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Review – Longsword by Lukas MG

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Introduction
The Oakeshott XVIII and subtypes were “the most widely used swords between c. 1410 and 1510 all over Europe”. Distinguished by their slightly convex taper and diamond cross section, these are well balanced between the cut and thrust. They’ll also to my eyes the best looking kind of sword, especially in the bastard and longsword forms.

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This sword is a XVIIIa, based on the partial fuller, but is otherwise comparable with type XVIII sub-type longswords like the Albion Regent. The crossguard is quite plain – a straight square piece with some minor but attractive changes in diameter.

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The grip has an attractive and (as we’ll see) comfortable waisted grip, with an Oakshott type V pommel.

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Overview
Lukas Mästle-Goer (http://www.lukasmaestlegoer.com/) is a HEMA longsword practitioner who has branched out into swordmaking. He made this sword both as a personal piece and to show his skill level in the hope of attracting commissions. As a full time medical student, his turn around time is (self-admittedly) not as fast as a professional full time sword maker, but he expects to partly balance this by not stacking commissions in a waiting list to keep turnaround  time under a year.

He was nice enough to send me this sword for hands-on examination, including test cutting, and review. Why not check out his report on the process of creating it?

Measurements and Specifications:

Overall length: 122.5cm (48“)
Blade length: 94cm (37“)
Handle length: 19cm (7.5“)
Blade width at base: 5.2cm (2“)
PoB: 11cm (4.3“)
CoP: 60cm (23.6“)
Forward pivot point: just behind the tip
Hilt node: 6cm (2.3“) behind guard (just where the handle‘s cross section changes)
Weight: 1467g (3.2lbs)

Handling Characteristics
My first reaction when I lifted the sword from its case was a giddily positive one. It moves well in the hand, with a great combination of blade presence and agility. When I say agile, I mean that the rotation from squeezing one’s grips alone can be enough to make an audible noise as the blade moves through it’s arc, without really employing the wrists or arms.

Given that agility, it doesn’t feel light. I’ve got a 1.2kg Cervanka replica of the Munich longsword and that feels light in the hand. This doesn’t. If my “light” longsword feels like a swallow darting about, this is a kestrel. There’s that feeling of power and, dare I say it, lethality that tells you it can cut before you even start moving it.

I haven’t fenced with it, because it’s a sharp and I’m only willing to push my luck so far. In solo drilling though, it handled great. It twists, it turns, it leaps out in strikes.

There’s only one alteration, in fact, that I’d make to the whole sword. I found in some grips, especially langort extensions, the pommel was painful against my left palm, especially after a few rounds of cutting practice. Maybe rounding it’s corners off a little more might alleviate that, although it’s only a minor complaint. Otherwise the cord and leather grip with its two risers is comfortable and ergonomic, and made the alignment and pressure easy to feel including when changing grips.

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I have cut with it, though. I’d say that Lukas left as perfect an edge as I’ve ever seen on the sword, but that’s not true. When I took it out to play at Tristan Zukowski’s cutting seminar, Tristan had brought an Albion Crecy custom that had been sharpened by one of his NYHFA acquaintances. That sword redefined “sharp” longswords for me. I cut a tatami roll, propped on a stand without a spike, and didn’t knock the remainder off. Freaking lightsabre.

So let’s say that this longsword has a good edge. I could cut tatami with it just fine, and here’s Tristan cutting a double roll cleanly. Lukas mentioned that he’d taken it to at least one cutting party in Germany before it was mailed over, so there may well have been scope for further (re-)sharpening that I didn’t bother with.

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Fit and Finish

You can see the photos. The finish is immaculate. Everything seems to be fitted together perfectly, there’s no rattle or significant gaps anywhere. The fit of the blade through the crossguard is tight, and the hot peened block looks also great – fitted precisely to the pommel and polished until you can’t see any sign of hammering or the tang. The polish was mirror bright before I got my hands on it. Now there’s a few minor fingerprints and minor patina after the cutting, despite a wipe down and oiling. I’ll leave those to Lukas to polish away.

Dave Rawlings has claimed to find the leatherwork on the grip flawed, but I couldn’t see anything wrong whatsoever. Perhaps he has better eyesight than me.

There’s literally nothing I could praise more about the sword’s finish, given that it’s plain and undecorated. Which is a valid aesthetic choice, and one I’m entirely agreed with.

Conclusion

Lukas will be charging a fair amount for commissions – this would have been something in the range of EUR2,300 without the scabbard and he’s happy to admit it can go much higher. He’s also articulated exactly why that’s a valid price to pay for a handmade custom piece.

If you are shopping in that segment of the market, then this would be an excellent choice. One thing that I haven’t explicitly addressed in the body of this review is the “X-factor” which is all important to us sword-collectors and sword-aficionados. We all fundamentally like swords, and have left nose-prints on the glass in front of our favourite museum pieces.

This sword has that pull. It’s a personal thing, of course. So, personally, I think Lukas has made not just an exemplary example of an XVIIIa longsword with good handling, cutting performance and great production values. He’s made a sword that is harmonious to the eye. A sword that has lines like a sports car that suggest its purpose and performance even when still and resting. The subtle curve of the edge, the changing cross-section of the grip, the flaring crossguard and the minimal decoration of the pommel all combine effectively into a special piece.

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