*UPDATE*, 8/17/19 – I have decided to return this sword to Purpleheart due to another person posting pictures of a pierced basket. While I had no issues with this sword once I had completed the mod detailed below, I just didn’t feel safe sparring full speed with steel. Purpleheart was very helpful and informative in this process and I really appreciate their ownership, communication, and flexibility. The blade is really quite good and I hope that another revision of the basket provides a viable product. *
I recently purchased the Baskethilt Scottish Broadsword VB Stryker Hybrid from Purpleheart armory and wanted to share some of my impressions of the sword as well as some changes I made to address some of my concerns. There are very few affordable steel sparring broadswords on the market, so an option at $225 is very appealing. From my understanding, much of the cost associated with other makers of steel broadswords come from the time and effort needed to create the basket itself. The VB Stryker sword gets around this by using a molded plastic basket. The basket is firm but has some give to it. I had a friend hold the sword by the blade while I hit the basket very hard repeatedly with a steel longsword feder and did not do any damage. I believe my hand will be safe in there.
The give in the plastic shell stops shattering but makes it too soft to come directly in contact with the sword without damage over time, so purpleheart uses a plastic insert of a harder material to hold the blade in place within the shell. As far as I can tell, this plastic oval adapter is made from the same incredibly tough stuff that their basic trainers are made from. I think the idea of this is very clever, but one that needs some more work. When I received my sword, the basket had deformed in shipping (probably due to a very hot delivery truck) and the plastic insert no longer matched up to the basket.
The insert is normally fit into the hole at the top of the basket, but the fit is somewhat loose and does not work unless the basket is providing tension from its normal shape. The discoloration around the hole you see is from my initial attempts to glue the insert in place. From the picture on the right, you can just make out that the insert is not even touching the top of the basket. Based on my experience with the sword now that I have used it a bit, I think that the basket would rattle around quite a bit even if the basket was not deformed in shipping.
I reached out to Purpleheart about this challenge and I received timely response and great feedback. I discussed a return with them, but ultimately decided to keep the sword and try some more work to make the sword usable. I think they have some ideas around capping the top and bottom of the adapter to address this issue in the future.
To fix the problem, I unscrewed the pommel and took the sword apart. I then purchased some JB Weld Plastic Bonder to affix the adapter to the basket. I first scored the plastic adapter edges and basket edge with a file. I then mixed the JB Weld and thickly coated the edges and put them back together. I let the setup harden overnight, sanded it, and put the rest of the sword back together. I had to squish the basket with my hands to get the end of the tang to come out through the bottom hole to affix the screw-on pommel, but once in place, it held together nicely.
I left the sword in the back of my car while at work to heat the basket and form it to the new shape. This probably was not necessary, but it is a step I took so I am passing it along. As you can see from the picture, I also wrapped the handle in red hockey tape as I wanted a bit more grip.
So, did it work? I have done extensive hard work on a pell and some steel on steel sparring with no problems to report. The JB Weld is incredibly tough. Will it break? Perhaps, but if it does, JB Weld is cheap. I also believe that the basket has been reformed to the correct shape, so the sword will work even without the JB Weld if needed with just a bit of rattling. The sword blade itself is very nice. Rolled tip, fullers that reduce weight, and a POB 12 cm ahead of the basket. It feels quick but still “like a broadsword”. The flex is stiff, but not so stiff that I wouldn’t feel comfortable thrusting with it against someone in protective gear.
All in all, I am happy with the sword given the price. At $225, there simply are not a lot of choices out there. I plan on using the sword at the IGX broadsword tournament this September (if they allow it).
More details (from Purpleheart website):
Weight: 2 lb 5 oz (1050g)
OAL: 39.5″ (1003mm)
Blade Length: 32.5″ (813mm)
POB: 4-4.5″ (from guard)
Other steel broadswords that are out there:
SGT Blades has a broadsword for $500 CAD – http://sgtblades.com/hema/
Castille has some build to order options, cheapest I can make is $724 (Scottish hilt) – https://castillearmory.com/product/build-your-own-basket-hilt-sword/
UPDATE: I have heard that Castille will be coming out with a budget broadsword sometime in late 2019. An email to them confirms this, but timing is still unconfirmed. https://castillearmory.com/product-category/economy-line/
Balefire Blades has a great looking option for £400 – https://balefireblades.com/2019/06/25/the-angelo-broadsword/
Darkwood armory has their version for $630 – http://www.darkwoodarmory.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_57&products_id=118
Other people order just a blade from one of the places above and affix it to a basket from a cheaper option such as the cold steel broadsword. https://www.amazon.com/Cold-Steel-Scottish-Broad-Sword/dp/B000EXN7JY/ . Nice thing here is you have a sharp and a sparring sword just by swapping blades. Doing this option would probably cost around $400.