Any sword you pick up today is the latest result of an arms race that began in prehistoric times. When the first copper daggers were replaced by longer blades of bronze, new and better swords began to determine which nation succeeded and which failed. Swords progressed from bronze to iron, and from iron to steel, with each improvement carefully guarded until surpassed by some other smith with a better idea. It took thousands of years for human technology to advance far enough to create the two-handed broadsword and even longer to develop Damascus steel.
When rifles and pistols became the primary weapons of the world’s armies, the drive behind the evolution of the long blade ground to a stop. Today because of renewed interest in the ancient martial arts, the quality of sword blades again rivals the best of the old weapons. Modern materials are better than anything known in the heyday of the martial sword. Today’s best swords could actually be fit for a warrior king — and available at a reasonable price due to modern manufacturing methods.
Today’s swords come in all levels of quality, from pretty souvenirs to functional replicas and combat quality weapons. We even have swords that until recently existed only in dreams. Fantasy blades based on literary classics or modern computer games have now become art, sculpted in bronze and steel.
Cold Steel’s best work combines modern materials with old ideas and the Cold Steel Sword Cane with carbon fiber shaft is a fine example.
Hanwei Forge’s replica of this old Scottish Broadsword gets the details right and is far more than a wall hanging. It works.
Swords of Toledo created this excellent functional reproduction of Sir William Wallace’s Braveheart Claymore.