The Castille complete economy basket hilt sword is a relatively new option in the traditionally expensive space of HEMA-safe steel broadswords. At $260, the sword is shockingly affordable in comparison to most of the competing products (you can see the bottom of my review of the Purpleheart hybrid broadsword here for some links to other options on the market). Here are some of my impressions of the sword in no particular order now that I have used it a number of times:
- Balance is very good, feels great to swing around. A bit on the light side for a broadsword, but this makes me less concerned about hurting my sparring partner.
- The tip is spatulated (widened) for safety but I think I would still put a rubber tip on there if I was fighting full speed.
- The pommel screws onto the tang so the entire sword comes apart if needed. I would keep a vice grip and a strip of leather (to protect the pommel) in your bag in case you need to tighten things up. Despite the need for occasional tightening, I personally prefer a screw-on pommel to a peened pommel for maintenance and blade replacement.
- The basket is somewhat protective, but the openings are large enough that I am not sure a light glove is enough for full speed sparring. The basket is not big enough to fit heavy gloves, so it could really use a basket liner as an option. Fly by Night Leather Works will be coming out with a leather liner specifically for this sword but it is not yet available as of 1/14/20. A search online shows that some people simply make their own. The lack of a liner is my biggest concern with the sword, but should be solvable.
- The handle appears to 3D Printed. The fit to the tang is very snug and it is comfortable. I took mine off and sanded it a bit to get rid of some small residual burrs.
- The sword comes with a leather washer between the pommel and the bottom of the basket to aid with fit and vibration. I added a second leather washer between the handle and the top of the basket that I made out of some scrap leather I had to further improve performance. You can see this in the pictures.
- There are no rings on the top of the basket to match historical models or many of the pricier HEMA broadswords. I am personally aware of only one technique that specifically uses these rings, but it is something to be aware of and I am hardly an expert.
- Flex and quality of the blade seem top notch. Appears much more precisely made than any of my other swords.
All in all, I am very happy with the product and would recommend it to anyone looking to get a sparring-safe HEMA broadsword.
Specs (from the Castille site) and link to the product
- Small Feder Blade: 32″, F4 Flex* with 3mm rounded edges and a 10mm diameter Spatulated tip.
- 5″ Contoured Black PLA Grip.
- Half dome profile pommel.
- Total weight: 2.2lbs (990g).
- Approx POB: 2.5″ from the front of the guard
*UPDATE*, 5/19/20 – I received the broadsword basket liner from Fly by Night Leather Works and added it to my sword. Very happy with the protection, look, and feel. The leather is quite stiff and well fitted to the basket. Pictures below.