Balaur Arms has been a favorite since the line debuted. And when we started considering moving suppliers, we were hesitant. Will customers worry that what they liked most about the line would disappear? But when our hand was forced to move, we quickly saw an opportunity. Rather than worrying about just meeting the quality of the past, why not do better? And so finally, after a long search and product development process, key models are back.
The Updated and Improved line: Italian Longsword, 12th Century Teutonic Sword, and 13th Century Arming Sword
What we did:
We took what worked and made it better.
First, we went out of our way to create the steel certification program and ensure that the steel we asked for was what was delivered. The previous line promised 5160 steel at a great price… in a location that sporadically has access to the grade. Turns out, when something sounds too good to be true, it is…
So we left that supplier, and found one that didn’t lie or misrepresent their materials. They sourced high carbon 1075 steel and tempered their blades in their new state-of-the-art facility.
High carbon steel. Certified at an independent laboratory.
Next, we looked at what we could do across all the models to improve the line. The answers – such as improving scabbard quality – may seem small, but add to the total package.
A high quality blade deserves a high quality scabbard.
And finally, we reviewed each model, took your feedback, and focused on making the refinements necessary to create what we believe is “Best Level” quality at an affordable price.
The Origins of Balaur Arms
What was Balaur meant to do?
What were we thinking as we improved on the original?
How do you pronounce Balaur anyway?
During the move to a new supplier and the redevelopment of the line, we had to dig in, remember where Balaur started, and think through what it meant to us and where we wanted it to go.Our product development lead, Matt, was key to this process. We sat down with him to get his thoughts:
When you and Ryan first started thinking of Balaur Arms, what was your intent?
Frankly, to make a better budget sword – something we ourselves would want. A lot of the more affordable swords look good, but we found some that were clunky or poorly balanced – they didn’t FEEL like the higher-end swords. We wanted to make a line of swords that not only had historical dimensions and looked good, but also had performance that closely aligns with the historical inspirations and the best replicas. We wanted a Balaur sword to feel responsive and capable in the hand, a sword that if cared for could last generations, yet still be affordable.
Where does the name come from – and what’s the correct pronunciation of Balaur?
“Bah-Laur” is at least how we pronounce it – the Balaur is a serpent-like beast from Romanian folklore. Ryan (our founder) came up with the name – he has a lifelong fascination with mythology, particularly with the monsters and beasts of Greek folklore so this was something he knew about from the encyclopedic mythological bestiary that exists in his mind. Like the name of our business (which he also came up with) it sounds odd at first, but say it three times and it settles in.
Does that mean Balaur Arms will always focus on European Swords?
At the outset our focus was on European Swords with a strong interest of inclusion for the neighboring regions of the Levant, North Africa and Anatolia. We do however leave open the option to include the swords and weaponry of the Far East and elsewhere as inspiration for future swords and weapons that Balaur can offer.
What are the defining principles of the Balaur range?
Swords with historically-inspired dimensions and performance characteristics melded with a high level of build quality and durability at an affordable price. A Balaur offering needs to be checking off all those boxes before we ourselves are satisfied with it.
When the opportunity came to relook at the original Balaur models, what did you think could be improved?
We listened to feedback and criticism since the launch of the original line and one thing we wanted to achieve was some more rigidity in the blades. So we took a good look at tempering and blade mass distribution to achieve a good balance between distal taper and blade stiffness for many of the models. Another thing that was a bit of a disappointment with the original line was the inconsistent fit of the wood-core scabbards. They looked great but could range greatly between being tight or loose. The new models are more consistent and exhibit less of that wide range of fit as a whole so it is a marked improvement.
How do you feel about the production now that you’ve seen it?
When I first held one of the new longswords in hand I was like “Aha! This is how it was meant to be!” Weight, balance, distal taper, blade stiffness, these were all present but the little details such as a fine seam for the leather on the grip and a smoothly fitted scabbard pushed it that little bit closer to being as good as it had been envisioned.