One of the interesting things about having been prominent sword makers for over three decades is seeing how the popularity of various sword and weapon types shifts over time. Sometimes this shifts can be attributed to pop cultural phenomena, like when claymores became super popular after Braveheart, or leaf shaped blades after Lord of the Rings. Just as often however, we have no idea what zeitgeist might be driving folks interest in a particular style. Today we look at the top five weapon types that are surging in popularity.
1. Our Highland Claymore has been our most searched for sword over the past two years. Four or five years ago it was languishing in near obscurity, the forgotten sword of warrior poets receding into the misty hills of the collective memory. No longer! While we have no idea what cultural shifts have made this sword so popular once again, we are very happy that people are once again into this elegant weapon.
The claymore is the second biggest sharp sword in our catalogue, a true two-handed sword in every sense. It is also gorgeous. The quatrefoils on the quillions of the claymore are both iconic and beautiful, and we take great pride in all of the detailed hand work that goes into making such fine details. This piece feels even better than it looks, with a blade of lenticular cross section and a consistent distal taper placing the point of balance right about at the point of the langet that extends some inches down the blade. For such a large sword it is not at all blade heavy, but wants to move and turn around that point of balance, giving it a lively presence that calls out to be flourished.
A closer look art the elegant hilt
2. The second most common landing page on our website for the past year was a blog article we wrote about flamard swords. Also called "flamberge" or serpentine blades we are a little bit stumped as to why this has been so popular. Sure, flamed blades are really cool, but we honestly have no idea what has driven this surge in interest.
A custom flame bladed zweihander we made
These blades are super labor intensive to grind, so we do not offer a flamed blade as a catalogue product, but we do make them as custom commissions from time to time. The main difficulty in producing them is in maintaining distal taper and edge profile while the center line and edge both undulate. It is difficult enough to hand grind straight blades that behave correctly and look symmetrical, and flamed swords at least double that difficulty. To commission one of these awesome pieces you can contact us through our custom inquiry portal here.
A custom flame bladed small sword
3. Spears of all types have been increasing in popularity for the past couple years. In particular, our Norseman spear has emerged as the most popular pole arm of 2020 and 2021. Who knows why? Video games? Maybe Assassins Creed Valhalla? At any rate, you can check out all of our spears here. Stay tuned for some exciting news about our spears in the coming weeks.
4. Dane Axes are another of the big pandemic surprises. We've made and sold more of these over the past couple years than we ever expected. These things are pretty awesome and terrifying, and with a differentially hardened carbon steel blade they are a heck of a deal. Stay tuned this year for some new additions to our Dane Axe selections.
Type L War Axe (left) and Type M Dane Axe (right)
5. Quarterstaffs, this one has really surprised us. In previous times we've sold hardly any staffs. This year they've been one of our most popular items. These are hand selected 1 1/8" diameter ash poles, six feet long, hand sanded and shaped, finished with an oil rub.
Ash is the traditional wood for many polearms because it is strong, flexible, and light, with a straight grain. However, ash wood is a bit of a forgotten material, having been eclipsed by heavier woods like oak and hickory for modern tools. Yep, good old ash is undervalued by most, except for historical armorers and baseball bat makers. Check out this previous blog post on quarterstaffs and what makes ours so special, and this, our very first blog post, about the challenges of sourcing this relatively rare wood.
If you get a real quarterstaff you might, maybe, be as cool as these badasses.
Thank you to everyone who has been seeking out, looking at, and buying our products over the past years. We are a small shop of dedicated craftsmen and total nerds for historical arms and making these top quality reproductions for folks who appreciate them is what keeps us going. Happy 2022! We look forward to seeing which of our products appeal to you all this year.
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.