To find a good replica rapier these days is no easy task if you are on a budget - or simply don't want to spend thousands..
Most are poorly made, historically inaccurate or discontinued (so only ever able to be purchased at rarely visited sword stores or on the secondary sword market.)
However, in recent years Windlass Steelcrafts may have staged a come-back and finally done the impossible - and that is to create a functional, historically accurate, good handling rapier below the $300 price point..
They came close with the Pilsen (reviewed here), it had good handling and looked the part - but unless you had the hands of a child, you could not use it without the hilt crushing your fingers and sending you off to the emergency ward.
But the sword we will see below, well - it may just be the ticket..
Review by SBG member Uhlan
For those having little time and/or who are averse to reading long texts: Go out and buy the thing!
To the rest: Follow me....
The image above depicts the natural environment where the Imperat feels
at home. Shed any notions of the rapier being an instrument of little
substance like the Hanwei Taza, the Bone Handle, the Gustav or even the
Pilsen. Shed any notion of it being a easy fencer of little weight and
stiff as a board. If you are into "the rapier must handle like a
beefier small sword, preferably in a Disneyesque context'', this one is
not for you.
This rapier is of the military kind, as was the original. Of substantial build, these would cut and thrust.
Here are some of the Imperat's brethern:
As you can observe, there is nothing of the civilian rapier here. The Imperat has much of the Reit Schwert (Battle Sword) in it and I am happy to be able to say that Windlass hit the bullseye with this one.
The hilt is an almost one on one copy of the original in the Tower of London.
Here are the images so you can see them side by side:
Even the detail of the shell is the same.
So that is good. Even the bars are of the same thickness. Good job Windlass!
The blade cannot be like the original though. Not in this price bracket. Evenso, Windlass made just the right blade here. The balance is perfect for a sword like this.
The POB is a little under 1" in front of the shell plates. Though the distal taper is not much, the blade starts with 4.7 mm and ends with 3.2 mm at 1" from the tip, the taper of the blade corrects the mass. As far as I can see the mass of the old blade is quite the same. The POB confirms this. With this good copy of the hilt and the mass of the blade combined, the balance is neutral, as in very good for the type.
Point control is excellent, as is penetration power. It cuts too, as you can observe in the video at 5.12.
People who worry that the blade must be too flexible because, "well, it
is a Windlass'', can lay those worries to rest. Though there is flex,
as it must be for this military variant of the rapier, said flex is just
right. Again, observe it in the video.
I did some testing too and
could not see any flexing at all. The target was a big, thick walled,
shipping box filled with lose carton and other stuff. The free floating "stuffing'' in the box makes for a difficult to penetrate target, but
here are the results:
Notice how close the wall is? I had to keep that in mind and could not
go all out. Another thing was that while stabbing with half an eye on
the blade to see the flexing, I, with no training at all, ended up with a
grouping of holes of 2" square. Very good. It even went so far that
when I wanted to, I had no difficulty in getting 3 out of 5 hits in the
same hole at 2 meters distance. Good point control.
Handling: This is a military rapier. It is a weapon and not like the
Hanwei Taza, Bone Handle, the Gustav or even the modern version of the
Pilsen. It has weight, 1.5 kg. The balance is great, as is point
control. It is not a light fencer, but the blade goes where you want it,
without any problem. It is darn good.
One thing to do is the removal of the sharp edges that bite into the fingers while doing the open grip. The nut construction should make this easy. Never the less, it is a must. Gloves do NOT help. In the original some edges were soft, see the images.
The grip may need some work too.
Without gloves is may get slippery a bit. With gloves it is no problem
at all and as these swords were handled with gloves on all the time, it
is up to the owner to make up his or her mind about that.
This is a Windlass bullseye. The best in a long time. They missed big time with the Italian Sword Rapier,
and most of the others in the windlass line, but this one is good. Very
good. It punches way above its class and A&A can take a hike with
A thing for consideration though is that I felt very strongly that you have to give the rapier a chance to connect. It took me a couple of hours to get in touch with it, but now it is a real joy to handle. It feels so darn good. I have a bunch of replicas and some antiques. This one is a steal.
I hope this review of the Windlass Christus Imperat Rapier has been helpful. To return to Renaissance Swords from Best Replica Rapier at an affordable price point, click here