Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Excalibur Sword and Moving Home



My Generation 2 Brass Excalibur finally arrived and I must say, my first impressions of this sword are very positive.

Of course, I will be reveiwing it properly at a later date on Sword-Buyers-Guide.combut for now, I'll have to say that it is surprsingly well balanced for its weight (at a tad over 4lbs) and is nice to weild, though the wire mesh wrap on the handle isn't really designed to be used by a naked hand.

The handle actually is really quite long and makes this something of a bastard sword really, and the scabbard is top quality and comes with an adjustable frog.

Top sword - especially with regards to the quality of the fittings.

The blade itself is very sharp, I nearly cut myself just testing it with a tentative touch of my finger tips and it looks like it would make a great beater. The flex is good too, nicely heat treated - overall, a very nice deal.

Anyway, like I said I'll be reviewing it in a lot more detail at a later date. And lucky it came today too...

...Because it looks like we might be moving house over the weekend (Argh!)

I am not sure yet, but since our lease is up on the 6th of September we applied for a few other rental properties and it seems very possible that we have landed ourselves a new house to rent. So the next few days I might possibly be AWOL as my internet will be down in the interim, so sorry in advance if I go missing for a few days and there aren't any replies to emails sent to me...

Still not 100% sure if we've got this new place (if so, you'll notice a bit of a background change to the background scenery at Sword-Buyers-Guide.com :-)) but if I seem to have dropped of the face of the earth for a while, at least you'll know why!:-)

Not looking forward to it though, moving house is such a pain... (Argh!):-(

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Sword Abuse?



I thought I'd share with you an interesting little one page website that shows just how tough some of the swords that I recommend on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com really are...

While banging any sword repeatedly against a "tire pell" is (and probably rightfully so) sword abuse, it is at least interesting to see how they hold up.

And for the record, the sword that held up the best - the Windlass Steelcrafts Medieval Sword - over 2000 full power blows and still going strong!

Check it out:

Sword and the Tire Pell

Monday, August 29, 2005

Alexander Sword

Well, as I mentioned in yesterdays post - I saw the DVD of "Alexander" starring Colin farrel, Angelina Jolie and a very aged looking Anthony Hopkins.

And as I also said yesterday, I wasn't particularily impressed by the movie - though I did like Alexanders sword, which is basically a Greek Falcata or Kopis, and the way it would hack off limbs and the like with ease...

In reality, these swords were particularily effective at cutting through flesh and bone - blade heavy, and not at all a graceful sword, but something more akin to an axe in form and function.

Of course, as with any movie with swords in it - a movie sword replica isn't far behind, and in this case it's the "Alexander Fighting Sword" by Marto of Spain.

At US$449 - this sword is vastly overpriced, and not in any way 'functional'. And as much as I love the general design of these swords, I'd pass on this one - there are much better versions available for much less than half the price by Windlass and Generation 2.

I will be reviewing these much better alternatives later on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com.

But for now, if you liked the sword you saw in the movie, check out the Generation 2 "Celtic Falcata" and the Windlass Falcata - much better weapons at around the US$150.

P.S. I got that problem/glitch from yesterday all fixed up now, so if anyone has been holding off asking some questions - let 'em rip! Ask a Question

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Minor Glitch...

Oops..

I have been busy editing a few things here and there on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com (in between watching a DVD of "Alexander", which I should add wasn't all that inspiring, though I liked his Falcata sword!) and there is a small problem at the moment with my contact us page which I was editing to be "Have a Question".

All will be well and good shortly - so I apologize to anyone that has been trying to ask a question recently and has been told (the page doesn't exist).

Sorry to anyone inconvenienced by this, it will be up and running by this time tomorrow I am sure.

Don't ya just love computers ;-)

Perhaps at some point in the future, I'll do some test cutting on one and post it on my site or on this blog... :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Ninja Swords



I haven't really posted any reviews of Ninja swords on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com yet, so I thought that since I was recently asked a question by a reader about them, this might be the place to post for those who might be interested until I get around to it on the site.

While the debate as to if Ninja swords actually ever really existed is a contentious one (with many people claiming that Ninja would have more likely than not just used a typical Katana or Wakazashi - and others saying that the straight Ninja sword was a Ninja tradition) if you are looking for functional Ninja swords online - there are really only 2 choices...

The BWT Ninja sword by Generation 2 and the Practical Ninja sword by Paul Chens Hanwei forge.

While the BWT Ninja sword is considerably more expensive than the Practical Ninja by Hanwei (at $279 and $160 odd respectively) I personally feel that the Hanwei sword is the better choice.

Sure, the Hanwei sword uses cheaper fittings - Hanwei are the experts of affordable differencially tempered blades.

Anyway, like I said I will be reviewing these swords on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com at a later date, but for now - if you are looking for a mean Ninja sword - go the Hanwei.

Just my $0.02.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Sword Fighting Games

I love swords. And I love computer games...

So it isn't too much of a leap of logic that I love - SWORD GAMES best of all.

I've played quite a few of them in my time, both in my youth in the arcades and on the PC. (In fact, when I was around 16 years old, my favorite game was "Barbarian" on the commodore 64, you know the one where it's just endless 1 on 1 fights against the same old opponent, at the time I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread! Showing my age I think...!;-))

While it's kind of hard to choose my ALL TIME favorite sword fighting game - if I had to, I think it would have to be "Samurai Showdown" (the arcade version). Or maybe even "Usagi Yojimbo" from 1986...

Oh well, I love them all! At a later date I will be putting some cool links to free sword fighting games on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com.

But here's one that I found recently that's heaps of fun (and extremely addictive!).

It takes a couple of goes before you start to get the hang of it - but even though the cutesy graphics aren't the best - it's simple and pretty cool none-the-less.

If you haven't got anything better to do, check it out.

Barbarian Bob

Well, I'm off to try and kill that nasty king of those evil pink people...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Making a Wooden Sword



I was just asked by a young sword ethusiast how to make a wooden sword.

Now at this stage Sword-Buyers-Guide.com isn't really about making your own swords, wooden or otherwise. But since I always make a point to answer EVERY question by my readers as best as possible (and if I don't know the answer, refer the inquiring sword ethusiast to someone who does) I didn't think that this was too difficult a request...

Unfortunately, finding quick answers to this question has proved quite difficult!

Sure, I was able to refer this young sword ethusiast to a few good posts and sites (namely this post at the Sword Forum International and an article on Anvil-Fire.com) but I wasn't entirely happy with my answer.

Online, it would seem that there are actually few resources for the beginning sword smith... You'd think that there would be some sites with heaps of info on making wooden wasters, but the reality is - there isn't...

Perhaps in the future, in conjunction with some local smiths, I'll add a sister site to Sword-Buyers-Guide.com called "sword-makers-guide.com" or maybe just add a section to the guide as it stands...

Something to consider anyway.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

New Category - Chinese swords

Just recieved an excellent review of the Dadao two handed one heck of a cleaver Chinese sword from G. Scott Hoagland and put up the featured review on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com.


To check out the full review, click here.

At around US$85 to $125 this is a VERY reasonably priced and inexpensive sword, especially when you condider that it is fully functional.

Most Chinese swords in this price range are just fancy wall hangers, but this one not only looks mean - but is quite sharp straight out of the box, and in Scotts own words with "a few swipes at the butcher’s steel, and this Chinese swords blade became frighteningly sharp..."

Historically, the Dadao wasn't the kind of sword that was used by trained soldiers, and was more of a peasant army weapon - much like the European Falchion. While with the traditional double edged, straight Jian a skilled swordsman was required for it to be effective, someone attacking with a Dadao would probably miss 19 times out of 20.

But on that 20th time...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Took a day off work today to give Sword-Buyers-Guide.com a bit of a 'face lift'.

Mostly cosmetic modifications here and there that make it a bit easier to read. Plus I listed all the sub-directories to many other articles on my site that people seem to miss - so I am hoping that this will make the site even more helpful to my visitors. :-)

You know, I'm still not 100% sure about the header... Maybe I am a bit of a perfectionist, or maybe it is just crap - but I feel that it still needs some more work... After all, it's up there at the top of every page and kind of pulls the whole site together.

Well, whatever is the case it will be finalized mid September... So in the meantime, if you see a few crazy looking headers and themes going on - don't be alarmed, you'll know what is going on! :-)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Over the next couple of months there are plenty of exciting new developments planned for Sword-Buyers-Guide.com.

Of course, since this is only a part-time endevour for me, it certainly takes up a lot of time reviewing swords, answering readers questions (which I really enjoy) and developing the site. So in the next few months, I will be asking any one who stumbles on my site who happens to own a Windlass, Generation 2 or Hanwei "beater" sword to post their review of it with some pics in exchange for a gift voucher which they can spend at an online sword seller.

I am also planning to develop an ezine with some of the best sword forum posts, news in the sword world, interviews, readers questions, sword fighting techniques and much, much more which should come out once a month. At the moment, time permitting, this is scheduled for October 2005, so keep an eye out for it.

I am to make my site as interactive, informative and FUN as possible - so if you have any suggestions on anything you'd like to see - just post a comment on this blog or Contact me directly by filling out this form.

After all, this site isn't for ME, it's for YOU! And while I love getting positive feedback, some constructive criticism would make my site a better experience for everyone.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

WARNING: Disturbing pics and images...

I should warn anyone of a sensitive nature that the picture at the bottom of this post is really quite disturbing.

You see, it's a fairly common practice for sword lovers to test the cutting abilities of their swords on plastic bottles, bamboo, flying pizza boxes, cardboard, rolled up wet newspapers, pool noodles, rolled up straw mats (tatami mats) and wooden dowels to name a few of the more popular mediums.

But groups such as the ARMA and several other organizations (Such as Cold Steel) often test the sharpness and cutting power of their blades on MEAT. In fact, one of the most disturbing videos I have seen was by a Chinese sword manufacturing company demonstrating just how sharp their swords were - you can see them cutting effortlessly through huge chucks of meat about midway through a very interesting clip here

Now I should clarify that testing swords on meat (sometimes reffered to as "goating") does not include slaughtering live animals with a sword. And it should go without saying that doing this kind of thing is truly deranged, sick, cruel and has NO place in the world of modern sword testing.

And personally, I would NEVER harm a living creature with any of my swords (unless of course, in self defence - but this is NOT the reason I have swords!). But testing swords on "meat" can be an excellent and somewhat gory reminder of the kinds of wounds that a sword can inflict that you just can't properly grasp from testing it on a water bottle, just as this rather deep and horrifying cut as performed by a member of the ARMA (Association from Renaissance Martial Arts).

For more test cutting results conducted by the ARMA click here

In my own case, my first real experience of goating took place around 2 weeks ago when I bought a pigs head from the local butcher for our dog, Kimba, and decided that before I gave it to her I'd serve the dual purpose of making it easier for her to eat as well as test the kind of damage that my Generation 2 Roman Gladius was capable of.

To say that the kind of damage this sword did was "shocking" was quite an understatement. And since I didn't want to put it on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com directly, as it is really quite a confronting image - I thought i'd put it here.



Such devestating damage inflicted to both flesh and bone not only gave me a newfound respect for this sword, and made me wary of weilding it around willy nilly in case I hit myself with it. And in this respect, I recommend that every owner of a REAL sword is aware of just how much damage a sword can do - which is something that you can forget if all you ever cut is plastic bottles and makes knowledge of the effects of a sword on flesh and bone a very important safety issue when it comes to handling real swords.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Just for a bit of fun today, I decided to try cutting a few water filled bottles in one stroke with my Practical Plus Katana, just to see what would happen.

Now, I've probably cut hundreds of water filled bottles, jugs, etc with this sword on many a seperate occasion, but it never occured to me to see just how many I could cut in one swipe and leave the bases standing where they were.

Sounds like the perfect test for a REAL Japanese sword now doesn't it!:-)

Now since I go through plastic milk jugs quite a bit, it's not easy for me to accumulate many at any given time - however I had 4 and when I lined them up on the balcony I was thinking "no way I can cut all these without knocking them off everywhere" so I reduced it to 3...

But as you can see from the results, I needn't have worried...



What surprised me the most was not that the cut was easy, I fully expected that, but how the lids didn't fly away - instead, the first one just fell back down onto the remainder of the bottle, the second one jumped slightly and landed on top of the remainder of the third bottle and the last one just fell to the ground.



A less sharp sword wouldn't have been able to do this - it would have probably just knocked the bottles everywhere..

This whole scenario gave me an idea - I'll collect as many plastic milk containers as I can in the next couple of weeks and see just how many I can cut through without knocking any off the ledge. Once I've set my personal best record, I'll have a little competition on Sword Buyers Guide.com for fellow Practical Plus Katana owners to see how many THEY can do, and after a set period of time, the person who does the best and can back it up with photos/mpegs will get a US$100 gift voucher to spend at an online sword store! (Plus second and third place runners up)

Sounds like fun!:-)

In the meantime though, I better get back to finishing those 6 glasses of milk I just poured...
Some Simple Sword Cleaning Tips


The only real disadvantage to owning a real sword over a stainless steel "wall hanger" sword is that you have to keep it well oiled.

I was just recently asked a question by one of my visitors to Sword Buyers Guide.com about how often you need to oil a sword, as this gentleman had just recently bought his first real sword after reading my site and was getting concerned about it rusting before he could buy some proper sword oil.

Not at all a silly question, as I too had become quite paranoid about this happening when I first bought my first REAL sword - and I think that it is probably a fairly common fear for first time sword buyers in general.

Now, I won't repeat here my basic tips on how to keep a sword clean and well oiled as I've covered it in a lot more detail in my article How to Make Your Own Sword Cleaning Kit

However, my advise to a first time sword buyer is - DON'T PANIC!

Unless your sword gets wet, or you live in the humid jungles of the Amazon, your sword should be fine for quite some time. Many swords already come with a fine layer of oil protecting them when you buy them. And in a pinch, if you get worried or get your sword wet, a quick spray of WD-40 is ok as a short term solution (though its no good to protect your sword for an extended period - it dries too quickly).

And remember, when it comes to keeping your sword well oiled - LESS IS MORE! You don't need a lot of oil to keep it in good shape, just a very fine sheen is more than enough.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Well, just ordered another baby to add to my sword collection :-)

Since I loved the Generation 2 Roman Wasp Waisted Gladius so much, I decided to give one of their medieval European swords a go and placed an order with Arms of Valor for the Excalibur Brass...

Looks like a really nice sword - solid brass handguard and pommel, wire wrapped handle and a 34" long fullered blade. If it's performance is even 1/2 as good as the Roman sword I bought from Gen2 it would be a fantastic buy, especially considering the price is only US$219..

When you buy this sword, you also get the choice of a simple leather scabbard or wooden one with frog. Since I rent and it's impractical for me to display my swords on the wall, I decided on the wooden one - only US$20 more. After all, storing a sword in a leather scabbard creates mositure and causes the high carbon steel to rust... (And putting too much oil on the blade and storing it in a leather scabbard rots the leather!).

Which is why its simply not a good idea to store REAL carbon steel swords in a leather scabbard for any length of time.

Since I live in Australia and Arms of Valor is in the US, it cost a fair bit for them to UPS it to me, but shouln't have to wait too long... Last time I ordered from Arms of Valor it only took 7 working days to get my swords - very fast and well worth the extra expense of UPS.

Anyway, I'll be reviewing the sword soon after I get it on Sword-Buyers-Guide.com so stay tuned - looks like it's a winner! :-)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

If you've visited Sword Buyers Guide.com you'll know that one simple method I use to test a swords cutting ability and performance is by cutting plastic bottles of various sizes filled with water.

Such a test has been done by knife enthusiasts for many a year. Why?

Well the reasons are pretty much the same as they are for doing it with swords, and that's to both measure both the sharpness of the blade and to check the angle of the cut.

Personally, while I also test my swords against considerably more demanding targets, cutting a water filled plastic bottle is a great starting point to get an idea of how well a sword cuts.

Extremely sharp swords, such as my Practical Plus Katana, cut through the bottle with virtually no resistance. In fact, most people who have done the "bottle cut" with a PPK all say the same thing - it felt like they had missed, until the gush of water proved otherwise.

In fact, when a friend of mine did some test cutting with a PPK for the first time last week, he was so surprised at the lack of resistance that the blade just kept on going and cut a second bottle unintentionally (he thought he would feel something but when you use a PPK against a bottle, you just don't feel it!).

Less sharp swords tend to impact the bottle first before they cut - and you simply don't get that "zero resistance" feeling. A blunt sword simply smacks the bottle away!

The size of the bottle used also increases the difficulty of the cut - but not in the way you might at first think.

Large bottles actually cut easier than smaller ones - due to the increased pressure and general integrety of the surface being cut.

Case in point - as you can see from the picture below, the Generation 2 Roman Wasp Waisted Gladius cuts through large bottles easily enough. But last friday night I tried it on a very small pepsi bottle 3 times, and each time I just hit it away and it banged noisily into the fence...

However, one very relaxed cut from the PPK and it was history...

Don't get me wrong though, the Generation 2 sword is an extremely sharp and durable cutter. It's just that different swords have different uses - a Katana was specifically designed to cut human flesh and bone and doesn't do very well against harder targets. While the Gladius can take steel to steel hits, cut through large wooden blocks, trees etc - but wouldn't sever a human hand like a katana would.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I was recently asked by a vistor to my website Sword Buyers Guide.com about where to buy some good quality yet reasonably cheap bare blades for a "do-it-yourself" Katana project.

Now since REAL Katana "Samurai swords" are one of the most expensive types of swords you can buy it's no surprise that the bare blades themselves aren't usually cheap.

In fact, it's rare to be able to find them for under US$800 (and that's just the so called "low end" of the market! They can and often do sell for several times that price).

However, as I advised the visitor to my site, you can buy some cheap bare blades that are still quite authentically made at Kris Cutlery.com

Kris makes a very nicely differentially tempered blade for US$135 which is perfect for a customization job (though in all honesty I find Kris' completed/fully furnished Katana to be too simple looking and contemporary, though everyone in the know recommends his actual BLADES).

Of course, you then have to make and/or buy all the fittings too - and for authentic fittings, you are looking at another US$200+ as an absolute minimum. Plus of course the amount of sweat equity you need to put in...

Personally, I'd only recommend going down this route if you actually enjoy the process.

If on the other hand you are just looking for a reasonably priced, yet fully functional authentic Japanese sword - I'd STRONGLY recommend you check out the Practical Plus Katana by Paul Chens Hanwei Forge.

These swords are authentically styled, TOTALLY functional and typically sells for less than US$300 online (considerably cheaper still on ebay - I bought mine there for US$215!).

The differentially tempered blade of a Practical Plus Katana (PPK for short) is very sharp, very strong and it's also fully dismountable in the traditional manner (a couple of menuki pegs pinned through holes in the handle and tang), allowing you to customize it until your heart is content.

In fact, many PPK owners choose to go down the customization route and in my opinion, it's probably the better opion for a "do-it-yourself" custom job.

And boy, is it FUN for doing test cutting...!

But for now I'll leave that as a topic for another post... ;-)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hi everyone and welcome to sword-buying-guy, the companion blog to my website Sword-Buyers-Guide.com

Over the last few days I've been tinkering with the site a bit as some of you regular visitors may have noticed. For one, the basic look and feel of the site has been pretty dramatically altered (I hope) for the best!

I've opted for a more "dramatic" header - with a lighting strike background and a slightly bronzed picture of my Windlass Steelcrafts European sword superimposed over the top. What do you reckon?


Looks a lot better than the old "cartoon" style sword over the chrome background I think! :-)


I'd been meaning to get around to that for ages, but have been pretty busy of late with posting a couple of new sword reviews, answering readers questions, hanging out at the Sword Forum International and of course the obligatory cutting plastic bottles full of water to pieces with my hanwei Practical Plus Katana ;-)

There will be alot of very exciting developments to the site in the next few months, so I thought that it needed a bit of a facelift. (Though I'm still not 100% sure that this header will be the final one, chatting with a friend of mine who is much more skilled in this kind of thing than me to come up with the FINAL logo).

So if you haven't been there before, and you are seriously into affordable yet totally functional swords, check it out!