Of all the Roman swords on offer, the Roman Wasp Waisted Gladius by Generation 2 may not be the most historically accurate, or even the prettiest. But after putting it to the test I can assure you that this is easily one of the most functional and sturdy blades that I have had the privilege of owning...
Review by SBG Editor in Chief, Paul Southren
At US$232, a price that has barely moved in 20 years, this sword really is a bargain. However considering its fairly low price tag, plus a fair bit of marketing hype surrounding the Generation 2 line, I must admit that when I first opened the box I was a little skeptical - after all - this was my first purchase of a Generation 2 sword...
Now at first, its hard to get a good look at this sword when you first get it.
To start off, its tightly wrapped by a layer of plastic.
Underneath the plastic there is also a more than generous coating of a type of petroleum jelly, which I assume is used to protect it from rust while it is stored awaiting sale.
So before you can see it properly you need to spend some time cleaning off the gunk with some paper and cloth.
Anyway, after I got it de-greased I took some time to check it out.
This sword looks nice enough. In terms of historical accuracy, its certainly not Hollywood but it is never-the-less very contemporary. And while it might look good as an ornament, thats not what its for.
"Even a cursory examination reveals that there is no doubt this sword has been designed to be USED!"
The fittings are what you would expect from a solidly designed beater sword. Simple and functional with a somewhat rustic look and feel.
And its also immediately apparent that this sword is very solidly constructed.
From the black pommel with capstan nut, to the attractive and comfortable wooden handle and its layered, sturdy handguard with solid steel spacers this sword is tightly assembled and can withstand a tremendous amount of abuse. (In fact, quite recently I dropped it quite forcibly onto some solid flagstones. And the worst of it was a very loud noise, and a small cosmetic dent in the wooden pommel!)
The scabbard though seems like more of an afterthought than anything else. It is just a little too simple, being nothing more than folded and stitched leather with a loop to affix to a belt and doesn't compare to the more ornate and historically accurate ones produced by Windlass and Deepeeka.
But since the blade is razor sharp, I am not sure it as this really isnt the kind of sword that would suit a historical re-enactor anyway (unless they were after a little too much realism in their next fight scene!)
Besides being strong and sharp, the blade itself is actually pretty authentically shaped with a wasp waist typical of earlier Roman swords and similar in its basic design to many other leaf shaped ancient swords in general.
While the finish showed some obvious light horizontal grind lines from a somewhat inferior final polish, the blade itself is extremely strong with just the right flex not too much and not too little showing a superior heat treatment that is one of the cornerstones of the generation 2 line of swords.
In terms of weight, this sword weighs in on my trusty kitchen scales a a tad under 3lbs, which is around 1lb heavier than the advertised weight you see for it online, and certainly a lot heavier than Roman swords were historically. But despite this, the Roman Wasp Waisted Gladius is really quite nicely balanced and my first practice swings with this sword were surprising.
This sword handles well, cutting through the air with a short and sharp whistling sound and despite the extra weight is really quite fast.
VIDEO: Some cutting and thrusting
Nothing fancy, but you get the idea
Now, I had heard a lot of good things about these Roman swords, especially with regards to how tough they are.
So for my test cuts, I decided that a little more than the average level of abuse was in order for these replica Roman swords.
After all, everyone knows that Generation 2 loudly proclaim that their swords are capable of cutting a piece of 2 x 4 in half...
So for my first test, I decided to slice and dice an apple, and see how far the blade would penetrate a solid block of wood. Unfortunately, my aim was a little bit off as you can plainly see (so much for my William Tell impersonation!)
For my next test though, I decided to throw caution to the wind, up the ante and generally see just how strong these replica Roman swords really were.
Now normally, you would not want to try and cut a yellowed, hardened old piece of bamboo.
In fact, doing such a thing is really considered to be in many 'polite' sword circles hardcore abuse! (After all, cutting this type of bamboo when its green is considered to be a good test to determine the sharpness of a Japanese katana! No one actually tries to do it when its yellow and hard)
Now to be honest, I really expected that since I was only cutting with one hand, and considering the hardness of my target, all that would happen is I would knock the bamboo down and crack the wood...
Or at best, shatter the bamboo and cause it to hang by a few mangled threads...
So I can't say how surprised I was when this sword just lopped the top off this bamboo garden flare like it wasn't even there! THAT impressed me a lot...
But what really surprised me even more was when I saw just how clean the cut actually was !
I could hardly believe what I was seeing! This darned sword cut better than anything I could have hoped for!
It almost goes without saying this is one very sharp and very mean sword that, at least as far as cutting power and overall durability goes, puts all other replicas of Roman swords to shame!
"For once the marketing hype appears to be true this sword is easily one of the best made and strongest fully functional blades I have seen...
I highly recommend it for a general purpose cutter, though I'd imagine that those with an eye for historically accurate Roman swords might not hold it in such high regards...
I hope this review of Generation 2's Roman swords has been helpful. Click here to return to Modern Replicas of Ancient Swords from Putting Generation 2's Roman Swords to the Test.