Philipp Selman - 14 Feb 2014
I've been a fencer and fencing instructor in the SCA for about a decade, and the Darkwood Economy Hilt Rapier is hands down THE baseline rapier I recommend. Here's why. For starters, the only thing "economy" about these rigs is the price tag. Sure, they're a bit simpler than other Darkwood models, but the craftsmanship most certainly isn't lesser in any way. Scott and his crew put the same professional quality of work into these inexpensive guards as anything they do, so you know you aren't playing metallurgy roulette with the stability and durability of the guard itself. Speaking of which, you get a great selection of guard configurations to choose from, so you can find a guard that truly fits your style and persona. Next up is the handling of the sword itself. Balanced with the appropriate pommel (I love DW scent stoppers myself), you'll get the feel and response you want from one of these swords. Then there's the blade. It's the same practice or bated blade you're going to get with any Darkwood rapier, and that alone is worth the price of admission. And don't overlook the fact that when you buy one of these swords, you're paying for Darkwood's amazing customer service and warranty (something these guys don't hype nearly enough). I could go on at length about that from personal experience, but suffice it to say that these guys take care of you. So, why do I tell my students to save a few extra pennies and buy a Darkwood Economy Hilt rapier instead of some budget model for maybe a hundred bucks less? Because these swords handle better, last longer, are covered by Darkwood's legendary warranty, and if you buy one now, five or ten years later you'll still be happy you picked up this rig.