Sometimes you pick the items to review, and sometimes the items pick you. The review of the CAS Hanwei Scottish Claymore was a case of the latter it seems but I’m not complaining. As a knife nut you kind of fall right into liking swords too. I mean, they are simply big knives in the most basic of senses. When CAS Hanwei asked Woods Monkey to review one of the biggest of the big knives I wonder if it wasn’t fate. Not every gear and equipment magazine has a six foot four inch tall three hundred pound Scotsman on hand to connect with a big boy like the Claymore. I can nearly see the face of our Editor Tim when they asked if we had anyone who could do the review. He may have even looked off into the distant fog covered hills and whispered softly, “There can be only one.”
I’m certainly happy it worked out that I was available. I got to wield this mighty blade and I must admit a bit of the warrior poet in me stirred when I wrapped my hand around the hilt. The Hanwei Scottish Claymore is an impressive piece all in all. When unpacking it the sheer size is the first thing that gets you, coming in at fifty five inches. Once you grasp the leather covered grip and heft the brute you get a sense of the devastation it once wrought on the battle fields. The grip is a true hand and a half grip typical to this family of swords, most commonly referred to as great swords. Even with my oversized mitts a comfortable two hand grip can be made which leaves room for many variations. Grip length is fourteen inches running to a peened globe pommel with some decorative scalloping. The fit of the hilt and pommel is quite impressive, no give what so ever or hilt shift was experienced in the least. Though built to be a basic replication of a popular style there are aesthetic features worked into the piece. The previously mentioned pommel, sloping quillons, and quatrefoils finishing the quillons. Where the quillon arms and hilt body meet there are high collared quillon blocks which flow nearly seamlessly into the blade fullers. Workmanship in this area flows together well and makes for a rugged and pleasing hilt. All this does add up to a fairly formidable piece in materials and craftsmanship. It is a good thing that CAS Hanwei doesn’t price this baby out by the inch. With a listed MSRP of $299 it is reasonable in the sword market for a quality piece, a street price of just over half that is easily found only with just a quick search.
Great sword edges are a matter of some debate. A battle edge is sharp but not keen. The idea being that a razor edge would chip too readily and dull out faster, so a reasonable edge was sought. The Claymore was a versatile sword even with its impressive bulk. The two handed grip, rounded pommel, and well-guarded hilt made it more easily maneuvered in battle. Weighing in at roughly five pounds the sword couldn’t really be called nimble but a skilled user could change direction with enough speed to get the job done. To aid in this some pieces were leather wrapped or corded just ahead of the hilt to allow the user to lever the forty inch plus blade end over quickly. This I’ve said to explain a nice feature in the variable edge that comes on the CAS Hanwei Scottish Claymore. The section just ahead of the hilt though not guarded by any means is more or less left dull and progresses to a reasonably sharp tip. This would aid in the speed of wielding the blade as mentioned. Once you work with this sword for any length of time past – oh let’s just say, one swing, you gain an uncanny respect for the men that could have wielded it at length. Over commit to a swing and the momentum can carry you right off your stance. This leads to the other use in battle, thrusting. Sure it big and even if an opponent was able to raise a shield in defense a full swing would surely knock them off balance but the efficient means of dispatching ones enemy came by means of the perfect spear tip. Armor of the day ranged from actual hammered plate armor to chainmail and even leather scale. An angered Scotsman could wear himself to a nub hacking away at these defenses but a smooth piercing blow once the enemy was off balance or downed would spell certain death.
The construction is sound and though the blade is certainly a carbon steel equivalent to US 1566 and heat treated to a 48-52 Rockwell. Maintenance does require a little wipe down with oil after you have trimmed the hedges or cut up some insolent melons. So far as testing the intended purpose of the piece – one is a bit limited in what you can legally do. No one gets too upset if you happen onto an unsuspecting crowd of melons or squash and deal out a little highland justice, but as to what this blade would do to an adversary I just can’t comment. No melon has stood before its might. Pumpkins, 2 liter pop bottles and milk jugs full of water, and a fair number of sumac saplings have fallen prey to the savagery of the blade. When bottle slicing the physics of the length of the blade, and variable sharpness down its length, become clearly defined as to use. Take a half gallon milk jug at the sharpened distal end with a full swing and you barely feel the cut. There is no hesitation, no drag, just a momentary snap transmitted up the sword. If you pull it off with a level cut or at least one on a flat plane there is so little resistance to the tremendous momentum generated that the jug seems to stand still and fall apart later. Shooting some burst photographs and studying them post trauma this could be seen. When the milk jug begins to fall I was nearly behind my shoulder in the back swing. To test the battering power at the middle of the sword I chose some twenty ounce pop bottles. If you have ever say – oh I don’t know – blown one up with liquid nitrogen, then you know they are a slightly tougher family of bottles. At the medium sharp mid-point of the blade you still have a large amount of inertia due to the weight of the blade but you don’t have the added speed at the long end of the rotation axis or the more fully sharpened edges. This area of the blade is like a battering ram. Powerfully thick but tapered to deliver the full force to a small area. During bottle work it didn’t slice anything but rather decimated it. Exploding the bottles rather than cutting them and sending the remnants flying in quite an impressive spray of water. Further testing for durability was a little leap of faith but shields of the day being constructed of wood by in large seemed to force me to try. I headed to the wood pile with sword in hand, or rather over the shoulder. My wood pile is comprised mostly of wild cherry so after selecting a few six to eight inch logs I made some cuts at roughly three quarters of the blade length, again so as not to destroy the edge. Again here I was shocked, the logs did not just split but rather blew apart. Barely any resistance was felt; no shock to the hand and the grain was perfectly split. Experiments cross cutting grain were so-so; there is just too much blade to make it an effective penetrator for chopping. I cannot in good conscience fail to mention the utter psychological dominance this sword can give you in everyday situations. Business meeting not going your way? Slap this baby on the table and watch the deal practically write itself. Pesky neighborhood kids won’t stay off your lawn? Put on your kilt, paint your face blue, throw your Claymore on your shoulder, and enjoy your new found solitude. Too many groceries for the ten item or less lane? Mister Claymore says we need a recount. These things are all funny to think of but I’m sure there was fair bit of truth to the fear or doubt in one’s own abilities the Claymore could have instilled into a powder faced English youth having marched north to combat the heathen hordes. With the power to hack a horse out from under a rider, slash polearms, batter shields, and pierce armor it is no small wonder the Claymore became a staple of ground battles.
I am left with an utter respect for this classic piece of armament. I don’t want to make too many presumptions but historically the Scots were not allowed to train with weapons as a means to hold them under English rule. I think this sword may have evolved to popularity because of the ability to lay it in the hands of a hearty highlander and close the gap with more skilled warriors. With little training and a sizable amount of force the warrior could have become quite formidable. In order for this to happen though, the sword would have had to have been very tough and reliable. CAS Hanwei has done a dutiful job in recreating not only the form and function of this classic piece but it is engrained with this same said toughness. Taking everything I threw at it and asking for more the CAS Hanwei Scottish Claymore stayed to the spirit of the great warriors of old. The CAS Hanwei Scottish Claymore truly is a great sword amongst great swords.
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