Finding a good training sword for your personal needs is one of the quests in HEMA. Not only to find a sword fitting the style you train, but also which represents the needs of you as an individual. Even harder to find a training sword, which you can introduce as your fencing group´s standard weapon.
That is why we were very happy, when my friend Chris Adams of Balefire Blades, with whom I fenced, feasted and talked in Malta back in 2015, approached us to create, design and test a Broadsword steel-trainer with him. That was the beginning of The Angelo. You can read all about Chris biography, his work and the prototype here.
Now it is time to talk about the final result 🙂 Spoiler alert: WE LOVE IT 🙂 If you want to see a quick first review as a video, please check out my youtube channel:
The prototype design was based on regimental broadswords of the 1750s-1770s and we already loved it. However there were some details needed to be changed to make it even better and Chris did a great job. We are using the Angelo Broadsword since November now and we are quite happy about the final design.
The blade was changed not too much, just the swollen point became less thicker. The prototype had a „mini-mace“-like effect when hitting a target and for our style of swordsmanship, which is more cutting than thrusting, a special thrust-safe point is not necessary so much like i.e. for Rapiers. The blade is still flexible enough for safe thrusting, but solid and sturdy for good parrys and cuts. Something that i.e. Armourclass Broadswords have as an issue is their quite great blade flexibility, which makes them light and safe, but very „wobbly“ sometimes. Also the tapering of the Angelo blade became bit flatter/slimmer and lighter towards the point, which makes the balance even better than that of the prototype. The minor troubles with the tang were solved with the heat-treating process.
The biggest changes were made in the Basket-Hilt design and I have to say, if I would have come across the original, which Chris used as inspiration, when we created the prototype, I would already have said to take that one. The new basket-hilt is designed nearly indestructable (when used properly). It is a tank, but this does not mean it is heavy or clumsy, no tanks are swift and still well protected.
The hardened steel basket offers a solid plate protection to the front and has durable bars on the rear. It is oil blackened to a matte finish. Also this darkened color makes its look quite elegant, but you can polish it to a matte silverish/steel color, which also looks very nice, if you prefer that. Chris also offers a simple, but comfortable felt liner. It is also easy to attach a leather liner into it, which I did basing on Chris´ felt. The basket-hilt is very robust and due to its greater weight, it makes the balance better, because now it is even a bit more back to the hilt, which is quite right for Highland Broadsword fencing.
The wooden grip kept its simple but comfortable design. It is wrapped with cord, which lies much better in the hand than many leather or fishskin grips I’ve tried, especially with gloves. Although custom grips may be available for those who want their weapons a bit more “shiny”, in my opinion this grip is just perfect. Not only the wrapping, but also its form. It is comfortable for all hand sizes our group members have, big or small.
Chris did a great job turning the Angelo prototype into the final product, a very robust, wieldy and good (meaning authentic) looking sword. The small changes improvised the original blade and the new Basket-Hilt design makes it just gorgeous. Of course Chris offers solutions for customized requests too, i.e. the blade length.
I can highly recommend the Angelo as well as Balefire Blades in general. The Broadsword is bit on the heavier end of training swords, but that comes with lots of benefits and advantages. It is excellent for the Regimental style of Broadsword fencing according to sources like Roworth/Taylor, Mathewson, Sinclair and of course its name-patron Angelo. For more informations check out Balefire Blades.
Here we go with our first sparring with The Angelo: