Decorative and Functional
Fantasy Swords

Fantasy swords, being products of the imagination, naturally come in all kinds of wondrous shapes and sizes.

In our sub US$300 price range, there are a plethora of swords to choose from with a fantasy theme. However, only problem is, most are nothing more than display ornaments - and many are so poorly executed that they fail even at that...

However, scratch below the surface - and sort through all the junk - and you can divide fantasy swords into two main categories: high quality display swords and functional fantasy pieces.

Both of these are quite rare in the sub US$300 price range, but they are there if you know where to look.

So take a journey with me now through the looking glass into the world of high fantasy, both magical and futuristic, as we meander through the exotic mindscapes of the pure and unfettered imagination...

Cheap Fantasy Swords

Now as I mentioned, there are a lot of very cheap fantasy styled swords available that are extremely questionable...

Most have extremely shoddy construction and are made for cents on the dollar in Pakistan or China, which becomes even more apparent when you 'pop the hood'...

Why a rat tail tang on a sword is a BAD thingAn example of a typical cheap fantasy sword with a classically bad spot welded 'rat tail tang'.

Unfortunately many of these swords look OK when they are photographed (in one piece) for the web, but are a major disappointment when you get them in your hands. And like many cheap stainless steel swords, the biggest problems with these swords is that they are constructed very poorly, often with loose (or soon to be loose) rattling hilts, fragile and/or brittle blades (that can sometimes be sharpened - which is not only a bad idea - but potentially lethal to the wielder if used!) and a complete lack of attention to detail.

Watch the video below to see what I mean...

Video: Cheap swords EXPOSED

Many sellers of cheap and nasty swords prefer you don't see this...

Fortunately, you don't have to pay a huge amount of money to dramatically improve the quality.

Quality Decorative Fantasy Swords
(That actually look good)

While the number of quality decorative blades is much less than the 'piles of crap' you can pick up for $20, there are some that stand head and shoulders above the rest.

But there is one name that comes up time and time again, Kit Rae.

Kit Rae and United Cutlery

Kit Rae

Kit Rae, in conjunction with United Cutlery, has been a designer of decorative fantasy swords and knives since 1984 and it is his designs that are the most commonly imitated with cheap knock offs.

As can be expected, the knock offs don't even come close to the real thing, and to make matters worse, some highly unethical sellers actually put up an image of original and then ship a $20 knock off instead, so be very careful where you buy them from...

Anyway, Kit's work creating fantasy knives, swords, axes and other hand weapons has a certain distinct flair and flavour - with an attention to detail that is extremely rare at this price point.

Considering that you can pick up the original designs for just under or just over the US$100 at such sellers as Replica Dungeon and Kult of Athena they are truly excellent value for money, and while the swords are not 'battle ready' (made from stainless steel, they are definitely not to be used for cutting - see our article on battle ready swords to know why it's not suitable) they more than fulfil their function as true three dimensional fantasy art and blow everything else right out of the water...


United Cutlery: Kit Rae

Price Range: $94-179

OVERVIEW: Until the Mithodin, I generally disdained fantasy swords. But I was more than willing to make an exception for this masterpiece of modern art. Considering the attention to detail, this sword is an absolute bargain and a must have for any lover of fantasy blades.

Click here for the full review


United Cutlery: Kit Rae

Price Range: US$104-198

OVERVIEW: Another winner from the 'swords of the ancients' collection by Kit Rae, the Exotath is a truly stunning, solid fantasy piece with incredible attention to detail. Highly recommended.

Click here for the full review

"Samurai 3000"

United Cutlery

Price Range: US$89-125

OVERVIEW: I love Katana. And I love fantasy swords. And I had my eye on this piece for a long time before I finally pulled the trigger. Shame I didn't do it sooner. But the bigger shame is that this thing isn't carbon steel.. (sniffles)

Click here for the full review

Fully Functional Fantasy Swords
(That you can actually cut stuff with)

There is something very powerful and 'magical' that happens when you fuse fantasy with functionality...

Personally, I feel that by making fantasy swords functional, it somehow seems to bridge the gap between the ethereal and the real - bringing an otherworldly design to life and giving it a very real presence that you just can get from a stainless steel decorative piece...

Despite this though, truly practical fantasy swords are very rare in the sword market, though most of the major manufacturers of historically inspired battle ready swords make one or two each.

Part of the reason for this rarity has to do with design constraints. In other words, many of the typical blade geometries depicted in fantasy simply don't work in the real world.

However, let's take a look at a few swords that DO work in the real world. And as we will see, some of these fantasy swords work very, very well indeed...

Windlass Steelcrafts Fantasy Swords

Windlass Steelcrafts have probably made more tempered carbon steel, full tang fantasy blades than just about every other manufacturer. Only problem is, as is often the case with Windlass, many of the best ones have been discontinued...

However on the bright side, there are still several designs that have withstood the test of time. And many more that have either just come out or are around the corner.

The majority of their fantasy designs are based on either role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons (ah, memories of a misspent, proudly geeky youth!) or official replicas based on books such as the Heron Mark from the wheel of time.

Below are some reviews of some classics that are still in production.

Windlass Fantasy Sword Reviews

"Raptor sword"

Windlass Steelcrafts

Price Range: $193-215

OVERVIEW: Now THIS is one mean fantasy sword. It looks cool, it's dirt cheap and it can cut like no-one's business. Highly recommended, it is Windlass Steelcrafts best functional fantasy sword to date.

Click here for the full review

"Heron mark sword"

Windlass Steelcrafts

Price Range: $247-275

OVERVIEW: It's probably a must have for die hard fans of the Wheel of Time series, and at least it IS a high carbon steel blade. But general fantasy sword enthusiasts may not have much interest...

Click here for the full review


Click on the image for the Archived Review

Twinkle: From Forgotten Realms, the dark elf sword of Drizzt Do'Urden and the twin sword of Icingdeath had a funny name, but was the better of the two. And despite some misgivings, I did like it quite a bit.

Hanwei Forge Fantasy Swords

While Hanwei only really have one sword to contribute to our functional fantasy line up, it's arguably one of the best (and the cheapest around).

Hanwei Fantasy Sword Reviews

"Dark Sentinel"

Hanwei Forge

Price Range: $119-165

OVERVIEW: It's a kind of weird hybrid between a Katana and a European Duelling sword, the Dark Sentinel is both fast and extremely strong. Not to mention, also very affordable - and a staple of every fantasy sword enthusiasts collection.

Click here for the full review

Darksword Armory Fantasy Swords

When it comes to a solid variety of a tough fantasy blades, Darksword Armoury pretty much have the market cornered at the low to mid price point.

Over the years, they have refined the models they offer, and are the only company to offer fully functional versions of the LoTR Ranger, Anduril and Witchking swords, plus some of their own unique fantasy designs.

Darksword Armory Fantasy Sword Reviews

"The Guardian"

Darksword Armory

Price Range: $424.99

OVERVIEW: An original design, this eminently functional sword is both elegant and powerful. In this review we take a look at this sword through the eyes of its designer, from an original sketch to the final steel in his hands.

Click here for the full review

"The Carpathian"

Darksword Armory

Price Range: $409.99

OVERVIEW: The evil twin to the Guardian sword, the Carpathian is a leaf bladed sword with a vampiric theme. Sturdy, well, made and powerful - it is the epitome of what a fully functional fantasy sword should be.

Click here for the full review


Click on the image for the Archived Review

Finally, the King of all Fantasy Swords, the LIGHTSABER!

Now unfortunately, there is no such thing as a functional lightsaber. But the higher end market for lightsabers is not for purely decorative pieces either - they are for heavy duty sparring sabers used in workshops and classes all over the world like in this video below..

While there are quite a few companies making them, including the officially licensed Hasbro line, we personally quite like those made by Saberforge - click here for an interview with their founder and check out the hands on review below to see what all the fuss is about.

"Custom Lightsaber"

Saber Forge

Approx $520

OVERVIEW: With a huge variety of lines, they have something for everyone, whether they want to spar or just want the hilt as a costume accessory. Here we try out the champion level sparring blade.

Click here for the full review

Further Resources

You may be interested in a tutorial on how to turn the BLADE of ANY sword into a fantasy style runic engraved piece with our guide to electro chemical etching that you can use to add a decorative pattern to ANY blade using vinyl stencils!

Click here for our DIY guide to engraving a blade using this method

I should also mention that there is some crossover between Fantasy swords which are based more on art and pure imagination and those which are replicas of blades seen in various movies, comics and Japanese Anime of course. So for more fantasy swords that are based on the latter category, check out our guide to TV, Anime and Movie swords here

I hope this information on fantasy swords has been helpful.To return to the SBG Homepage from Decorative and Functional Fantasy Swords, click here

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