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Advice: Darkwood rapier blades?

PostPosted: 22 Feb 2013 12:43
by Kp
Hello, Schola forum!

I'm looking to make a rapier order from Darkwood Armory — I noticed they have two varieties of blade, Practice and Bated. Is there a standard or preference within the HEMA community for one over the other, for safety or other reasons? Matt mentioned the squared-off tips needing some work.

(Hopefully this is the right sub-forum now; please let me know if I dropped it in the wrong place)

Re: Darkwood rapier blades

PostPosted: 22 Feb 2013 20:13
by Rob
The bated blade are the heaviest sort of Darkwood. They are tougher, but weight can be a problem. Also, beware of long (45") bated blades as they have a tendency to get a serious bend about 5" from the tip. We end up trimming the 45" to 43" or even down to 36" as they make excellent sidesword trainers.

The training blades are light, but can be too whippy, though not as much as a hanwei. If you can get Scott to stiffen the blade, this may be your best bet.

They also provide 40" rapier foils which are ugly but good for training. We have made a special order for 45" foils. So far they are okay but very bendy. None have broken and they bend back into shape, but I think the jury is still out on them.

Re: Darkwood rapier blades

PostPosted: 22 Feb 2013 20:49
by Kp
Thanks, Rob! Particularly for the warning about the bending, yikes.

In your experience, are the bated blades heavier than real blades, or are they rather a problem only in sparring against lighter blades?

I've seen the »WMA rapier foils«, but they seem to be both unpleasantly short and not possible to order as part of a finished weapon. The 45" practice blades are sounding best right now, I have to say.

Re: Darkwood rapier blades

PostPosted: 23 Feb 2013 15:29
by Rob
Well we made a special order of 45" blades, but I'm not sure if Scott will make a one off. However, they handle excellently, though as I say they are bendy.


Historical rapiers can be very heavy, so it's difficult to say, but I would say the foils are the closest so far to the historical blades as far as weight are concerned, though you should do fine with the practice.

Re: Darkwood rapier blades

PostPosted: 23 Feb 2013 22:56
by Kp
Alright! Thanks muchly.

Re: Darkwood rapier blades

PostPosted: 26 Feb 2013 08:15
by Reinier
I have two of the bated, and two of the practice. I have not used the practice in heavy sparring much yet, but I am wary they might get quite bent.
I do not really mind the weight of the bated (at 39" IIRC). Though I have a 42" blade for one of my rapiers which I rarely use at it is too slow (not too heavy for me really, just too slow, which I think comes from both mass and length).

I do not think that any of them is too light (I have not yet experienced the foils) or too heavy really. It mainly depends on what you want from it.

PS My most-used bated blade has seen some quite heavy sparring, and it does have some limited bends from that. The bends go out easily, but a slight twist might remain.

Re: Darkwood rapier blades

PostPosted: 26 Feb 2013 17:54
by MugginsToadwort
I've got a 42" bated, and I enjoy the rigidity and have no problems with the weight. Where the hanwei felt heavy, my heavier Darkwood is very mobile. Again, getting the balance right makes a big difference, and the distal taper on the Darkwood makes a difference there.

Re: Advice: Darkwood rapier blades?

PostPosted: 21 Jul 2013 23:20
by Turmine
I feel qualified to chip in here - I have a Darkwood Rapier with a 39" blade, and though I ordered the practice I think they may have sent me the heavier bated blade. As someone said above, they are not perfect in terms of looks - lots of bumps and uneven dishes in the profile if you hold them to the light and look down their length, or run your fingers along the length. Having said that, you don't notice this from standard handling distance and my blade handles very nicely indeed ... has no whip and bends about 15-20 degrees at a push. I would say the 39 bated is perfect for Rapier ... I am 6ft tall and this length is about right I feel.

Cheers, T.

Re: Advice: Darkwood rapier blades?

PostPosted: 27 Feb 2014 01:23
by StevenJ4810
I own two Darkwood 39 bated DAR2 rapier blades. They work well, I haven't had a problem with them. If you're in the UK, I could understand why you may be hesitant due to shipping and import duties. I live three states away from them in the US so I don't pay import duties for them or extraordinary shipping charges. I have three weapons from them, two rapiers and a saber trainer. I've sparred with all of them in rapier type fencing, no real issues. I do prefer the heavier blade to the lighter one as it is more likely to take a set. I did bend one of their lighter type I practice blades. As I lunged into my opponent, he lunged into me, bending the blade about 90 degrees. I've been a bit more careful now with my lunges. Haven't had as much trouble with the type II heavier blade. Yes the heavier type II is more along the lines of a sidesword blade, it's really border line between rapier and side sword, still safe enough for rapier fencing. Well my marshall in my group allows it anyway.