Darkwood Armoury, a complete overview and review

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Darkwood Armoury, a complete overview and review

Postby Nikos » 02 Nov 2008 15:37

Following almost a years constant and heavy use of a Darkwood rapier and consistent use of many other Darkwoods, I feel it is time for a complete review, all things considered. My recurved quillon Darkwood has been for almost a year my main training weapon, being used 3 days a week, having gone to four events around the world with me and having been pitted against all manners of rapiers, longswords, backswords, the lot, its had its fair share of abuse. We also have a few sideswords and 5 other Darkwood rapiers in the club, so here it is:


What I like:


The service you get from Scott, its outstanding, fast to reply to everything, quick to assemble swords and quick shipping, thats first class.

Build quality, excellent quality guard constructions and well tempered blades has meant my rapier still looks almost new after massive usage.

Blade lengths - provides good length blades where many don't as standard or at all.

Thick edges, a feature very useful for being pitted against heavier swords like longswords, it has sustained no notable damage over a normal rapier fight.

Thick, blunt tips, making them safe, although we still use the rubber tips which they do come supplied with to reduce equipment costs.

Screw pommel construction for rapiers, great for a regular training tool, can be tightened by hand simply and easily keeping maintenance low.

b]What I don't like

Very little blade taper or distal taper, this can leave the blade feeling a little dead

Wooden grips are often too fat, not a problem for the wire wrapped grips though.

Pommel nut construction for sideswords - always rattle loose quickly, have to use tools to tighten, bit of a nuisance at times.

Price, referenced more in conclusion.

Conclusion

I have given the Darkwoods a lot more consideration recently, a number of factors sparked this, the acquisition of new rapiers of different companies, as well as the use of them, the weakening of the pound against the dollar, and the direct comparison to others during training.

When I first ordered my initial Darkwood rapier it came to £250 including shipping and import duties. That puts it into the mid range and for that I was extremely happy with what I got, a rapier which handled as well as a Del Tin but for nearly 200 quid less and with better build construction, if in some respects not as pretty. With the pound to dollar ratio now, a typical, quite plain Darkwood rapier will cost around £380 including shipping and duties, making it a whole different story.

Further to this, the Darkwood has become the norm for me, used so frequently I loved it, but more recently I got my Cervenka rapier, which admitedly was 600 quid including shipping, but the Darkwood price is certainly creeping ever closer to that now for UK buyers. The Cervenka is a stunning sword in not just handling, but also museum quality looks, its a dream to handle. Picking up my Darkwood last session after a lot of use from my Cervenka it just felt dead, with slow clumsy disengages by comparison and a very weak forte.

This is not to say that the Darkwood is a bad sword, but when compared with such a beauty it really got me thinking, the Cervenka has a massively thick ricasso, wide strong forte and great distal taper, it makes a world of difference. Then, I just bought another rapier, to be reviewed today also, a further eye opener as to what quality and value can be had in Europe by comparison to Darkwood.

So really, its not by any means that Darkwood are bad, far from it, great weapons which come with a great value service, but at todays rates, it has to be compared to the rest of the market, and I am sad to say, I will not be buying a Darkwood unless the pound returns to a near 2 dollars to the pound rate, which is of course, rather unlikely. So there it is, another way in which todays economic climate is effecting us, lookout for my review of a new rapier in shortly.
Nick Thomas - Instructor
Academy of Historical Fencing
http://www.historicalfencing.co.uk

"When a man is challenged to the field, he is to answer by weapons and not words" Saviolo, 1595.
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