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Minireview: Tibetan Sword vs. Giant Chitlangi Bowie

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by Ryan M, Oct 20, 2009.

  1. Ryan M

    Ryan M

    360
    Aug 18, 2001
    [​IMG]

    I'm bad at taking photos.

    Tibetan specs:
    31.5" long
    23" blade
    4.75" point of balance (ahead of the hilt)
    0.326" thickest part of the blade
    44 oz. (though it feels much lighter)
    Made by Bura

    Giant Chitlangi Bowie specs:
    24.25" long
    17" blade
    3-3/8" point of balance (ahead of the hilt)
    0.440" thickest part of the blade
    59 oz.
    Made by Vim

    These are completely different blades obviously, but they're my two biggest. Just got the Tibetan from a DOTD, which UPS sat on for awhile. Still, good things come to those who wait.

    The Tibetan handles incredibly, and I almost put 36 oz. up there before double checking. That's about what it feels like it weighs, but the scale says differently.

    One unusual thing is the spine. It's 0.298" just above the brass sleeve, then swells up to 0.326" about 7" from the guard, shrinks down to 0.303" again at 10", then grows back to 0.318" at 12", before tapering evenly to 0.274" at 16.5", then grows yet again to 0.286" at 19", then finally tapers off into the point.

    I kinda wonder what the significance of that is. It doesn't seem like it's accidental at all, due to a number of factors. The waviness is very regular, and perfectly symmetrical on both sides. Measuring the thickness anywhere else on the blade shows an absolutely perfect slooooowwww distal taper from sleeve to tip. And, most importantly, this is Bura's work.

    And, as you can see from the pic, it's one of the asymmetrical tip ones, not the very acute type. Personally, I like this kind of tip a little better. It reminds me of a willow leaf saber.

    Getting more technical, the vibrational "sweet spot" is an area of the blade the size of Nepal, centered about 8" from the tip, and extending about 4" in both directions. A second "dead zone" is in the exact center of the handle. You know, everything I read by people who are experts in Western sword design says that creating a sword with two centers of percussion, one at the striking area and one at the handle, is a very challenging task that requires modern engineering. Yet both of these blades have dual centers of percussion. Anyway, the "waggle test" puts the point of rotation corresponding to the guard at 4" from the tip, so the entire rotational "sweet spot" overlaps exactly with the vibrational one. I.e., it's perfect, exactly like you'd expect. Hit with that 8" section of the blade, and it'll never "sting" your hand, or seem to wrench in your grip.

    The Giant Chitlangi Bowie is of course, a Giant Chit Bowie. Not a whole lot that can be said, other than it's a great example of HI flawlessness. I can see why Vim has a reputation for being very precise. The fullers are pretty much perfect, flowing with the subtle curvature of the blade.

    Like the Tibetan Sword, the technical details are exactly what you'd expect and want of a heavy (but reasonably agile) chopper. The COP is centered 5" from the tip, though it isn't quite as forgiving in size (maybe 2" in each direction). And like I said, a second COP is in the handle, right where it's meant to be gripped if swung one-handed. A waggle test is pretty difficult to do because of the weight, but places the rotational sweet spot at 7" from the tip. This is actually not a bad thing if you want the meanest chopper that a mere mortal could produce. The rotational spot acts as a fulcrum, when you chop with a portion of the blade above it. With most swords (which are rather longer and lighter), that's undesirable, as it will cause the handle to want to fly forward, out of your grip. Many old cavalry sabers have similar centers of rotation, and were notorious for that effect. But no such thing happens with this beast; instead, the blade flies forward, into whatever is being cut; it uses rotational leverage with you, not against you. A very tricky bit of engineering, pulling that off. It really shows though, as soon as you hit something with it. "Holy crap, how did it do that?" sums up the sheer (or maybe shear :D) cutting power of the GCB.

    Actually, let me check something... Looks like normal khukuris have that, too. The center of rotation tends to be right where the blade "bends" forward. Or if you "wag" the blade while holding the sweet spot, it rotates around a point exactly between the handle and the sweet spot. Actually, that's pretty ingenious. It uses the shape of the knife to "lever" the sweet spot into whatever you're cutting. That explains a lot about how khukuris work!

    And I know chopping wood with a sword is a no-no, and these two blades really can't be compared, as they're totally different in every possible way (other than being HI and excellent). But here's the results of very lightly hitting a 2x4 that was propped up nearly vertical (so it wasn't gravity making a difference!). I'd say the swings were as close to identical as possible, and I was trying to hit light, to not dent the wall the 2x4 was against.

    [​IMG]

    I think you can guess which one made which pair of notches. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2009
  2. b.c.molin

    b.c.molin

    Nov 28, 2008
    What an amazing review ...I picked up much despite not ever having come across or understood terms like 'waggle test' and 'center of rotation' and 'vibrational "sweet spot" ' not to mention "dead zone" and most especially 'two centers of percussion'.

    Ryan M, if you could link to some references to these terms I would be very grateful. And I will not be now attempting to compare my Uddha Sword to the Bhutan Sword I am waiting for as you have set the bar for a review to a new high level. :thumbup:
     
  3. Cpl Punishment

    Cpl Punishment

    Jan 28, 2006
    Interesting review.

    I noticed much the same thing when chopping down a tree with my Tarwar (I know, I know, I couldn't help myself...:eek:), that if you hit with the sweet spot, it doesn't jar your hands.

    Like has been said before, it's obvious these guys know how to use a blade correctly, and how to make it the right way.

    Probably because thee aren't a lot of really good western bladesmiths.
     
  4. Ryan M

    Ryan M

    360
    Aug 18, 2001
    The waggle test and what I like to call "center of rotation" (I think he calls it the pivot point) are covered in this article.

    http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/GTA/motions_and_impacts.htm

    That article is definitely one of the cornerstones of modern understanding of how swords work. Funny how much physics and stuff it takes to figure out principles that traditional swordsmiths, like the HI kamis, do as naturally as breathing.

    "Center of percussion" is a fairly typical term though for sword-enthusiasts, just describing the vibrational "dead zone" of the blade. If you tap on the side of the blade gently with a hard object (I use the sheath), it will probably vibrate. But there will be at least one spot where there's no vibration at all, it just goes "klunk." That's the center of percussion, sometimes called the "sweet spot," like on a baseball bat. If you've ever had your hand "stung" by a baseball or cricket bat, you know how important it is to have the CoP in an appropriate place.

    And with particularly well-engineered blades, there will be two CoPs, one at the striking area, and one at the grip.

    Generally, for a cut-and-thrust sword (like the Tibetan sword, or a Western longsword) you want the CoP and CoR (corresponding to the grip) to be in about the same place. For a Western sword, a CoP about 3-5" from the tip is about right, and you want the CoR at the hilt to correspond to the tip, and CoR at the pommel to correspond with the middle of the blade, so that any strike with the first half of the blade causes it to rotate at the grip.

    But for a pure powerful hacking blade (khukuris, giant Chitlangi bowies, falchions, etc.), the CoP should be where the blade's weight is distributed for the heaviest impact (the broadest part of a khukuri blade, etc.; you'll notice that many heavy chopping blades, like kampilans, "clip-point" scimitars and falchions, etc., often get broader near the tip), and the CoR should be a little behind that, to "lever" the blade into your target. Some poorly-made cavalry sabers from the 19th century tended to have the CoR way too far behind the striking area, so they would wrench in your grip on impact.

    Glad you guys liked the review. :)
     
  5. b.c.molin

    b.c.molin

    Nov 28, 2008
    Many thanks for the link and especially for your easy to understand explanations. Lots of reading and researching ahead of me but I'm certain it will help me understand the swords and big blades I love so much. :thumbup:

    Oh, and I've put the Tibetan Sword on my 'to get list' too! ;) :D
     

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