Today I’m going to be reviewing this buckler made for me by Emmet Byrne at Raven Heart Forge in Ireland, I’ll put the links below for that.
I met Emmet earlier this year at Féile na Gaiscígh. My buckler was broken, I saw his – it was this beautifully handmade thing – I was a little bit cheeky asked if I could borrow it for the Sword and Buckler tournament. I didn’t realise at the time that he had made it. Yeah, so I used that. I think it was a prototype, one of the first made; since then Emmet has been forging these beautiful pieces and donating them as prizes in sponsorship of certain HEMA events. Yeah, this is really, really nice. I thought I’d write a review about it.
First thing, putting it to the test!
Wow, alright this is a solid piece. I’ve used steel bucklers in the past which I have literally had to stamp back into shape. That is not the case with this, this is a really, really decent chunk of steel. Swords when they strike this, they just stop. You can see that there are maybe one or two nicks in the edge of this, this is very minor damage considering the absolute starching that we gave it.
You can see here the Academy logo has been imposed on the buckler, apparently it was done with a vinyl stencil and then it was put on using salt water and electricity… I don’t know how that works but it looks great. Now it might fade over time as the buckler gets scratched up or cleaned and things like that but it looks amazing.
You can see the amount of effort that has gone into shaping these bucklers as well. The edge has been folded over which means that gives extra support on the rim against strikes, it also means that if a point lands it can get caught there on that folded rim. A lot of bucklers that I’ve seen are sort of turned in so that the point has nowhere to go but to slide off. These give you the opportunity to capitalise on somebody striking, sliding up, catching that rim and then entering with a counter.
So one of the things that Emmet and I discussed as he was making it was the size of the bowl, I tend to wear a fairly large glove that goes underneath, I’ve found that a lot of bucklers that are used for reenactment and HEMA can be a little bit tight if they are exact reproductions of bucklers that have been found in museums or archaeological finds and things like that and they can be a little bit uncomfortable. With this, obviously with my bare hands it’s a little bit big with the HEMA glove it’s just right, it’s perfect.
The grip is nice and squared, it’s really ergonomic, it means that it doesn’t slide around in the hand without being uncomfortable. It’s actually a lot lighter than I thought it would be. One of the things that I was initially quite worried about was that it would be quite weighty, there is usually that trade off – you get a lighter buckler but it’s flimsy or you get a heavier buckler that’s more robust – this for me is fine. Having that extra weight means that those buckler punches will be a little bit slow because obviously I’m trying to control them and I don’t want to actually brain anybody. Or do I? No, no.
Having that weight means having more presence in the bind so I wouldn’t even call it that much of a disadvantage if you tend to like the lighter bucklers. I wouldn’t call it… It’s not heavy, it’s not that heavy, I thought it would be heavier.
The other advantage – and I genuinely mean this – is the sound and it’s quite a distinct sound, when I’ve used leather rimmed wooden bucklers in tournaments and I’ve parried something with the buckler as I’ve come in with a strike, because it makes like this dull thud I usually get called as being hit; with this there’s no real argument.
What are my thoughts on this thing? Well I’ve been gushing over it for the past few minutes so you can probably guess.
I think it’s awesome it’s a huge improvement on the buckler that I used at Féile na Gaiscígh, mainly because the shape of it is just a lot more refined. I remember the buckler that I was using, that Emmet had made, was a little bit wobblier, that gave it part of its charm, but he’s obviously kind of perfected some of his techniques here.
I’m really, really looking forward to using this more and yeah the aforementioned buckler punch, I need to figure out how I can do that without killing a fool.
Overall I’m really, really impressed with this, it’s very robust, it sounds great – I know that’s not really a fact that most people take into consideration when they buy bucklers but it should be. This sounds great!
I will be posting a link to Raven Heart Forge below.
If you have any questions put them in the comments section.
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Until next time I’m going to be playing with my new toy.
You can contact Emmet Byrne here @ravenheartforge: https://www.facebook.com/ravenheartforge/