Welcome to my equipment recommendation page for Introduction to the Italian Rapier. I hope that you have enjoyed your reading thus far and are looking forward to greater study of the weapon. The list below was compiled on December 15, 2017, shortly after my book was released. I’ll endeavour to update it semi-frequently as makers and models change fairly frequently.
It’s always best to check things out in person if you’re able. Heading to a conference or checking with other practitioners in your group is a good place to start. However, if you can’t do that, it’s nice to start with some recommendations. I am only listing equipment below with which I have direct experience. If something is not listed, it does not necessarily mean I don’t like it or recommend it. It might simply mean that I’m unable to vouch for it due to lack of exposure.
If you’re an equipment maker and would like to have something listed, feel free to send along a sample to me and I’ll check it out.
I do not take any kickbacks from any of these makers, though we do sell some of this equipment in our store.
Rapier Makers and Models
CAS Iberia / Hanwei
A Chinese blade manufacturer that is one of the few mass producers of practice swords in the world. Generally a consistent supplier and they are responsive to customer feedback.
|Practical Rapier – 37” and 43”||Does the job but the blades tend to be a bit wobbly but for an economy rapier your really can’t do much better.|
|Wood Handle Rapier||A light rapier blade. You can get a special practical ‘replacement blade’ for this. But in my experience its the same as their production blade with the point clipped off.|
These are lighter than historical rapiers but are ideal for people with small wrists or seeking something a little easier to move around, especially at the beginning.
|Practical Cup Hilt Rapier||My favorite practical rapier blade from Hanwei, unfortunately it’s only 37” long. The blade is a good balance between being stout and weighted appropriately for an historical blade and still suited to practice. I also prefer swept hilt rapiers for Italian rapier practice.|
A North American maker of historical fencing swords and armor. I have owned many of their swords and have always been happy with their consistency and performance.
Below I list blades that can be fitted with a wide variety of hilts.
|Practice Rapier Blade||This type of blade is much thinner than most historical rapiers but is good for someone with small wrists. A nice light blade that is very popular with the sport crowd|
|Bated Rapier Blade||A more properly weighted rapier blade. I recommend this one specifically.|
|Spada Blade||Representative of heavier rapier blades. More stable, more difficult to push around, but requiring of greater endurance.|
Castille is a North American maker that is known for its wide range of customization options and competitive pricing while making consistent and good quality swords.
|Basic Rapier Blade||A very light rapier blade. Good for small wrists or those seeking a lighter weapon.|
|Standard Rapier Blade||Also very light for my tastes, though a little heavier than the Basic Rapier Blade.|
|Standard Sidesword Blade||I do not have personal experience with this blade but it can be purchased in lengths that are appropriate for rapier and appears to be more in line with the weight and blade profile of an historical rapier.|
Del Tin Armi Antiche
One of the oldest sword makers in Italy. Some of my earliest practice rapiers came from Del-Tin. Their sword are based on museum pieces and are very nicely crafted. The steel in their blades is known for being a bit soft and if you’re using your swords in an environment with a lot of heavy cutting I would not recommend them. However for general use they’re good and beautiful.
|Too Numerous to go through here||I recommend rapiers that are replicas from pieces circa 1620.|
An excellent European sword maker who makes well balanced and beautiful swords. His best work is custom made, however his entry level swords (noted below) are great starters for both new and mid-experienced practitioners.
|2016 Transitional Rapier||This swept hilt rapier has a nicely weighted rapier blade appropriate to the core rapier period covered in Introduction to the Italian Rapier.|
|2016 Rapier||This cup hilt rapier is lighter and thinner than I would like but is a decent starter rapier, though not as light as some of the light rapiers from other makers.|
Arms and Armor
Some of the most beautiful and well balanced swords money can buy. If you’re in the market for premium quality I can’t hesitate but recommend these American makers. There are many different hilt options to go with a few different types of practice blades. I’ve listed only the practice blade options below.
|Narrow Bated Blade||I recommend the bated blades over the nail blades. They have a nicer balance and just plain look prettier. The narrow blade is not as narrow and light as similar blades made by Castille or Hanwei, which to my mind makes them the ideal light (but not too light) rapier.|
|Wide Bated Blade||A substantial and very historical feeling style of blade with a beautiful edge profile and handling characteristics. Definitely on the heavier end of blades however.|
Rapier Head Protection
Standard 3-Weapons Fencing Masks
A standard 3-weapons fencing mask from any reputable maker should do the job for your head protection needs. The Newton rating of the mesh tells you how resistant it is for bending and breakdown. 350 newtons is the minimum you’ll find from any FIE approved maker. I recommend, if you can spring for it, to get a 1200 or 1600 newton mask (I’m referring here to the resistance of the mesh not the bib). They’re more expensive but will last longer and protect your face even from strikes from heavier swords.
Here are a few manufacturers to consider:
Horsebows Fencing Masks
Terry Tindal of That Guy’s Armory products recently passed over the making of his rapier helms to Horsebows. Terry assures me the quality is now as good as what he made, and Terry made my favorite fencing helm. These are particularly good if you plan to do mixed weapon work between rapiers, sideswords, and longswords. I recommend getting the suspension, full bib, and back of the head protection.
I recommend that you use a rigid gorget (made from hardened leather or steel) and not a soft or simply padded one. I am not up on all the latest makers. We have ours locally supplied. From national suppliers I currently recommend:
There are many jacket options. Anything that provides you the padding that you feel comfortable with while protecting your skin from abrasions is good. Rapier blades are not prone to breaking into razor sharp spikes in the same way that some Olympic style blades were prone to in the past, so the same considerations for puncture resistance are not as necessary. However you can’t go wrong with a good modern fencing jacket, if you don’t mind the white!
I like the fencing jackets available from Revival Clothing. At Academie Duello our school jacket is a variation on their Agincourt Arming coat.