Paul Chen’s Functional Fencing Rapier with Spiral Hilt combines a 43-inch Schlaeger rapier blade with a modified swept hilt. Rather than the usual fencing blade — a foil with parallel sides — the Paul Chen version of the tapered Schlaeger has the narrowing shape of a true sword. As a result, the Functional Fencing Rapier is fast.
Tipped with a steel button to add some safety to the sport, the 49-1/4-inch sword of high carbon SH1098 steel retains the deadly look of the true gentleman’s sword of medieval Europe. At the height of its popularity, the rapier was a common way of solving personal disputes among the upper class. Skill in swordplay, rather than violence, sometimes won the day. Today’s fencing foils are built to different standards and are not meant to cause actual harm.
Paul Chen’s version of the fencing rapier might fit in well in old Europe, since rapiers from that era inspired Chen’s new design. Many craftsmen of the day produced rapiers with individual differences meant to enhance efficiency and augment the beauty of this popular nobleman’s weapon. The Functional Rapier’s hilt is a little too plain in those old terms, looking in places as though it was formed from stock steel rods instead of being thoroughly hand-forged as the old swords were. It’s functional, but not quite as refined as the old styles.
In actual duels, the rapier was often backed up by the main gauche in the off hand. This light and fast parrying dagger caught the opponent’s blade in its specialized blade guard. Paul Chen and Hanwei Forge make replacement blades for both types of weapons, in either sporting or fighting styles.