The best longsword nylon wasters I have tried thus far were hand made by Pentti of GHFS. Unfortunately he no longer produces these, so they are near impossible to come by. However, the little known “Norrlandswastern” is the next in line and it offers quite unique features. In fact it excels in many ways and makes the Penttis look crude.
These too are handmade with quite a bit of love and pride, and they can be designed according to your specifications, with regards to length and balance. In fact, a small folder, describing how to shorten the grip to your own preference, is included upon delivery. They even have a grip made out of birch plywood and can be delivered with two different types of pommels; a scent stopper or a disc pommel. Sounds pretty good, right?
Interestingly enough, these wasters are basically designed like a proper sword with a blade, a tang, a cross, a grip and a steel pommel. Each part can be removed and replaced if broken, but this also makes it easy to transport, since you can remove the cross, if you wish. I am very impressed with the basic design of the waster. It just seems right to have a waster that is put together similarly to a real sword, with a blade, a cross, a steel tang, a wooden grip and a steel pommel.
…and did I mention that you can have two different types of pommels?
All parts are very nicely done and the waster has that professional look that many of us look for. The fitting of the parts is top notch and when assembled all parts fit tightly. There is no rattling what so ever. However, I would prefer a modified cross, since the edges are quite angular and the points are a little too… well pointy. There is room for some improvement here. The angular flatness of the cross along with the curved canoe-shape and the slippery nylon, can make it a little trickier to control the adversary’s blade in the bind, but it is at least in part, a “historical” design, so there is no argument there, really. I would prefer a different design, though.
Unlike the Purpleheart Synthetic Longsword II, the fairly thick cross does not stop you from reinforcing the blade in the bind, or with a Zwerchhau, a Schielhau or a Schrankhut. This is really good to see and a relief from concerns raised when looking at the images beforehand.
Looking at the birch plywood grip, I am a little bit worried about its durability. Therefore, I chose to wrap it in leather to make it more durable, being a little worried that it might crack if struck hard repeatedly during sparring. It is easy enough to do. Just buy thin leather, cut it in shape and glue it on.
Also, despite looking and feeling wonderful, it quickly looses its dye when you start sweating on it. It can therefore easily discolour textiles, which seems unnecessary.
Other than that, the grip is quite good; It is long enough to be quite comfortable wearing Lacrosse gloves, while providing good leverage with a broad grip in the bind, and allowing for some good, fast rotation with a narrow grip in the strikes.
The balance is wonderful and as a consequence so is the point control. The distal and profile tapering is quite prominent, which along with the still fairly thick edge, makes it easier to control the very agile point safely in sparring. Nice work here!
Another very good aspect of these is that they do have a some flex in the thrusts, but aren’t wobbly. I would prefer more flex though, since they are still too stiff for thrusting with more intent. As it is, they are the synthetic equivalent of the Ensifer feders. A bit too rigid for the context in which they are used, but still quite good.
In my opinion, they are also a little too point heavy for full contact sparring with little protection, although you can certainly spar fairly hard even with little protection, as long as you use caution when striking against bone. Personally I would prefer a little thinner and more flexible blade in the very last quarter or third, and a blade made from Amid PA6, ie the same material that Pentti used in his wasters, or something similar. Fortunately, Plastsmeden, the maker of Norrlandswastern, has promised to look into using that type of nylon as well and I know that The Knightshop and possibly also a third maker is exploring this material.
Another good thing is the fact that the blades do not stay noticeably bent while sparring, a problem which the much thinner KnightShop Synthetic Longswords and Revival Zugadores currently suffer from (although the Knightshop are just about to present a new and reportedly much improved version). In part, I believe this has to do with the fact that they are not quite as thin as the Penttis and not due to the material used. With that said, the material seems very durable and able to withstand a lot of beating before breaking.
Finally, you always get what you pay for. This can never be escaped and it is a lesson learned from years of buying cheap and crappy stuff in the hope that it will be as good as more expensive products. If you haven’t figured this out by yourself yet, then trust me; Cheap always disappoints. This does not mean that expensive is always good though, but in this case it does. This is without a doubt the most expensive synthetic waster out on the market, almost twice as expensive as its competitors and almost as expensive as a steel Hanwei federschwert. Still, I feel that these are well worth their price and I would rather buy one of these instead of two really cheap wasters, since you get both better performance and a very stylish and professional look.
And as a bonus, two more images, a single hander and the disc pommel in close up:
Weight: ca 1,4kgs / 3.1lbs
Blade length: 91cm / 35.8in (length can be customized)
Grip length (with pommel): 31cm / 12.2in
Total length: 124cm / 48.8in
Price: ca €99