The Hanwei Rapier Review

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The Hanwei Rapier Review

Postby Nikos » 14 Nov 2008 10:00

I recommend the Hanwei rapiers all the time yet never seem to have got around to a complete review looking at the whole range and all aspects.

Historical Range

At just over £100 these rapiers are the pretiiest of the line up with about 6 hilt options including one left handed design and a cup hilt. All of the rapiers come with 'sharp' blades, in reality the edges are as thick as most fencing rapiers, though there is a strongly tapering point. The blades measure in at about 38-39", there is variety in both length and weight across the range. All of the sharp blades are in reality too light for the hilts and swords they represent, the rapiers of the late 16th and early 17th century. The blades are however nicely constructed and well suited to some transtional rapier play once the tip has been filed down and a rubber tip added.

Blunt sparring blades are suitable for these blades which are called practical blades, these however must not be mistaken for the nail head practical blades as found on the 'practical line'. The practical blade which may be purchased for the historical line is about a 39", bated but not nail headed blade, still too short for the most common forms of rapeir play but suitable for some of the later stuff.

The practical button tipped blades can be fitted onto the collectors hilts with a bit of time at the grinding wheel, as you must remove a substantial bit of metal from the exceptionally wide ricasso of the practical blade in order for it to fit through the quillon block, the threads are the same for all blades so pommels can be used. Whilst this of course would suggest that the blade would be weaked, the practical button tipped ricassos are incredably strong and you are only grinding down the the same size as the other historical blades which are plenty strong enough. I retro fitted a button tipped practical blade to a Gustav rapier nearly two years ago and it has seen regular use with no problems at all.

The bars of the hilts of the historical range are thinner and weaker than on the practical lineup, yet they have taken no damage in training at all and appear plenty strong enough. The only other problem found with one of our members 'torino' rapiers is that the wood of the grip has eroded on the inside meaning it now continually turns in the hand and the hilt will no longer tighten down, probably because of thread issues. This rapier has been used of and on for 6 months, problems which I am sure could be fixed quite easily.

Practical Range

Cup Hilt - The latest of the practical rapier range, I am not a fan of cup hilts so therefore do not own one myself. However, it is a nice looking peice of kit, it has a unique (for Hanwei) blade with a fuller running a third the length of its blade, the blade is slightly stiffer and heavier than the others in the practical range. Sadly the cup hilt can only be purchased in one length, which is about a 38", which is quite short. The only problem found with these so far is that the leather which fits between the cup and forte broke fairly quickly leaving the hitl lose, this requires a stronger leather or metal washer in its place to quickly fix the problem. These blades are also button tipped, also more expensive than the other practical lineup at around £100.

Practical 37" - A basic, typical swept hilt, at £85 it is the cheapest usable rapier on the market today. Sadly the 37" blade (which is tip qo quillon), is extemely short, as short as many smallswords or less, it is not suitable for typical rapier combat, it is however pretty good for Meyers Rapier which does require a shorter blade.

Practical 43" - Exactly the same in every way to the practical 37", yet with a much longer blade. The practical 43" is the stable of the AHF and many rapier clubs around the world, still at £85, nothing comes close to it in price or value. The handling is better than most rapiers which cost vastly more. With aroubd 20 of these in the AHF, we have never had a single problem with them, not a broken blade, bent guard or loose construction, nothing at all. Of course they are not perfect, and I will point out the few things I dislike also, the pommel is too small for this size of rapier, a larger pommel would improve the handling further and bring it more inline with typical period swords in terms of weight also. The blade is slightly too whippy, a characteristic intended for safety, yet it doesn't really aid with safety, this is however a minor issue. Lastly, the hilts are a bit oversized, this is really just an aesthetics point, it does not effect their usage.

The Hanwei Practical 43" is by far the best value option rapier on the market today, which is why I recommend it to beginners and advanced practitioners alike. I have suggested that Hanwei integrate the practical and historical lineup so that all blades fit all weapons and you can therefore buy the historical hilts with the practical blades, giving more choice and prettier weapons, I do hope they act on these recommendations.

Renaissance Style Fencing Rapier

Available with either double width epee or Schlaeger blades, they have their own unique rapier hilt and have blades even shorter than the practical 37". These weapons are great for theatrical use for they are featherweight, half of what many period rapiers weigh. If you are doing to study rapier for HEMA, do not buy these weapons, they cost around £100, look and feel nice, but do not represent a period rapier.

Conclusion:


If you do HEMA and want to buy a rapier, get a Practical 43".
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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