At a Glance
- Blade length 100 cm
- Weight 1200 g (approx.)
- PoB (11 cm from quillons approx.)
Why you would buy
- High-level craftsmanship
- Solid construction
- Bevelled grip (possibly the best thing since sliced bread)
- Blunted tip design (excellent)
- Nice balance of cutting characteristics and tight point control
- Excellent value for money
Why you wouldn’t buy
- Slightly stiff
- Pavel makes a slightly longer more flexible one that could well be a better option
- You hate nice things?
The Long Version
Earlier this Year I was contacted by Martin Fábián, on behalf of Pavel Moc, to review one of Pavel’s new rapier models. The rapier arrived a few days before my Birthday (excellent timing, Pavel ) and I’ve had it now for a few months of practice. Over the Easter weekend I took it to Festival of the Sword 2019, an annual event in Melbourne with workshops and tournaments—importantly in this case, a tournament for Rapier alone. This rapier went through pools and single eliminations to accompany me to a gold medal for the event, so it’s looking good.
When Pavel contacted me to review the rapier, he mentioned that he was sending a longer, slightly more flexible model to Reinier van Noort. Mine is the 100M (100 cm/39″, medium stiffness) Reinier’s is the 108S (108 cm/42″, soft stiffness).
According to Pavel, this rapier is slightly more forward weighted than the 108 cm variant, with a PoB of approximately 11 cm. The forward weighting coupled with an overall weight of 1200 g and a nice simple diamond cross section make this sword utterly commanding in cuts and crossings and lend it very happily to styles that use cuts more frequently. The ergonomic hilt design allows you to stop your cuts on a dime, which makes cutting into a thrust an absolute pleasure. It also makes this feel like a very safe weapon to deliver strong cuts with because the control it allows is so precise.
A concern I saw come up frequently when I made my initial posts about this sword on the day I received it was that 1200 g is fairly heavy for a rapier. Indeed this rapier has a certain amount of heft to it but the overall weight distribution and the aforementioned star of the show—the beautifully ergonomic grip, quillons, and ricasso—make the rapier feel agile and dynamic in spite of the overall weight.
The flex profile is good in shape, flexing in approximately the final 3rd. I’m sad to report, however, that the amount of flex is insufficient. I can’t give a useful metric of how much the sword flexes, but it falls short compared to the comfortable flex afforded by my Darkwood bated blade of the same length. In full sparring equipment the flex is tolerable, but it is unpleasant to be hit by in light equipment with any real commitment to the thrust. My advice to anyone considering purchasing one of these rapiers would be to opt for the more flexible version.
The design of the quillons, knuckle-bow, ricasso, and cup on this sword is encouragingly solid without sacrificing aesthetics. The overall construction is solid and of the highest level of craftsmanship.
The cup is lined with a single piece of leather which is adhered very smoothly to the inside of the cup (I’m not sure what glue is used here). The cup is screwed to the rings of the quillons rather than welded, and this is one place where I have had to tighten the screws once or twice with my fingers. The screws have an allen key head on my sword, though Pavel tells me he is developing his own screws for the swords so this may change over time.
“… for the screws used for joining the crossguard to the bell guard, we used common thorx screws. We are preparing special screws with a simple groove which will fully match the original pieces. The production of these screws is very time-consuming and takes a few months.” —Pavel
At the ricasso the steel is 6 mm thick, providing a nice platform for your fingers to drive cuts and a nice comfortable place if your preference is to loop fingers around the ricasso. The ricasso also features a flare from its narrow base at the quillon block to the top of the cup where it broadens out to the width of the forte of the blade. I cannot oversell how much I love the additional control and power such a simple design feature provides, even if the original intent was simply to make the base of the ricasso comfortable to wrap your fingers around (which it very much is).
Simply put, this rapier has the nicest quillon block design I’ve come across. The angle of the block follows on from the grip perfectly, and sits almost perfectly flush with the timber of the handle. There is also a slightly concave shaping to the facets of the quillon block that takes the pad of the thumb and fingers extremely comfortably. It isn’t necessarily a ground-breaking design choice, but it is one of my favourite aspects of the hilt of this sword as a whole and serves to make it (alongside the bevelled grip) the most ergonomic rapier I’ve had the pleasure to use.
The handle of this sword is also something I haven’t seen before, and the more I used it the more I came to love the design. The wood of the handle and the steel of the quillon block have been beveled so that there are gentle but distinct ridges around the handle, each ridge sitting neatly in the hand and giving the fingers an incredible amount of control over the blade.
I ordinarily fence with a fairly retracted hand position, the heel of my palm sitting very close to the pommel and my forefinger around the quillon block almost around the ricasso.
With how I hold the sword and my fairly large palms the grip is of a good length, however, I do think the length of the grip is one point where this sword could improve for many rapierists, especially Spanish fencers or fencers who simply have a more forward grip. In my zealous lending of this rapier to my students and training partners it did seem that the overall length of the grip was slightly longer than optimal (though still much shorter than the standard Regenyei rapier grips).
The wood for the grip on this model is Oak, though Pavel is considering some other options for the wood used depending on whether he can get them to meet his quality standards.
Most rapier manufacturers either leave the tip flat or swell/spatulate/roll the end of the sword. Pavel’s solution here is unique and is a very neat solution. He has welded a small flat metal plate to the end and made a small leather pocket that is tied by string using the plate as an anchor. It is an elegant solution and the best answer I’ve seen to this problem. The little leather flaps that go past the tie do start to flare out a bit but this was solved easily with some fibre tape which I also put over the end to help preserve the life of the leather from abrasion. Pavel also provided me with some spares, but I’ve not had cause to use them yet and I foresee quite a lot more life on the current tip before the need arises. All in all the tip design is wonderful and I hope other smiths follow suit in this regard.
Why You Wouldn’t Buy It
The main cons to this particular model is that it’s fairly stiff (at least by my standards—just get the longer, more flexible one), the overall weight is also reasonably hefty, though as mentioned this doesn’t actually affect the rapier’s handling.
The only other reason you might not purchase this sword is because you hate nice things…
Why You WOULD Buy It
The craftsmanship is of an incredibly high quality. The attention to detail is excellent, and it handles beautifully.
This is a very handsome sword, especially as cup hilts go (cup hilts not being my usual preference). It is CHEAP! At 350 Euro (560ish AUD, subject to change) this is frankly the best quality rapier available at this price point (price not including shipping). My (very custom) Darkwood rapiers were much closer to the 700–800 AUD mark (including shipping), to give some idea of how much you’re normally looking at for a sword of comparable quality.
This is a really good option, whether you’re an experienced rapierist looking for an upgrade/additional rapier, or looking for your first rapier and want something user-friendly that you don’t have to fight against.