Justin Reis - 20 Jun 2016
Versatile side-sword at an excellent price and EXCEPTIONAL customer service as well. First, Darkwood should be commended for the prompt and unconditionally excellent service they offered me. My hilt was damaged a bit in shipping: the sword arrived protruding from the packaging with the shells bent. The sword was almost certainly still functional and I was willing to try bending them back in place myself. However, when I contacted Scott for advice he immediately offered a replacement. Which arrived in perfect condition within a week. I couldn't be more pleased regarding the service. The sword itself has much to recommend it. The Bilbao-style hilt offers good protection and a unique look that I quite enjoy. It is protective enough that I am perfectly comfortable using a light glove, even for vigorous cut-and-thrust sparring. That said, the guard is open enough to accommodate a protective glove (even a bulky lacrosse glove fits for me) which is certainly a plus. The cross is sufficiently narrow to be gripped comfortably, an issue with some swords for those of us with smallish hands. In use, the sword handles well. The blade feels very stiff, remarkably so in fact and gives a communicative bind. Even with the unusual blade geometry the cutting dynamics feel very similar to a Darkwood Arms&Sidering with sidesword blade, just a bit lighter overall. Still heavy feeling enough to punish you if you throw a sloppy cut at an off angle. If you like the handling of other Darkwood cutters, the Bilbo won't disappoint. Those who do not like the feel of other Darkwood swords won't find the Bilbo substantially different. A few quibbles: the edges are actually quite square and mine had a raised bur along most of the edges that cut paper towels when I tried to clean the blade. These had to be filed off just so I could wipe it down and oil it. The square edges have also been readily damaged in use. The resulting nicks have been sharp enough to require filing each time I've used the sword. To be clear this is not a big deal and doesn't interfere with function in any way. I expect the problem will be reduced over time as the edges wear down (or I may just round them myself). Lastly the edges are square and sharp on the ricasso as well. This makes the sword uncomfortable to use with two fingers above the quillon (with one finger over I'm mostly in contact with the quillon and not the blade). Again, easily fixed with a file and essentially a non-issue at this price point. Overall an excellent value for a quality training sword which one could reasonably use for a number of different styles. Highly recommend.