The Kingdom of Arms Irish Kern Sword is a faithful replica of an actual antique Irish sword (Oakeshott Type XIX) used by the Gaelic mercenary warriors known the Kern.
Hand made by the artisans from Blade Culture International in the Philippines, in this hands on review we take a look at this particular design up close and personal.
Review by SBG member, Aikidoka
From the Kingdom of Arms website:
"The Irish Kern Sword - A Kern was a Gaelic warrior, specifically a light infantrymen, in Ireland in the late middle ages. Sometimes this army was composed of displaced nobility and other times commoners who were in search of loot, these were mercenary forces that saw action in many conflicts across the British Isles."
The five single hand Irish swords pictured above are housed in the Nation Museum of Ireland. The Irish ring-pommel sword from Kingdom of Arms is similar in size to the second sword in the image above (PORTGLENONE). It has a 3.8 inch grip and a 7.5 inch wide S-shaped guard. The grip length of this example is by far the longest of the 5 swords. One of the swords has a 2.8 inch grip, another is 3 inches even, and the other 2 swords have grips that are 3.25 inches. Unfortunately, only about 1/3 of the blade has survived, so we don't have an accurate weight or length for this sword.
I am not affiliated with Kingdom of Arms or Clyde Hollis. I bought this sword at full price with my own money.
The 33.75 inch blade has a 2 inch ricasso and a fuller that extends halfway down the blade.
The hilt has an S-shaped guard that is common to these Irish ring-pommel swords. The grip is 3.8 inches in length. The pommel is a straight cylindrical shape, with the tang visible as it passes through the ring to be peened to a peen block on the end of the pommel.
As can be seen in all the pictures above, this sword comes with a leather wrapped, wood core scabbard. It has a brass chape and decorative band, and it has buckles to allow it to be attached to a belt.
As I describe in the following video, I realized after my initial cutting session that I should have been holding the sword with a finger over the guard. Gripping the sword without a finger over the guard, the sword is heavy and unwieldy, and the grip is very uncomfortable to cut with. Once I started using the finger over the guard, the sword became much more lively, the grip became perfectly comfortable, and the sword gained more functionality as false-edge cut are now possible using this grip.
The Bottom Line
This reproduction of an Irish Ring Hilt sword performs well and is a good value at about $600. I look forward to seeing more mid-range ($500-$700) European swords from Kingdom of Arms.
I hope that this review of the Irish Kern Sword has been helpful. To return to Affordable Replicas of Medieval Swords from Irish Kern Sword Review, click here