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Armor

Page history last edited by Andrew Mark 6 years, 2 months ago

Armoring yourself is one of the biggest hurdles to fighting when starting out. There are a few things to be aware of when you are armouring up.  First, if you search online for "Armour" instead of "Armor", you may find you will get more appropriate results. Below are links to a wide range of websites where you can buy appropriate armor off-the-shelf. Some prefer to make more of their armor themselves for a variety of reasons (economical, artistic, pride of workmanship, etc...). Whichever route you take you need to make certain you have the appropriate body parts covered and that you are familiar with the technical terms for different pieces of armour.  Make sure you check the current rules of the list to ensure your understanding of the armor requirements is up-to-date and sufficient to pass any questions put to you during authorization.

 

In general, newcomers will want to look towards stainless steel, plastic and aluminum armour (including aluminum shields).  Mild steel rusts, leather armour is hard to maintain, and wooden shields are heavier and often harder to maintain.  Some armourers are now making armour out of spring steel, which allows you to make armour of a similar hardness that is thinner (often up to two gauges thinner, so you can get a 16-guage elbow at the weight of a 20-guage elbow, for example), but spring steel is mild steel and will thus rust if not rigorously maintained.  Thus, unless you are *absolutely certain* that you are obsessive about maintenance, or unless you get spring steel that is blued, blackened, or coated in some other manner to minimize rust, we advise against any of the mild steels.  Chainmail (mild, stainless, titanium, or otherwise), looks great and is very authentic, but was designed to armour against cutting strikes.  Since we bash each other, it is not great SCA armour without significant padding underneath (adding significant weight, movement restrictions, and bulk).  We would again advise against chainmail for newcomers.  Breastplates and wraps (Cherburgs), coats of plates and brigandines, splint and studded (of aluminum, plastic, or stainless)... these make great starter rigs and are available in whole and in part from the various armourers below (and can be put together with help from the Armour Committee and the various Lanistae of the Scholum).

 

First, let's take a quick look at what has to be armoured, and what's a good idea to armour...

 

By the current rules, these things need to have some kind of armour on them:

1) head (a helmet or helm -- all kinds of styles including bascinets, armets, sallets, barbutes, etc...)

2) neck (the helmet may do this, a gorget, bevor or aventail/bishop's collar that will cover the neck vertebrae and the clavicle)

3) knees (knee cop/cup, technically, a poleyn)

4) elbows (elbow cop/cup, technically a couter)

5) groin (usually a jock strap & cup -- there are alternatives such as softball shorts and cups)

6) kidneys (at minimum a kidney belt, and usually some form of upper body armour)

7) hands to the wrist (basket hilt & demi-gauntlet, or else full gauntlets)

 

By the rules, guys don't have to wear a shirt. The bare minimum described is designed for the absolute baseline of safety. Some people decide to fight with the minimum requirements.  Most of those fight in Kingdoms that fight at a different level with different armor standards generally than Atlantia.  We are not advocates of fighting in bare minimum, prefering instead to choose a higher level of safety. Here are the things you may want to cover, in addition to the requirements:

 

1) Forearms (vambraces, bracers or bauzubands)

2) Upper arms (pauldrons & spaulders - coming down from the shoulders, a rarebrace)

3) Upper body (breastplate, coat of plates, brigantine, globose, cuirass, etc...)

4) Thighs (cuisses)

5) Shoulders (pauldrons, spaulders)

6) Shins and feet (greaves or demi-greaves, sabotons -- though many consider these completely optional)

 

 

Lastly, some wind-up building two harnesses. A leg harness to support your legs, and/or a chest harness to support your arm protection:

1) Leg Harness -- a belt or other rigging mechanism to support the cuisses, knees and sometimes the greaves and hold them to the hips and/or body

2) Arm/body Harness -- A gambeson/jupon, body armor, or other support mechanism to connect and support the shoulder and arm armor and rig it all together with the body armor

 

To help further understand the concepts, there is a pictorial lexicon of armour.

 

We recommend getting a copy of the Knowne Worlde Handbook which you can find Online as a wiki or you can order directly through the SCA Stock Clerk, as it has great pictures and advice for general SCA life.  There is also a site providing free public armor patterns of various quality (check with more experienced fighters before making anything).

 

Finally, be aware that there are armourers within the barony, and throughout the kingdom who cab teach you to strap, assemble, or build your own armour. This won't save time, but it will save money, if that's a constraint.  We plan to hold armor workshops sporadically throughout the year at Viscount Sir Eldrid's Open House and at Sir Thomas' garage.

 

Jarl Valgard Stonecleaver in the East Kingdom has put together a great article on trying to get armoured-up in style at low-cost (about $300) which can help give folks some great direction and ideas about how and where to get started get armoured.

 

The reliable, quality, price-effective armourers we might recommend ordering things from include:

 

 

  • Stonekeep (quality perhaps a little lower (munitions-grade), but they have spring steel and blued spring steel as well as stainless, lots in stock, and ship on time)
  • Ironmonger Armory (a decent range of lower-end quality helms available in a reasonable timeframe in stainless steel starting from $325 -- also providing stainless sword guards and shield baskets).
  • Known World Treasures (selling Waldryk and AB armour -- some of which may be in stock, but check before you order to ensure quick delivery).
  • Ice Falcon (one of the two real "retail" armourers (though they can also do commission work), with an extensive set of good-looking high-quality armour in-stock that ships immediately and is backed with fantastic customer service and warranties -- though you will naturally pay more for the service and convenience).
  • Mad Matt's Armoury (quality work, attention to detail and authenticity, ships when he says he'll ship with good communication, no stock with a 2-3 month queue)
  • Shamrock Armoury (high quality work, tremendously fast turnaround and communication, very reasonable prices, high attention to authenticity, some pieces in-stock, great customization)
  • Bokalo's Armoury (large quanitity of in-stock munitions-grade aluminum and stainless armour pieces, great for putting together starter kits)
  • Egg Armor (plastic body/gauntlets -- decent stuff (particularly the gauntlets) -- but he's not particularly reliable) (note: his email may have changed)
  • Windrose Armoury (the other real "retail" armourer with an extensive set of quality armour in stock and excellent customer service -- providing excellent custom shields, sword guards and hilts, various armour pieces, shield-edging and pressure-sensitive adhesive foam, and a range of helmets -- again at a premium for service and convenience for keeping stock).
  • Strawberry Fields Armory (good selection of various types of helms, body armour, and other types of armour available in stainless and aluminum for commission (not sure how much is available in-stock at any time) -- and some great aluminum cup-hilts).
  • Rough from the Hammer (pre-made armour parts for those who are looking to "finish" their own armour and are capable of some metal-working)
  • Anshelm Arms (some of the highest quality armour regularly available (and you pay for the quality), though some have experienced very significant waits for commissioned work -- any armour in-stock, their feast gear, basket hilts, sword fittings, and belt fittings are top notch and worth the quality premium)
  • Wasson Artistry (Master Jeffrey the Younger is extremely focused on authenticity and is more of an artist (literally) than an armourer... but if he has something in-stock, or if you want to commission an extremely authentic piece... here you go)
  • Illusion Armoring (a vast array of beautiful helms, body, leg, arm, etc... armour available in stainless and aluminum and reasonable prices -- though there have been significant timeliness problems with commissions in recent years (which seem to have gotten *much* better recently) -- but the value on their in-stock stainless and aluminum armour often can't be beat)
  • Zweihammer Armoury (helmet kits for those who are interested in putting their own helmets together and are capable of some metal-working)
  • Zen Warrior Armour (extremely affordable helms -- including a $138 spun top -- and some reasonable part pieces) 
  • Linen Armor (fencing armour for those so inclined... but they also have gambesons and pieces that go both ways).

 

In terms of specific recommendations:

 

 

Body (particularly oriented towards 14th Century kit w/excellent protection for women):

 

  • Seven-plated Globose from Waldryk will offer very superior body protection for someone without alot of the upper body "padding" that some of us "enjoy" and also wraps around the back to offer superior back protection.
  • Maybe, something like the illusion 14thC Breast & Back w/out Faulds (the cascading very heavy lames falling from the waist) in stainless
  • Apparently Luther Anshelm has a Medium-size Stainless Globose in stock.  Though his armor is high-end and "artistic",  he is not necessarily the easiest or best person to do business with.  I would not necessarily recommend him.
  • Alternatively, Egg Armor makes a female version of his plastic body wrap.  You can get it covered in leather (color of your choice) for an additional $60.  Total cost with leather is $150.  This could be a good interim body solution until you figure where you ultimately want to go with your kit.

 

 

Arming Outer Garments:

 

  • Something like the 14thC Linen Gambeson from Revival Clothing
  • You can go with cheaper arming garments to get your going until you decide what you want or you could make your own.
  • Windrose makes a nice Jupon (you can ask them about brocade versions, if you want to look really fancy).

 

 

Arming Under Garments:

 

  • Elbow pads depend on the nature of the arm protection you have, the coverage/length of the padding you need, and a range of other factors.  Two exception types of elbow pads that I have found work well with a wide range of elbow cops are two types of professional elbow pads by Meuller.  Their Pro Level Elbow Pads w/Kevlar (note this webpage is for XL and that you need to choose the size you want to order from this site or at Amazon) are fantastic padding that provide good flexibility without too much restriction and very wide padding coverage.  They can be worn over thin gambesons or under thick ones.  The other version of professional elbow padding from Mueller which have proven to work extremely well are the Padded Elbow Sleeve (select your size when ordering) which provides reasonable protection, great flexibility and comfort, and can be worn under virtually any gambeson.
  • For knee pads, I also recommend the Meuller style, and you can similarly go with the Pro Level Knee Pads w/Kevlar (again note this is for XL and you need to select your size from this site or at Amazon).  However, in this style, I actually prefer the Mueller Shokk knee pads which are a little longer both in the length of the pad itself and in the length of knee padding.  Might be more expensive, but if you need the extra length so the padding covers your armor, it's certainly worth it.  Alternatively, if you have knees which are strapped down by your shins or want some extra lower protection, the Bike Adult Long Softball Knee Pads are fantastic padding, incredibly comfortable, and with their three-piece construction provide a significant amount of flexibility.
  • I have found a premium performance sport undershit (like an Under Armour Heatgear Loose T-Shirt or the Under Armour Heatgear Metal) underneath a gambeson or jupon provides a number of benefits by wicking moisture away from the body, allowing one to take off the gambeson, etc...
  • Sliding shorts, either padded like the Mizuno Padded Sliding Shorts w/Cup which provided some additional padding under the cuisses, or unpadded like the Under Armour Adult Compression Shorts w/Cup allow one to comfortably deploy and wear groin protection.
  • Well selected socks can also make a difference, depending on preference.  Choices like the Under Armour Boot Sock or their Under Armour Performance Cushion Socks (along with similar choices from the other major sports manufacturers).
  • For fighting pants, one can make do with black or similarly colored sweatpants, though for the longer-term, something like the Century Middleweight Contact Pants have proven to be (a) extremely comfortable in all conditions; (b) extremely durable and rugged and resistant to general armour bites and tears; (c) more than sufficiently authentic in appearance across a vast range of personnae; (d) neither too baggy to get in the way nor too tight to be restrictive; and (e) both reasonably priced and easy to acquire and replace in a range of colors and sizes (both through many online merchants and in many martial arts establishments).

 

 

Legs:

 

  • 14thC or Italian Full legs in Stainless (or aluminum) from Illusion
  • Alternatively, you might think about MadMatt's Chartres or Soupcan Legs in mirror finish with Fitted greaves
  • A less expensive route is to go with simple knee cops with separate gamboise (padded), leather, splinted, or metal cuisses that you can attach them to that you can either make yourself or buy.  You can get very inexpensive cops quickly from Bokalo.  If you're interested in going the route of cops, you can go with much lighter spring-steel knee cops which are often available in-stock from Stonekeep.  However, unless they are blued, be aware that spring steel is mild steel and will rust (blueing is a process that will coat the steel and protect it from rust for as long as the blueing lasts and does not scratch).

 

 

 

Arms:

 

  • I might go with the Soupcan or Chartres Arms w/Tulip-Shaped Vambrace Upgrade from MadMatt in Stainless Mirror
  • I might also go with the 14thC or Simple Gothic Full Arms from Illusion in Stainless (w/strapping) in Aluminum or Stainless (probably stainless)
  • You could also go with something different, like separate pieces made of blued spring steel/Titanium (incredibly lightweight):
  • A less expensive route is to go with simple elbow cops with a separate vambrace in steel, leather, or splinted armor.  You can get very inexpensive cops quickly from Bokalo where you can also order a splinted vambrace to complete a set.  If you're interested in going the route of cops, you can go with much lighter spring-steel knee cops which are often available in-stock from Stonekeep.  However, unless they are blued, be aware that spring steel is mild steel and will rust (blueing is a process that will coat the steel and protect it from rust for as long as the blueing lasts and does not scratch).  Stonekeep also sells splinted vambraces (and even sells ready-made splints in stainless or kydex if you want to make your own).

 

Shoulders:

 

 

 

 

Neck:

 

  • Gorget depends on the helm you get, because that will determine the coverage you need.  Generally, though, I recommend the Windrose Brigantine Gorget (this is the small)
  • Though the Waldryk version in small (depending on your size) might do as well, also.
  • Alternatively, you can get the Brigantine Gorget from Brian Thornbird at Revival.US in Tan, Black, Green, or Red

 

 

Hands:

 

 

Helms:

 

Completely dependent on what period and style you want, how much you want to spend, and how long you want to wait.  First you have to determine what kind of helmet you want, then we can figure out where to get it. But Kat recommends that you just call Jackie at Shamrock Armoury and tell him what you want.

 

 

Shields:

 

  • You can get good aluminum heaters (I'd go with a style 3, though you can also go with an 11 and I would get it w/out canvas and with shield curvature and with edging holes to save time 'cause it saves drill time -- and we'll have to measure you from shoulder to shoulder and chin to knee to determine the right size) from Windrose Armoury, whose premium grade shields are made of the 7075 alloy of T-6 aluminum that we *strongly* recommend, and where you can even get most of the work done for you (they offer a wide range of sizes, a wide range of shapes, they offer their shields professionally covered in canvas if you like that style for ease of painting, they offer them pre-curved or flat, they offer them pre-strapped and with hard handles or pre-made with center-grips and shield bosses (or pre-cut for center-grips), and they even offer them with edging-holes pre-drilled).  Icefalcon also offers excellent 7075 alloy T-6 aluminum shields in a range of shapes and sizes (though he may only have one or two on his website, he offers multiple shapes and sizes).  
  • You can also get a shield basket hilt from Windrose (I strongly recommend them over simple leather handles, as they provide far superior hand protection and let you use a simple leather glove that gives you good feel and control over the shield, though some folks dislike them strongly).  Icefalcon also offers plastic shield handles (for use with hockey gloves or other gauntlets with rigid thumb protection, similar to the pre-handled Windrose shields); plastic shield bosses (for those interested in center-grips); and shield hilts.
  • I would also think about getting the Windrose Shield Edging which is much lighter than the rubber hosing you can get at home depot (although the thinner hose they now have available is much better than the older thick hose they used to only have)
  • I would also get a shield corner brace which you will have to epoxy/superglue and/or rivet on, but which will stop your corner from bending over like mine has from being hit too much.  This can naturally also be made by someone with excess shield aluminum.
  • Alternatively, you can get a sheet of aluminum that you cut to size, curve, and drill yourself -- if you have appropriate tools.  If you are going to reinforce the corner (extremely recommended), then you can use .08 thickness:
  • If you are not going to reinforce the shield, then in Atlantia, you'd best go with a .125 thickness
  • There is an easy-to-put-together approach to putting together an adjustable shield strap (for strapping down your forearm).  The McGuire-Nichols Oil Tan Leather Belt available at Lowe's or Home Depot can easily be cut into a buckle with two ends that you can each individually rivet or bolt onto the shield.  It's a quick, easy (and rapidly replaceable) way to get a nice adjustable shield strap without having to put together leather, buckles, etc...

 

 

Swords:

 

  • Windrose has an excellent Aluminum Cup Hilt that offers fantastic and lightweight hand protection.  Alternatively, Bokalo has a welded two-piece cup hilt (Item #605) and delivers quite quickly.  Luther Anshelm also sells Welded Aluminum Cup Hilts (I have two of them and they do not look shiny like the picture).  As above in the body armor section, just be wary of doing business.  Illusion Armoring sells Fully Enclosed Sword Hilts in either Aluminum or Stainless Steel which also look like a nice choice.  Alternatively, you can choose to get Baldar Plastic Cup hilts from a number of sources (though they are heavier than the aluminum/steel versions and I've seen a hand get broken underneath one from the flex); to get a bar stock basket hilt in a vast range of styles from a wide range of sources (though these, too, are heavier than the aluminum/steel cup hilts); or go with a pommel/cross-guard and gauntlet approach (and Windrose sells a number of sword pommels and guards).  If you want a sword that is more hand-heavy than tip-heavy, we strongly recommend the stainless steel Michael of Bedford-style Bar-Stock Basket Hilt available from Zen Warrior Armoury
  • If you are using basket/cup hilts on your swords and/or shields, I strongly recommend Swordsman's Gloves.  You can also get beautiful Embroidered Gloves from Revival.US, versions with Embroidered Stars.  They also have Light Sparring Gloves and Medium Sparring Gloves that are padded versions of the gloves -- but the padding removes the advantage of being able to feel the sword and shield grip that are a reason to go this approach in the first place.  However, if you are looking to move to away from lacrosse gloves, these seem a more attractive alternative.
  • You can purchase Rattan from Ice Falcon, Stonekeep Armory, Dark Victory Armory, and many merchants at local events.  I only have experience with Ice Falcon whose shop is minutes from the Rattan center in Lakewood, NJ and thus gets great selection quite often.  As above, he is not the least expensive, but he is very professional and quite responsive.  Our own Lucas Van Aych has become a merchant of high-quality premium rattan.
 

 

Armor Maintenance

 

  • Leather should be regularly maintained with Lexol Cleaner and it should occassionally be treated with neatsfoot oil to ensure that the oils in the leather minimize cracking.  If your leather starts to experience mold and mildew, you can use non-toxic, odor-free, water-based Moldzyme to kill the mold and then treat the leather with neatsfoot oil to ensure healthy pH and oil levels.
  • Brass can be cleaned with any brass cleaner, though Flitz metal polish works extremely well and comes in a paste form that is quite easy to manipulate (particularly for areas you don't want liquid polish oozing all over).  If you don't want your brasswork to tarnish, you can consider using a brass lacquer like Staybrite Lacquer which you spray on like spraypaint after you have thoroughly cleaned your brass to "lock-in" the shine.
  • Much of the regular cleaning of stainless steel can be taken care of with Goo Gone (which removes the scuffs which are largely tape marks) and any stainless steel cleaner.  The deeper scrapes will require a polishing wheel.  Dings and dents will require an anvil, ball, or piece of railroad tie and a good hammer.

 

 

Amoring Material

 

Good sources for raw materials for armour include:

 

 

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