What is best in life? Crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of the women….and to wield 8 lbs of razor-sharp steel! There are many Conan replica swords on the market but only one TRUE replica.
In 2001, Albion Swords of New Glarus, WI enlisted the original bladesmith of the Conan movie swords, the late, great Jody Samson, to recreate the swords for their “Film Swords” line. Samson eventually became a full-time employee of Albion until his sudden death in 2008. In recreating the swords, Albion also involved director John Milius since he still had the originals in his possession. The results are an exact copy of what you see on the screen except for a few minor changes to turn them from mere props into functional and deadly weapons.
I first handled the prototypes of Conan’s Atlantean Sword and the Father’s Sword at Albion’s booth at the 2002 Atlanta Blade Show. I knew then that despite the hefty price tag that I had to have one eventually. And in 2009, I finally purchased the Atlantean. I think the Father’s Sword is actually more beautiful with the elk motif of the hilt and pommel but owning Conan’s weapon was more appealing.
To this day, the sword is the centerpiece of my collection and every time I look at it, “The Anvil of Crom” starts playing in my head…
The Riddle Of Steel
Since Albion is a maker of historically accurate and functional medieval swords, it was necessary to make some changes to the movie sword to keep it more in line with their other products. The movie sword was made from stainless steel and had no distal taper to the blade’s cross-section so as to enhance durability during filming.
The problem is that real swords are not made from stainless steel (strong but brittle) and having no taper results in a very heavy, poorly balanced, and thus, slow weapon which is not what you want in a sword.
The first change Albion made was to construct this from proper sword steel: 1075 carbon “spring” steel. Next, there was no way to make this a “light” sword based on its design so Albion did the best they could while retaining an authentic movie appearance. The 50% thickness taper from base to tip results in a point of balance much closer to the hilt where it should be.
This beast still weighs almost 8 lbs which is crazy when you consider that some of Albion’s true medieval two-handed sword recreations are barely pushing 5 lbs. The sword is only about 40 inches long which underscores its tremendous weight.
So what you have is a pure fantasy sword that has a blade length similar to a one-handed sword yet weighs more than a two-handed one. Like all of Albion’s swords, this features a full blade tang construction where the hilt, handle, and pommel are all wedged into place and then the tang is hot peened onto the pommel. No half tang-threaded rod with a screwed on pommel bullshit here.
The handle itself is a wood core wrapped with a thick cord and sealed with resin. It is very rough and has a burlap feel. Bottom line, no matter how sweaty or bloody your hands get in a heated melee, you won’t lose your grip.
To The Hilt
What you can’t see in the movie is the amount of sculptural detail in the hilt and pommel which really tells its story as an Atlantean sword. The hilt, langets, and pommel are all cast from bronze and given an antiqued finish which darkens it. The thickness of all these components is impressive and large contributor to the sword’s weight. I’ll let the detail pictures do the talking but you can see the cross-guard is formed from the heads of two sea monsters or dragons with an erupting volcano between them (the destruction of Atlantis, I presume).
Up the blade from the hilt to the end of the langets are the VERY deeply engraved runes beginning and ending with symbols resembling a crown and a trident.
Finally, there is the skull-crushing pommel appropriately adorned with a skull and what looks like a mound. I have always assumed this references the tomb of the Atlantean king where Conan finds the sword.
Valor Pleases You, Crom…
As Tyrian said in Dragonslayer –
“Impressive….can you use it?”
Indeed you can. Albion made this to be a weapon, not just a collectable. The full tang, carbon steel construction, and razor-sharp edges indicate that. The first thing you notice when picking it up is despite the weight, it has good balance and that its grip seems a little short for two hands especially if you have large hands. Remember how I said its blade length is more like a one-handed sword? Well, this was designed for an Atlantean king to use one-handed.
If you look closely in the tomb scene when Conan moves the corpse’s hand off the pommel, you can see that that guy was HUGE almost ogre sized. I love that detail; it takes a human the size of Conan to wield this thing even two-handed. As for me, many rolled and soaked Tatami mats have met their demise with this thing. However, it’s pretty exhausting to do more than two mats at a time given the weight unless of course you have shoulder boulders like Arnold.
The blade is very thick so even though it is sharp, you are still trying to push a lot of metal through the Tatami. If you don’t strike just right, you’ll put a large bending moment on the stand. I have cracked the bases of two wooden stands this way. None of my other swords can do that; as I said, it’s a beast!
If you like to live dangerously, it is possible to twirl it as Conan did on the beach after his resurrection just watch your legs.
Dinner For Wolves
No sword should be without a scabbard especially one this magnificent. So I contacted DBK Custom Swords to manufacture a movie-accurate scabbard for me. I sent him the sword for fitting purposes and after several months, he sent this picture…..yes, he actually used coyote hide.
In my opinion, there is no finer scabbard manufacturer out there. He did an Anglo-Saxon styled one in leather for another sword I have that is stunning.