By Paul Southren
You'd think that the term "battle ready sword" would be pretty much self explanatory wouldn't you?
Unfortunately, many of the swords being described as "battle ready" are anything but. And to quote Adrian Ko from Sword Forum International, "a lot of these swords I wouldn't want to take into battle even if they were strapped to a M-16. And even then I'd be worried!"
Don't let that put you off though. You'll find that there are actually some pretty good swords to be found in this broad category, IF you know what to look for.
The first thing you need to look for in a truly "functional" sword is the type of steel it is made from. To keep it simple, 99% of all real battle ready swords are made from properly heat treated high carbon steel.
Stainless steel swords are a big no no. Why? Well basically, stainless steel is great for making knives. But any stainless steel blade over 12" in length tends to become brittle, which is clearly not the kind of thing you want for a "battle ready sword." So steer well away from sales pitches that describe "fully functional stainless steel blade"!
There really is no such thing...
The second thing to look out for is the swords handle, or more specifically the tang (the bit of metal which attaches the sword to the handle).
Most cheap "wall hanger" swords have what is known as a rat tail tang, in other words the tang is just a thin bit of metal welded to the sword blade. Rat tail tangs are a major cause of a sword breaking when swung through the air, and can be extremely dangerous, creating what sword enthusiasts refer to as a "helicopter". (very scary stuff when this happens, trust me!)
What you should be looking for is a sword that has a "full tang", in other words a tang that has been forged as part of the sword, not tacked on afterwards...
Finally, it's also important to consider a swords overall weight and balance.
Contrary to popular belief, a heavy sword is NOT a good sword. Historically, nearly all swords weighed under 3lbs, and this was because to reach maximum speed and deliver the most powerful blow, they needed to be relatively light and well balanced. So swords over 3lbs should be viewed with a very cautious and suspicious eye.
Of course, it's not always possible to see immediately in a swords description if it has all these essential characteristics. So if you see a sword being described as "battle ready" or functional, but aren't sure if it really has all the above characteristics - either ASK the seller what kind of steel the sword is made from, how it has been heat treated, what kind of tang it has or how much it weighs, or look for another listing that does.
Otherwise, you'll probably end up with a sword that snaps in half the first time you swing it really hard, or worse still, shatters into shards of steel when you try and hack up a cardboard box...
For more information on choosing a good battle ready sword, as well as some easy ways to find them, including reviews and tests of some of the most affordable yet high quality blades on the market, check out my website http://sword-buyers-guide.com
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