The Hjalmar Viking sword review is the second in a series of reviews, following on from the 10th century Viking sword, also made by the BCI artisans for Clyde Hollis's Kingdom of Arms sword line.
How does it compare and contrast to the first sword? And is it worth the relatively hefty price point compared to other, entry level Viking swords?
Let's take a look and see..
Viking Sword Review by Philippe Goulet, CANADA
A 46-year-old Canadian, I have been collecting swords for
about sixteen years. I own all sorts of weapons… ranging from movie
replicas, historical replicas, fantasy weapons and a mix of all of these
at the same time! I am by no means a weapons expert, nor a historian,
nor a time traveler who thinks I know everything (like some folks on
internet). I'm just a fan who likes to add shiny steel items to his
armory. I am not used to making very elaborate reviews, but I am
launching here to present this magnificent sword which had piqued my
curiosity. The sword inspired by the Swedish Saga’s of Hjalmar and
This is not my first Kingdom of Arms sword. I was hesitant to get one at the beginning because I heard left and right that for the price point ($700 USD), the fit and the finish left something to be desired. After all, these swords are painstakingly handcrafted and perfection cannot always be demanded.
I'm usually very critical of the artwork I display in my armory, although I know that historically swords were far from perfect. I had the chance to review one Kingdom of Arms 10th Century Viking Sword this year and I was not disappointed. Then, knowing my great interest in Viking swords, Clyde Hollis (owner of Kingdom of Arms) sent me this sword so that I could also review it. We concluded that I would do an honest review. I was not asked anything specific. I therefore have no affiliation with them and I am in no way an expert in weapons, as mentioned in my introduction. So, let's start.
"The Hjalmar Swedish Legend is well known. Kingdom of Arms has sought to create a version of this fabled Viking sword.
The story of Hjalmar and Ingeborg is well known from Norse and Swedish Lore. But his reputation as a courageous and valiant warrior reached the very upmost parts of Norway. So Orvar-Odd wanted to test Hjalmar in battle... Anyway. If you don't know of this legend and tales of battle and romance, look it up.
We at Kingdom of Arms sought to create a handmade sword fit for the hero! It is hand forged from virgin 5160 carbon steel. Tempered and fully functional (Battle Ready).
5160 Tempered carbon steel blade.
Guard and pommel are made from a quality low carbon steel and antiqued to lower the possibility of rust from handling.
Scabbard made from wood textile wrapping as an original Norse sword scabbard would have been made.
A quality sword demands a quality scabbard! Just like a great car needs a great paint job. They go together.
The Hjalmar Viking Sword Handmade by Kingdom of Arms is the product you didn't think you need, but once you have it, something you won't want to live without."
Kingdom of Arms Swords is the latest project by sword industry legend Clyde Hollis, the man who originally started Generation 2 (now known as Legacy Arms). To know more about this swords line, click here
Note: I have done business with Clyde Hollis/Kingfom of Arms in the past, and the customer and after-sales service is, in my opinion, excellent.
First, this sword is not a replica of a historical find. It is a sword inspired by a Viking legend, but the blade and the handle are faithful to period swords.
So, the sword arrives wrapped in thin
bubble wrap, and all wrapped in cardboard.
This roll is loose in the rectangle box so they walk around. It's not the best packaging I've seen but it's not the worst either. So that's not an issue for me.
The sword and the scabbard arrived after all without damage. A good layer of grease has been applied to the blade (also on the belt loop) to prevent rust. It was easy to remove it with a clothe… but I cut my fingertip wiping the grease off, immediate proof that the blade is sharp!
Because these swords are hand made, each will be slightly different. Here is what was received compared with the variation from the manufacturers stats in brackets to give you an idea of standard variations that make each sword a little unique.
So for this specific Hjalmar Viking sword, the blade is a fraction of an inch shorter, the handle a fraction of an inch longer and it is quite a bit lighter in the hand, but maintains the same overall stats and characteristics.
According to Oakeshott's blade typology, the blade is type X.
Oakeshott X describes swords that were common in the late Viking age and remained in use until the 13th century. The blades of these swords are narrower and longer than the typical Viking sword, marking the transition to the knightly sword of the High Middle Ages.
The blade is made of 5160 carbon steel. Since I'm not a metallurgy expert, I can't verify if this is really what Kingdom of Arms used in the Philippines forge. However, I know that 5160 steel is exceptionally tough and resilient. It sports a high level of resistance to fatigue, has high ductility, and has good spring qualities useful for applications where flexibility is desired.
In order to lighten and help a blade perform, it is often said that there must be distal taper. Distal tapering refers to a blade's cross-section thinning from its base to its tip. Unfortunately, there is very little on this blade, it is the same thickness most of the way but nevertheless starts to thin 8 inches from the tip (3.8 mm to 3.6 mm).
The blade of this sword comes sharpened from the manufacturer. The blade is not razor sharp but still sharp enough that I cut my finger while trying to remove grease before my review . I would say mid-sharp. There is no visible wave in the blade, no forging mark and it is straight.
The length of the blade is about 30'' (just as announced). The peen is not very wide at 5mm but everything seems to be assembled very solidly. When we hit a hard object or simply our knee (with the flat of the blade or course!) at the point of percussion, we hear no rattling. Everything is in place.
There is also a good flex to this blade, bent it in both directions and it went back to true. It should also be noted that Kingdom of Arms swords do not have maker's marks on the blade. I'm not against maker's mark when its well made. A personal aesthetic choice!
The hilt is one of the components that attracted me the most when I first saw this sword. It reminded me a lot of the version made by Valiant Armory a few years ago.
Now that I have the sword in hand, I see that it is ultimately very different, especially in terms of the general dimensions of the fittings. Everything is well-aligned and solid. The length of the grip seemed perfect at 3''3/4, as listed by the websites where this sword is for sale. Unfortunately, what was my surprise to find that in reality the length of the grip is rather 4.5''. That's a big difference. Some Viking sword makers make grips too long for my tastes, often up to 5”. They say it's at the request of the distributors (?). Having often discussed with other collectors of swords from this period, we nevertheless prefer a shorter and more historical grip between 3.5 and 4.0 inches.
Do they ask to have longer grips for those who do HEMA and who have to handle the sword with big thick gloves? I can't say. So we have a common 4.5’’ grip with this sword. It's not that bad for some but personally I would have preferred it as advertised (3.75’’). The hilt fit nicely to the blade. Virtually no Gap. As mentioned above, everything seems solid and no rattling.
The guard measures 4.5'' wide and holds the hand well. It is curved a little but not enough to make the sword's handling uncomfortable for the hand. As mentioned above, there is practically no gap between the guard and the blade. Very good fit.
The pommel seems a bit small compared to the hilt, but this is probably because they are only 4.5” apart!
According to the Petersen Classification, the hilt is type D, with 3 lobes for the pommel, which is typical of 10th century Viking swords. The trilobed pommel is not riveted, it is a single piece. Nevertheless, it is peened, which ensures a good secure attachment, which makes the sword fully functional. Everything is well-fixed and solid, but the peen is quite small… a point of 5 mm, which could make fear as for the solidity of this model. But at first glance how mentioned, everything seems very solid. Filipino blades still have a very good reputation.
The scabbard seems historically correct. It is made of a wood core, wrapped in leather. It seems very solid. Simple and not overly decorated, it does the job nonetheless.
Contrary to what we are used to seeing from manufacturers of swords replicas, Kingdom of Arms did not terminate the scabbard with a metal chape. In fact, the scabbard terminates in what may have been a more commonly utilized farbric wrap. Throughout history, far more sword relics have been found than the corresponding metal scabbard chapes. This could leave us to presume that actually wrapping a piece of hardware around the end of the scabbard would have been more common than one might think with Viking swords, and the metal shape not so extensive. This representation I think gives a cachet to the whole.
But the basic problem with this version of Kingdom of Arms is
that the fabric used is far too white. It looks like surgical bandage.
The contrast is really huge with the rest of the sheath which is relatively dark. However, it is possible to dye it or simply replace it with leather if it feels like too much of an eyesore..
I had already read that another collector had a problem
with the scabbard of this sword. The sword just wouldn't come out. It
was like stuck inside, not so practical to draw if you get attacked!
However, I do not have this problem with my duo. On the opposite, the
sword goes in well and comes out well, it is even too loose inside and
you can definitely hear it bouncing in the scabbard when you shake the
scabbard, so there is not really any retention unfortunately. This may
annoy some collectors but it is not something that bothers me a lot.
Another special mention on my personal tastes, I would have liked to
find a belt on the scabbard. I like to have a belt wrapped around the
scabbard when my swords are on display.
Kingdom of Arms based the scabbard on what explained in this video…
Honestly, without doing a destruction test, I still tried to knock wood and the sword handled well. I nicked the wood easily and there was no rolling or warping of the blade. I know that many collectors like to see water bottles waltzing into pieces in the air, but it's often only the sharpening of the blade that we analyze in these cases, which can be very different from blade to blade, and this for the same model. Also, I treat my swords like works of art, and I don't see the point in unnecessary destruction tests, so I went lightly. There are other ways to analyze the handling of swords than trying to destroy them. That's my personal opinion. Now concerning the Hjalmar Viking sword, I can however tell you that this sword is very comfortable to handle. The grip is a bit long but the handle offers a good grip and the guard/pommel combo does not hurt the hand (probably because of the length!).
Overall, I like this sword. The Quality/Control is better than I would have imagined and Kingdom of Arms have a great Customer Service. Very comfortable to handle and the scabbard is quite unique and out of the ordinary. Yes, Kingdom of Arms swords are high priced at $700, but they are all hand made by skilled blade smiths. The tempering of BCI is superior to many other mid range because even though they are not heat treated and tempered with digital time soak treatments, they are old school just like the originals. So lot of blades end up getting rejected requiring multiple re-forgings until a perfect temper surfaces, and that costs a lot of money.
It's certainly not a perfect sword, but it's no ceremonial Viking King's sword: the Hjalmar Viking sword is the sword of a warrior,
of a hero! Simplicity at its best. A plus for the Viking warrior in you
who wants to fight to win the heart of a Swedish princess! I'm giving 4
stars out of five for this sword.
I hope this review of the Hjalmar Viking Sword was helpful. To return to Viking Swords from the Hjalmar Viking Sword Review, click here