This is a guide to purchasing the best steel federschwert for practicing long sword styles of HEMA (historical European martial arts) sport medieval sword fighting. They are also known by the shorter nickname as ‘feders’. These are blunt training tools used in historical longsword fencing much like a foil or epee is used in Olympic style fencing for simulating smallswords. Unlike a real sword the blade of a federschwert is designed to safely bend when thrusting an opponent, similar to how the blades of Olympic style fencing swords behave.
If you don’t see a certain brand federschwert on this list, it’s either because it has a reputation for poor craftsmanship and are prone to breakage OR it is because the feder is made by a small mom and pop forge we aren’t yet aware of. Please use the comment section of this article to ask any questions about particular brands you don’t see in this guide.
An important note: There is an unhealthy fanboy culture within the online HEMA community at present, with many veteran practitioners fiercely loyal to certain brands. This loyalty is not misplaced as these brands do make excellent gear. However some over-zealousness has led to an unfair amount of hostility toward newer entrants to the historical fencing equipment market. They are often subject to intentionally misleading statements about the quality of their gear in an effort to protect the market share of the favorite brands of the fanboys. This anti-competitive behavior is in the opinion of the Historical European Martial Arts Resource site team not helpful for the growth of this sport and hobby. We need manufacturers of specialty HEMA gear to constantly be innovating and producing better gear. Without competition from business rivals, innovation does not happen in a market as innovation is only rewarded in competitive markets. Competition is a good thing for everyone, as it forces quality to increase. Newer entrants should not be subject to intentionally misleading reviews designed to encourage people to only purchase from one or two vendors.
Many of our articles have product affiliate links in them, and this guide will be no exception. However several of the federschwert we are recommending are not available from vendors who have affiliate programs, much to our disappointment as affiliates is the primary way this website is monetized. Regardless we are still going to endorse their gear because we want to provide people good advice when starting out in HEMA. We think an updated and new guide needed to be written from the point of view of people with experience using equipment from several different brands, not just one or two. We hope this guide on buying feders for HEMA sword fighting is useful.
One thing to watch out for is to avoid purchasing certain brands of feders. As an example the CAS Hanwei Federschwert sword (sometimes sold under the brand name of Kingston Arms) has a notorious reputation for easily breaking and being unsafe. You can read more about these problems with Hanwei swords in our article about the subject.
Starter Federschwert Practice Long Swords
What we define as starter federschwert is that these are fine feders for long sword practice in a club environment for drilling and light to medium free play, but which we would not recommend for high intensity swordfighting or tournament usage. They do make excellent loaners for new students, and this is their main value for clubs as they are more affordable than trying to get a dozen of the more higher quality feders.
Our #1 recommendation for a starter Federschwert is the Red Dragon Federschwert as it is likely to be the cheapest option for steel loaner feders at the moment. Red Dragon as a brand has a reputation in the community that is in our opinion rather undeserved, as they produce equipment that is more affordable for newcomers and acceptable for starting out, but does not have as much value for those interested in high level tournament fighting. We have experience with using Red Dragon’s current version of federschwert from a batch purchased for use as loaners, and we believe the blades will stand up to abuse for such uses. It is worth mentioning their hilts are less durable than pricier models, with Red Dragon crossguards likely to come loose and require re-tightening over their lifetime of usage. They also do not handle as well as a higher priced feder but they are quite acceptable as an entry level practice sword, which is their purpose. Older, more established clubs with existing inventories of loaner gear may not be as interested in them but younger clubs seeking to have more steel loaners will find these are worthy additions to their arsenals. You can be confident that this is an honest, objective and not financially motivated review as The Knight Shop does not have an affiliate link program and we have no vested interest in their brands.
Our #2 recommendation is the VB Techniques Longsword, which is a schilt-less federschwert produced by Viktor Berbekucz’ forge. While we personally do not care much for the very square design of VB’s handles and the wrapping, we do acknowledge VB produces excellent practice swords for entry level HEMA usage. It is worth mentioning that VB Techniques Longsword models are known to not be able to endure under high intensity usage and have broken when placed under such stresses. Regardless they are a popular loaner club feder at many US based HEMA clubs through distribution by Purple Heart Armory. Again this is an objective review, not financially motivated.
Tournament Grade Federschwert Practice Long Swords
VB makes a line of tournament grade federschwert which is popular among many US based long sword clubs.
Fabri Armorum produces two models; a Standard and an Ultra Flexible Sport Federschwert. Their leather handle wrap is one of our favorites among mass produced feders for HEMA usage. The blades have a point of balance similar to a real sword which makes for stronger blows but less maneuverability in the bind compared to other tournament grade feders.
US based Arms & Armor also produces a feder that we consider to be tournament grade, too.
In the EU the most common brands are Ensifer, Sigi and Regenyei produced federschwert, primarily because they have points of balance closer to the hilt than a real sword would, which gives them excellent handling properties in the bind even if not as historically accurate of a sword simulator. Yet this is a characteristic many competitive sports oriented KdF fencers prefer. There are many versions these manufacturers produce in addition to their ‘Standard’ lines but all of them are tournament grade weapons.
The Kvetun Armoury FFG Federschwert is also a popular choice, too.
A newer entrant to the market is Iron Rose Workshop, which primarily is known as a vendor within the US based SCA community but produces a good feder for tournament level play.
There are some manufacturers of federschwert who are less common to see but serve particular needs within the HEMA long sword community.
US based Castille Armory has a ‘Build Your Own Longsword’ offering Semi-customization applet on their site and can produce special design requests.
Darkwood Armory produces models of schilt-less feders that are appreciated within the SCA longsword cut and thrust tournaments, as well as among Armizare HEMA students who value a shorter schilt-less blade more similar to what Fiore might have used. The most well known of these models is the Italian Scrimiator. They are not always advertised on the website catalog and may require special ordering.
Albion Swords also produces a federschwert, the Meyer Sparring Sword. Some people really like them, too.
Lastly as a special mention we will recommend Polish forge Aureus Swords line of high end federschwert. They are considered to be one of the most accurate long sword simulators in terms of handling like a true sword, but are produced in small batches at higher prices compared to many other brands, yet they have a great reputation making the cost and wait time worth it.
Do you disagree with our recommendations? Have any further thoughts you’d like to share? You can comment on this blog or alternatively the HEMA Resources forum thread for this article.
If you’d like to learn more information about historical fencing practices please check out our Learn HEMA page for a guide to learning about the historical weapon that interests you. You can also find more guides we’ve written about other topics at our Helpful Guides page. You can also join the conversation at our forums or our Facebook Group community.