Modern full contact sword fighting, whether by IMCF, HMB or SCA rules, is different from medieval tournaments or stunt performances in popular movies. This aspect is of fundamental import for understanding what equipment you need. The use of improperly chosen armor, or insufficient attention to material selection can lead to injuries.
In the Middle Ages, the main requirement for armor was to keep its wearer alive, or to at least prevent serious injury. Today the question of safety remains vital: every fighter wants to go home after the buhurt tournament, not to the hospital. Armor and helmets manufactured by Forge of Svan are distinguished by their high level of reliability and quality. With almost 15 years of experience, we have learned a lot about the art of blacksmithing. We use all our skills and craftsmanship so that you can be sure that you’ll be safe in our armor during buhurt and duel tournaments.
We use 4 types of material: mild steel, spring steel, stainless steel, and titanium. All these materials are different, so now let’s take a look at their special characteristics.
Medieval blacksmiths only worked with steel, and it was often of a very poor quality. Most armor preserved in museums is made of 0.8-1.5 mm thick steel. Sometimes you can find examples made from steel up to 4 mm thick, but as a rule these are heavy tournament helmets such as a frog-mouth helmet. The resilience of steel can be determined by the percentage of carbon in it. The more carbon it contains, the more elastic the steel and the higher the yield strength. Steel with higher carbon content can be hardened. Mild steel has a low carbon content, 0.14% to 0.22%. As such, this type of steel can’t be tempered or hardened; it has a higher plasticity and deforms. Its Rockwell Hardness is about 12 HRC. Armor and helmets made from mild steel can be deformed from light weapon hits. Mild steel rusts after contact with humidity or water. It’s evident that your equipment made from mild steel should be keep safe from rain. To be brief: armor made from mild steel does not hold up well hits and is easily rusted. But thanks to its low price it’s a good start for any beginner coming into this sport.
Spring steel has a high level of carbon in its composition. This allows heat treatment and tempering of completed armor. The spring steel we use to make helmets and armor is 30HGSA. The number 30 indicates that there is 3% of carbon in steel. This type of steel belongs to the class of medium-alloy steels. We temper this steel at a temperature of 830 degrees Celsius which allows us to raise the hardness to 32-38 HRC by Rockwell grade. Thanks to this process, the finished armor acquires special qualities. These armor pieces and helmets are more difficult to deform and they have a much better resistance against impacts. It means that you’ll rarely need to planish your armor. Tempered spring steel, much like mild steel, is easily corroded. As with mild steel, it’s obvious that tempered steel armor should not be left in the rain. Due to the higher elasticity of spring steel, we can use steel sheets with a smaller thickness to make the finished armor and helmets much lighter. For example, a medium size Corazzina made from 1.5 mm thick mild steel weighs approximately 8.5 kg (18.7 lbs.). The same size Corazzina made from 1.0mm tempered steel weighs about 7 kg (15.4 lbs.).
Stainless steel is primarily characterized by its rust resistance. Stainless steel armor and helmets don’t get corroded after contact with humidity, whether it’s sweat or water. Stainless steel contains up to 0.20% of carbon. Thanks to this, its hardness can reach 25 HRC by Rockwell scale. You can choose medieval armor or helmets from thinner stainless steel and get equipment that has less weight. However, we don’t recommend using armor made from 1.0mm stainless steel for hard buhurt fights.
Finally, we arrive at the space age material called titanium. Titanium armor and helmets are similar in hardness to hardened spring steel. It has approximately 35-40 HRC by Rockwell. But the most important thing is that titanium is 40% lighter than any steel. This quality gives titanium an obvious advantage when compared to tempered steel. Both materials have a very similar grade of elasticity. However, tempered steel is much heavier.
We use titanium marked VT-1 and OT-4. Their main difference lies in their elastic properties, which determines what we craft from them. Wherever possible, we use the harder titanium OT-4. And where we have to pull the material more, such as knee protection, we have to use the softer VT-1 because OT-4 will rupture.
It’s evident that for manufacturing of armor specific technical instruments and equipment are required; a welding machine for example. When making titanium armor you need a special one that can run within the inert gas called Argon. Only by using this technology can two pieces of titanium can be welded into one. This work requires high skills and we are proud to have a technical expert in our team who knows how to use this type of welding machine to create titanium armor masterpieces.
A great bonus of titanium armor is its rust-resistance. Water or sweat – you can forget about corrosion. It’s one more point in favor of titanium armor. This material is light, durable, elastic, and non-rusting. Medieval blacksmiths didn’t know about titanium, but if suppose they had – the choice would have been obvious.
Think about your health and comfort. With titanium armor you take care of your spine by loading less weight on it. At the Forge of Svan workshop we have a great technical base that will provide you with the best titanium armor and helmets.
Whatever you choose: mild steel, tempered spring steel, stainless steel, or titanium – we would be honored to make your armor for you. Let us worry about providing you with safety and quality so that you can focus on enjoying this epic sport called medieval combat.