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Balaur Arms – 15th Century Italian Longsword


Battle Ready
(11 customer reviews)
SKU: KOA_BR104L | Categories:
Battle Ready

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    The classic Italian Longsword from Balaur Arms returns with a twist – we asked swordmaker and martial artist LK Chen to not simply reproduce the original model, but to further optimize it to create a performance longsword. In addition to a host of material and construction improvements, LK Chen was able to achieve outstanding balance and performance characteristics with the use of substantial distal taper and faithfully executed hollow-ground blade. In the hand the sword is a natural extension of the arm and deft enough to be used with a single hand if necessary, but it truly comes into its own when wielded in two hands. A quick striker with a fast recovery, this is a sword that can keep pace with the speed of your mind in the duel.

    The sword itself takes its inspiration from late 14th and mid 15th century century longswords, namely an unnamed longsword with an acutely tapered blade in the collection of the Royal Armouries, the longsword attributed to Edward the Black Prince and also inspiration for the hilt in the form of the famed Brescia Spadona in the Musueo Civico in Brescia, Italy.

    The blade is forged from GB 60Si2MnA high carbon alloy spring steel and is well tempered to a 54-55 HRc hardness. This version of the Italian Longsword has a sharp edge as factory standard from the manufacturer for a smooth edge that removes the efficiency loss from a secondary bevel for optimal cutting. The hollow ground blade cross section not only reduces weight, but also ensures that there is minimum drag as the blade bites into and passes through its target. The blade has a tapered profile and is intended for efficient cut-and-thrust use – it retains the necessary rigidity for thrusting and will handle half-sword technique well for defeating an armored harness. LK Chen was able to optimize the tip shape and blade rigidity to bring out the full potential of this longsword for thrusting as a fine match to its already excellent cutting ability. The sword will reliably slice through tatami when matched with practiced technique.

    The crossguard and pommel are crafted from stainless steel with a satin polished finish. The crossguard resists loosening because it has an internal wedge-shaped channel that ensured a tight friction fit when mounted onto the blade tang and shoulder. The The tang was then hot-peened over the pommel to anchor the blade into the hilt and ensure a robust construction. The hardwood grip is crafted from two halves of wood which were glued at the seam over the tang and then bound in tight leather. This construction method for the grip ensures that even if the wood were to shrink slightly over time it would not compromise the tightness of the sword hilt. Swords with friction-fit peens can loosen over time if the wooden grip shrinks and then leaves a gap in that friction-fit for the hilt. This alternate method used for this Italian Longsword removes that possibility by keeping the grip fitting separate from the pommel and guard.

    The sword is paired with a tough wooden scabbard which is tightly bound in well-stitched black leather and completed with a stainless steel chape.






    Overall Length45"
    Blade Length34 3/16"
    Weight2 lbs 10.3 oz
    EdgeVery Sharp
    Width42.3 mm
    Thickness7.4 mm - 2.2 mm
    P.O.B.2 1/4"
    Grip Length7 15/16"
    Blade [GB 60Si2MnA High Carbon Manganese Spring Steel]
    ManufacturerBalaur Arms
    Country of OriginChina

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    Balaur Arms 15th Century Italian Longsword Review

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    11 reviews for Balaur Arms – 15th Century Italian Longsword

    1. N.A. (verified owner)

      For the price, this is an excellent longsword. It gets things right that most other manufacturers in the low-mid range tend not to. It’s got significant distal tapering, a very sharp and cleanly done edge (which is unfortunately still rare to find on even high-end euro swords), tight hilt construction, and a fairly attractive execution of the Brescia-style hilt furniture.
      The included scabbard is a little bulkier than traditional ones, but is otherwise very well made, and feels leagues above the average vinyl/pleather-wrapped fiberglass things you get with most budget blades. The fit is excellent, with virtually no rattle, and just enough retention.
      It is also incredibly light and quick in the hand, to the point where I might have even preferred a longer and/or wider blade with more presence, as it almost feels like a lightsaber at times. Even compared to other “light” or “quick” longswords out there, this thing feels like a featherweight.

      There are still a few things that keep it from being a truly “high-end” sword, beyond the price. There are numerous small but notable issues with the presentation – the blade has a couple of lateral scratches, and could’ve overall had a slightly more even finish (though to be fair, it is harder to properly execute a hollow-ground blade like this). The leather feels nice and was wrapped well, but the seam is quite visible (though not tactile) and ugly in places, and for some reason there is a good bit of visible fraying along the edges where it meets the guard and pommel. While I haven’t had a chance to handle the older Balaur Italian longsword, I have handled other Balaur swords, and the leatherwork here is just less tidy than I’ve come to expect from the line.
      The guard is tightly wedged to the tang, but the gap before the blade’s shoulders meet that guard is not only quite large, but it’s also got an unattractive plain-rectangular shape that doesn’t match the blade cross-section at all and seems like it’d be easy to refine.

      To balance out some of the aesthetic issues, I will say that the shape of the pommel is overall executed really well, with evenly done facets, a good amount of symmetry, and an attractive peen decoration at the end. There was one edge that was slightly damaged, but not enough to mar the presentation. The guard is maybe a little wider at the blade than it needs to be, but the quillons are nice and slim, and the general shape is quite good, with some subtle dimensioning (this is something that other Balaur swords I’ve handled didn’t do a great job of). There are no sharp ledges, and it’s all very comfortable to hold.

      Overall, while there are a lot of (mostly-aesthetic) nitpicks, and there’s certainly room for improvement, the good aspects easily outweigh the bad, and for the price, there’s no denying you’re getting a very good deal. I do hope LK Chen continues to work on more European swords going forward, as they seem to do things well that most other forges still struggle with.

    2. Colt (verified owner)

      Simply put, I am happy with my purchase.

      This sword is well constructed with no looseness or rattling in the scabbard. Everything seems straight and level, with no crooked or sloppy lines on the blade. My only issue is with the aesthetics of the grip. The stitching is a bit sloppy. As it does run down the grip in a straight line. Rather it starts off straight and then strays away.

      This issue is only aesthetic as it doesn’t affect the handling or indexing of the sword when swinging. As I do not feel the stitching when holding the sword. Still talking about the grip, there is a bit of excess leather where the grip and pommel meet. It would’ve been nice to see this removed.

      Just to nitpick, I am not a fan of the chape on the scabbard. It is the same generic chape used on hundreds of other cheap, low-quality swords. I wish they would’ve elected to use another type of chape.

      Still, everything else about the sword is great. It is well-constructed and will be a valued part of my collection for years to come.

    3. alientude (verified owner)

      I wanted to love this sword. And I don’t. I like it, but not love. The first generation of this model, the original Balaur Arms Italian longsword, is probably my favorite budget sword ever. This one, while the fit and finish is definitely better (although could still use improvement), the reprofile of the blade went too far in narrowing the blade for my taste. Weighing 2.5 lbs and being balanced at 1.5″, there’s pretty much no authority in the cut, and the blade is so narrow that it struggles to deliver good cuts on any target other than pool noodles.

      There are huge improvements here though! The primary one, without a doubt, is the edge bevelling. The old Italian longsword came with a massive blunt edge, probably around 2mm. That requires either a large secondary bevel to get sharp, or a lot of grinding to develop a proper apple seeded edge. This one made by LK Chen is a very nicely bevelled sword, with a very fine and even microbevel throughout. It is paper-cutting sharp out of the box, which is very appreciated.

      For a much more in-depth look and comparison, check out my YouTube review:

    4. N/A (verified owner)

      This sword is the best you’ll get for under $500. Another reviewer, alientude says the old one is better, which is absolutely wild and incorrect. If they had trouble cutting anything but pool noodles, I doubt they have any skill in test cutting at all.

      My only gripe would be that the sword no longer stays tightly secured in the scabbard after sheathing the sword several times. Overall this sword is a massive upgrade from the previous version, in quality and build, and anyone who says the old one is better is absolutely delusional.

    5. erich_ellis

      First, full disclosure. I own many Balaur swords, both pre and post LK chen made. I also own a bunch of LK chen swords that are not part of the Balaur arms line. I can honestly say that when all factors are accounted for, including price, LK Chen is my favorite sword maker so please don’t take anything I say here as demeaning to the brand itself.

      This is the classic 18B longsword. Historically accurate, able to cut very well and stiff enough to stab through anything you want. I do suggest that you be mindful of your hand as the pommel can be rather pointy but that’s just how that particular pommel has always been made.

      I also vehemently disagree with Alientude’s review of this weapon, both here and on youtube. This is a very nicely balanced sword that I watched cut through double roll mats in the hands of a novice. There are, in my mind, only two real explanations as to why he felt as he did.

      One, he may have received a weapon that was not properly apexed. That happens and a little glinting changes the cutting experience drastically. The other possibility is that KOA has changed the specs on this sword over time, but after a recent email with KOA, I don’t believe that to be the case.

      I actually own a pre LK Chen Italian also, so I can genuinely say that Alientude’s review baffled me. Funny enough, KOA made me so upset when I had ordered the gen 1 and then like two weeks later, KOA announced LK chen made Italians. Considering the price difference, I would rather own one LK Chen made sword over two early Balaurs. A better way to say it is that I would rather own half of one of these than waste my money on the gen 1.

      This is a wonderful all around, do anything longsword that is based on historical originals and is therefor a weapon, not a tool or toy. It is designed to win a fight against another human, not to cut tatami in your backyard.

    6. Jake (verified owner)

      Short Version: Shipped in a timely manner and well packaged, but with minor rust on the pommel. Dangerously sharp, specs are accurate exactly as posted. Leather wrap on the handle is curled at the ends (bad) and seam is very visible but not uncomfortable. Scabbard is beautiful but extremely loose, does not hold the sword at all. –

      -Long Version: I ordered the standard grade sword with standard shipping on a Wednesday, it shipped through UPS 2 days later on Friday, and arrived at my home the next day Saturday (I live several states away).
      The box itself was in mint condition and the sword was inside the scabbard and tightly wrapped in brown paper. The blade was coated in what I assume is a protective shipping grease. There was a minor amount of surface rust around the peen and at the very end of the pommel. I was able to remove this in just a couple minutes with white vinegar and a cotton ball, not sure if this was missed in inspection or occurred during shipping. The handle was also a bit dirty (maybe dust or more shipping grease?).
      After removing the rust (minor) and cleaning off the grease with rubbing alcohol, I wiped down all metal parts with mineral oil (unscented baby oil) and haven’t seen any signs of rust since.

      The sword is beautiful in person and very nimble. Mine has a balance around 2.5in from the hilt, and weighs 2.8lbs.
      There is about a 1/8 inch visible gap between the hilt and blade, but everything is tight with no rattle. The leather wrap has very visible seams, but feels great in the hand. The sword fit snugly in the scabbard on arrival, however after drawing it around 6-8 times (which you will need to do to get the grease out of the scabbard) it now falls right out of the scabbard. Holding the handle alone will cause the scabbard to slip off, and vice versa. The blade is perfectly straight and true, and with a noticeable taper. It arrived extremely sharp which I found out the hard way when it slipped out of the scabbard and sliced two of my fingers (not clean off, but they bled for about 4 hours). The scabbard is, however, included with the price of the sword, matches the color of the handle perfectly, and looks great.

      Overall I am very satisfied with my purchase. If I could change one thing I would make the scabbard better fit the sword, or maybe add a leather strap to latch around the hilt so the sword can’t fall out. Any other issues I mentioned are expected at this price ($398 usd at time of writing), and are only aesthetic.

      I can’t comment on performance or damage resistance, but will write again after mine sees some use.

    7. Duane H (verified owner)

      Had it on my wishlist and once notified it was back in stock I promptly ordered it. Well packed as others have described. I fond no flaws in mine, everything is right and tight. Very sharp and specs line up to the description. Blade is flexible and demands strict edge alignment as well as cutting at the Center of Percussion (node) for clean water bottle cuts. This is shown and discussed in alientudes review above. The scabbard fits well and holds sword even inverted.
      Very pleased to add to my Balaur LK Chen collection!

    8. firespiter (verified owner)

      Very happy with the purchase. Positives:
      Distal taper is as described in specs. The high central spine gives the blade the appearance of a convex ground shape, but I think this is either very slight or an optical illusion. The crosshilt is as svelte as depicted in the photos which helps greatly with the over-all weight and balance. The oval shaping of the grip is better than I had anticipated and it matches the scabbard material exactly (appears to be rexin.) I tend to be very critical of scabbards as I make my own. Though a bit chunky, the scabbard that came with this sword is comparable to an MRL product. The scabbard has a cast chape, though also chunky is still better than a fabric cap or a poorly shaped cone of light gauge metal as appears on many other inexpensive swords. It’s nice enough that I probably will not make a custom scabbard to replace this one.
      Negatives: The taper of the blade of the one I received is not as acute as the photographed example, which leads to the tip of my sword blade is more rounded than pointy. The extra material also appears to move the point of balance about 1″ further away from the cross guard. There are some scratches on the blade that appear to be from the factory, but I’d rather have a few scratches than they buff it so much that it reduces the distal taper or causes a wave or oscillation in the blade. So this is honestly not a complaint, but just to warn you to expect a less than perfect finish.
      The blade itself has a sufficiently spring temper but surprised how much flex it exhibits despite the relatively high central spine.
      Having said that, for a sub $500 sword with a slightly above basic scabbard, I believe it’s a better than average sso and worth consideration for anyone looking for an early 15th century XVa type sword for an affordable price.

    9. Harold Parlee (verified owner)

      My favourite long sword. Out of a total of seven (so far, damn you KOA!).
      My collection is mostly low/midrange, but I have one made in North America “High end” blade that I LOVE…but I like this one better.
      So light. Responsive. Balanced. SHARP.
      Sharper than any of the others came, including the “High Ender”.
      Moves. So. Sweet.
      Will do some cutting and review again.

    10. saturdaycalamity (verified owner)

      It deforms easily, not as sharp as in the video

    11. Kai

      Best Euro longsword for the money, hands down. It is a lighter blade than I was expecting and I was anticipating it not cutting well because of how flexible it was. But it surpassed the cutting ability of my heavier longswords in my collection. It came razor sharp and has no secondary bevel on the blade.

      It feels like nothing in the hand, closer to the balance of a rapier so it is perfect for someone who does not want a more choppy feeling longsword. Fittings were all tight aside from some excess leather poking out on the grip (which can be trimmed easily).

      All of our students love handling this sword and many are looking at it as their first cutting longsword. Great job guys.

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