PLEASE NOTE: This model will only be produced in 2023. The remaining production will be available for pre-order in August and delivered at the end of the year.
An iconic sword of the principalities of the Holy Roman Empire and of central Europe in the late Medieval period, the Kriegsmesser brings the Messer into its largest and most destructive form. Its large, saber-like blade coupled with a two-handed grip for power and leverage creates a sword with superb cutting and slashing ability. Whatever the source of the Messer and its smaller and humbler forms, a Kriegsmesser such as the one here with its elevated stylization was a weapon for a professional warrior, mercenary or noble.
This Balaur Arms Kriegsmesser – inspired by the Albion Knecht and collaboratively produced with LK Chen – manages to recreate this powerful, large sword in a form that is particularly agile and swift for its size. Its blade features a high degree of distal taper with a thick and strong base which thins considerably toward the main striking portion of the sword to create a blade that will bite into and pass through a target with minimized drag and resistance. The keenly sharp blade is ready for powerful cutting right out of the box; the blade is well-tempered high carbon spring steel with a hardness of 54-55 HRc. The guard and pommel are stainless steel and the grip has two halves of smooth-polished rosewood which are solidly copper riveted to the thick tang of the blade for a tough construction. For heightened durability, the blade tang is peened over the pommel. The nagel gives excellent protection to the knuckle and is solidly fitted to the guard; its base pin goes straight through the guard and is peened on the reverse to ensure that it will not shear off in an impact.
This Kriegsmesser is paired with a durable scabbard of wood which features a finely cast locket and chape of stainless steel. The wood is bound in leather and etched with late Medieval scrollwork on a single side to complete the sword.
I received this in the mail today, clad in KOA’s normal giant box full of paper padding. There is a lot to go over for this review, so I will break it down into sections.
BLADE- The shape of the blade surface is especially flat with an absolute minimum amount of waviness on the flat and the texture is also very attractive, with every miniscule sanding mark being parallel to the length of the blade. The profile of the edge itself is super graceful and without dips or imperfections. The profile of the edge is very flat and without meat (niku). While this makes the edge extremely sharp, it also makes it rather delicate. This is definitely a compromise that the end user will have to keep in mind during use. The profile taper is wonderful, with the forte being approximately 3x the thickness of the foible. It is very obvious that Mr. Chen is a martial artist because the profile taper makes it a very lively and easy handling weapon. My ONLY complaint is that the last inch or so is dull, like flat dull. That said, I can only imagine how delicate the tip would be otherwise.
SCABBARD- The steel fittings are obviously hand made and very attractive. I look to be lost wax stainless cast parts. The leather work is *muah* beautiful. I don’t know how the designs are made in the leather, maybe a stencil and sandblast, but they are super attractive and exact in their edges with no runover. The stitching on the body side of the scabbard is very well done in its individual stitches, and also straight and graceful. The mouth of the scabbard is testament to the piece’s quality, as the wood is exact and perfect in its shape, then surrounded in leather, then surrounded by the stainless part. All of these layers terminate in a very flat and even plane, as though it was put together and then faced in a mill.
HILT- The shape of the nagel is very attractive and clean in its execution, and the peen on the opposite side has been blended to the point of nonexistence. The cross guard also appears to be lost wax cast stainless and very well executed, with a very clean attractive fitment to the blade and absolutely zero gap or imperfection in its fitment to the wooden panels. The panels themselves are completely without gap to the tang and extremely flat. Their shape is very comfortable in the hand with no sharp edges or possible places to give you a splinter, making me think that the wood was burnished as a final step. The cross rivets look to be copper tubing that are nicely and cleanly peened, meaning that they do not catch or cut on your skin. The pommel is attractively proportioned, making it a meaty properly weighted counter balance with a barely visible and well blended peen to the tang.
Overall, if you are stickler for attention to detail in the quality of your swords, this piece is an insane value. There is a definite reason that this sword was the first and currently the only of the LK Chen x Balaur Arms pieces to sell out. Good luck trying to find a reason not to buy one.
Justin C. (verified owner) –
I have wanted a kriegsmesser for a long time and this one does NOT disappoint! It feels amazing in the hands and it looks fantastic. I have Albion swords and this one feels just as good. I haven’t done any cutting with it but it appears to have an excellent edge on it.
Quinn Waterfield –
Caveat 1: I’m a professional bladesmith with 11 years of experience specializing in custom & historical arms, thereby I have bias against lazy manufacture or unsafe manufacture specifications & QC tolerances.
Caveat 2: My blade is the one Skallagrim is reviewing, I purchased the review sample on his behalf as he was short changed. so if you see that video here you now have my opinion aswell.
Pulled a sneaky on you KOA ;).
Q: wait why is a swordsmith reviewing a industry made sword, isn’t that kind of like corporate Espionage?
A: Guilty. I like to base my pricing off industry averages for the level of quality I produce. I also cant afford the time to bladesmith for myself, so yea I’m in with you lot.
Summary: Blade is very well made, handle is sharp and needs additional work, scabbard does not retain blade and needs additional work to function.
Allright lets break this down.
Blade: 9/10 : 4.5/5
Pros; historically accurate, lots of taper, great edge geometry, punches well above its price point.
Cons; Forged (Metallurgical potential for material stress w/o proper heat treatment), minor rippling, minor uneven edge along flat.
Manufacturer Recommendations for improvement; Flat grind the edge prior to heat treatment, takes 5 minutes and your edge is geometrically perfect. little excuse on a curved edge, its the easiest to grind true.
Handle & hilt: 5/10 : 2.5/5
Pros: looks great parallel with the blade, casting quality is good, pommel is nice and smooth, peens are flush and polished over.
Cons: LAZY, Rough, sharp edges everywhere (i can shave my fingernail on all of them), lots of protruding glue, uneven grinding between the tang and handle scales. large blade gap in the crossguard (handle side is flush), cast fittings (typically low durability & enlarged grain).
Manufacturer Recommendations for improvement; Please take a bit more time here. this looks rushed as hell and pulls below its price range, especially when compared to the leather wrapped models in this line, those are superb.
Scabbard: 7/10 3.5/5
Pros; looks good, it exists, casting quality is good, storage container.
Cons; poor fit-up ie. no blade retention making it unsafe to wear without work.
Industry in price range comparison:
Fit and finish; worse than both del tin and Dark sword armory.
Functionality; very good, much more lively and geometrically suitable than the competition.
Metallurgy & Heat treatment:
Wait he can do that? Oh yes I can!
Alloy specifications for heat treatment can be contrasted by the final HRC when toughness charts are available (spoiler they don’t exist yet). sadly I cannot assess grain structure without breaking it in order to assess the thermal cycling.
60Si2MnA chemical Composition: C(%):0.54～0.60 SI(%):1.5～2.0 Mn(%):0.70～1.00 S(%):≤0.035 P(%): ≤0.035 Cr(%):≤0.35 Ni(%): ≤0.35 Cu(%):≤0.25 V(%):0.08～0.16
60Si2MnA is comparable to other spring steels designed for use as leaf springs notably 5160 and 6150 only with silicon and Manganese being the primary alloying elements opposed to chromium. Si is a minor hardening agent, lesser than that of Mn; and increases wear resistance. Si and Mn are also de-oxidizers giving the steel a level of corrosion resistance.
Being Chinese in origin there’s not lots of Bladesmithing literature on heat treatment but industrial suppliers recommend tempering at 400-450C (752F) for 1-2 hours. personally I’m skeptical 750F would leave this alloy in hardness range suitable for blades but I’m unsure, if not it means the steel looses potential toughness to meet the hardness application.
the final HRC on mine is 50-55HRC which is potentially in proper range. 5160 losses toughness via martensite embrittlement under 60 HRC, 6150 is typically heat treated by Albion to 54 HRC however it also suffers from a lack of genuine Bladesmithing research.
Jon from Unsheathed Sword Reviews –
We at Unsheathed Sword Reviews recently got our hands on this delightful bit of giant knifey goodness, and it did not fail to impress.
Check out our video below for cutting footage, as well as our thoughts on fit and finish, handling, and overall value.
alientude (verified owner) –
There’s a whole lot going on with this sword! I did a full review on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/gOD5pzC_QWs. I’ll hit a couple highlights below:
The kriegsmesser is amazingly light and nimble, to the point where it feels more like a one-handed sword than two. That’s both good and bad, because while it’s a ton of fun to move around, it also lacks some authority in the cut.
Everything is very well constructed on mine, and while I have a few quibbles about the finish of the guard, it’s just minor aesthetic things. The scabbard is gorgeous and fits the sword very well.
The biggest problem for me is the inconsistent sharpening. Most of the blade is razor sharp, but right at the sweet spot is the dullest part of the blade. It’s not blunt there, but it’s noticeably less sharp, and that can make for challenging cuts. It probably would not take much effort to hone it up, though.
Honestly this review may be kind of pointless, given what we now know about this model – that it will be retired and a new kriegsmesser model released for 2024. Check out my full review for the details on that.
Ray Blundell (verified owner) –
I received my Balaur arms german kriegsmesser today,Kult of athena got it out fast ,about two and a half days.Fedx held it up a day in goodyear but over all their did ok.I ordered the munitions grade and I was suprised all I found were things that would be on a standarad grade sword other than a very slight bend at end of the blade but you really have to look for it.On mine the prommel is done well,the copper pins in the handle only one has little edge to it which I can fix.Handle is 9″ long the tang does stick up above the wood handle,dosent bother me,and that could be due to the weather and shipping also storage -weather changes.That sad the handle fits great at the prommek and guard.The guard is casted very well on mine and I love th e style of it.The weight on mine is 2.9oz,the pob is 3&1/8″,also the length of the guard is9&3/4″.The blade length is 33&1/2″ long,the distal taper is on mine 6mm-3&1/2mm-2mm,the width of the blade at the cross guard is 43mm.I have only cut various types of water bottles so far ,cut very wellThe gap were the blade meets the guard could be little closer but is better than average.The scabbard has some casting marks at the top pice but over this scabbard is great looking.Also when you use this sword one handed it feels great,very easy to move around,two handed is is fanstick to handle.This is the frist german kriegsmesser I have owned if yoy like this style of sword , I would suguest you pick this one u[ is the have any more left in the grade I bought.I have nine of the balaur arms swords including the single edge viking sword which is same as the cold steel one amd have had no problems with any of them.Rember only cut water bottles,mats and bamboo,safe cutting Ray Blundell.
Ray Blundell (verified owner) –
I almost for got the edge was sharpened even all over and blade profile is great.Ray B;undell
Ray Blundell (verified owner) –
Up date on mat cutting,this sword is a [leasure to cut with cuts through mats like butter.Ray Blundell