Hanwei Tinker Viking Sword Review

The Tinker Viking Sword, designed by legendary sword maker Michael 'Tinker' Pearce and manufactured by the Hanwei Forge in Dailan, China is part of a series of swords in this unique collaboration - such as the Longsword and the Bastard Sword reviewed elsewhere on SBG.

But just because the other swords in the series are good (the Longsword is a 5 star rated sword, the Bastard, a 4 star) doesn't necessarily mean that every sword in the series is going to be a winner..

The Hanwei Tinker Line Up from left to right: Longsword, Early Medieval Sword, Viking Sword, Bastard Sword, Great Sword of War, Norman Sword

Only one way to know, and that is to take the closest look possible..


Hanwei Tinker Viking Sword Review

Review by SBG Member Draven


I love the Viking age. I find it a fascinating culture with beautiful art and incredible craftsmanship. I like simple and functional, which isn't necessarily easy to find - I'd owned a Tinker GSOW (Great Sword of War) before, which was a very well-designed and executed sword, so I had no hesitation in going back to the Hanwei Tinker line.

Historical Overview

I believe I recall Tinker saying that this sword was inspired by no single artifact, though it bears a striking resemblance to one pictured on Swords of the Viking Age pages 46, 49. It's a Petersen type E, and there are plenty of pictures of originals around. While it bears a very good aesthetic resemblance, it does have a few problems - namely, the furniture is stainless steel and the pommel is one piece rather than two.

The pommel is not unheard of historically, and understandable for the price point. I'm not sure why they went with stainless furniture - I prefer having the option of chemically darkening or aging components, but I'm sure some people will appreciate the maintenance-free idea.

Initial Impressions

As always, KOA packing was sufficient:

Came with a tag on the hilt with the made in china statement and the hologram.

There was some crud on the blade I first mistook for corrosion but it was just some gunk mixed in with the blade oil.

The balance is quite nice, it definitely has presence but isn't unwieldy. The pommel has machine-sharp edges at the corners which I noticed almost instantly and knew would be a problem. More on that later.

Statistics

These measurements are my own, not from Hanwei or KoA.

  • Blade Length: 30 3/4"
  • Handle Length: 4" excluding guard and pommel
  • Overall Length: 37"
  • Guard Width: 3 5/8"
  • POB (Point of Balance): 6"
  • Weight: 2.6lb

The Blade

The blade starts at 2 1/8" and tapers reasonably, but it's clearly a cutter. The point is acute enough for stabbing, but not excessively so. The fuller is decently executed, though there is a bit of wobble:

The blade is straight, very well ground and finished. The secondary bevel was very minor and will sharpen out with minimal effort - it literally took a few seconds of sharpening per edge to get paper cutting sharp. Pleasantly surprised about the sharpening! The blade is thick and rigid, which I like a lot - this also means the fuller is fairly deep, which helps it look very well defined.

The Handle

The grip I hate. It is very small and just wrong for my hands. I could move it very slightly, but there was no rattle. The leather is nice, but IMO it's too thick for the cord-wrap underneath it to be worthwhile so I think that's kinda wasted effort.

It's well done none the less, with a small side-seam and no stitching.

To make the grip problem slightly worse, it's narrowest at the middle where IMO it needs to be thickest.

The Guard

The guard is beautiful. Very clean lines, a regular dot-pattern common to Norway and well fitted to the blade. It is stainless as I mentioned, and I don't like that, but it is very well done nonetheless.

The Pommel

Again, as I mentioned earlier, the pommel had some very sharp corners. It is, however, still very well done and a little filing took the edges off. The pommel is one-piece, but it has a wire wrap between what would be the pommel/upper guard, which is a nice touch IMO. The peen is well done and not messy looking at all:

My biggest pommel gripe (and it is kinda big) is that the pommel is twisted:

I have no idea how or why that is the case, but it certainly is. This really bugged me when I first noticed it, but it doesn't affect cutting/blade alignment (which I thought it would) and it's not that big so I'm going to leave it as is.

The Scabbard

The scabbard is a typical Hanwei tinker scabbard - leather over composite with metal fittings;

I didn't take a picture of the seam, but it's nondescript - well done and not an issue for me. The chape is nice:

I was pleased to see a horseshoe type chape on this sword, it fits very well.
I hate the suspension rings. They're small, which severely restricts what will pass through them and I'm pretty sure they weren't used in the viking age. I'll make it work with a suspension somehow or other but it may involve grinding a couple off. All in all I like the scabbard - a little rattle but not too much, light and simple.

Despite the metal locket, there is little risk to the blade edge. The opening is oversized, the edge shouldn't rub the locket.

Handling Characteristics

This sword does handle well, but the grip does not. The thin grip prevented me from swinging this thing comfortably and exacerbated the sharp pommel corners, even in the handshake grip. As a test I threw a 550 cord turks head knot on the grip:

And that improved the situation dramatically. The pommel dug in less and it was way more comfortable to use.

Test Cutting

I started test cutting with gatorade bottles. The sword was sharp enough, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

Actually quite a challenging target, Gatorade bottles are made from particularly thick plastic

Did pretty badly. I cut a little bit into one, the other got hit so hard that the bottle split and the cap flew off, but zero penetration. I even tried a milk jug and it pummeled it into a crumpled mess, but I just couldn't cut with it. The edge alignment was all jacked up. I think this was operator error because the grip was so uncomfortable. I did a little more cutting after adding the turks head knot and it was much better, though still not great. After taking these review pics I put a new grip on the sword and now I can slice rings off milk jugs quite comfortably. More on that later.

Conclusion

It's a very nice sword. I love it. It's more my type than any other Viking sword I've had (admittedly only a couple). The grip killed it for me at first, but after the regrip it's just about perfect. A very nice sword from Hanwei and Tinker, if it took a little work.

If you're OK with doing a project I'd get it again in a heartbeat. If not, I'd think about maybe doing a cord wrap or something to increase the grip diameter. The turks head knot looked good, but 550 cord wasn't very historical. Here's a pic of my regrip. it's substantially larger and it feels great to me.

Click here to learn the easy way to do a handle wrap

PROS

  • Reasonably historically accurate, with dimensions, weight, balance and aesthetics within historical parameters for this type.
  • Very well done blade, a monster cutter.
  • All round a very attractive sword

CONS

  • Sharp edges on pommel required filing
  • Hated the grip, I just couldn't make it work for me
  • Pommel slightly twisted

WHERE TO BUY

As is often the case, Kult of Athena have this sword available at the best price online - for just $233.95 here while most other stores sell it much closer to the MSRP of $355.


I hope this review of the Tinker Viking Sword has been helpful. To return to Dark Age and Viking Swords from Hanwei Tinker Viking Sword Review, click here


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