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Schlager Test Report

Greetings From Don Savian Doré, Heavy Rapier (Schlager) marshal for

I am posting this information for those who are interested. These are the
results of several tests conducted over the past month. If you do have an
interest, please feel free to comment to me at jtc@io.com.

A few of you may get two copies because you are listed in two places. Sorry,
I figured better two than none.

Feel free to distribute this to anyone who might be interested.

One more note: If Don Thomas of the East reads this, I would like to get
your new e-mail address -- the old one no longer works.


                          SCHLÄGER SAFETY TESTING

These tests were designed to compare practice schläger blades with other
fencing blades commonly used in the SCA and against various protective gear
to provide data on which to base safety regulations for the use of practice
schlägers in the SCA.

                              BLADE FLEX TEST

It has become apparent that different schläger blades flex with different
amounts of pressure. Though there is a rating system (0= Lightest to 3 =
Stiffest) many blades are not marked and those marked are inconsistent. One
source, Malcolm the Scott of Scotty Armory, explained that the blades come
from several different forges in Germany and that even within one forge they
are not always consistent. This test was designed to give us enough data to
allow us to build a consistent rating system for practice schlägers.

In addition, one of the major concerns about practice schlägers has been
over the amount of blunt trauma they will inflict, relative to other fencing
weapons. By charting the flex of other weapons we were able to gain a basis
for comparison.

METHODS - This test was conducted by gripping the hilt of a weapon, placing
the point against a spring scale and pressing until the blade flexed about 6
inches from true. We discovered that once a blade flexes past the first 2 to
3 inches the amount of pressure does not increase appreciably (perhaps one
pound) until the blade reaches a bend of 18 inches of so. Our measurements
were taken in this "plateau area". In addition, we had a practice schläger
break during another set of tests we were doing, so we re-measured the flex
after breakage and listed that on the chart as well.

RESULTS - The following chart shows the results of our tests. Some weapons,
particularly those with permanent curves in the blade, required more force
to bend  in one direction than in the other. We expressed these two numbers
as a range (i.e. 4 - 5 Lbs.).

Weapon    Date      Weapon     Force to Flex
Number   Tested      Type         In Lbs.
  F1    01/07/96     Foil           3
  F2    01/09/96     Foil           3
  F3    01/09/96     Foil           3
  F4    01/11/96     Foil           3
  F5    01/07/96     Foil           4
  F6    01/07/96     Foil          4-5
  F7    01/09/96     Foil          4-5
  F16   01/09/96     Foil          4-4.5
  F8    01/09/96     Foil        4.5-5
  F9    01/09/96     Foil        4.5-5
  F15   01/09/96     Foil        4.5-5
  F18   01/09/96     Foil        4.5-5
  F19   01/09/96     Foil        4.5-5
  F10   01/07/96     Foil        4.5-5.5
  F11   01/09/96     Foil           5
  F12   01/09/96     Foil          5-5.5
  F13   01/09/96     Foil          5-6
  F14   01/09/96     Foil          5.5
  F17   01/09/96     Foil        5.5-6
      Average Foil                 4.5

  D1    01/07/96     Dagger        2-3
  D2    01/07/96     Dagger        2-3
  D3    01/09/96     Dagger        2-3
  D4    01/09/96     Dagger        3-4
      Average Light Dagger         2.8

  D5    01/11/96   Prier Dagger    8-10
  D6    01/09/96   Prier Dagger  9.5-14
  D7    01/09/96   Prier Dagger     11
  D8    01/07/96   Prier Dagger   12-15
      Average Prier Dagger         11.3

  E1    01/09/96      Epée       5.5-6
  E2    01/07/96      Epée         6-7
  E3    01/09/96      Epée         6-7
  E4    01/09/96      Epée         6-7
  E5    01/07/96      Epée         6-9
  E6    01/09/96      Epée         6.5
  E7    01/09/96      Epée       6.5-7.5
  E8    01/09/96      Epée         7-7.5
  E9    01/07/96      Epée         7-8
  E10   01/09/96      Epée         7-8
  E11   01/09/96      Epée       7.5-8
  E12   01/07/96      Epée         8-9
  E13   01/11/96      Epée         8-10
      Average Epée                  7

  M1    01/09/96    Musketeer      14

  A1    01/11/96    Antir Rapier+   6

  S1    01/07/96    Schläger        9
  S2    01/09/96    Schläger(2)    10.5
  S3    01/07/96    Schläger       11
  S4    01/07/96    Schläger       12
  S5    01/09/96    Schläger       13.5
  S6    01/07/96    Schläger       16
  S7    01/07/96    Schläger(3)    26
      Average Schläger             14

  S6*    01/07/96  Broken Schläger  23

 + Antir Fiberglass rapier, 5 years old. They now make them stiffer.
 * This is the same blade as S6, above, after 4.5 inches broke off the end. 
(2) The numbers in parentheses indicate this number was stamped on the Schlä
ger blade.

CONCLUSIONS - Most practice schlägers we tested fall in the 9 to 16 pound
range. The notable exception to this was a blade that registered about twice
that at 26 lbs. Most of the fighters who have inspected the 26 lb. blade 
(this includes Dons, Cadets, non-scarves and various marshals of fence from
a variety of kingdoms) felt that it was too stiff to be safe. Those looking
over the 16 lb. blade felt it was marginal.

Another observation was that the lighter schlägers have about the same flex
as the stiffer epées, and schlägers of medium stiffness equate to musketeer
blades. Although we have no proof that the stiffness of the blades
correlates to the likelihood of inflicting blunt trauma damage it does seem
logical to assume they are related.

We also noted that when one of our blades broke the stiffness increased
markedly. With the loss of only 4.5 inches from the end of the blade the
flex rose from 16 lbs. to 23 lbs. -- an increase of 7 lbs.

RECOMMENDATIONS - I believe we should set a limit, not allowing the use of
blades that require more than 15 lbs. to flex. Given this limit I feel the
only areas where we need to worry about additional blunt trauma are the head
and neck. In addition, any blade that breaks or is cut shorter should be re-
tested for flex before being allowed back on the field.

                               PUNCH TESTS

This test is designed to determine what sort of material is necessary to
prevent a blade from punching through a fighter's protective garments. I
checked with Tivar to find out how the original punch tests for foils were
conducted. Using the same methodology I recreated those tests with schläger
blades. This was done on two separate occasions and at the second one Robin
of Gilwell assisted me and also provided broken foils and epées for

METHODS - To perform the tests the material was laid out on soft ground. The
tester knelt and gripped the blade in both hands (wear gloves) about a foot
from the end of the blade with the blade end projecting downward so he could
deliver downward stabs. He then delivered several forceful blows to the
material, trying to punch through it. This method should deliver a blow that
is more forceful than any blow a fighter might face on the field. Thus if
the material holds up to this test it should be adequate on the field.

One of our schlägers broke during testing, allowing us to perform our tests
with an actual broken schläger. I have been told by several sources that
schlägers break flat and even and in fact when the blade broke it was indeed
flat and almost as strait as a machine cut. Because the corners were
somewhat sharp we performed additional tests to determine if that would be a

Alternate testing methods were used to gather additional data. To determine
what protection a single layer of trigger provides we grasped unbroken
practice schläger blades by the hilt in a standard fencing grip and thrust
at the cloth. To test the reliability of the HTM rubber rabbit blunts we are
using as protective tips we placed one on a practice schläger, unmodified
from how it came from the manufacturer (a slightly pointed tip) and then
thrust against 1 layer of trigger (to keep the tip from sinking into the
ground) laid on soft ground.

RESULTS - In the special tests we found that one layer of trigger provides
very little protection as even a thrust of medium strength with an untipped
schläger penetrated easily. The Rabbit blunt, however, was not penetrated in
our tests in spite of the slightly pointed blade (as from the seller) and
very hard thrusts.

In the material punch tests we found that an untipped or broken schläger
could penetrate 4 layers of trigger, though it would not do so every time.
Penetration occurred about 1 out of 3 to 1 out of 4 hits.  With 5 layers of
trigger we did punch through once using our stiffest blade, but could not
repeat it with the other blades. Six Layers was proof against the schlägers.

By contrast, we were not able to penetrate 4 layers of trigger with a foil
and only once with an epée.

I have also heard of "old trigger" and "new trigger". Supposedly, the old
trigger was stouter and the new trigger is thinner and less resilient. By
chance the first test was performed with new trigger purchased in 1995 to
conduct the test, and the second test was performed with old trigger that
Don Robin had left over from a garment he built years ago. Both were in like
-new condition. The results of the two tests were virtually identical, even
to the single penetration of 5 layers by the stiff schläger. While this does
not prove that there are no variations among different manufacturers it does
show that in this case there was no significant difference between old
trigger and new trigger.

We tested leather as well, testing both 3-4 oz. leather and heavier 4-5 oz.
leather. Both were suede, not top grain. The 3-4 oz. was not penetrated by
the foils and epées, but the schlägers did penetrate a few times. The 4-5 oz
. leather was not penetrated by foils, epées or schlägers.

The shape of the end of the schläger blade also made a difference in how
easily the blade penetrated. the four blade ends were:
 1 - mostly rounded, but with a slight point (many blades come this way)
 2 - fully rounded ( some blades come this way)
 3 - broken end, flat but slightly sharp on the edges
 4 - end cut flat and lightly filed to remove burs and sharp edges.

Blade end #1 penetrated the most easily, as one would expect. However, blade
end #2, the rounded end, also penetrated fairly easily. The flat broken end 
(#3) did not penetrate as easily, nor did the #4, the flat smooth end. The
main difference between #3 and #4 was that the sharper cornered #3 end
scarred the materials more -- actual penetration was the same.

We were concerned about the sharp corners of end #3 so we conducted tests
striking at an angle so the sharp corner would hit the material first.
Scarring increased, indicating that a fighter might have been scratched
through a single layer shirt or similar clothing, but actual penetration
DECREASED markedly.

Stiffness of the blade also seemed to play a part in penetration. Given the
same type of blade end, the stiffest blade penetrated most easily.

CONCLUSIONS - From the punch tests it is apparent that while 4 layers of
trigger usually stops foils and epées, 5 layers is needed to reliably stop
an untipped or broken schläger. The idea that one layer of trigger will stop
an untipped schläger is clearly an unfounded myth.

The fact that a stiffer blade penetrates more easily would seem to be one
reason for limiting the stiffness of blades allowed on the field.

The sharp corners on a broken schläger blade may cause scratches and other
superficial damage to a fighter, but should not be a factor in serious or
life threatening injury.

The flat, smoothed blade end (#4) seems to be the safest of those we tested.

Schlägers, whether untipped or broken, clearly penetrate more easily than do
broken foils. While a foil that has lost or punched through it's rubber tip
is not particularly dangerous, a schläger that has lost it's tip is a real

The HTM rabbit blunts hold up well. Although, like any tip, they will
eventually wear out the thick rubber in the head (we measured it -- 1/8 inch
) should protect well for a long time.

RECOMMENDATIONS - Five layers of trigger or 4-5 oz. leather would seem to be
a reasonable standard for impenetrable material to use with schlägers, but a
better idea would be to punch test each garment separately. The use of a
"testing square", a piece of cloth or leather made from the leftovers from
making the garment and have exactly the same number and types of layers,
would be acceptable. If the testing square passes, the garment should be
considered to have passed.

HTM rabbit blunts should be the standard tip for use on schlägers. Before
any other tip is passed by the marshalate it should undergo similar extreme
testing. Under this tip I recommend a strip of 4 oz. leather be used to
tighten the fit and to help insulate the rubber from wearing against the
metal blade end. The tip should be inspected separately as it is so critical
here. A good inspection would be to examine the tip for wear, then grasp the
blade with one hand, the tip with the other and give it a few firm tugs to
assure it will stay in place.

Schläger blade ends should be required to be cut flat, then LIGHTLY filed to
remove sharp corners and edges. Rounded and pointed blade ends should be

The stiffness of schlägers allowed on the field should be limited, in part
to reduce the risk of penetration from an untipped blade.

	Don Savian (James Crouchet) jtc@io.com

Blade Flex Testers:
	Don Savian - jtc@io.com
	Don Robin of Gilwell - rudi3964@utdallas.edu
	Don Alaric Greythorne
	Lord Collin Bevins, Cadet to Don Iolo
	Aethelyan of Moondragon - moondrgn@bga.com
Punch Test Crew:
	Don Savian - jtc@io.com
	Don Robin of Gilwell - rudi3964@utdallas.edu
	Don Alaric Greythorne
	John Hidalgo

Additional Blades Provided By:
	Armory of the Barony of Bryn Gwlad
	Doña Gwenneth - sescott@mail.utexas.edu
	Lord Antonio Bastiano, Cadet to Don Alden
	Lord Otto, Cadet to Don Savian - otto@bga.com
	Lord Dave de Menthe
	Lord Collin Bevin