Ceallach mac Donal - His Musings

Why is a Schlager Not a Rapier?

What is a Schlager?

The Schlagers used in SCA rapier combat are from the German Mensur or "fraternity dueling". Specifically the practice weapons from this form. The schlager blade was originally seized upon as an SCA rapier simulator because it was the only commercially available blade that approached the form and function of a period rapier. Fortunately this is no longer true, but many people still have Schlagers and some people still buy new ones because they are considered to be less expensive than reproduction rapiers (in actuality the less expensive reproduction rapier blades can be purchased for the same price OR LESS). There are two types of schlagers, the oval and the diamond. Functionally there is little difference (That I know of, if you know more please let me know) between the two types of blades. Now, on to the good stuff.

The Schlager explained

Mensur is a slashing form. The idea is to slash with the blade or tip to draw blood (gives those wonderful dueling scars you know). OK, I know, there is more to Mensur than just slashing but if you say that rapier (as practiced in the SCA) is a thrusting form you can say that Mensur is a slashing form. Schlagers were designed with this in mind. A schlager maintains a constant width and thickness of the blade once you pass the ricasso, this makes the blade somewhat tip heavy which lends itself to quick slashing movements. They work wonderfully for what they were designed for.

What's the difference?

You must understand that period rapier blades were made in various countries/regions by different people/groups/companies/organizations so that there was a lot of variation. I'm sure that different afficionados had their own personal preferences and/or biases. I imagine that there were late night discussions between friends as to "the best" blades among those who took these things seriously enough. The one thing that seems to be fairly consistent is taper. Period rapier blades tapered. They tapered in profile (width) and they generally tapered distally (thickness). Taper affects the balance point and handling. Exactly how and how much handling is affected is subject to much discussion but there is no argument to the fact that it changes they way a blade handles and moves. Modern practice rapier reproductions also taper. The different producers have different ideas as to what a proper reproduction is and some produce more than one type of blade (Del Tin Practice and Bated). That disagreement seems perfectly period to me and allows our SCA afficianados something to BS about when socialising.