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Frequently Asked Questions
Listed here are many questions we often receive from our customers:

What is your guarantee against breakage on your swords?
What steel do you use? Do you forge or mill? Do your blades have sharp edges?
Do you use damascus steel?
Do you use stainless steel?
What is a "tang"?
Do you have any information regarding mail?
If I purchase a breastplate, is it available with a back plate?
Do you make the Excalibur sword?
Is there a historic sword similar to a Klingon Bat'lth from Star Trek?
How much does this stuff weigh?
I was wondering how long the longest sword is?
Can knights get up after they have fallen?
What do you call those grooves in a sword blade and what are they for?
Do triangular blades cause unhealable sucking wounds?
What is a "morning star"?
What is a "flail"?
Do you have any information on obtaining a replica of Thor's hammer?
Do you sell cross-guards and pommels by themselves?
Please explain your pricing structure and the difference of price between your items.
Are your daggers or axes balanced for throwing?
Do you have apprenticeships?
Can you ship to Finland?
I am looking for info on Hungarian/Polish/Balkan/Maltese/etc. armor.
I have two swords I'm trying to identify. Does your company provide this service?
Which rapiers can be used left-handed?
Do you have information on swords associated with the Irish?

What is your guarantee against breakage on your swords?

We guarantee our swords to stand up to anything the original swords would. They are made of high quality 6150 steel and are fashioned for strength as well as authenticity. We will replace the item if there is any problem with workmanship or materials. How one uses the sword may well create problems, they were created as a specific tool to be used in a historical martial art. A sword is a weapon that evolved over thousands of years to be used against human beings. While we do not advocate such use, a sword would never and should never be used to hack apart concrete pillars, 57 Chevy's, PVC pipe, Logs, or any other object Hollywood decides to have cut in half. We reserve the right to decide if a piece has been abused and therefore has nullified the guarantee.

If you train in the Western Martial Arts we do offer a line of training weapons for you. These are based on training weapons from the period and crafted to provide the best possible training weapon. They excel in durability and similarity to the weapons used by the fighters of the past for training. Many leading instructors and schools use our weapons and you can read testimonials on the various training weapon pages.

A stage combat version of most of our items can be done as well. These look like our standard items but have been altered for safety on stage and the demands of such use. You can see some of the productions and films were our items have been used here on our Projects and Productions Page.

Could you tell me what steel is used in the production of your swords and how they are produced i.e. are they forged or milled etc. And do your blades sharp edges?

We use 6150 steel for our sword blades and custom work. Some of our Knives, Daggers and Pole arms are done in 1050 steel. We use a combination of forging and stock removal, dependent on the projects blade type and customer request. Most people are surprised to learn that the blade makers of the Middle Ages and Renaissance era would use stock removal as well as forging to create their blades.

Forged blanks would have been ground and polished to create sword blades. They would lie on decks, above large watered powered grinding wheels and run the sword back and forth across it. Then do the finishing by hand and polishing wheels. Also a worker can be taught to grind a blade relatively quickly compared to forging a good blade, which can take quite some time to learn.

Our weapons will arrive with an authentic sharpened edge. You may request rebated, stage edges, or other options to fit your needs.

Do you use damascus steel?

The techniques used by ancient metal smelters and smiths to produce steel for knives and swords were quite varied. Often the key element to the process was how to incorporate low carbon steel and iron into their product. To do this and still achieve the best result possible was part of the art of smithing. The smelting of high carbon steel was a challenge and when successful the commodity would have been valuable.

Folded, layered and cable welded construction for blades were used in production in Europe and the Orient to accomplish the most efficient use of materials. This also allowed the smith to incorporate the strengths of each type of material in the same blade. One could use high, medium and low carbon steel to form a blade with different properties in the core surface and edge. The pattern welding process used by Frankish smiths, a form of layering is the most common method of production for what a lot of folks call "damascus steel" today. Its correct name would be layered steel. The difference in the materials welded together can create the pattern. The material termed "damascus" in period is correctly called wootz. It was a crucible steel smelted in a closed pot.

Wootz, known to Medieval and Renaissance Europe as "Damascus Steel", was actually made in the regions that today we identify as Persia and India. It acquired the name "Damascus" from the Syrian city, which was the chief waypoint on the trade route to Europe. A mixture of iron, carbonizing elements and flux being baked in an anaerobic environment, produces Wootz steel. This process will result in high carbon steel elements in a softer steel and iron body. The ingot produced by this baking can then be forged into a blade that will display the famous "watered satin" effect that makes wootz steel so distinct. This is one of the reasons it acquired its reputation. If a European smith unfamiliar with forging this material used his usual techniques he may well eliminate this quality.

Wootz blades where said to stay sharper longer than normal blades of the period. The usually higher carbon content of the wootz and a more consistent nature than some steel production of the time, was responsible for its reputation for being a superior material. You can learn more about wootz here at the excellent site of Door County Forgeworks.

Do you use stainless steel?

We do not use stainless steel in our products. The reasons being that it is not authentic in any way and the alloys that impart the stainless quality also decrease the sword blades strength and toughness.

Some of your weapon descriptions mention a "tang"; beside being a popular artificial fruit drink what is a tang?

The tang is the portion of the blade that is covered by the cross guard, grip and pommel. It is traditionally of a tapering profile, which passes through the above hilt components and was peened on the top of the pommel to hold the sword together. There are other styles of tang used in medieval swords but this is the most common. The tangs on our swords are often quite sturdy by comparison to many of the original swords. Some period tangs are quite narrow and thin. In many original medieval swords the tang and shoulder area of the blade are iron or lower carbon steel welded to the rest of the blade.

The tangs on A&A swords are of the same stock that the original blade is formed from in one piece.

A word of caution when purchasing swords today, you want to avoid a tang that is a short stub of the blade, often an inch in length or less, with a rod welded to it to place the grip and pommel on. These types of hilts are notorious for breaking, they should never be used for any type of contact or cutting. You should always check the tang construction on a sword if you are concerned about its usability.

I am currently doing a project about mail. I was curious about the background of it. Do you have any information that you would be interested in sharing with me?

Mail armor was constructed from thin wire rings, which are interconnected on a basic 4 in 1 pattern. That is that each ring has four other rings passing through it. The rings are traditionally riveted or pinned shut. This was done with very small rivets or by a special tool that would punch a bit of one side of an overlap through the other. Because most modern mail is not riveted they use much heavier wire than an authentic piece has. Traditional mail would have been made from 20-26 gauge wire while most modern mail is made from 14-16 gauge wire which increases the weight quite a bit. Mail is an excellent form of armor when worn in the traditional manor with padding and the correct undergarments.

Ring Size: A majority of medieval mail would be in the 3/16 to 5/16 of an inch inside ring diameter. Modern reproductions often use a larger size with the heavier wire.

If I purchase a breastplate, is it available with a back plate?

The breastplates can have backplates made for them. A simple backplate starts at about $290.00.

I would like to know if you make a replica of the Excalibur sword and its price.

I am sorry to say there is no historical sword that has survived the ages known as Excalibur. In fact there is no positive proof that the Legend of King Arthur is based on any actual people or incident. In the historical context of the period references can be found concerning two chieftains of the Romano-Brits named Arturus which may be part of the legend. If there is any connection between these men and the legend, it is unknown.

If there where an actual Excalibur from this period it would look like a Roman spatha most likely not the sword we see in movies or art of the romantic era.

My husband recently purchased a weapon at a Renaissance festival from a swordsmith who makes weapons for T.V. and movies. The weapon looks very similar to a Klingon Bat'lth from Star Trek, but the smith told us that it was a replica of a weapon found in a castle wall and that it is called a "clay." I'm not even sure of the spelling. Do you have any information about such a weapon, or was this guy just selling us a good story?

I hope he told the story really well. I am afraid to say that in the sword makers trade is not unknown for a few makers to be lacking in honesty or truthfulness. I hope you are happy with the item you purchased and the price you paid for it. That is the only true test to a weapons value was it worth it for you. I would write and ask him for documentation if you are interested in finding out if it is a replica of an historical item. I would bet (a lot of money) that it is not. That does not take away from the efforts of the craftsman who made the item, but a little sad they have to make up a story when the actual history of weapons is far richer and more interesting than any one person's imagination.

I would also take any claims of Movie and TV credits with a large grain of salt. If there were as many movies using swords and weapons as there were makers who say they have done them, that is all there would be to watch. Check the credits. If they're not there, they didn't do it.

How much does this stuff weigh?

From Armor to Daggers:

Armor full suit: 45-60 pounds depending on style
Half suit of armor: 30-45 pounds
Helmets: 5-10 pounds
Swords, single hand: 2-3.5 lb.
Bastard swords: 3-4.5 lb.
Real two-handers: 4-8 lb.
Rapiers: 3-5.5 lb.

These should be considered a general range and just because a certain particular piece does not fall in this range does not mean it is not old. They did not weight and detail each item to specifications as a modern manufacturer would. It is good to remember hat these items where crafted by individual makers and often more than one would work on an item so rarely are two alike even if made as a pair there will be small differences.

I was wondering how long the longest sword is?

The longest sword we know of that was actually made for use as a weapon runs 76 inches in length and is at the Royal Armories in Leeds (IX-4). This is a fairly extreme length. Most two-handed swords are shorter, averaging about 68 inches and weight between 5 and 6 lbs. This of course does not mean there is not one out there, but when you get long like this they are often more parade swords as opposed to swords ever meant to be fought with. Parade swords where meant to impress and show the importance of those they represented. Some examples are probably large enough that more than one person would be needed to carry them.

Can knights get up after they have fallen?

A knight in armor for battle was very mobile. If he werenÕt, he would be susceptible to attacks from behind or from a faster moving unarmored opponent. In fact it is recorded that some knights were able to leap into their saddles from a standing position beside their horse. It is completely untrue that an armored man was unable to get up after falling. The old story about a knight being winched up in a crane to get on his horse is a figment of Mark Twains imagination i.e. "Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court".

What do you call those grooves in a sword blade and what are they for?

They are called fullers. Forged or ground in some blades they were created to conserve valuable steel by using less metal than a diamond cross sectioned blade. It also strengthened the blade in the plan of its width on the same principle as the I beam. When steel became easier to acquire the habit of using them declined, until fashion brought them back in vogue.

The fullers have absolutely no ability to increase blood flow from the wound as is often mistakenly believed, as well as the often repeated and absolutely false belief that a blade can get stuck in the human body due to suction. The only way to get a weapon stuck in a human body is to jam it between bones of sufficient size and mass to lodge the weapon firmly.

Do triangular blades cause un-healable sucking wounds?

This is another wives tale of the weapons world. It causes a deep puncture wound as the triangular blade is very stiff and even a wound of 3 inches could be fatal.

What is a "morning star"?

The Morning Star or Morgenstern was a pole weapon. It consisted of a 4 to 6 foot haft with a large wooden block or ball affixed to the end with several large spikes protruding from it. It is not a flail as some gaming references have misidentified it. It is sometimes called a Holy Water Sprinkler as well but we are not aware if this is a period reference or not.

What is a "flail"?

Any type of impact weapon with a flexible joint is considered a flail. They are developments of the agricultural flail used in threshing grain. They can be long pole type weapons to the shorter all steel variety with a spiked ball on the end of a chain. The chain is quite short on most, as control is difficult.

I recently came into possession of a diamond cross-sectioned, tapered blade about 33 or so inches long. The problem is that while the blade would work well for a 14th Century sword, it does not have a workable hilt. I did not know if your firm would even consider selling a cross-guard and pommel by themselves. If you would I would be most appreciative and would like to place an order?

Sorry but we do not sell our component parts separately. We have had some problems in the past with very poor quality constructions using our parts being passed off as manufactured by us. While I do not believe this is what you would do, we have had to suspend all such transactions to ensure our quality and reputation. The only option I can consider is for you to send us the blade and we could mount it up for you. The cost of such an operation is dependent on the amount of work to match your blade to our parts. As long as the blade is of reasonable quality this can be done.

Please explain your pricing structure and the difference of price between your items.

I would first suggest you check out our page describing how we work and what you get when you purchase from Arms & Armor.

Our pricing structure for weapons and armor is based on a pretty simple formula of materials, overhead and time to produce. This can vary a great deal from one item to the next. Our weapons are crafted to match the originals in style, balance and durability, this will often entail a great deal of hand work and doing it the way they did to get it right. Thus while something that can be assembled quickly and has few parts or inexpensive materials will have a lower price than an object that may take many hours and many parts to complete.

Are your daggers or axes balanced for throwing?

Any object has a center of gravity around which it will spin if thrown. This is more often referred to as the balance point. It is one of the details that it is important to pay attention to when making a weapon, but it is not the most important.

The art of throwing any type of weapon is based on gauging the revolutions needed to cover the distance from you to the target. This can be any thing from a quarter to several full rotations. The key is consistency and having a good perception of the distance from you to the target. This is not difficult, with a little practice for hand axes (our Viking axes) and certain daggers designed for the purpose you can quickly be sticking your target. The daggers used for throwing are usually of one-piece construction and not equipped with cross guards and pommels. This furniture will add undo stress to the dagger when it is impacting with a target and make the item very end heavy.

Learn more here Knife Throwing.

Do you have apprenticeships?

We do not take on apprentices in the old way of the guild system. This was always a way to basically get slave labor and the actual teaching process was very minimal. We prefer to hire new people when the need arises. They start at the bottom and work their way up to the more complex and difficult tasks if their talent allows.

Can you ship to Finland?

We ship our items all over the world. We have had just a few countries unwilling to allow delivery, though some times the import duties are horrendous.

We are aware that Canada does not allow flails of any form to be shipped in. Italy is also quite restrictive and you may need a permit to receive a sharp blade. Please check the restrictions on your locality.

I am looking for info on Hungarian/Polish/Balkan/Maltese/etc. armor

The books I would start with are the Osprey Men at Arms series and are available in most hobby shops and comic stores. They are an excellent source and can give you a good start on what was used in a particular area of the world. Each volume will have a bibliography to work from for further research. I would also check such boards as, Sword Forum and Mediaeval Sword they will often have well researched threads on many such topics or may even have articles and special sections addressing the topic.

I have two swords I'm trying to identify. Does your company provide this service?

We can do identifications for a fee. Contact us about the process and we can let you know what info we need to start. We would also encourage you to research yourself as there are some excellent online resources such as, Sword Forum and Mediaeval Sword.

Which rapiers can be used left-handed?

The following Rapiers maybe used right or left-handed:
Silvered Smallsword
Cup Hilt Rapier
Milanese Rapier
Gustav Vasa Rapier
Serenissima Rapier

These Rapiers can be made in a left handed version:
Italian 3-Ring Rapier
Bavarian Rapier
French Rapier
Two-Ring Rapier
Training Rapier
Side Sword Trainer

These Rapiers can be modified to left handed for an additional fee:
Writhen Rapier
German Rapier
Lombardy Rapier

Do you have information on swords associated with the Irish?

Check out Item #085. This type of sword is Irish and one of the few distinctly ethnic sword styles, as no other nationality ever seems to have adopted this style. Also the Claymore was referred to as the Irish Sword by both the English and the Scots early in its development.

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