There are a lot of things which
are marketed as swords, and look like swords,
but are not actual swords. They are costume
pieces, or decorations, and in most cases they
are not built to take anything more than gentle
handling. This video is an excellent
demonstration of why you shouldn't try to play
with these "wall-hangers."
Just to confuse the issue, such
items are often advertised as "razor-sharp",
"battle-ready", "tempered", or "genuine." All of
these terms are misleading, and should be
ignored. Traditional swords were not "razor"
sharp; if they had been, they would have been as
fragile as a razor is. "Battle ready" has become
standard advertising language; it usually means
that the sword won't break if you swing it
around, but don't count on that.
"Tempered" is equally misleading; I have seen
swords advertised as tempered that were actually
case-hardened. Case-hardening is a
type of tempering; what it does is make the
surface -- and only the surface -- of the metal
very hard. The core is still essentially
untempered. The result of this is that the blade
will hold an edge, but if you hit something with
it, it will bend and stay bent - or just break.
want a real, functional sword, here are some
things to look for:
A good rule of thumb is that
anything under about $200 is strictly for
decoration. I can think of maybe two
exceptions to this pattern.
Stainless Steel is never
"combat ready". It's fine for knives, but
knives are shorter; the length of a sword
blade means that it receives more stress
when you hit something with it. It is
possible to temper stainless steel in a way
suitable for a sword blade, but you're
talking about a special, custom-made piece -
not something you buy over the counter.
Check with a reputable
Sword Forum International is a good
place to start - and find out whether a
particular manufacturer offers functional
pieces, or whether they're strictly