How to Tell if a Sword is Functional

When choosing a sword, it is important to determine if it is suitable for your intended use. You may be looking for a medieval sword to use in an intense reenactment or one to display on a wall. These are two very different requirements for a sword. Medieval Collectibles is here to provide you with a guide to swords to help you figure out if a sword is functional, also known as battle ready. The name of the item may help you. For example, we offer swords that have the word decorative in their name. Also, any sword with LARP in the name is made of foam and intended for roleplaying.

We’ve also made it easy to shop functional and decorative swords by dividing them into separate categories on our site:

Functional Swords
Shop all Functional Swords
Decorative Swords
Shop all Decorative Swords

Sword Material

Certain materials, especially certain types of steel, can immediately categorize a sword as decorative or functional. Stainless steel swords are almost always decorative. They are rarely functional. This type of sword is best suited for display or costume use. Medium carbon steel swords can be either functional or decorative. The functionality depends on the construction process, especially regarding the forging process. 1045 carbon steel is an example of a medium carbon steel that can be used for functional swords. We have multiple battle ready swords made from 1045 steel. Other medium carbon steel swords may not be functional. Those swords are best suited for the same purposes as the stainless steel swords.

Another type of steel that you may come across is spring steel. This is a type of carbon steel and can be functional as well. Spring steel has a resistance to bending and snapping, making it ideal for certain sword uses. 1566 steel is a type of spring steel. Finally, there are types of high carbon steel. High carbon steel swords are usually functional swords. Many high carbon steel blades make great swords for historical reenactments. Types of high carbon steel include 1095, 1065, 1060 as well as T10 and 65 Mn. We have a variety of high carbon steel swords.

Sword Construction

When looking at a sword on our site, you may see the words tempered, hardened, or heat-treated. Any of these words will help to indicate that the sword may be functional. Some swords will be tempered but are intended for decorative use. Next, some battle ready swords will indicate to what level of hardness that they have been tempered. You will see this indicated with the letters HRC next to a number. This refers to a rating on the Rockwell scale. The higher the rating on the Rockwell scale, the better a blade will hold its edge. The lower the rating, the less brittle the steel will be, generally speaking.

Another phrase to pay attention to is the words full tang. A full tang means that the blade continues all the way through the handle. A battle ready sword has a full tang so that the blade does not easily separate from the handle during combat. There are two types of tangs: peened and threaded. A threaded tang means that the pommel is screwed onto the tang. A peened tang means that the tang was hammered and heated at the tip of the pommel. A peened tang is often sturdier than a threaded tang, but both are effective. A fully functional sword should have both a full tang as well as a tempered or hardened construction.

Sharpened vs Unsharpened Swords

A sharpened sword is almost always a functional sword. However, this is not always the case in reverse. A functional sword may come unsharpened. The fact that a sword is functional does not necessarily mean that the sword is sharpened. We have multiple swords that are fully functional but do not come with a sharpened edge. This selection includes swords that have a factory edge, which are not sharp. None of our swords have a razor-sharp edge.

Some swords are offered in both sharpened and unsharpened versions, like our Darksword Armoury swords. Many functional swords meant for full contact combat can be sharpened by the user after purchasing them as we do not offer a sharpening service. Other functional swords are designed to not have a sharp edge because of their intended use, such as swords for stage combat or practice swords.

Uses of Functional Swords

Functional swords are useful for a wide variety of purposes and activities. Some swords are full combat. Skilled users can wield them in combat-based historical reenactments. These may have sharp edges and are best suited for combat with protective gear. Other swords may be used for stage combat. These weapons are meant for controlled combat. They often do not have sharpened edges and allow the option of wearing lighter or minimal protective gear.

Other types of functional swords are sparring and training swords. These swords are often used to practice swordsmanship skills. They are especially useful for Historical European Martial Arts, also known as HEMA, and other live sword combat events. Many functional blades for this purpose often do not have a sharp tip. Therefore, this type of medieval sword would be ill suited for full-contact combat.

Overall, Medieval Collectibles has a wide variety of swords. Some are functional, while others are decorative. Understanding whether a sword is functional and for what purpose it is used is important to ensuring that you are satisfied with your sword. We hope this guide helps you in determining what sword will work best for you.

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