In this hands on review, we take a closer pictorial look at this sword to see what all the fuss is about.
Review by SBG member rschuch
I’m a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings and was wanting to get some sort
of sword that reminded me of the books, but there are so many different
versions, all with their own problems. The UC version is 420 stainless
and rat tail tang and I have a strict “no wall hangers allowed” in my
armory. The Darksword Armory version is 5 lbs., so unless I’m planning
on fighting a tank with this weapon, I think I’ll pass. So when I saw
this one go up for sale on the Forum 2nd hand, it looked to be the
better choice of the bunch, so I jumped on it.
As a fantasy sword based on Lord of the Rings, the historical context of this blade is fuzzy at best, but it is very similar to the Oakeshott Type XIIa. It’s a big, yet agile two handed weapon and whether you’re cleaving orcs or a more historically accurate opponent, this’ll do the job, though I dare say most purchasing this blade will be getting it for the literary significance.
My immediate impression was how light it was for the size, or perhaps more accurately how balanced. The other impression was, “Wow. That’s really GREEN!”
It’s a 5160 tempered carbon steel blade. My first impression was that it had a lot of flex to it, but it seems very well tempered and certainly isn’t “whippy”, though it isn’t as stiff as, say, a Kingston Arms XIV or Viking migration type single handed sword. It’s a longer thinner blade and returns to true after flexing it and certainly doesn’t sag when holding it out or swinging it. The blade is straight and even.
I did some distal taper measurements. Since there’s a fuller, I measured from the bottom of the fuller and also from the apex at the guard, middle and where the fuller ends:
So there is distal taper…not a WHOLE bunch, but certainly enough to make the blade more agile and comfortable to wield one handed as well as two.
The finish I’d describe as a satin finish. Another point to note is it’s certainly all the same color steel. The photos on the website seem to show the fuller as being darker in color, but it’s all the same.
It does have a secondary bevel, but it’s even and it came very sharp to me, though like I said, I got it second hand.
Not quite hair shaving sharp, but I wouldn’t enjoy running my hand down the edge and have to be careful when dusting or applying oil that I wipe away from the edge, not towards.
The hilt is nicely done. One thing that stands out is there’s no stitching - the leather grip is smooth all the way around. The grip starts out a bit more narrow towards the cross guard and widens towards the pommel.
The guard has some really nice contours to it, definitely more going on than your typical Windlass or Ronin Katana basic guards. Everything is round and smooth, no hot spots. One of the things I really like about the guard is the lack of blade gap, which is basically non-existent. Excellent fit! Everything is very tight and solid.
Guard and pommel are made from a quality low carbon steel to lower the possibility of rust from handling. The pommel is very round, smooth and large, scent stopper style, possibly why the handling is more agile than you’d expect. The peen is also very nice and clean and inset with a little button.
Did I mention the GREEN?!? The grip is a darker green on the teal side and looks nice, but the scabbard is VERY green and brighter and not an even shade (brush marks?). It’s a wood core with leather over top. The top has a stitched subtle rain guard (not as large and prominent as a DSA scabbard) which I like, and there's a very nice metal chape at the bottom.
There is rattle and it doesn’t retain the blade when held upside down, but overall the fit is decent and it doesn’t fall out unimpeded and I’d rather have it a bit loose than struggle withdrawing it (editors note: apparently our ancestors all felt much the same way, as it was generally preferable a sword be easy and quick to draw than a little tight, because if the weather changes it might end up suddenly much tighter than you might like).
The sword feels VERY agile and can easily be handled as a one handed weapon because of the balance.
I’m not a HEMA practitioner or even one to go out often and do test
cutting, but while taking the initial photos (and getting eaten alive by
mosquitoes!) there was a couple of offending palm fronds that were just
begging to be whacked, so whack I did. Palm fronds are very tough and
fibrous, but this went through them like they weren’t even there. I can
only imagine what this would do to some nefarious water bottles or
insidious tatami mats.
Overall, I’m VERY happy I got this version instead of one of the others!
Could the green be less bright, more camouflagey and less “HEY! Orcs!
Come and get me!!!”? Yeah, but I guess I can go over it with some darker
dye, though I display my swords out in the open without the scabbards,
so it really isn’t an issue.
The Bottom Line
I’d definitely recommend this sword, especially any fan of The Lord of the Rings. Why get some United Cutlery 420 stainless rat tail tang when you can get something built with quality materials that is attractive and functional and you can proudly display.
I hope this review of the Kingdom of Arms Sword of Strider has been helpful. To return to Decorative and Functional Fantasy Swords from Sword of Strider Review, click here