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I am a HEMA practitioner (hema-ist?), who has been training with a plastic hand-and-a-half sword from Cold Steel. While it appears to be the correct weight and roughly the correct size of an actual sword, it does not do one critical thing that a real sword can. It cannot cut; it is blunt!

Therefore, I'm looking to buy my first sharp, functional, metal sword. Being a novice, I've looked around for advice, and found some advice from Skallagrim here.

I can't break the bank buying this sword, so I'm looking for good quality at a cheap price, and can be shipped to North America. Any suggestions for swords or resources, such as buying guides, that I should pay attention to?

These suggestions and resources should lead to swords which:

  • are not composed of stainless steel; it must be safe for actual use.
  • come sharp or the sharpening service is "cheap."
  • cost less than 400 USD but above 200 USD.
  • are "hand and a half" or "bastard" swords.
  • are not "fantasy" swords or "sword-like" objects.
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  • Cold Steel's Bastard Sword is $469.99.
    – Ruut
    Nov 14, 2015 at 2:19
  • Just a thought - There are some very good crafters that tour renaissance faires. Perhaps you could get in touch with them and request a custom if they don't have one?
    – JohnP
    Nov 10, 2020 at 15:30

3 Answers 3

5

If you are in the US want to buy your first steel sword either sharp or blunt, my suggestion is to take a look at HEMA Supplies, a US-based importer and reseller of Peter Regenyei's swords that seem to offer reasonable prices. They mostly sell blunt steel feders from Peter Regenyei but they will take orders for custom sharp longswords.

Regenyei is one of the most trusted swordsmiths in HEMA. I personally own a (blunt) Regenyei longsword (a "hand and a half" sword) and I've briefly handled sharpened custom jobs from him, all really good quality.

HEMA Supplies - https://www.facebook.com/HEMASupplies/timeline

One thing to bear in mind, I'm living in Europe so I'm not familiar with the exact shipping costs to the US but I'll be conservative and assume it's rather high, however you might just get away with a sharp sword in the $400 range if you're lucky. If you have to choose between spending a little more for a high quality robust training sword or buying a cheaper sword of lower quality, I would recommend paying a little more.

One last thing that doesn't directly answer your question but I think is important nonetheless, if you are a novice I would recommend getting a blunt training feder. It's much safer to train with if you are just starting out, most clubs will use feders for sparring, and they are cheaper and easier to maintain.

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  • Regenyei feders are within OP's price range, but the sharp Regenyeis from HEMA Supplies are a bit pricey. Even though I agree that getting a blunt feder/sword is generally safer than a sharp one for training; if OP wants the experience of handing a real sword for something like test-cutting then I think he needs to look elsewhere for that.
    – JZBai
    Nov 20 at 20:46
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Honestly, if you're new to swordsmanship, I highly recommend getting a feder of some type first. If you want the most "sword-like" feder possible, I highly recommend looking into Purpleheart Armoury which is based in Texas and their Technique feder line which comes in a variety of pommel designs at a really affordable price of $220 at time of writing:

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I also recommend their Fiore Feder if you got some extra cash ($269 at time of writing) and want a nice blunt sword/feder that can be easily fixed and disassembled:

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If you're really keen on getting a sharp sword on a budget though, look into Ronin Katana who's also based in Texas and despite its name also has a really affordable and well-built medieval line of sharp longswords that range in price from $275-$450 (but can be cheaper if you don't mind some minor aesthetic issues on your sword and keep an eye out for their annual scratch and dent sale that usually occurs in spring).

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Other companies that produce decent budget sharps to mention are Cold Steel, Windlass, and Hanwei.

Let's start with CS; some of their swords are clunky and not great, but their Italian longsword is ubiquitous, reviewed by many, and is pretty decent given its relatively cheap $250-$300 price point if you look around on Google for it.

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Then there's Windlass. The only bastard/longsword I own from them which I would recommend is no longer available on their website but is available on Kult of Athena, the Sword of Roven. Admittedly, it is a bit big and clunky for a so-called "bastard sword" and more of a true two-hander, but it is decent for a sub $300 sword and pretty good bang for your buck.

enter image description here

Finally there's Hanwei. Hanwei's Rhinelander Bastard Sword is in your price range, is found in various places for about $250-$300 and Matt Easton reviewed it. What's unique about it is that it's one of the few production bastard/longswords out there that has a sidering if you're interested in that type of sword but it seems to unfortunately quickly go out of stock at time of writing.

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One final thing: if you really want to have your cake and eat it too on a budget (i.e. a sword that can be both sharp and blunt at the same time with a simple unscrewing of a nut and a bit of work) look into the Hanwei Tinker Pearce blunt longsword and purchase a separate blade for it. Yes, there are people (who usually are also the types to brag about the number of Albions or Regenyeis or whatever they own...) who have criticized this sword, Hanwei, and their somewhat spotty quality control, but if you're a beginner who has only worked with wasters/synthetics and are on a budget for swords (which OP seems to be given his $400 limit), I can see the appeal of this sword as long as you don't plan on using it for heavy sparring. For someone who is unsure about having to dump about $250-$350 or more twice on both a good feder and a good sharp longsword (which you honestly need both of if you want the full sword experience) it's just more cost efficient to buy that sword and a separate cheaper blade that come out to about $470 or so with shipping on Kult of Athena. Say what you will about quality, but money saved is money saved at the end of the day and swords are not getting any cheaper especially given the supply chain problems we have nowadays...

But, maybe those issues I brought up are not a big issue or something for OP. Maybe he just wants a sharp and is fine sparring with his synthetic and doesn't need a feder. Maybe he's OK with owning just a sharp and lightly moving it around for drills and doesn't plan to be doing any sparring or risky things with his swords. Maybe he can get more cash and buy both a good sharp and good feder. Maybe he can get a sharp, blunt it for safety, and then do some test cutting drills with it by cutting easy mediums like fruit or clay or something to safely and enjoyably experience what test cutting is like with minimal chance of injury to self or others. I don't know what OP wants and how owning a fully sharpened and functional sword will help him accomplish what he wants, but I hope the above suggestions help with his very important decision of buying his first steel sword because all sword enthusiasts have been there and for better or worse you never forget your first if you know what I mean... :P

-3

What style of swordsman ship are you studying? If you're into fencing, A rapier is more your circumstance. If you're into brutal sword play, a bastard sword, longsword is more the emphasis. The fact is the Oakeshot typology leaves a Wide diversity of swords for Europe. Even hand and a half types have a very wide diversity. enter image description here

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  • He states in the question that he's looking for a "hand and a half". Nov 10, 2020 at 2:49
  • I suspect you lived up to your name, LazyReader. I specifically asked for buying guides or resources for acquiring sharp, functional swords. Oakeshot's typology, while useful, doesn't really apply here. Also, the idea that brutal sword play is performed by bastard swords shows a distinct lack of appreciation for the various fighting systems and possibly a little confusion on what a rapier is. To many of us, "rapiers" are straight-edged, one handed, thrust centric weapon for war, not a smallsword or fencing foil, which are for civilian use.
    – PipperChip
    Nov 10, 2020 at 14:56

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