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Sword Buyers Digest - Christmas Edition 2012
December 01, 2012
Hard to believe it is that time of year again..
Clichéd yes, and I’ve probably said it every December issue – but it’s fitting (which is why I say it I suppose!).
Anyway, as you can guess this will be the Christmas edition – for me personally I enjoy this time of year more in Japan than I did back in Australia, something about a swelteringly hot Christmas day with Santa in short pants never did quite cut it for me..
So wherever you are in the world, Season’s Greetings! And enough pre-ambling, let’s get into the Christmas issue and see if there are any specials out there worth a good look, check out the latest videos and cool forum posts and hope that Santa has plenty of space for long, rectangular boxes on his sleigh to rest against the Christmas tree!
1. From the Desk of Paul Southren
We had a lot on our plate last month and were pretty busy juggling projects – including stuff that everyone knows about - from dealing with incoming custom katana to preparing the foundation for our overhaul of Sword Manufacturers Guide and some associated juicing of the SBG sword forum, but a heck of a lot of behind the scenes stuff too (I’ve been putting in some serious hours the last couple of weeks, and am looking forward to some time off later in the month).
And of course we have been releasing some additional videos from the Longquan series, with a special feature all about Katana sword fittings – showing some behind the scenes footage of how various components are made and also put together.
Now as this is the last issue for the year (and the next one will not go out until Feb, as I take a bit of a break from writing the Digest over Christmas and in the lead up to New Years Day) but there are still a lot of projects either coming close to completion or otherwise being worked on so until then I’ll make any noteworthy announcements on our facebook page (it’s not as active as it was at first, but I still try to post when I have something of interest – most recently some very exotic Chinese sword designs that have not been seen outside of China, but are well worth a close look!).
Apologies in advance for this one, but as it is the silly season…
In the meantime, as this video was rather stupid – here’s a more interesting clip from earlier this year with Lynn Thompson from Cold Steel cutting up a zombie with the guys from Zombie Go Boom..
With Christmas just around the corner, the time for Christmas sword shopping is definitely upon us..! So with this in mind, I’ve put together a guide on what to get this Christmas – not just from the point of view of the best bargains price wise (though we will certainly be looking at that!) – but also as a guide for people buying swords for loved ones who may not know much about swords themselves, ideas for those of you with kids and also some tips to avoid disappointment this season.
Hope you find it helpful!
If you have young children who are not old enough or responsible enough to own a sword of their own, but the sword obsession DNA has been passed on down the line – or if you are like me and just a big kid, I can heartily recommend a very affordable present that is a whole lot of fun, and that is a decently made LARP (Live Action Role Playing) sword (or preferably two!).
One of the best sources for these swords would have to be Museum Replicas who stock a decent range of very realistic looking latex swords and other weapons averaging around $65 per piece. Not exactly cheap, but money well spent as their range of LARP swords are very sturdily made and look quite stunning.
They aren’t just for people who like to dress up and bash each other on the head, people in normal attire can also enjoy bashing each other on the head with them out of character – and they are great for end of year office parties.. ;-)
Don’t forget to take advantage of the Special SBG 10% discount coupon code:
These are definitely a lot of good clean fun.
BUYING FOR SOMEONE ELSE (ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET)
If that special someone in yourself is a swordy, or has made noises about how cool it would be to own a sword - but you have no idea about swords yourself, then this brief guide is definitely for you!
It’s hard to boil down the essence of what sword buyers guide is about in a few paragraphs – but here goes..
First off, determine your budget. Generally speaking – at a bare minimum you will need to spend at least $100 to $150 to get something that is anything more than a mere ornament – though swords get dramatically better closer to the $300 price point and then make another big jump as you get closer to $1,000 (with anything in between these jumps generally only cosmetic add ons or subtractions).
Next you need to determine what kind of sword. I am going to keep things deliberately very simple here and delineate into European Medieval Swords and Japanese swords. If you want something different, you might need to do a bit more research – either on the main site or trawling through the various sword forums..
So, for medieval swords at the lowest price point that have a little substance to them – I would have to recommend a Windlass Steelcrafts blade.
BEST VALUE WINDLASS BUYS THIS CHRISTMAS
VENDORS DESCRIPTION: This impressive Italian sword is named for the Battle of Chioggia, where the Venetians totally crushed the Genovese forces and ended Genoa as a great sea power. This is a very well-balanced and fast sword with its deeply fluted pommel and beveled guard, both from steel. The grip is wood covered in leather with decorative studs. The well-tempered high carbon steel blade is nicely fullered and the perfect length for a one-hand sword. Includes a leather scabbard with steel accents.
VENDORS DESCRIPTION: The Classic Medieval Sword is an Oakeshott Type X with a Type I pommel and a Type VII crossguard. The long and wide fuller on this blade lightens the overall sword and makes it possible to deliver fast and shearing cuts capable of cutting through the mail and padding that were worn during the period. The long guard offers good protection from an opponent's shield or blade while the classic wheel pommel brings the sword very nicely into balance. This type of sword was in service for a long period of time throughout all of Europe. Circa 1300. Features an unsharpened high carbon steel blade with central fuller. The hilt is made of solid steel guard and pommel with a leather wrapped wood grip. Includes a matching leather scabbard with steel throat and tip.
VENDORS DESCRIPTION: The Falchion was a popular weapon amongst the warriors of Medieval Europe. Though the double edged swords are more famous, the prevalence of the Falchion in Medieval art is a testament to it's popularity. The design of this weapon makes it excellent at cleaving through the mail armor of the time, while still providing a point for a penetrating thrust. Features an unsharpened, tempered, high carbon steel blade. The guard and pommel are both solid steel, and the grip is wood, covered with leather. Includes a matching leather scabbard.
All of these swords are pretty decently made and available with the option of a sharpening service (though be aware that if you want them sharpened, it slows down the process – and with Christmas approaching, you’d better jump on these RIGHT NOW or it will be too late).
I should also mention that at the moment, we also have a special deal on Longsword designed by Michael Tinker Pearce – prices on these have fluctuated a lot since they first came out 3 or so years ago, but the swords themselves are extremely well designed and are currently on special from $383 to $229 – but would be of particular benefit to people who want a sword that truly handles and performs like a good medieval longsword SHOULD.
It’s available here at the SBG Sword Store until the 7th of December, plus you can get it razor sharp or totally reprofiled by Ricky Chen – but if you want it to be a razor, you need to act fast as the clock is ticking and Ricky can only sharpen so many swords per week.
For Japanese swords – well, it’s a bit tricky this year..
There are a few new products here and there, one that I am pretty impressed with is the new Tactical Wakizashi by Honshu – which with 1060 monotempered steel, ABS handle and modern construction techniques that pretty much prevents anything from going wrong is well worth the asking price of $109.99.
But for more traditional Katana styled blades, normally I would I would have to recommend Musashi as a basic starting point, specifically one of their Bamboo series swords, but they are sold out everywhere and I doubt the restock will arrive in time for Christmas…
However, there are still a few Musashi models available for well under $100 available here at Trueswords.com – these are decent for the money, but of course you get what you pay for, and none are especially amazing quality wise, but worth a look if you are on a strict budget or need to supply a small army of friends and relatives with very basic machine made blades.
Moving up the scale slightly to equal our previous listings for medieval swords I would have to suggest a close look at some of the Munetoshi line by Sword N Armory.
They have a pretty decent range of swords still in stock, here’s a few of my budget recommendations.
The jump that occurs with Japanese swords is pretty pronounced, but just shy of the $300 price point the most solidly made ones that perform the best would have to be the Ronin Katana Dojo Pro series.
I’ve cut a lot of varied targets with these swords (you might recall the recent bamboo cutting in Lonquan) – and not only are they extremely strong and well made (as I’ve also seen them being made first hand, and have every confidence in the process) but they use materials that until Ronin started using them were unheard of on an entry level sub $300 sword – such as real silk ito, buffalo horn on the saya, iron fuchi and kashira – you name it, they have nailed it.
The only thing is, Ronin are low on stock at the moment and will be closing on the 5th until the restock on the 21st which means that if you want one, you pretty much need to act on it immediately!
So that is it in a nutshell.
Now I have deliberately kept this shortlist as simple as possible to avoid over-choice and paralysis by over-analysis. However, if the person has already stated a preference for a specific sword from a particular brand, that makes it a lot easier of course – and if that is the case, but you can’t quite remember the name they mentioned properly you can email me and I’ll try my best to figure it out for you!
Of course, one of the best gifts for anyone who already owns a ton of swords and you have absolutely no idea what they would want next – getting them a sword related knick knack for a handful of dollars is preferable to buying them a sword that they simply won’t like.
Sword racks and display stands are of course a very affordable present, and come in a wide variety of styles and configurations. Two great sources for sword racks include here at Trueswords.com and here at Kult of Athena
And of course, other accessories such as sharpeners, whetstones, sword oil, renaissance wax, etc can be an inexpensive but high value to a collector gift.
Or for something off the wall - how about a Novelty Templar Knight drinking mug!
(And for something ON the wall, how about a 24” steel shield for $50?).
Or maybe, just maybe, something special to make sure that you always triumph – Monty Python’s Black Knight costume..!
Ok, so you get the idea – you don’t have to limit yourself to swords alone for the perfect gift for a sword lover. Most of our favourite sword stores carry a massive array of bits and pieces that delight and tickle a sword lovers funny bone..
Probably the best bit of advice I can give you is DON’T LEAVE THINGS TO THE LAST MINUTE!
There are a plethora of reasons to act early.
For a start, UPS, Fed-Ex, etc tend to get pretty congested in the lead up to Christmas – and placing a rush order at the last minute is not only risky in that the various courier and mail handling services have a much higher chance of being delayed than usual, but also a much higher risk of making a mistake or damaging your incoming parcel (they are pretty frazzled towards the end, and tend to treat parcels even rougher than usual – which is not a good thing at the best of times..)
But furthermore, if you leave it to the last minute – what happens if your vendor doesn’t ship on time, runs out of stock or otherwise has an issue that needs to be resolved? A sure fire way to ruin a swordy Christmas and leave Santa with eggnog on his face…
On the other hand, you don’t want to panic and buy too quickly – spend a day looking at some of the current options, ask some questions to vendors as usual and then sleep on it. You don’t want to wait too long (ordering the first week of December is ideal as it allows time for any delays or problems to be resolved in time) but you don’t want to rush it either. A nice balanced approach is best.
As mentioned before, I am making myself available to help as much as possible in the lead up to Christmas – so feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to help!
Well, that’s it for 2012 – as always we will back in February 2013 (remember, there is no January edition) so have a safe and Merry Christmas and look forward to talking to you all again next year!
My warmest and best regards to you all,
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