Review: Balefire Blades Longsword

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Review: Balefire Blades Longsword

Postby Tilman Sebastian » 18 Feb 2019 23:56

Since there are not many reviews of swords (or other training weapons / "hardware" for that matter...) made by Balefire Blades out there, I thought a review of my Lord of the Rings-inspired training longsword and the matching scabbard might be interesting for some people here. A follow-up review after a longer time in use might follow. Let me know if you guys would be interested in that. Here we go.


First of all: Why i ordered this sword (and why NOT!!!)
I ordered this sword with the express purpose of aquiring a training longsword which was more balanced for the cut than my other training blade while retaining stiffness in the strong of the blade for winding practice (my other blade is a bit "floppy").
I never inteded for this sword to be used in full contact sparring and I will not review it in this context (if you look at the specs further down you will know why bashing your training partner with this sword might be a bad idea :) :) :) ). I have done some intense (but still controlled) 2-person-drills with it though...

I also just might be a Tolkien fanatic who wanted a practice longsword inspired by the Lord of the Rings movies... 8) 8) 8)

The order process:
I contatcted Chris and Alicia last Summer via Facebook. The communication process was in my opinion flawless, and working out the design together with the Balefire-crew was a lot of fun. I basically threw sketches at Chris and Alicia and got Feeback concerning potential problems and suggestions for improvements until we reached a point we were all happy with. Chris and Alicia always kept me up to date during the build process. Payment and shipping took place without problems, and i received my sword in early January.


THE SWORD


The Balefire Blades hompage has better pictures than i could ever take, so here you go:
https://balefireblades.com/2019/01/07/elthrovan/

General specs:

Weight: 1970g
Total length: 130.5cm
Blade length: 98cm
Total hilt length: 31cm
Grip length: 23.5cm
Quillon span: 26cm
Point of Balance: 9.5cm


Design:
Since i had a hand in the design there might be some rather massive bias on my part there. :wink: :wink: Just take a look at the pictures on the Balefire Blades homepage and judge for yourself.

Blade:
The steel is hardend and tempered really nicely, so far the durability of the blade is at least on even footing with all other training swords i have handled. I have a few really minor scratches / nicks in the blade, but nothing unreasonable. All fullers are ground straight and evenly. If you look really closely you can see everything was ground by hand, but that is no negative aspect in my book :) . Beyond that the dimensions / weight requirements I had in mind required some hollow grinding which was executed really nicely (I imagine the grinding work on this blade was quite a pain in the a**, sorry about that Chris :( ). The tip of the blade is slightly swollen for safety reasons. Beyond that the fuller has an engraved star at the balance point.
The one thing that stood out to me was the flex of the blade. For a lack of a better description: It's fu***** phenomenal. All the flex is limited to the top half of the blade, which makes any (well executed) winding action a breeze. The force needed to reach a 90 degree fexion between blade base and tip feels actually quite low to me (tell me below or pm me if you want to know exactly how much force is needed so I can tell you later; at the moment my scale is broken...).

Handle / Pommel:

The hexagonal handle is wrapped in high quality leather (glued securely over a hardwood core wrapped in linen string), the texture of the grip ensures a safe grip at all times. The ring separating the two handle sections has no sharp edges and blends nicely with the handle segments.
The pommel has no sharp edges of corners, and is peened securely to the tang. So far no part of the sword has loosened, and given the tight tolerances and quality of the build overall I doubt anything will come loose anytime soon.

Handling:
I know this is an extremely subjective issue, so I will just say the following: The sword does what it was built to do, and it does it exceedingly well. (It also reminds me on a regular basis why strength training and solid footwork are centerpieces of every serious martial art :D)


THE SCABBARD

Design:
Same thing as the sword, judge for yourself

Construction:
The scabbard is built around a hardwood core, which is wrapped in thick brown leather. Running up the backside of the scabbard is one continuous heany-duty seam that joins the corners of the leather wrap together. The mouth of the scabbard is lined with felt, the tip of the scabbard is protected by a simple steel chape.

Detailing:
There are two purely aesthetic elements to the scabbard. There are some risers below the leather wrap, and there are some stars (embossed and painted) on top of the leather. Both decorative elements were implemented with care and precision.

Finish:
All parts of the scabbard are glued and stitched togehter nicely and carefully. I don't think any part of the scabbard will come loose or fall apart if I don't abuse it in any way. The sword fits snugly into the scabbard, there is no significant rattle to speak of. The friction is enough to give the blade a safe hold in the scabbard, but the whole assembly is not extremely tight (if I turn the whole thing upside down the sword slides out).



IS A BALEFIRE BLADES SWORD WORTH IT?
Some of you guys might want to have this question answered, but I cannot (and will not) give you a definitive answer here. Balefire Blades is a UK-based company that (so far) only does custom work, and "custom" always comes with the corresponding pricetag. How that pricetag ultimately looks like depends completely on your vision and the work hours associated with your order. (If you want to know what i paid feel free to pm me, or even better: just contact Balefire Blades directly)
If you are someone like me, who has an idea of a "dream sword" drifting around somewhere in the back of your head (and you want that vision to be brought to life in exceptional quality) my answer will probably be: Yes, it is worth it.
However, if you are just looking for a practical high-quality training sword without a specific vision or special demands in your mind other manufacturers might be able to serve your needs at a significantly lower price point.



If you have any questions let me know here or pm me. I will send Balefire Blades a notice that i have published this review, so if Chris or Alicia show up in the thread (if they have an account here, I honestly don't know...) they will probably be happy to help you with any questions you might have. :D



Now if you would excuse me, I have to go hunt some orcs. :wink:
Tilman Sebastian
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Re: Review: Balefire Blades Longsword

Postby swordflasher » 14 Mar 2019 00:11

Great review. It looks like you were clear about what you wanted, and got a training weapon that met your expectations. I'm very fond of the LOTR sword designs, and that looks a handsome and serviceable piece you have there.

Thanks for sharing.
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