Produced using third world labour in India it is likely that Windlass work conditions, pay and safety for workers would not hold up to Western scrutiny. Conversely though we live in a world where third world labour is virtually impossible to avoid, as unfortunate as this situation is.
Another company hailing from the Indian subcontinent, Deepeeka also manufacture weapons and armour. They are a favourite of the Roman Reenactment Crowd and work with the Roman reenactment community to produce pieces in collaboration.
Deepeeka Swords are cheap to buy. A Gladius for example will likely set you back $100USD or less at time of printing.
Deepeeka Swords will stand up to alot of punishment, and frequently are suitable for reenactors who like to bash their swords together. Tangs can vary in sturdiness depending on the sword as some Deepeeka swords are intended for display only.
Deepeeka Swords tend to have thick blades because in the main they are intended for reenactment. For reenactment this is perfect, but if you are into sharpening your swords then you will have alot of work to get the sword to a stage you are happy with.
Distal taper tends to be non existant on Deepeeka Swords. On Roman Gladii however this really does not matter, Roman Gladii actually tended to get thicker at their tips.
Arms & Armor
Arms & Armor are unique amongst modern manufacturers in that they have received the blessing of the esteemed scholar of the sword, the late great Ewart Oakeshott. Arms & Armor are based in the U.S. and are one of the longest established producers of European Arms and Armour in the modern era.
Arms & Armor are a high end producer without the high end attitude. Their prices have always been fair and do not undergo regular increases.
They offer accurate recreations of extant Medieval pieces including some famous examples like the Henry II Sword and the German Branch Sword.
Arms & Armor are not known to engage in guerrilla advertising and they make no claims to having a monopoly on ‘historical accuracy’ despite their long history, thumbs up from Ewart Oakeshott and extensive research of original pieces.
I am unaware of any cons for Arms & Armor, they have an excellent record and reputation.
Cas Hanwei / Tinker Pearce Line
Tinker Pearce is one of the industry’s true gentlemen. A humble man Tink rescues injured animals with his wife, and is easily one of the world’s greatest sword makers. Tink’s hand made swords are both beautiful and incredibly reasonably priced, especially considering his reputation as a maker par excellence.
In recent years Hanwei, a Chinese Company run by Paul Chen, have begun to produce a line of swords designed by Tinker Pearce.
Designed by Tinker Pearce these swords look superb and handle beautifully. The design and form of these swords is deceptively simple, and every line in relation to others is well calculated and thought through.
The finish on these swords is remarkable especially given their price, swords come shipped with appropriate (sharp parabolic edges) and the finish is matte. By far the best looking swords European Swords coming out of Asia.
These swords have excellent distal taper, superb design and austere and attractive fittings.
Made utilising third world labour.
Darksword produce forged swords, like Windlass. They are renowned for making very sturdy blades.
This Canadian company come under pretty intense attack on some forums, generally on irrelevant issues. These attacks tend to focus on minor issues of fit and finish, but overlook the fact Darksword sell their swords around the $300USD range at time of printing.
Forged production swords. Incredibly tough.
Peened construction. Darksword have almost entirely moved away from threaded pommels.
Excellent swords for reenactment.
Distal taper is not a common feature of Darksword’s offerings.
The swords start off blunt and can be sharpened by Darksword.
Albion have established themselves amongst less knowledgeable ‘sword enthusiasts’ as having a monopoly on historical accuracy, they maintain through the research of a self styled ‘sword expert’: a graphic designer with a certificate in creative blacksmithing – Peter Johnsson.
These guys cater to the obssessive crowd by offering CNC milled swords with investment cast hilt furniture.
Albion swords feel like machine parts.
Albion hilts are balanced and designed using blue wax.
Albion are the most expensive European production sword manufacturer, and their prices go up annually.
3 month wait period for sword delivery. One reviewer noted that he had to “remind” Albion they were meant to be making his sword and the end wait period was close to a year, that and his sword cost him more than three thousand US dollars. A custom smith could do the same for you in less time for one third of the price.
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There’s alot of bullshit out there regarding manufacturers of European production line swords. Forums can pretty quickly become burdened with vested interest, especially if they are not being run in an altruistic way. This has happened to some but not all. This happens in order to protect brands for financial reasons, though sometimes the motivation is just plain old ego. In other examples forums pop up ‘next to’ commercial ventures; needless to say said forum then has a vested interest in only publishing complimentary posts. The net result is that only a sanctioned version of the truth is published by offending forums. Any reviews which contradict or are inconsistent with the official line are expurgated.
I’ve seen this first hand. I posted a review of Albion’s Tiberius Sword on Sword Buyer’s Guide and it was removed for unspecified reasons within 24 hours (mind you it was edited without notification before that happened by William Swiger a moderator at SBG). I protested and it was reinstated, only to have Marc Kaden Ridgeway yank it back down inexplicably. William Swiger partook of this process also, but he maintained Marc made the call. I later found out Marc sells C.N.C. swords, Computer Numeric Control being the technique by which Albion Swords are made. Worse than that the mods at SBG encouraged trolls to attack my subsequent posts. Unperturbed I continued, ultimately founding this site as a result. What surprised me is that my point of view was considered worth censoring, after all I am just one person, and people are free to make their own minds up. A forum is made richer by the variety of opinions on it, and if everyone just agrees with each other it’s really not a forum but rather a mutual appreciation society. This is not how SBG saw though.
Nathan Robinson’s MyArmoury is well known for deleting and banning forum members who express opinions he does not agree with. I have received email after email about this disreputable behaviour of Nathan’s, and many of Nathan’s emails to offending forumites is very personal in nature.
Sword Buyer’s Guide / Sword Manufacturer’s Guide
Originally started by Paul Southren this forum and attached web pages discussed various offerings from makers and their entries in the numerous categories. SBG run a store which endorses a number of brands including their own. It is effectively a mercantile venture. They recently aquired a domain name suspiciously similar to Sword Forum International’s presumably in order to acquire extra traffic.
In my view Paul Southren and co. have decided to become a service which purports to offer independent advice on swords and their manufacturers but instead heavily markets swords they produce and swords they receive a commission from selling.
Started by a very unpleasant web designer called Nathan Robinson MyArmoury markets itself as the premier site for high end European weapons and armour. It is widely known as one of the most heavily censored sites. I have received email after email from forumites detailing at length the harrassment they have suffered from Nathan Robinson and Chad Arnow for expressing dissenting views, and invariably these attacks are quite personal in nature.
MyArmoury has been described to me in one email as “The Albion Club for worship of Peter Johnsson.”