I'm afraid that this list reflects the quality of the work, not the quality of the business practice.

Some of these smiths have only the best business practices.  Some of them are as reliable as Renaissance artists were (that is, not at all reliable in a business sense, though when and if they deliver, the workmanship and quality are astounding).

You can only tell who is in good health, stable mental condition, and delivering on schedule by checking with the current community on-line (e.g. check in at swordforum.com or a similar group and ask about your smith).

I also note some wall hanger sources, in case you have a need.

Sword Sources

  1. Arms and Armor
    1. This is a premium source of  historically accurate Western Swords and Armor.
    2. B // Has an interesting FAQ
    3. http://www.armor.com/
    4. Budget about $500.00 or so.
  2. Japanese Sword, Sell & Buy, Aoi Art, Tokyo
    1. This is a premium source of Japanese Swords.
    2. A- to A+ // $3,000.00 to $3,000,000.00
    3. http://www.tokyoweb.or.jp/aoi-art/catalogue/swordcat/swordcat.html
  3. Kris Cutlery at http://www.kriscutlery.com -- New and improved site.
    1. Some of the blade offered are excellent swords that will not break in normal use and that are made of appropriate steel.  Naked and custom blades are often available. Kris Cutlery is the benchmark for its grade.
    2. C+ (esthetic and other flaws, but fine, functional swords). // $75.00 and up (bare blades and with furnishings) // $150.00 and up (swords with furnishings).
    3. A review of their katana by WarAngel link to review.
    4. As for their Chinese Gim (straight sword) [review].
    5. Let me note that I have bought a number of Kris products and am happy with all of them.
  4. Marto
    1. Excellent wall-hangers.  They produce the official Highlander Sword, with a full tang that is well known for its routine habit of breaking. They are the benchmark for their grade.  If you want an authorized reproduction (often not historically or otherwise accurate), this is the place to go.
    2. D+ -- the best of the stainless steel, routinely breaking, but nice looking swords. // $300.00 and up.
    3. http://www.brightblades.com/martoindex.html
      BTW, Brightblades sells some real swords as well as having great prices on the various MRL licensed works (e.g. Highlander, Robert Jordan Wheel of Time, etc.). Brightblades is not a Marto only shop.
  5. Del Tin
    1. Del Tin is extremely well regarded.  For European Swords I think it is appropriate to state that Del Tin sets the mark for what defines a solid "B" (as in above average, meets or exceeds every requirement).  You can not go wrong buying a Del Tin.
    2. B // (see the links below). Budget about $350.00 to $400.00.
    3. http://www.fantasycutlery.com/swords/deltin/deltin.htm -- an excellent selection at great prices. See also http://albionarmorers.com/
    4. http://www.italpro.com/deltin/ -- the official Del Tin of Italy web site catalog.
  6. Shinto Katana
    1. Well regarded.
    2. B // $499.00  $630.00 (price set by CAS Iberia). They aggressively police the pricing.  This sword is of forged steel, acceptable esthetics, but not a cored blade.  Often misrepresented by vendors.
    3. Contact http://www.casiberia.com/ or http://www.twilights-door.com (to see the proof in my statement that people do go out of business).
    4. http://www.knifecenter.com/knifecenter/cas/shinto.html
    5. For a more expensive version, by the same smith (Chen) visit the frame limited site, http://www.japanesesword.com/
    6. shinto katana
  7. Randal Graham / DragonFist Forge * and Angus Trim *  (two of my favorites).
    1. Well regarded, excellent work.  As good a rating as a living smith can get <g>.Randal has an excellent polite explanation of why he does not work in stainless steel.
    2. B+ // $1,000.00 to $3,000.00 Durable and Strong Blades at excellent prices (ok, some are even less expensive, down to $350.00 or so).
    3. Remember, all people in this line of work are artists, not businessmen, motivated by a love of steel.
    4. A friend of his (Howard Clark *) who does good work, clean hamon lines, http://www.mvforge.com/ -- and is very well regarded by international collectors.
  8. Michael "Tinker" Pearce *
    1. Another smith who does well regarded, excellet work.
    2. Remember, all people in this line of work are artists, not businessmen, motivated by a love of steel.
    3. B+ // from $500.00 and up.
  9. Tuscany Trading Company
    1. Reasonable prices, D+ -- better than average for its kind and completely serviceable.
    2. White Knight's Sword is an excellent broadsword at an incredibly good price ($130.00) for a real sword, heat treated and tempered.  Note, the point of percussion is forged blunt which makes it even better as a beginner's sword.
    3. See it on the list with the other fantasy swords <g>. If you want an old fashioned broadsword like Conan or a similar hero might have carried, look at this sword.
  10. Work of Art
    1. Work of Art http://www.a-work-of-art.sitehosting.net/ sells both  Del Tin and custom work by Arthur A. Elwell of Fair Oaks, Ca.
    2. B to B+, from $300.00 and up.
    3. Excellent esthetics and reputation. Specialty hilts, sheaths, etc.
  11. Other Vendors
    This is a page of extra vendor links.

Meaning of the grade (my opinions, yours may vary):

A+  A superior sword with artistic, cultural, religious or historic value.  These swords generally sell in the six to seven figure range and are rare.



* -- the star means that the smith's work is better than the rating indicates.  Meets exacting standards of harmonics and balance. Some historical replicas may sacrifice esthetics for accuracy.

B+ A superior sword with artistic merit. This is as good of a rating as a still living smith's blades can achieve.

B A fully functional sword, with differential hardening, etc., as appropriate and with full artistic merit.

B-  A fully functional sword that lacks some artistic merits.


C  A passable blade. Solid, reliable, one I would buy and use myself.


D+  An excellent quality wall hanger.  All D ranked swords have significant flaws that disqualify them from actual use.

D  Most stainless steel blades are ranked "D" because they lack in boundary strength and will break in use.


F  These blades are made from fragile steel that will break, are ugly and have other multiple significant flaws.

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