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Sword Buyers Digest - November 2009
November 01, 2009

Paul Southren Second to last issue for 2009, and I’ve got some real treats in store for you all..!

First off, there’s some great news from Darksword Armory – with several significant upgrades to their product line, and LOWER prices too! But it’s also time to open up on on new custom Katana orders, take a look at a couple of sites that inspired SBG in the beginning, a very cool video on how to make your own wooden Bokken, one of my favorite free sword games and a special deal on one of Hanwei’s highest end blades that has to be seen to be believed...

So let’s get into it – starting with a recap of what has been a VERY busy month at SBG...!


2. SBG Sword Store News
3. BLAST FROM THE PAST: “The review that inspired SBG...”
5. VIDEO OF THE MONTH – ‘Making a Bokken’
7. FREE SWORD FLASH GAME – ‘Barbarian!’


Well, the heavy lifting on the site wide overhaul is finally done and the end is finally in sight! I had no idea it would be as intensive as it was – it was certainly not as easy as pushing a button and transforming the site overnight, mostly because each page had to be recoded to the new format individually – and I had to go over each review and update it as many swords had been discontinued or had been modified/improved...

Every review now finishes with the same format, a combination of a basic 5 star rating system and a ‘pros and cons’ summary.

4 Star Rating

To reflect new additions on the market, some swords had their ratings downgraded slightly, while others that had been improved or tweaked were upgraded – but essentially any changes to their overall score are relatively minor, and I think that it helps to have a kind of comparative reference score that is based on the swords overall quality and it’s value for money ratio (all ratings are of course going to be a bit objective, but I’ve done my best to ensure that it is a good a summary of the swords overall quality and value as possible).

Another addition is a brief summary of my personal picks for each section, which will of course be updated as new products enter the market.

To be completely honest, I am totally over the overhaul now and rearing to add some more reviews and content that have backed up the last few months, but with only a couple more major pages to go, it should not be long until you start seeing some new reviews and content.

Plus, I have several new community based sections that I plan to be adding – two of which are basically just for fun (as you guys know, I have a pretty warped sense of humour, so stay tuned for some light hearted sections coming to a page near you!).

Of course, all of this messing around with SBG has meant that the momentum for the sister site has slowed down to a crawl, but as soon as we get back to speed with SBG it will be a high priority for 2010 to see it developed to it’s full potential. (If I had to say how far from ‘complete’ the sites were, I would have to say that SBG is around 50% complete, and SMG 10%, just to give you an idea of how many more ideas and projects I have in mind for the two sites!).

It is STILL early days.. That much is for sure...


Anyone who has been with me for a while now knows that I loved Darksword Armory swords since I first got my hands on their medieval knight sword and tried my hardest to bust it up in my test to destruction review...

But since this time, Eyal and the boys have proved themselves to be extremely responsive to feedback both from myself and from the sword community as a whole.

People wanted a historically accurate and durable peened pommel, and for the last 8 months or so, the majority of their line have been peened. Others wanted a lighter range of swords, and a sharpening option, and they came through on those two things as well.

But the most recent upgrades have taken it to another level yet again – first off, some of the old handle wraps that I didn’t like – such on the Oslo Viking sword – have been replaced by a hard wearing and durable, straightforward leather wrap over cord.

New Oslo Viking Wrap

Secondly, the blades themselves now have a much higher level of polish. And thirdly, the scabbards – the most oft complained and noted issue with DSA have been redesigned, and are much thinner, better fitting and with a more attractive chape.

New DSA Polish and Scabbard

But a select number of their swords now also have a super attractive custom suspenion belt upgrade for $70 option that puts the swords in a whole new league again.

New custom scabbard and belt option

And if that was not enough, they are about to introduce some stunning new products! While Eyal has shown me some pics, I promised not to reveal them until the grand unveiling – but to give you a taster of what is to come; new models will include a Falchion, a Claymore, an archers sword, two migration swords, a Saber and a rapier - to name just a few...

Gotta love what these guys have been doing, but trust me, you haven’t seen anything yet!

NOTE: despite all of these improvements, I have actually LOWERED my prices on quite a few DSA models here at the SBG Sword Store, further increasing the kind of value for money you get from this line, as well as adding a few new models with many more yet to come..! Plus of course we still offer free shipping to the USA and Canada!

Click to have another look at our selected range of DSA swords and new (lower) prices..!


I am pleased to say that the forge has completed the most recent batch of custom Katana orders from September ahead of schedule and that they are shipping out to my agent in Canada as we speak for final inspection, sorting and then shipping to their designers and new owners...

Below, I have included a few snapshots taken by the forge of some of the designs that the customers from September customers came up with, shot before the forge packed them away for shipping:

SBG Custom Katana

SBG Custom Katana

SBG Custom Katana

Of course, this means that with all the orders finally out the door (even though I was originally planning that we would not be opening up on new orders until next year) – instead of have the forge sit there twidding their thumbs ...


So if you have been waiting around for the opportunity to design your own T10 differentially hardened custom Katana for just $330 shipped – now is definitely time to get your order in.

Click here to design your own SBG Custom Katana!

“The Reviews that inspired SBG..”

When SBG was just a pipe-dream, there were not a lot of sites that offered the sword buying public sword reviews and information – which is of course one of the reasons why SBG was started in the first place...

SFI (Sword Forum International) had a few, but they were far from standardized and not easy to find. MyArmory was probably the closest to a true sword review resource, but of course concentrated almost exclusively on high end production swords (Albion especially), and it’s focus was/is purely on european swords. But there were two other sites out there that inspired me, and I suppose in a way gave me some guideposts to get SBG going in the right direction...

The first site was Phil Elmore’s the Martialist - because it showed that it was not necessary to be a martial arts master or sword expert to be able to review a sword or blade in a meaningful, practical (and often lighthearted and conversational) way.

But the main review that I thought ‘I want SBG to be like this’ was’s review of the Nahuarra sword - because it was critical, yet enthusiastic – and it was clear that these guys, like me, just loved to cut stuff up..! ^_^

While I certainly did not copy these websites or review styles, I suppose that they got me thinking – and made me realize that there was no reason why I could not create a sword review and information website myself. And for that, I’d like to say thank you to these two sites – and if you haven’t seen them before, they are great fun to read…


What would Uhtred Uhtredson’s sword look like?
Ok, I’ll admit it – probably only fans of Bernard Cornwells excellent books on the Saxon (with a Danish heart) will wonder what his sword ‘Serpent Breath’ would look like... And until then, read the books – and come back to see later, the books in this series are some of my personal all time favorites...

Is getting a good tsuka core a matter of luck?
4 swords from well known and respected brands. 2 cracked tsuka... Why it happens and what it means (pics are big and take a while to load, but are resized once loaded).

What are the signs of good smithing?
Some of SBG’s best sword makers spill the beans on what to look for in a good custom sword.

Cutting is not as easy as it seems...
Cutting tips and advice from the forums best slicers and dicers (long and VERY helpful and informative thread)..


Every Japanese sword enthusiast should have at least one decent bokken (wooden practice sword).

And while there are some good ones on the market (and plenty of not so good ones) – the most rewarding bokken is the one that you make yourself...

In this months video of the month Aikido practitioner Rich Myers from Rei Mon Buki condenses 3 hours of work into 10 minutes to show you how he makes his own...

Youtube vid of the Month

You Tube Video of the Month

But best of all, there are actually a series of step by step instructional vids on his youtube page here for everyone looking for a little more detail..


I must admit that back in the day, I was something of a gamer. And while SBG keeps me so busy that I almost never have time to indulge myself with a good game, I must admit that every now and again when I need a 5 minute break or am waiting for something to load, a quick free flash game often hits the spot...

And nothing hits the spot better than – BARBARIAN!

Now this is probably showing my age, because Barbarian is an updated, flash remake of the old Commodore 64 game by the same name – a game I used to play for hours, and hours on end..

Quite simply, the game uses the arrow keys to move and the space bar plus the arrow keys to attack and block incoming attacks. While you have health circles, it can all be over in the blink of an eye too - as a spinning chop can remove a head with a single blow...

Click to play

A real trip down memory lane for me, and a very cool game for you guys to kill the odd spare moment (and barbarian warrior) here and there.. ;-)

Only one more issue to go before the new year, so hope you guys and girls are starting to get all your Christmas shopping done..! (well, I am sure that the girls are – let’s be honest, most of us guys leave it to the last minute!).

See you again next month! Until then, ‘happy swordening..!’

Paul Southren

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