But then things mysteriously began to unravel.
After light cutting in the yard, the pommel came loose. Nothing too serious, but when you have this picture of reliability in your head, and you expect performance, you're still a little surprised when something goes amiss.
Naturally, I contacted Darksword Armory.
True to form - and living up to their reputation of service - they said for me to send it back and they would handle all the repairs, FREE OF CHARGE.
And, though sending back the sword via USPS (and ONLY USPS) across international borders into Canada was a chore, and expensive ($35 one way), this was MY Guardian! Come on, no-brainer right?
I did. It came back. Nothing was loose, everything back to normal.
I kept cutting.
Not too long ago, the pommel loosened again.
THE FUCK is going on here??
I decided then to send it to a friend - an independent bladesmith and mad genius with damaged swords - Wes Beem, instead of sending it back to Canada (and Darksword) one last time.
He made a truly SHOCKING discovery:
"This can't be," I thought. "These things range in price anywhere from $340 for their basic model swords to $1950 for their "elite" Damascus steel models! How is THIS allowed to happen??!"
Needless to say, when shared on social media, the responses from the intelligent sword owners and smiths within our small community went as expected:
I needed more. I needed to take action!
The justified reactions, and my own searing discontent, prompted me to reach out to Darksword Armory PERSONALLY and find some sort of solace, some sort of recourse for the TRAUMA I had just experienced from the utter failure of this weapon:
My Letter to Darksword:
One of the swords I received from your forge, the Guardian, broke again recently. I had sent this back to you once before - along with my DSA claymore (which broke twice).
I decided, this time, to reach out to a smith friend of mine who does custom work and repairs on broken blades. He took the sword apart and needless to say, the tang, pommel, guard, and most of the grip was...um..less than secure.
Frankly, I was SHOCKED to see hex nuts and glue where there should have been a hot peen, a noodle-like tang where there should have been 2 inches of hard steel in terms of tang width, and a widening crack in the wooden handle underneath the wrap after only some light cutting with backyard water bottles.
My smith friend is doing what he can now to remedy this shoddy construction.
Ideally, as this is a wedding gift, as a suggestion in terms of recompense, I would appreciate it if you made me a new Guardian with a FULL, STRONG, WIDE tang, a hot-peened, secured pommel, and the words "PALS" inscribed down the blade, approximately 3 inches down the ricasso (as was the case with the previous one).
I am anxiously awaiting your response to this proposal and an explanation as to why these "battle ready" swords have such skinny, DANGEROUS tangs attached to 5lbs of sharpened pieces of steel.
"Hi Mike Terry,
Again, true to form, Darksword got back to me promptly and gave me a personalized solution to my issue.
"That is excellent news and in line with the kind of customer experience that I have come to know from Darksword! I will email you, for sure.
But there is one thing I would like to focus on in this entire transaction - the bright side of things in this whole expensive shitty mess: Darksword was there for me, as their customer, when I needed them.
That being said,
- Does Darksword have fundamental flaws in their sword assembly and hilt components? In my estimation, YES they do.
- Do these flaws seem to influence customers concerning the "battle-tested" promise they were given by the company; causing them to ask themselves:
What does that mean? It means that, unlike Cold Steel who will sue you for using the term San Mai (shhh), Darksword does certain things that EARN your (wary) loyalty.
- They WILL call you/email you back, promptly and investigate
- They WILL accept the responsibility of fixing the flaws in their sword hilt constructions
- And they WILL (or at least have for me OVER THE ENTIRE COURSE OF ANY ISSUES IV'E EXPERIENCED) assume the costs for you to make sure things turn out right, in the end.
Does that mean that all is forgiven? In the words of Darksword "absolutely not."
Would I recommend Darksword Armory to someone just starting out and looking for a "high-quality" blade? Yeah, I think I still would, but now with reservations and explanations that this kind of situation COULD happen to them.
But what wouldn't I do? I would NEVER say that they just didn't give a shit when things go south. Eyal and his crew take the time to respond to their customers, understand their needs, and do their brand of justice for their consumers. They put in the work when something goes wrong, and in my estimation, you HAVE TO respect that.
Whether their swords come from India, China, or Montreal (ive heard China then Montreal), if Darksword could translate that kind of customer service into their assembly, could they be one of the best swordmakers on the market? A big fat "yes."