Kult of Athena

KultOfAthena.com

Friday, January 13, 2017

Should I Buy Swords from Darksword Armory?


It’s a simple question that both experienced collectors and those handling their first sword can and should ask themselves. 

The simple answer is: NO.

Unequivocally, and unapologetically, swords from Darksword Armory are, at this present time, flashy...well-drawn...5160 steel (which is great steel)...pieces of shit.  

Now, it might be easy for some of you to say, “Huh??! WHOA! You sour grapes little butt-hurt bitch! That is way too strong! Not to mention its only your opinion. From the looks of them, and for the price, I am totally getting mine.”

You’re right it is strong. I'll give it to you. You’re absolutely 100% correct.

It is also a fair assessment of a reputation that has been EARNED, rest assured.  

But, far be it for me to get between a fool and his money. We all know how that relationship ends, right?

You can choose to stop reading, go buy one, and WASTE your hard-earned cash on these half-assed  sword-like-objects if you want to.

That's your choice. ‘Murica, and all.

Or, do you care to stay a while and listen?


Doing so just might save you THOUSANDS on swords.

Stroll with me…

The Now Dimmed-Side of Darksword:
As we know from my previous blog about Darkswords (let’s just combine Darksword Armory and swords, shall we?), there have been a host of issues with a number of their weapons; ranging from their Claymore ($445) to their Guardian ($425) to their Wolfsbane ($700), to presently, their now-discontinued (shocker)

 Faenor Sword ($500+)

These issues included:

·Bent Blades
·Loose Fittings
·Scuffs & Dings
·Shoddy Sharpening
·Secondary Bevels

The list just goes on and on from clients who have had these REALLY EXPENSIVE first-hand calamities befall their blades, some on little more than 2 liter water bottles!


Head to About 8:00 mins

But like Skallagrim and the others, my main gripe with Darksword fell, and still falls, with something that is ABSOLUTELY VITAL and ESSENTIAL to the soul of the sword. It is something that no sword can be swung without....

That’s right.

I’m talking about THE HANDLE, THE HILT, THE GRIP…WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT.

This area of almost ALL the Darkswords I have handled is where their efforts literally FALL APART.

Steel Reparations:
Again, from my previous Darksword blog, you know my DSA Guardian sword died on me.

In recapp, it broke TWICE (just like my DSA claymore did) – meaning the sword was bent at the tang, the wood of the grip was cracked, the “peened” (which means simply screwed on overweight metal piece) pommel was about to fly apart almost on the next swing.

The thing was sickly.

And, for a time, I followed along meekly with the instructions from DSA; sending everything back to Montreal, and called it great customer service.

But after the most recent event, when the Guardian broke for a 2ND time (summer of 2016-ish), I decided to take a stand and stop doing that back and forth, JV mailing bullshit.

Instead, this time around, I opted for a second opinion from this man (mad genius that he is):




Wes took the hilt apart and laughed hysterically (rightfully so):


The mirror was shattered and I was pissed.

Something had to be done.

The Carpathian Plan:
Instead of having them botch the repair job AGAIN, which is evident from repair experience 1 to repair experience 2, I made an agreement with them:

Good morning Darksword Armory,

We recently discussed the defects with the tang on my Guardian sword. You attributed it to smith negligence (for which he was dismissed, thankfully), and spoke of constructing a new one for me to the specifications and quality that I need in order to have a "battle ready" DSA weapon on hand.

Seeing that an outside smith is presently correcting the issues on the one that I received for my wedding back in 2012, and a duplicate of the same functional sword would seem redundant, would your forge be amenable to offering me a well-constructed Carpathian Sword in its place?

I want to keep faith and support with your forge, and I believe that receiving a well-made, properly-constructed sword of the same monetary value (if not sentimental value) as the Guardian would go far in assuring our relationship stay intact.

Please let me know that you agree. If so, you can send the newly forged Carpathian sword to:
My address.

Looking forward to your positive response,
Michael

To which I received:

“Hi Mike,
We will send you the Carpathian Sword, not a problem. It will be shipped out next week latest. Thanks.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Thank you,
Michael
Darksword Armory Inc.”

(NOTE: Let them try and deny it. I have the original email)

I waited and it finally arrived…

A Carpathian Christmas:
Before we jump ahead, this sword arrived, true to their word, on October 24th. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to give myself a nice little gift for Christmas. I decided to wait 2 MONTHS; thinking that if I had the patience, dad could give himself a little something on Christmas that he knew his wife was not going to give him.

Dumb fuck.

The Heel Test:
After celebrating the birth of the tiny, 8lb 9oz baby Jesus, I busted the DSA Carpathian out the box, and took a firm grip....


Immediately, I could tell that, AGAIN, this steel turd was polished.

Like the previous swords of its ilk that I had received from DSA, it felt solid in some places and totally wobbly in others.

I decided to give it my Heel Test – gently rapping the heel of my hand against the blade somewhere near the ricasso and see how the vibrations traveled throughout the steel and the entire sword.

I knew that, by doing this test, I would be able to experience a pretty significant difference in the overall movement of the blade when struck (much less), as I had on the Guardian Wes had regripped for me.

The Carpathian shook from pommel to tip like FUCKING SLINKY - an obvious sign that the tang was far too narrow and there was PLENTY of space for shit to move around. 

Off to the Wolf:
I couldn’t believe it!

I had specifically asked them to make me a well-made, properly-constructed sword! I gave them simple instructions to follow:

"...receiving a well-made, properly-constructed sword of the same monetary value..."

and this was their “We’re sorry” piece to make amends???


The message was clear:

'We at Darksword don’t give a shit that you are dissatisfied. Here is another rotten banana, monkey. Now, fuck off. (paraphrasing)'

At least, that is how I felt about it.

So, off to Wes and Lonely Wolf Forge, THAT ONE went too!

Am I Right, or Am I Right?
But the kicker of this whole mess was that I didn't KNOW for sure that the sword had another shitty tang.

I was praying I was wrong.

Once it went to Lonely Wolf, Wes smashed the core of the hilt on the Carpathian in real time as I was chatting with him on FB messenger. I just couldn’t wait to find out if I had a dud (like I suspected) or not.

Turns out, my suspicions were well-founded:



Cue the continued Wes Beem laughter (well-deserved).

There wasn't a drop of epoxy on the tang or the handle, Wes told me, and when he smashed it to fix it, it quite literally fell to pieces. 

Darksword had swindled me again.

They’d hear about it.

A Strongly Worded Letter:
Along with tons of social media commentary and photos, I wrote DSA their “Dear John” pretty much after I received their shitty replacement sword:

“Hey Darksword, 

After handling the sword you sent me to replace the Guardian Sword with the tiny tang, I sent it out to a blacksmith friend out in Ohio. Somehow, it just didnt feel right. It just didnt ring right when I slapped the hilt with the palm of my hand. 

And, you know what happened? You know what we discovered? Can you guess?? You sent me ANOTHER dangerous, skinny, rat-tail tanged weapon that wouldnt be safe to cut a pool noodle with! Shocker. 

Please understand, I will no longer be buying any of your products, as I no longer have any faith in them. Please believe me that all that "GREAT" customer service you're so proud of is not going to make up for the shoddy construction of your weapons.

And rest assured, I am going to make sure people know it. The construction of your weapons is horrible, and the fact that you blatantly lie to your customers throughout your website - durability, tough, hand-made in Canada - is deplorable.

We're a small community - the sword world - and word travels fast.

A former fan,
Michael”  

DARKSWORD’S REPLY:
 
“Hi Michael,

We do agree this one was also thinner than what we usually have although you can have a 2 inch wide tang that has been poorly tempered / not tempered and bend it with ease as opposed to, for example, a ¼ inch wide tang that has been properly heat treated and tempered that will be structurally sound and excessively difficult to bend.

There is no reason to overbuild a sword.

We stand by our products 100% because we are absolutely confident about our workmanship and products. We have only had 1 event where a sword broke during destructive tests, and recently under skull’s review of the Feanor, where the wood handle cracked due to vibrations.

Our swords have been reviewed on youtube by hundreds of people, only two or three failed, and those who do, we honored and corrected the issue. Fact is, our swords are internationally known to be among the toughest swords on the market and certainly one of the best swords for price/quality ratio. As Paul Southern’s (SBG owner) coined the term, Darksword Armory swords “are tough as nails.”

That said however, It's quite obvious you aren't satisfied with our products. I have created a prepaid label to get the Carpathian Sword back. I have also attached the commercial invoice you will need to send it back.

We agreed that you would send the Guardian Sword back but we never received it. So we would like this one returned since it was never paid for.

IT WOULD BE BEST IF YOU PURCHASED FROM ANOTHER PROVIDER FROM HERE ON OUT.”

I shit you not. This is all verbatim.

Their company actually TOLD me to stop buying their products. Best advice they have given in our entire relationship.

But, it can’t end there….it is Darksword, after all. 

MY FINAL REPLY:

“Darksword, 

That Carpathian sword was given to me as a replacement gesture for the shoddy work on my Guardian sword. I have an email chain that has one of your employees, if not Eyal himself, agreeing to ship the Carpathian to me under such an arrangement. I did not send the Guardian sword back to you, as work had already been done on it by an independent smith after it broke. 

In short, I am not sending the Carpathian back to you at all now, as I am spending money to have the hilt core redone completely, a new wrap put on, and the pommel recentered, as needed to be done. 

Also, rest assured, I will NEVER buy from you again. You can stand by your sub-par imported weapons all you want, but there is no hiding the truth from customers when the evidence is right in front of them through photos. 

I will consider this matter closed from this point. Please do not contact me again. 

Sincerely, 
Michael”

The End?
Probably not. From a company that treats their customers this way, blatantly lies about the quality of their products on their website, and then responds like this when ONE client tries to have them make amends?

I suspect I’ll get some sort of angry, shot from-the-hip retort, possibly even a phone call from some squirrely Canuck lawyer.

I stand unafraid.

The Bottom Line:
Just don’t buy from Darksword Armory. Period.

The odds that you WON’T get a lizard-tailed cinderblock that is built on a bendy straw (thanks Wes) are astronomically small.

In fact, they’re just about as likely as me getting 1 of the 6 swords that went out fucked up back when their now-fired employee was grinding down the tangs (their actual excuse when Wes broke my Guardian).  

My Advice:
This is what a proper tang should look like:



Tang Dimensions:
And, according to the experts who do this shit WELL for a living, the dimensions of a proper tang should be, and I am directly quoting well-respected bladesmith Tom Kinder,

"3/4" to 7/8" is the size of the tang at its fattest; tapering down to half inch for the keyed section inserted into pommel then 1/4" threads to finish and provide compression." 

Keyed & Hex Nut Tangs & Pommels:
Also, should responsible companies choose to key their pommels (which can be very wise), and again, I am quoting other well-known blacksmith Wes Beem at Lonely Forge,

"a properly keyed tang with a hex nut is acceptably durable. Its not as durable as a hot-peened and keyed tang, but it is a large step in the right direction because the keying removes a lot of the stress. not all but a lot."

Darksword Armory, apparently, believes in none of these things and follows through on NONE of these things when constructing their weapons.

Think I am whining?

Check out all the DSA examples as far back as 2009 (Archer's Arming Sword) on the SBG Construction Database 

Talk to people like Jonathan Sarge, Dean Marino, and others on the All Swords Facebook Group who have taken apart legions of these things and seen DSA's "good" work firsthand.

Ask around with people in the sword community who have owned one of these things only to have it essentially DISINTEGRATE in their hands; turning their $500+ into burnt paper.  

"Save for An Angus..."
Staring down this shit sandwich, the best thing you can do - even as a novice - is save for an Angus Trim, Michael Tinker, an Albion, a Valiant Armory, or even a Zombie Tools sword.

Again, ask around about custom smiths who are building their reputations and businesses and WANT to make you an exceptional sword that you can write home about.

Production Options:
If it is production-level swords and cost-effectiveness you need, get feedback from many experts and collectors alike (they'll probably tell you Hanwei Tinker for Euros and give you insight into the issues with many other specific companies).

Furthermore, ask to see the dimensions of the sword – tang and all before you buy – from the vendor (excellent idea Dean Marino).

The SBG Sword Construction Database has more information about what proper tangs are supposed to look like, and how they are supposed to be held together.

If the company wont or doesn’t want to give you the dimensions, or what the tang looks like broken down, then their just not proud of their products, are trying to hide something, or just KNOW that you wont like what you see b/c they KNOW they have fundamental issues with their swords. 

"SEEING THE LIGHT..."
As far as Darksword and I are concerned...

I...AM...DONE.

Until they address that there is an issue with the way their Chinese forgers make their sword tangs and FIX THE FUCKING PROBLEM, they can never, in my opinion, be considered swords that are worth my time and treasure.

Swing steel that's worth your hand. God speed.

No comments:

Post a Comment