglicised version of a different word, and not the most correct in this context.) So... watch out for that.

That’s all for now – best of luck in displaying your swords! Tune in next month for the topic “Sword Snobbery – When You Realize That You Are The Snob” – and until then, stay sharp and stay safe. (Editor: Key, that’s my line!)


First European Sword – Advice and Recommendations
Musings by SBG forumites to the question: ‘what European sword should I start my collection with’. Lots of suggestions and advice.

Whippy vs Flexible?
When does a European sword cross the line from being ‘flexible’ to needing its own devo soundtrack...?

Pics of the original swords used in LoTR
Lord of the Rings fans will love this one. Some great links to some close ups of the actual movie prop swords used in the blockbuster trilogy Lord of the Rings.

Knight vs Samurai (SCA vs Kendo) – the duel!
The age old question that has plagued many a sword forum and message board since time immemorial finally answered... A cool series of youtube vids featuring SBG forumite IanFlaer as the Knight in an SCA vs Kendo style match!


It seems that Museum Replicas, the retail arm of sword manufacturer Windlass Steelcrafts, are jumping on the youtube bandwagon.

And while they haven’t received too many hits yet, and their videos are a bit shamelessly self promoting, they do offer some interesting insight here and there.

For this months Video of the Month, I have selected a short video which shows (ever so briefly) how they sharpen their swords, as well as some good old fashioned cutting and durability tests. Short but sweet.

Youtube vid of the Month

You Tube Video of the Month

On the Museum Replicas Youtube channel they also have several other videos worth watching, including some LARP sword tests, sword cleaning info (probably their most shameless plug! Lol), and how a medieval knight armours up.


A selection of hot product discounts and clearouts from our affiliated vendors. Grab a bargain and support SBG at the same time!


Going over KoA’s scratch and dent blowouts revealed a few decent bargains, which in the current economic climate, are always welcome...

When I last checked before loading up this months edition of the newsletter, there were a couple of Cold Steel Gim swords with extra tight scabbards for just $210, a Windlass Historical Excalibur – also with a scabbard that is too tight – for $120, A Windlass Maintz Pattern Gladius with a barely discernable twist to the blade for $140, A sword of Drizzit with some minor rusting under the lacquer for $160 – and quite a few others in varying states of repair that would be good as project blades and fixer uppers...

Kult of Athena Scratch and Dent Blow Out Section

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of a seller who has a scratch and dent section means that they really do inspect and check their swords as much as possible – which is always very reassuring!

Well, hope you enjoyed this months issue!

Until next month, take care of yourselves and stay sharp and stay safe (now where the heck have I heard that before recently?).

Paul Southren

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