The Dark Age sword by Windlass SteelCrafts was the first sword sent to Skallagrim when he joined the SBG review team.
And while he didn't find this sword to his personal tastes (and it has since been discontinued - I hope not on account of this review! Lol), the review below is a good indication of how some Windlass Viking Swords are hits, some are misses - and others - like this one, are really neither here nor there..
Review by Skallagrim
Here it is, my first SBG-sponsored sword
to review - feels good.
Among the swords that Paul proposed this one immediately caught my eye.
I generally like pre-medieval swords but havent seen so many reproductions in that direction so far and therefore I didn't hesitate to take the welcomed chance of getting one.
The pommel and guard had a special influence on my decision as well because of their bronze-like appearance which is always a bonus for me.
Kult of Athena offers the sword for $189.95 (+$18.00 for sharpening).
Blade length: 80 cm / 27.5 inch
Blade width: 5 cm / 2 inch
Grip length (without pommel): 10 cm / 4 inch
Overall: 96 cm / 37.8 inch
Guard width: 9 cm / 3.5 inch
POB (point of balance): 19 cm / 7.5 inch from the guard
Weight: 1.74 kilogram / 3 lb 13 oz
My first thought when pulling the sword out from its package was simply Damn, is this thing heavy!. Im used to much lighter swords, either because of their small size or because of their superior construction (in case of Albion) and this colossus overwhelmed me with its weight that would be appropriate for a large hand-and-a-half sword. Maybe after 3 years in the Gym it wouldn't feel so heavy anymore .
The second thing that caught my attention was the sharpness. Kult of Athena did a great job on sharpening the blade; it cut paper completely effortless. Its the sharpest sword blade that Ive laid my hands on so far. I instantly asked myself whether such a sharp edge would last long on a sword, especially when used on tougher targets. We shall see
The pommel and guard are made of antiqued brass and look very attractive. I havent quite understood why they made the surface with all these little "dent holes" or whatever I should call it but well, you get used to it after a while. The handle is made of wood and covered with brown leather. The shape of the handle is something I particularly like: the risers provide a very comfortable and secure grip. The handle fits very well into the hand, prevents slipping and looks better than a simple smooth handle. As far as I can tell the leather sits very tight on the handle and the seam on the side looks well done so I would expect it to last without wearing down much.
There is very little space between blade and guard and the whole hilt construction has a nicely tight fit. The triangular piece on top of the pommel is a separate part and threaded onto the tang. Usually the word threaded is my arch enemy in combination with swords but as you will see this sword weakened my extreme dislike of threaded constructions a bit. At least a bit
I still prefer even a mediocre peened construction over a high end threaded one but thats just me.
Now this is finally a sword I review with a guard that actually prevents slipping up on the blade entirely. It is large enough to keep the hand securely on the handle, whatever you do with it. But wait, isnt this almost exclusively relevant for thrusting? And thrusting with such a roundish point doesnt make much sense, you say? Yeah, right
it doesnt. But anyway, it would protect your hand if you chose to do so, lets leave it at that.
In my personal opinion the blade is rather on the plain, unattractive side. It has no fuller, no central ridge and no distal taper. Overall its just the smooth, highly polished blade. For me this is quite a big drawback but on the other hand you cant really expect such features in this price range.
The blade polish does not match my taste well either; the surface is just too reflective and looks well, how should I describe it cheap? I mean, its not really bad and not mirror polish but its just too shiny for me. Might be because Im used to Albion satin finish and like it the most. On the other hand this finish gives nice sun reflections on the blade, as you will see in the video.
Ive already mentioned the sharpness and am very satisfied with Kult of Athenas sharpening service. The blade came extremely sharp and makes you want to be extremely careful when fumbling with it. It is capable of very clean cuts, or should I say would be if the sword was lighter and thus controllable? *cough*
The scabbard is made of thick, rigid brown leather. It looks nice and is properly sewn but overall nothing special. Its very light but has a few disadvantages when compared to a wooden scabbard. It does not hold the blade in place which will fall out when you tilt the scabbard too much. And I must say that Im a bit concerned about my fingers when pulling the sword out. When doing that I never put my fingers or hand directly on the edge sides
you never know when the edge suddenly cuts through the leather and into your flesh. Every time I pull the sword out the edges cut a little into the leather and the blade is covered with lots of tiny leather bits.
So the leather scabbard is not a perfect solution and does little more than to protect the blade from dust.
While I praised the Spatha for its light weight and agility its exactly the other way around with the Dark Age sword. It weighs too much, is blade heavy and clumsy. I cant put it any other way.
The handling is what spoils the sword, plain and simple. Recovering after a strike takes ages when compared to my other swords. If you dont pay attention and don't try hard to stop the blade you can end up spinning around when swinging the sword. Well, if youre built like the guys at Cold Steel this might not apply to you. If I was forced to take either this sword or a crowbar to battle I would have to think about it Well, in the end I would probably choose the sword but not with the greatest of confidence.
I know, Im spoiled by Albion but hey, if my hand-and-a-half sword weighs 400 g / 14 oz less than this one handed sword its a bit disturbing.
The other thing that complicates the handling a bit is common with migration period and Viking swords in general. The pommel is so large that it will dig into the wrist when swinging which is uncomfortable and will even hurt after a while. The hand shake grip solves this problem but on this sword it's not perfectly comfortable either. Its alright but could be better.
As you might have guessed by now the handling is the weak side on the Dark Age sword. Its not the worst I can imagine but certainly not exactly what I call a pleasure.
The sharpness and the smooth blade geometry resulted in satisfying cutting performance. If the sword was less awkward to wield the result would have been outstanding but because of the difficult controllability the edge alignment is a hard task. Nevertheless it sheers through tatami mats and water bottles without resistance. The pure force of the heavy blade in motion drives the sharp edge recklessly through the targets. The more resistance the target offers the more devastating the result I would say.
To put it briefly the sword cuts well but its neither easy nor too enjoyable. Its really rare that I put down a sword after some test cuts, not feeling like swinging it anymore. Its a harsh conclusion but I cant put it any other way.
I let the results speak for themselves now:
VIDEO: Dark Age Sword Cutting Tests|
Testing the blade on a variety of targets
The durability test I did at the end of the video was quite tough but did not do any damage whatsoever to the blade. Even after hacking through thick tree branches the edge kept its sharpness. The only damage on the sword was the pommel and the grip twisting slightly sideways, without any loosening or rattling of the hilt assembly. After screwing the triangular piece off and disassembling the sword I could not find any damage on the tang or other parts. Assembling it properly again fixed the problem and the sword looks good as new again. Considering the amount of punishment the sword took the threaded construction endured surprisingly well.
The twisted hilt:
What can I say, the sword has a nice looking hilt, decent grip, plain but sturdy blade and a fitting that is able to take some stress. Unfortunately the handling is its death. I've never handled a sword that heavy and I dare to assume that if the Germanians had wielded such clumsy swords the Romans would have conquered them in no time. So what can I tell you?
If youre strongly built and dont mind struggling a bit to keep the sword controlled you will have a tough beater and brute cleaver with this sword that will make mincemeat of almost everything. The big plus is that you dont have to reach deep into your pockets to purchase one. For that price range the sword is surprisingly sturdy and cuts pretty well.
Overall I should say that this is a decent sword with a major flaw. I dont think I will keep it as Im too spoiled by light, nicely balanced swords but some of you might nevertheless like it. Its all a matter of personal perception and preference I just tried to give you an impression of what to expect. Despite my own dislike of the handling: if you dont mind heavy swords I can recommend the Dark Age sword as a low priced sword with a good value for the money.
I hope this review of the Windlass Dark Age Sword was helpful. To return to Modern Replicas of Viking Swords from Windlass Dark Age Sword Review, click here