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Athavan Indranathan




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PostPosted: Fri 04 May, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Best lightweight sword?         Reply with quote

Out of rapiers, side swords, zingers, and sabres, which would you prefer and why?

Some questions I have about each of these types of swords:
- Which holds an edge the longest
- Which can take the hardest beating
- Which delivers the most effective cuts
- Most effective thrusts?

Thanks in advance.
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Colt Reeves




PostPosted: Fri 04 May, 2012 6:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm no expert, but when you consider that there can be vast differences in swords of the same class (rapier, saber, etc), the best you can get here is going to be complete generalization.

For example, some rapiers, particularly the earlier ones, have decent cutting edges, while others are solely about the thrust. Both rapiers, but with different blade profiles and capabilities. Thus you may find X rapier to be better than Y side sword at whatever, but W rapier to be worse than Y side sword.

"Tears are for the craven, prayers are for the clown.
Halters for the silly neck that cannot keep a crown.
As my loss is grievous, so my hope is small.
For Iron, Cold Iron, must be master of men all..."
-Cold Iron, Rudyard Kipling
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Fri 04 May, 2012 11:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have to ask, for what? The question is beyond vague without more context. I might prefer any one of those depending on what I wanted to do with it. Also, even within a given type of sword, there is a great deal of variation.

Assuming that we’re talking about some kind of fantasy scenario like in Heinlein’s Glory Road, where I can pick a weapon I like to take with me on all kinds of adventures, I’d probably take the side sword for sheer versatility. And I actually own a nice one made by A&A, so I'm good to go there.

But if that wasn’t what you were getting at, it might help if you explained more what you’re looking for. Happy

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Fri 04 May, 2012 11:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Best lightweight sword?         Reply with quote

Athavan Indranathan wrote:
Out of rapiers, side swords, zingers, and sabres, which would you prefer and why?

Some questions I have about each of these types of swords:
- Which holds an edge the longest
- Which can take the hardest beating
- Which delivers the most effective cuts
- Most effective thrusts?

Thanks in advance.


One of the problems with this question is that you seem to have assumed all of the swords in each of these types you have listed are the same. The question assumes, for instance, that all rapiers are identical, and therefore it is possible to compare rapiers, as a class, to other swords.

It's true that we can make some generalizations about rapiers in terms of how they respond. Obviously, they will thrust better than sabres, because rapiers are intended primarily to be thrusting swords (unless we count earlier rapiers, which shows how problematic the idea is that all rapiers are the same). Nevertheless, no two swords will perform precisely the same, and it is possible to have significant differences in the same type of sword. Consider a Type XIIIa longsword versus a Type XVII. Both are longswords, and yet it is difficult to imagine two swords of the same type being more different from one another.

Be aware that this discussion is going to involve a lot of generalizations and sweeping statements at the expense of accuracy.
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sat 05 May, 2012 6:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What is a "zinger"?
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Matthew P. Adams




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PostPosted: Sat 05 May, 2012 12:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Edge holding depends on the hardness of the blade, the hardness of the target, the edge geometry, and the abrasiveness of the target.

What can take the hardest beating is more a question of how much you are willing to compromise on handling. I could find you a 35lb piece of metal that is sword shaped that would take one hell of a beating but you wouldn't be able to defend yourself with it.

Cutting and thrusting is more about the practitioner than the weapon.

When I started becoming interested in swords, I wanted to know what the "best" sword would be, but they are designed to do different things. Even, as has been mentioned, individual swords in the same category are very different.

The best thing would be to handle as many swords as possible, preferably actual historic weapons. I know this can be difficult to impossible, I have handled exactly one sword from the early 15th century. The next best thing would be to go to a blade show where Arms and Armor, Albion, or Atrim, are selling and handle some high quality reproductions.

Its like whats the best type of car? and the answer is, are you trying to race or haul lumber. If you are racing will the course have long straights of will it be tight and curvy? Is the track brand new and glassy, or is it older with frost heaves and cracks?

All these conditions effect the answer, and we haven't even touched on personal preference. The car I am most comfortable in might feel twitchy and unstable to someone else. And there favorite car might feel slow and lumbering to me.

One sword might be perfect for use on horseback, but not so much for use on foot. Or one is more suited for a chaotic battlefield while another is better for self defense.

Maybe guns are a better analogy than cars, a target rifle would be the thing for competitive shooting, but you wouldn't want it in a muddy battlefield where the tight tolerances needed for that accuracy would be easily locked up by dirt.

Sorry if I got a little long winded but its a question with a huge amount of variables.

I would suggest looking into some historic fencing classes in your area and see if one style speaks to you, then find a sword that best fits that style.

"We do not rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training" Archilochus, Greek Soldier, Poet, c. 650 BC
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 05 May, 2012 3:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Best lightweight sword?         Reply with quote

Athavan Indranathan wrote:
Out of rapiers, side swords, zingers, and sabres, which would you prefer and why?


This one is easy: sabres, because I like the way a good sabre feels in hand, makes you want to go and cut things up. Not all sabres are lightweight; some can be well over a kilogram. My preferred lightweight sabre that I have experience with is the Caucasian shashka. I think I would like a good Ottoman kilij. Authentic 1796 light cavalry sabres feel wonderful in hand, too.

Rapiers are pretty heavy, usually heavier than a medieval single-hander. That length comes with a cost in weight.

Athavan Indranathan wrote:

Some questions I have about each of these types of swords:
- Which holds an edge the longest
- Which can take the hardest beating
- Which delivers the most effective cuts
- Most effective thrusts?


The last two have been answered by others, and the first two have no answers. That is, those things don't depend on the type of sword, but on the individual sword. In particular, the steel used and the heat treatment.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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