Reviews of Training Weapons

Arms and Armor Fechterspiel Sword

See it here. Arms and Armor is another maker of swords that ranks among the top. It handles very well, feels great, and is a good size, although if you are training in Italian longsword systems, you would want a grip that is several inches longer. If you are practicing German, you will feel perfect.

Hanwei Practical Rapier

See it here. This is not a great training tool. It is tip-heavy because the acorn pommel is too small. The swept hilt is oversized with very thick rings. Not at all lively in the hand. The ricassso is not shaped properly. Very whippy blade, which is supposed to protect your training partner from injurious thrusts. It's your most inexpensive option in a training rapier. If you actually want a practice rapier you could get this, but if you can afford better, look to Darkwood Armory. You can also get a rubber tip for Hanwei's other rapiers.

Hanwei Tinker Pearce Longsword

See it here. Lively and light. Not as substantial as other training swords, and the blade could be a couple of inches longer and have a bit more steel in it, but it is nice nonetheless. The hilt is long and comfortable. It more closely approximates a Liechtenauer sword than other offerings from Hanwei. The flat fishtail-like pommel gets loose and turns, fixable by tightening the hex screw at the base. It comes with a good scabbard.

Hanwei Practical Austrian Longsword

See it here. The website states that this sword is in its fifth generation. I can only hope that means the sword that we reviewed was a first or second generation model, because it was far from desirable. Really dead in the hands, awkward to hold, not well finished, this is not a sword you could possibly be happy with. The Tinker Pearce is a far better choice. It's one thing to call a sword a "hand and a half", but be careful there. It often turns out to be more like a hand and a quarter-- if you have large hands. This seems like it was a sword for one-handed use. The crossguard is another hint that gives that impression. It's very small, half the size of a German or Italian longsword; it doesn't seem like an effective parrying implement.

Purpleheart Armory Wooden Training Sword (Waster)

See them here. These are very strongly constructed for heavy training. If you're going to get a wooden training sword, make it a PurpleHeart Armory waster. They are available in multiple sizes and shapes-- longsword, shortsword and greatsword (they are all good)-- with cherry accents. If you come to train with something else, it will probably go home broken. These are not the best choice to actually train with, however. They are awkward to handle, and not at all fun to spar with.

Purpleheart Armory Wooden 6 Foot Staff

See it here. I have used many staves in my 3 decades of training, some of them exotic and very expensive, but this one is my favorite. Incredibly strong laminated hickory, it's very lively and durable. I would recommend this one above all.

Cold Steel Indestructible Waster

See it here. Avoid these. These may be indestructible, but that's not reason enough to own one. They are awkwardly proportioned, poorly balanced and the pommels are uncomfortable to hold. When used against a wooden sword these will seem 'whippy' or excessively flexy, because the wooden wasters don't flex at all; this is not much of a problem, because real swords flex too. The main problem here is the design of this sword, not the material it's made of. It needs to be completely redesigned. As it is now, this is not worth owning.

Wooden Training Sword from Museum Replicas

See it here. Another one to avoid. These look like Purple Heart Armory wasters, but aren't in the same league. They may be half the price, but they're half the wood too. You will be disappointed. Save your money for something else.

Rawlings Synthetic Wasters

See it here. These are actually very nice. They feel more like real swords than wooden wasters do. You can get these from PurpleHeart Armory. I like the interchangeable parts. When the steel pommel and steel crossguard are used-- in fact it's the only way to go-- the longsword really starts to approach the weight and balance of a real sword. These should only be used against other synthetics, not against wooden wasters. So buy two-- one for you and one for a partner! The best thing to purchase is a steel practice sword-- but those are $300 to $500. If that is out of your budget, this is the second best option.

Rubber Spear Tip

See it here. From Purpleheart Armory. This fits a standard staff and is very functional for intense spear training. It stays on well snugly by itself, and pulls off when you're done. This is a good addition to your training bag.

ActionFlex Knife

See it here. For realistic training, you can't use a wooden or plastic knife. The reason is that you risk putting someone's eye or tooth out, or breaking a rib whenever you stab them. This causes knife combat training to always contain an element of artificiality, because you will never attack with full intent. Not so with the ActionFlex knife. Since you can't hurt someone with it, you don't have to hold back; you can cut and stab as fast and hard as you like, like a real knife fighter would. You might think a downside is the soft design prevents techiques that you might do that involve leverage against a stiff blade, but honestly, how often does that happen? The advantages of this training tool are too important to overlook.

ColdSteel Synthetic Buckler

See it here. This came as a real surprise-- very durable, heavy, and versatile. Made from "highest grade of high impact Polypropylene available", ColdSteel calls it 'virtually indestructable', although they caution against using it against metal weapons. The design of the molded handle vs. the thin metal bar of steel bucklers offers more control and makes this small shield a pleasure to use. The bucker was used throughout Europe over a very long period of time. We use it in conjunction with rapier and side or short sword-- although in reality it makes a highly effective modern self-defense tool against a knife or stick attack, and the "boss" or raised dome in the center makes a great punching assister. ColdSteel sells this directly, but it can be gotten for less at Highly recommended for use against synthetic swords.

Hickory Cane

See it here. Purpleheart Armory's hickory cane provides several advantages over a cheap wooden dowel. Not only is it made of impact grade hickory, but it's actually two layers of hickory laminated together to form a stronger stick. It's only 3/4" in diameter, which is what we prefer for agility, and it sports a hardwood head which can deliver heavier strikes. We use this item both in our cane system and as a stand-in for rapier work.

More to come...