Best Fencing Swords Reviewed & Rated
Purchasing fencing gear might just be one of the most overwhelming parts of the intensive historic sport. Fencing, one of the well-known three combat sports, requires both a knowledge and skill in swordsmanship and the right equipment. Although many clubs will often be able to lend you equipment, sometimes you’re stuck with buying what feels like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. There are so many types of equipment one needs to concern themselves with—a fencing jacket, a mask, a chest protector, gloves, and a foil (or sabre or epee), to name a few. When starting out, understanding how to buy all of these items can certainly be quite intimidating—especially with fencing weapons. The sport surrounds these weapons and divides itself into three different competitive scenes: foil, epee, and sabre, with Japanese Kendo fencing quickly becoming popular. Most competitive athletes choose only to specialize in one of the weapons, so choosing a type of weapon can become a vital part of your fencing career.
- Etrading Bamboo
- Authentic Bamboo
- Efficient Construction
- Master Cutlery New Ace
- Stainless Steel
- Swept Hilt Design
- American Fencing Gear Electric
- Pistol Grip
- Extra Kit
With the sport gaining so much traction in the past couple of years (most notably from the Olympics), many companies have started innovating and improving their traditional swords to better suit the newer generation. Although there are far too many options to cover, the general consensus is in buying a basic blade with a defined grip that suits your style most. Swords are often the equipment that will last and stay with you the longest, meaning they are undoubtedly one of the most important choices, as they can easily shape the way you compete and how you perform in combat. While both foils, sabres, and epees are great choices for beginners, be sure to also note of Kendo swords that are part of the Japanese art of fencing—a fencing subtype that has been on a massive rise of popularity and competitiveness. A couple key things to note before buying is: whether you are left or right handed, which type of fencing sword you want, the handle and weapon sizes, and the type of blade and grip on the sword. We will cover more on these topics later, but for now here are our best picks at the finest fencing swords of 2018!
10 Best Fencing Swords
1. Etrading Bamboo
Although the slats of a shinai can be made of many different types of material, the most common is bamboo which is known for its lightweight yet sturdy nature. There are plenty of “fake” bamboo producers in Kendo, which is a concern since only traditional and authentic bamboo holds durable in martial art combat. The Etrading Kendo Shinai, however, is made of 100% authentic dried bamboo.
Contrary to belief, a Kendo Shinai sword is actually made of variously different parts, such as the Saki-gawa (tip), the Naka-Yui (string), the Take (slat), the Tsuba (the guard), and the Tsuka (handle). This makes Shinai often complicated to assemble, especially for beginners who aren’t as familiar with the parts of the sword. The Etrading Bamboo Kendo Shinai, however, prioritizes the efficiency in an easy assemble so you won’t have to worry about the frustration of a loose or unfastened sword kit.
Cost and Value
Even though it’s the best performing, the Etrading Bamboo Kendo Shinai is also one of the cheapest fencing swords on our catalog. It is, however, primarily used for practice which justifies its lower price range. Those who are looking for a competitively viable Kendo Shinai sword will most likely have to pay at a higher price range. Even so, the Etrading Bamboo is still a phenomenal deal as it provides two swords for a sparse price.
2. Master Cutlery New Ace
Stainless Steel is great. Why? Two words: no rust. With fencing weapons that can potentially stay long periods of time in storage in between competitions, rust can be a real pain in the neck for those who aren’t keen on their weapon maintenance. Having a steel-composed weapon made of stainless steel not only ensures that the weapon will be durable and of high caliber, but that you are guaranteed to never have any problems with decay.
Swept Hilt Design
A swept hilt is the design of the handle of the rapier or sword optimized for thrusting attacks as opposed to hacking or slicing—perfect for any fencing weapon. The expertly crafted design of the hilt features a rubber grip with a steel wrap that adds to the decisiveness of detailing. Any way you look at it, this is a beautiful sword that can perform well too.
Cost and Value
This is also one of the cheaper fencing weapons seen in the market, as it is exquisitely composed of quality material and meticulous design while being completely affordable for any local hobbyist.
Swept Hilt Design
3. AFG Electric
The right-handed pistol grip is one of the most commonly used fencing grips used in today’s competitions with the foil and epee. Its counterpart, the French grip, can usually be adapted for beginners that are trying to reach a higher level of strength. The pistol grip is frequently used in very high levels of play and is seen as one of the two grips beginners should learn as fundamentals. Seeing a pistol grip on a fencing foil means that it is certainly made for competitive use and will perform vigorously.
For the affordable price, you will not only receive the electric foil but also a guard, guard pad, and a two-pronged socket, making this both an excellent beginner’s kit as well as a veteran’s sword. It also includes an extra blade which is crucial for replacing in case something happens during competition—most competitive fencers will always carry one to two extra blades.
Cost and Value
By considering all that you receive with this well-established competitive fencing sword, you might start to see the generosity of the price and the great value of this foil by American Fencing Gear. This is an excellent starter set for anyone interested in the sport and is also one of our most outstanding value items up to date.
Pistol Grip Design
Can Feel Heavy
4. e-bogu Official Bamboo
The material that this Shinai is composed of is none other than first-rate. Natural bamboo is a go-to component from all levels of skill and it’s often rare to find Shinai that incorporates a real leather finish on vital parts of the blade. All of this comes complete with a durable hand guard to protect you from any potential injuries.
Not only is this Kendo Shinai one of the finest choices on the market, it’s also backed by the FIK, which is the Federation of International Kendo, for tournament play and usage. For those more serious fencers or even those wanting to get started in Kendo tournaments, this is definitely the sword for you.
Cost and Value
The price range for this Kendo Shinai is definitely a bit higher, especially compared to other bamboo swords. It is, however, commendable to recommend for anyone of any budget because of the high quality and that it is tournament regulated. Although costing slightly more, you will never regret spending the extra few dollars on this exceptional Shinai.
Real Leather Finish
Strings Can Detach
5. Radical Fencing RF Nasycon
Not only is this foil well-made with adequate flexibility, it is also safe to use, featuring a rubber tip and ambidextrous guard. Many beginners can fear hurting themselves or someone else when they are still developing their swordsmanship. The RF Rasycon is perfect for keeping sure that no one gets hurt!
Flexible Yet Stiff
With a foil, you never want the blade to be too flexible or too stiff. Excessive flexibility can mean that it will break upon contact while excessive stiffness can mean that it may injure the opponent when thrusting. Radical Fencing has kept these thoughts in mind as they have made a sword that is a perfect balance in both flexibility and stiffness.
Cost and Value
The price for the RF Nasycon is actually cheaper than it may appear. This phenomenal training tool primarily aimed at beginners has a cheap enough price tag so anyone interested in fencing can pick it up without investing too much right away.
Easy and Safe Handling
6. Physical Chess X-Fencing
Balance is one of the most important aspects of fencing—and it seems Physical Chess has paid attention to this crucial feature. The blade is ideally balanced in both weight, durability, and flex so there won’t be any shortcomings.
Fully Put Together
No longer do beginners need to struggle endlessly figuring out how to assemble and disassemble their fencing swords. With so many parts—the blade, guard, pommel, handle, and tip—Physical Chess is happy to show that the hassle can be overlooked as their blade comes in fully assembled and functional.
Cost and Value
This is a fantastic sword for an average price that isn’t a complete bargain but isn’t a ripoff either. For a fencing epee that can be used in both practice and competition, this epee by Physical Chess X is considered a great value for its generous price.
7. LEONARK Fencing Electric
Again, this is a sword that is not only made compatible with the FIK, but also features a pistol grip that intermediate to expert swordsman thrive on for competitive play. The grip is completed by a durable aluminum guard pad that will no doubt also keep beginners injury-free.
This balanced blade has almost no downside with its balance orientation and performance. The LEONARK foil has the phenomenal responsiveness and a highly sensitive electronic tip to ensure accuracy during spars. This was made possible by endless technological efforts by LEONARK in their continuous effort in evolving their prestigious fencing sword.
Cost and Value
As is expected, the LEONARK Electric fencing foil is one of the more expensive products on the market. This esteemed sword is one directed at those skilled in swordsmanship and is therefore known as a premium blade. If you do want to spend a little more, however, you will certainly be impressed by the beauty and performance of the LEONARK fencing foil, developed with their most advanced technology.
Flexible and Lightweight
Sensitive and Responsive
8. Allstar Uhlmann BF Blue
The pistol grip is in the style of ‘Visconti’, one of the four legal and common variations found in professional fencing for pistol grips. The Visconti has a style that is suited for control of the blade and swift, precise movements.
Allstar Uhlmann BF guarantees that their blade is compatible with almost every type of worldwide competition, such as USFA, FIE, FIK, World Championships, Olympics, and any type of club or team.
Cost and Value
For this superior competition blade seen used by many professional and top amateur fencing experts, the price will never be cheap. In fact, the Uhlmann BF Blue is one of the most expensive products seen on our list, and we wouldn’t recommend investing in this one if you are a beginner just starting out.
Visconti Pistol Grip
Wired German Point
Right Handed Only
9. Blade Basic Electric
Beginners don’t want to struggle with a heavy fencing sword when they are just starting to develop their movements and thrusts. That’s why finding a lightweight weapon is crucial. The Blade Basic Electric is not only an electric sword that incorporates the Pistol grip, it’s also one of the lightest foils on the market so you can master techniques without getting limited by weight.
As we’ve said, balance is such an important thing in the art of fencing, especially for those starting out. Maintaining your weight and to make attacks and avoid falling is one of the fundamentals of fencing. A good foil for beginners will always have centralized gravity to help balance the weapon, whereas more intermediate foils can be imbalanced to help coordinate stronger attacks or more precise movement.
Cost and Value
For a beginner weapon, the price of the Basic Blade Electric is about average. There isn’t too much to say, as the weapon gives everything to offer—including the much-recommended pistol grip—for a moderate price affordable for anyone. If you’re looking for your first fencing sword, you can never go wrong with the Blade Basic.
Light and Durable
Visconti Pistol Grip
Three Blade Sizes
Not For Experts
10. Pro Fencing Practice
If you’re just starting out in a new hobby, you can be easily overwhelmed by the excruciating prices of all the things you need just to get started. That’s why finding an affordable yet well-made foil can be so important in your development for when you’re ready to upgrade your weapon. The Pro Fencing Practice is one of the most affordable foils on our list that doesn’t sacrifice performance.
We’ve talked a lot about the Pistol grip, but let’s not neglect the beloved French grip. The French grip is one of the two common grips in fencing but is more ideal for beginners that are just learning how to control the point of their foil. The French grip gives up precision for reliability and balance and is the grip everyone should start out with before moving on to a higher level.
Cost and Value
The Pro Fencing Practice comes at an affordable price that is worth well more than the money tag. It is considerably durable and can last you more than a few training sessions.
Lightweight and Durable
Enforces Point Control
Criteria for Evaluating Best Fencing Swords
The Sword Types
Although they are all classified as ‘fencing’, there are three main groups of combat in traditional fencing and even more in other forms of fencing around the world—but let’s first talk about the traditional form. The three weapon disciplines that have surrounded competitive fencing are:
- The Foil
A thin blade that is designed for thrusting and hitting your opponent’s chest with the rounded tip. Foil blades generally are flexible and will bend upon impact to prevent injury, making foil fencing one of the safest forms. The foil is the smallest and lightest weapon of the three, and is by far the most common form of fencing in terms of competition and Olympic play.
In foil fencing, fencers must use metallic vests and hit the opponent’s upper body—or target area, as some call it. The FIE generally manages foil fencing and provides the set of rules that you need to play by, including compatibility of the foil. Foil fencing is generally scored by either a referee or an electric scorer that signals when someone has hit their opponent’s target area. In the United States, foil fencing has completely taken over other forms and is by far the most common.
- The Epee
The epee is like the foil in that it thrusts, but it consists of a bigger guard and is considerably heavier. The blade on the epee is also wider, thicker, and heavier. A general way to depict an Epee from a foil is to look at the guard—the round metallic shield above the handle that protects the hand. An epee will have a large circle for a guard that extends to the pommel while a foil can have different types of guards.
The major difference in foil and epee fencing is that epee fencing, the whole body is the target area as opposed to just the upper chest area. Epees are also more dangerous since they consist of a v-shaped blade. In competition, there are also no rules in “right of way” and points are awarded to both players in simultaneous touches. In addition, epee blades are known to be more expensive than foil blades, since they are made of heavier and more durable material.
- The Sabre
The sabre, or the rapier to some, is the third most common form of fencing that focuses on light cutting and slicing rather than thrusting. Like foils, sabres can be very lightweight, but have a hand guard that extends from the hilt to the blade and pommel.
In sabre spars, slashing is involved and the entire upper body area will count for a point. Sabre fencers will aim for anywhere above the waist area including the arms and head. Again, the difference seen in the sabre is that it is also possible to score points with just the edge of the blade, instead of having to use the point of the blade. One other difference is that sabres are often the cheapest of the three to replace.
- The Kendo Shinai
The shinai is a type of bamboo sword used exclusively for Kendo, which is a traditional martial art and one of the most popular forms of fencing among the eastern globe. Kendo has lately attracted many people from nations outside Japan and has become a respected form of swordsmanship in the fencing society. The shinai looks like a single piece of wood, but is actually constructed with various pieces that are held together by rubber rings; the most common and reliable material in shinai is bamboo.
In Kendo, a scorable point is awarded to any player making an accurate strike to their opponent’s kendo-gu—kendo armor—with the shinai with the correct form and posture. Kendo competitions are generally only 3-point matches, with the first person scoring two points winning the match.
In traditional fencing—meaning non-Kendo—there are different types of grips that come with each type of sword. There are only two types of grips, however, that are the most common among fencing professionals and are regulated compatible with almost all fencing associations: these are the French Grip and the Pistol Grip.
- French Grip
The French grip is a straight grip that may be contoured slightly depending on the curve of the hand. The french grip is best for beginners because it encourages better point control rather than thrusting power, but can also be seen used in high levels of professional play. The French grip provides the fencer with longer reach while sacrificing precision and power in parries and attacks.
You may see two different types of French grips—the straight and the bent grip. These two choices are completely up to you and what feels better in the palm of your hand. Although French grips are great for starting out, many coaches recommend their students to switch to the pistol grip when they’ve mastered controlling the blade.
- Pistol Grip
Seen as the most superior blade in modern fencing, pistol grips can be identified as a special shape that resembles holding a pistol. Pistol grips are used by a large number of fencers—especially in foil and epee—because they stronger movements with the blade. High-level fencers also prefer pistol because they’re able to more accurately control the stability of their blade with invaluable precision. Since the pistol grip is such as widely used style in modern fencing, its no surprise that various forms have been developed; here are a few variations of pistol grips:
- Visconti Pistol Grip – the Visconti grip, the most popular form of the pistol grip, has a trigger notch at the top of the handle and the fencer can more actively use their thumb and index finger to control the movement of the blade.
- Belgian Pistol Grip – the Belgian grip, another popular variation, has its trigger notch at the bottom of the handle, and is meant to be gripped by the middle finger which provides more balance but less power.The other two less common variations are the Russian grip and the Hungarian grip, which have slightly different designs—we recommend you to use whatever feels natural to you, as the difference is unnoticeable at lower levels of play.
With these tips, we hope you’re able to find the absolute best fencing sword for you. There are various options are out there! Be wise in your choice and your journey down recreational and competitive fencing will be a life changing experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a fencing sword called?
A: The different names for fencing swords can be: foil, epee, sabre, rapier, and shinai. Each depicts a different form of competitive fencing.
Q: What are fencing swords made of?
A: It depends on the form of fencing, but, most swords are made of steel—sometimes known as low-carbon steel. Shinai from Japanese fencing are made of bamboo.
Q: Is fencing a form of martial art?
A: There has been a debate about whether fencing should be recognized as an art or a sport. Olympic fencing has been deemed a sport while traditional fencing remains an art.
Q: How do I clean a fencing sword?
A: To prevent your blades from rusting, its often a good idea to hand-wash them often with a rag in cool water and soap.
Q: What fencing is the best?
A: All forms of fencing are recognized and respected, although foil fencing has been the most popular and supported nationally for the past decade.