Arms & Armor Jian
Arms & Armor
List Price: $500
Company Website: http://www.armor.com/index.html
See photo below...
Solo Basic Cuts & Form Practice Test- This jian is slightly tip light, having a point of balance 4 1/2" from the base of the guard. This POB is at least one inch closer to the guard than would be expected from a blade of this length (which is 30 1/4"). This doesn't have a great effect on the way this sword plays, but it is noticeably different in comparison with late Qing jian, in that it doesn't provide for quite as powerful a feeling during cutting movements. It will be interesting to see what effect this slightly hilt heavy mass distribution will have on cutting efficiency or hand shock during cutting.
Structural Integrity Test- Anyone who has read any of my reviews, knows I test swords pretty hard. If they pass my test, they should serve anyone well. As can be see in the above photo, I work up to full strength cuts (I'm slowly cutting down this dead pine tree with each test) & that the blade flexed quite a bit from the shock, but it did not bend or take a set of any kind & the edge remained like new. In short, after cleaning the pine sap from the blade, you can't even tell this sword has been put to the test.
Hard Cutting Test- I cut five, twenty foot long stalks of bamboo into kindling for this winter's fire in the course of this test. Overall, Armor & Armor's Jian preformed well, with no hand shock. Those new to test cutting, or those use to using swords with flat bevels, & very sharp edges, will find cutting with a jian with historically accurate edge geometry a challenge at first. A bit more power will be required to cut thru targets with this jian than with jian with flat bevels. This is in no way a criticism of A & A's jian. To the contrary, by supplying the market with a jian with historically accurate edges, they have provided us with a clearer understanding of historical swordsmanship.
Historical Design Authenticity- Very near to 100% historically accurate in comparison with late Qing jian. Arms & Armor patterned their jian after a late 19th c. blade form that incorporates a European design feature, the riccasso. Unfortunately, this feature varies from all Qing period examples I have examined; that is, the ricasso on the sample tested is 3 1/2" in length, measured from the base of the guard. Ricasso on Qing jian are typically twice that length. Extending the ricasso on the Arms & Armor jian would likely remedy the tip lightness mentioned above. One other standard feature this jian lacks is a ferrule at the base of the guard. Typically this ferrule is integral to the guard itself & provides for a very secure fit between the guard & grip.
Concerning the edge geometry, Arms & Armor has out done the competition to date by producing a jian with an historically accurate edge geometry. This geometry has blade surfaces that are curved instead of a flat bevel (I designed my cutting jian from Hanwei to have edges with a similar geometry). To quote from an email I received from A & A, "The edge geometry ... is usually a slightly convex arc from the general plan of the blade from center to edge to the edge in the last 3/32" or so. As distal taper and the distance from edge to center line affect the angle of the plane and the thickness of the section just as this begins all affect the actual shape this convex curve takes, it will vary on any given blade depending on the point one is looking at." Well done.
Rating- Overall, Arms & Armor has produced a very well made, sturdy jian. I am particularly happy with the attention to detail concerning historical edge geometry. With some minor tweaks to the blade design & fittings, it would be an excellent all around practice & test cutting sword.
What I'd Like to See- The lack of a scabbard is quite problematic. When I finished my first practice session with this jian, I though of bringing it sword class for students to see how basic cuts feel preformed with a steel blade in comparison with a wooden sword, but then realized, I had no convenient way to transport it. If I put it in my sword bag, it could easily poke thru. Given the sharp point & edges, where to even store this sword between regular practice could be a problem. So A & A, a scabbard to go along with you well made jian please!
As for the blade design, just extend the ricasso & add a ferrule to the base of the guard & we'll have an excellent addition to the jian available on the market.
Arms & Armor Jian
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