Review: SIGI Forge Feder

SIGI Forge is a relative newcomer to the HEMA scene but with the backing of high profile fencers like Martin Fabian I was predictably quite excited when mine arrived several weeks ago. After thoroughly putting the sword through its paces, let’s find out how the SIGI Feder stacks up.

At a Glance

The continuing popularity of longsword in both the competition and training scene means that there are more choices than ever for training weapons. There are swords to suit the appetites of most fencers from super-light training feders to short and stiff longsword blunts, but if you’re looking for something elegant and nimble with a sporty focus, this might be the sword for you.

Personally this sword will likely be a go-to weapon for many tournaments in the future, and we look forward to seeing what else comes out of SIGI Forge.

Specifications

Measurement
Weight1630g
Blade Length102 cm
Grip Length34 cm
Crossguard width28 cm
Schilt dimensions10 x 5 cm
POB5 cm

The Good

  • Extremely well balanced
  • Excellent blade flex in the thrust
  • Deceptively light handling lets you train longer & better
  • Wide cross-guard protects the hands well
  • Nicely finished and detailed
  • Very competitively priced for such a nice sword
  • Fantastic customer service

The Not-so-Good

  • The leather on the grip is quite thin and easily damaged [the manufacturer offers a cord wrap variant which is more durable in this respect]
  • Be aware that the balance and flex of the weapon means it requires more attentive use than a stiffer Feder.

The Full Story

In recent years there has been an explosion of sword-makers producing swords for all occasions. The humble Feder, however, continues to be the backbone of the longsword training scene and over the years there have been many variations and improvements to suit the changing needs of the community. One of these sword-makers, Sigi Forge, has come to the market quite recently with a noteworthy Feder as their flagship product which promises to be an ideal sport-HEMA weapon, as well as a great training tool in the fencing hall.

SIGI are a fantastic company to work with, being both responsive and helpful, and more than willing to go that extra mile for their customers. This is the second company in recent months that has impressed us in terms of their professionalism and customer-focus, and we hope this is a trend in the market from some of the less than stellar experiences of a few years ago. The sword itself was delivered earlier than expected, and when there were some shipping issues SIGI offered to absorb the cost.

The sword itself is excellent. At our club we currently have access to a large variety of swords from different makers, including various models from Regenyei, Pavel Moc, Albion, Chlebowski, Ensifer, & more. The SIGI is more than a match for any of these options, and while it takes a little getting used to, it has become a preferred favourite training tool.

The Blade Itself

At 102cm the SIGI Feder falls fractionally longer than the “standard” size for swords of this type. Regenyei, which is the de facto standard in Australia at least, comes in at 100cm for its off the shelf product, and while there are one or two tournaments that top out at this length, the 102 is tournament legal in most places. Length, though, is pretty much where the similarity between the two swords ends.

Regenyei’s standard “strong” feder is a true work-horse of the sport, being both affordable and durable. SIGI, by comparison, is a thoroughbred (though at only 250€ it doesn’t have a thoroughbred price tag). From the moment you pick it up it’s clear that this sword is going to be more attentive to your desires, with cuts coming around fast and sharp, and thrusts falling with laser-guided accuracy.

One of the contributing factors to this is the balance of the sword. On the Regenyei the balance point falls around 8cm from the guard, while the SIGI draws this back to the schilt at 5cm. This is a small change, but coupled with some of the other modifications means that even with the 150 grams or so of extra weight that the Sigi carries it is considerably more nimble in many movements than the Regenyei standard.

This closer POB is achieved by tapering the blade more noticeably toward the tip of the SIGI, which has the added effect of making the blade considerably more flexible than a Regenyei “strong” feder, making it more like a “medium” or “light” in that range. For thrust centric fencers this gives a nice forgiving flex in the thrust which your opponents will appreciate, and is more in line with current safety trends in competition.

The change is not without cost, however. The flexibility in the blade is noticeable in the bind and has to be appropriately managed by the fencer. This might be a problem for less experienced fencers, with the blade flexing in the bind and feeling quite different to a stiff feder or a traditional blunt longsword. The fencer needs to be more consciously aware of their edge alignment, and how the flex in the blade will affect the feeling in the bind and the trajectory of any thrusts given in opposition.

In the hands of a more experienced fencer this can actually be used to their advantage. The blade characteristics are in many ways similar to those of the Pavel Moc feders in terms of flex and movement, and these types of blades are ideal for deceptive movements; flicking the point behind the opponent’s guard, and generally using tight thrusting and cutting actions with good management of alignment throughout. As a fencer who also works in the Meyer longsword space, the result of this is that techniques with the flat, or relying on flex in the blade, actually work much better with the SIGI, which admittedly was what we hoped when first choosing it.

Another pleasant characteristic reminiscent of the Pavel Moc is the spatulate point. These points have some advantages over the rolled tip seen on the Regenyei or Ensifer blades. Among these is that they tend to hold up better to damage over time. Rolled tips occasionally crack along the roll; not generally a disastrous occurrence but sometimes this can occur underneath a leather or rubber tip cover, leaving a jagged projection which may present a risk. Even without damage the spatulate points spread wider than most rolled tips, arguably making them slightly safer in that regard. Spatulate points are also easier to maintain, and in the case of the SIGI give a cool whistling noise on fast cuts.

Spatulate tips are more durable & provide greater surface are

When combined with the closer point of balance, the more flexible and lighter blade also changes the dominance of the weapon in the cut. At 1630 grams the sword sounds like it might be heavy handed in the cut but in fact the opposite is the case. The POB and flex mean that the point can be turned aside fairly easily, which is unforgiving to discrepancies in form and structure.

This means that fencers who like to take advantage of a stiffer and more forward weighted blades to dominate in cuts with opposition may find that they have to adjust their play slightly to counteract the changed blade dynamics, or better yet, get better at consistent good form. Just like the flex in the bind this is generally an issue of experience – more experienced fencers quickly adapt to the change, slightly adjusting their position and timing to counteract the differences (and consequently learn to pay more attention to feeling in the bind).

Whether this lighter more tapered blade will prove as resilient as heavier “standard” Feders remains to be seen. Currently early versions have been in use for a year or so, according to the manufacturer, though with a lighter blade it is possible that the weapon will be more sensitive to flaws in manufacturing or heat treatment, and at least one of these swords has had a manufacturing problem with it, though was replaced by the manufacturer immediately.

The edge after heavy use shows negligible damage, and a prudent fencer should see an excellent training lifespan to this feder.

Detial of the schilt – functional & effective

The finish on the blade and its overall form is aesthetically extremely pleasing. The Schilt is nicely shaped, compact and simple with a flattening of cross section as it wings out from the blade. The blade itself has a graceful taper before swelling to the spatulate point, and the steel makes a wonderful ring on other weapons.

Overall the blade is excellent, combining the flex of a Pavel Moc with the more slender lines of a Regenyei, and in many ways improving on both.

Get a Grip

One would think there’s not much that could be said about the grip of a longsword, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are a lot of small details which can make a merely good sword excellent, and vice versa.

First, be aware that the grip on the SIGI is long – 34cm long to be precise. There has been a trend from some quarters to much shorter grips, and if that’s what you’re looking for then this sword is not for you [the manufacturer tells us that there is a shorter version of the sword coming soon, which would include a shorter grip]. Personally the longer grip gives more options and control in certain situations, so we quite like this length.

The grip itself is covered with thin leather, and we mean thin. This is the one small problem with the design that we encountered during testing – the leather tears quite easily on impacts and while this has little bearing on the handling of the sword it does have an aesthetic effect. If, like us, you’re not too fussed about a little ragged leather, then this won’t bother you.

The leather gives a secure grip and feels good in the hand, both gloved and bare handed. In our particular sword there was a manufacturing issue where the glue interacted with the stain of the leather to produce a discolouration along the seam; the manufacturer told us about this before they shipped the weapon and offered to replace it, however as mentioned we’re not too fussy about such things, and went with the discolouration, which actually adds a pleasant uniqueness to the sword.

The manufacturer also offers a more durable cord wrapped version of the hilt if that’s what you’d prefer.

The grip itself is a nice size and its oval cross section near the guard moving to a slightly more cylindrical section at the pommel is comfortable in the hand and indexes the blade nicely. At the middle of the grip there is a trio of small risers which are both visually pleasing and give a good tactile indication of the mid-grip.

The pommel is a simple conic section with a domed top, producing a comfortable pommel with a pleasing weight and look.

One often overlooked feature of grips is the vibration transferred in a heavy cut. Too much vibration through the grip can be both uncomfortable and contribute to long term injury, particularly to the cartilage of the wrist. The SIGI, by accident or design, is very nice in this respect. The flex of the blade combined with the manufacture of the grip make the sword comfortable on impact at the pell.

Finally the guard of this particular weapon is quite wide – 28cm. This actually offers ample protection in defensive actions and is still narrow enough to be easily maneuvered in the fray. The guard itself is a simple bar design with a trio if incised grooves on either side, and despite some hard testing has held up extremely well without any noticeable impact damage.

Reviewer Rating

★★★★★★★★★☆ – 9/10

It’s no secret that we were really excited to receive this sword, and after using it for a while the performance of the blade does not disappoint.

If you’re looking for a weapon for competition, or simply want a training tool which is flexible, nimble, and in the standard size range, then this could be the sword for you.

Priced at only 250€ SIGI may have a winner with this weapon.

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