Albion Armorers Next Generation Earl Sword
A hands-on review by Joseph Fults

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Introduction
Sometimes, as a collector or martial arts practitioner, one finds a sword that is innovative in ways unimagined (in the modern market) before its time. Once purchased, the sword turns out to be a brilliant product that resets all expectations. Then, as time goes on and familiarity grows, one comes to wish that some detail or feature was different, for whatever reason. This normal, if sometimes unfortunate, artifact of personal preference is something that I believe is a struggle for all collectors from time to time. Perhaps this explains why some personal collections are in a constant state of flux.

So it was when I bought Albion Armorer's Next Generation Regent Sword several years ago. Enamored with the sword, I instantly decided that it was my favorite. In fact, several other swords left my collection because it immediately reset my expectations. Still there was one nagging detail about it: the pommel bothered my soft modern palms when cutting. I talked to Albion and asked if I could get a Regent blade with a scent stopper pommel. At the time the answer was no, but seemingly as if to answer my request, Albion eventually introduced a new model: the Earl.

Overview
Albion Armorers is in many ways a relative newcomer to the US sword enthusiast market. Nevertheless, in a surprisingly short time the firm has established a reputation as a high-end production shop known for innovation and product quality. This has allowed the firm to quickly emerge as a market leader.

The Earl utilizes a version of the Regent's hollow-ground blade and adds a new S-shaped guard and scent stopper pommel. The blade itself is an innovative production design which took collectors by surprise when originally introduced, as hollow-grinding had previously been seen only in custom work. It is worth noting that the Earl in this review sports a revised and improved blade. Its tip is significantly reinforced, a trait that appears to make it more robust than the original Regent blade, while maintaining desirable aesthetic and handling qualities.
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Measurements and Specifications:
Weight:3 pounds, 4 ounces
Overall length:48 inches
Blade length:37 3/8 inches
Blade width:2 inches at base
Grip length:7 3/4 inches
Guard width:8 1/2 inches
Point of Balance:5 inches from guard
Center of Percussion:~22 1/4 inches from guard
Oakeshott typology:Type XVIIIa blade*, Type T3 (or T) pommel, Style 12 guard

Replica created by Albion Armorers of Wisconsin.

Handling Characteristics

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Pommel Detail

The Earl examined in this review is a bit lighter than the Regents I have been able to access, although it might not be lighter than all Regents (there has been variation from one example to the next). I feel that I can work the Earl with a single hand slightly better than I can the Regent, but not well enough to use it primarily as a single-handed weapon. When I do handle the Earl with one hand I really amplify any mistakes I make, and I'm a poor enough swordsman that I make my share of them. For me the Earl really comes alive when I use two hands.

When using a two-handed grip on the Earl, I find I'm a much better cutter than I am with the Regent, which is arguably the same blade. Perhaps it's a mental effect, but I am inclined to attribute this difference to the Earl's pommel, which is much more comfortable to grasp in my estimation. The curve of the Earl's guard also seems to allow me greater range of motion than most straight guards on other swords I have used for cutting.

I have also noticed that I can perform tip cuts much better with the Earl than I have ever been able to do with most other swords. Overall I feel like I have better control of the Earl than I do with most swords, and I'm very pleased with its performance.

Fit and Finish
Albion has gained a reputation for providing reproduction weapons of excellent quality with very good finish. As most collectors have come to expect, the Earl delivers in this department.

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Grip and Cross

This is a very attractive and elegant weapon. At first glance the Earl seems to be a rather simple design. However, after spending some time with the Earl one begins to notice how its simple curves and surfaces are designed to complement each other, merging together to become linked design elements. They form a very elegant finished product.

The blade is evenly formed and cleanly ground along its entire length. There are no noticeable grind marks on the blade surface; the blade finish is even on all surfaces. The peen on the upper part of the pommel is neatly finished to the point of being indiscernible from the pommel proper. The guard sweeps in a gentle s-curve. Both elements exhibit a high degree of symmetry on all surfaces.

There is no noticeable pitting on any of the components. Component assembly is very tight and it has remained secure during moderate use.

Conclusion
Simply put, I really like this sword. To my initial surprise, the Earl is much more than I expected it to be when I ordered it. Instead of a Regent in different clothing, it is a unique and desirable creation in its own right. It handles well, it sports a pommel matched to a blade that I find compelling, the design appears to be quite robust with a redesigned blade tip, and it even tolerates my poor form when cutting. Overall the Earl by Albion Armorers is a very favorable sword that will be a welcome addition to many collections.





About the Author
Joseph Fults is a technology manager in the Columbus metropolitan area. For all intents and purposes a career student as long as he can remember, Joseph has been intrigued by history and tales of adventure. Long driven to learn about anything that intrigued him, over the last few years Joseph has nurtured a growing appetite for information about the medieval period of European history. Today his curiosity draws him to the people, items, and regional events of the Rhine basin in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

Acknowledgements
Photographer: Chad Arnow

Notes
* The manufacturer classifies this sword's blade as Type XVIIIb. Observers often disagree on the finer points of the Oakeshott typology and Oakeshott himself sometimes revisited his classifications. We have chosen to use Oakeshott's latest defintion of the Type XVIII typology, as published in Records of the Medieval Sword.



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