The difference between wall-hangers & functional swords

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This guide will teach you how to tell the difference between a wall-hanger and a functional sword. There is nothing wrong with owning a wall-hanger if all you intend to do is display it (except that it'd be useless if you were to use it against a home intruder!). However, if you are anything like me and admire swords, a fully functional sword is just much more satisfying to own and display, as well as giving you more bragging rights when guests come over!

Unless you persuade the seller using Jedi mind tricks, conducting a few tests to determine its durability is out of the question.Quite often, a sword will be labeled as "battle ready" and then continue to list stainless steel as its type of metal. I will show you why this is undesirable and other things to look out for.

Fancy Schmancy Designs

If your sword is based on a movie, or has fancy decorations such as dragon hilts/guards, or has more colours than the rainbow, chances are, it is intended for display only. This is not always the case of course (but more often than not, it usually is).

The Tang

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and the same applies to a sword. The part of the blade that is hidden in the hilt is called the tang. The part where the blade joins the tang is usually the weakest part of the sword.

The tang on a decorative piece is usually a "rat tail tang" which means the tang is only a thin metal rod or a "stub tang" which has a short piece of metal under the hilt. Look for swords with a "full tang". What this means is that the hilt is shaped around the tang making it much more solid (plus it won't turn your sword into some kind of rocket launcher when you swing it).

The Type of Steel

Stainless steel is great if all you want is an ornamental show piece as they do not require much maintenance (I wish my girlfriend didn't require so much maintenance...maybe I shouldn't have said that...). Stainless steel is fine for knives but past a certain length, they start becoming brittle.

A much better choice is carbon steel. Look for carbon steel that has been tempered and heat treated and has a carbon steel rating of 1045 or better. This rating shows you how much carbon is in the metal. The downside of carbon steel is that it will require a lot of tender loving care by its owner. A thin coat of oil should be applied to the blade at all times or it will rust quite easily.


In short, look for keywords such as high carbon steel, tempered, hand forged (as opposed to mass produced machine made) and full tang.

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