For those looking for low cost HEMA steel swords, the VB products made by Viktor Berbekucz present a tempting option. The prices are generally low and availability is good, two qualities that are hard to find in HEMA equipment. I have a number of their products and some trends have presented themselves that I wanted to share. I will be using the Shortsword VB Feder, Oakshott Type 14, I.33 from woodenswords.com as the subject for most of this article as it is a good example of what I have seen in all the VB products I have owned or handled.
- Cost effective
- Good availability
- Blades are generally flexible and durable
- With the exception of the VB Messer, the hilts are consistently fitted very poorly and not aligned well
- Quality control is inconsistent
- Two examples of the same model sword handle differently
As you can see in the photos, the hilt is rough and aligned poorly. While these swords are on the low side for cost for HEMA training tools, they still represent a significant investment for many buyers and I would like to see some more care in what gets shipped out.
The sword handles well despite the crossguard being misaligned and the pommel being at a differant angle than the rest of the handle. The blade itself is great. The flex is good for such a wide, short sword. Despite the rough fitting of the hilt, it is solid and has no wiggle. Metal shims were added to keep things tight.
I have handled this sword, the VB Messer, two of the technical feders, the VB saber, and the indoor trainer. While the messer is fantastic, all the others have similar issues with the hilt. My biggest concern here is that someone put this sword together, looked at it, and said “good enough”. These swords perform well, but it would be nice to see more care put into their assembly.
Purpleheart Armory (US Distributor) – https://www.woodenswords.com/category_s/2071.htm