Shell Rapier (Ropera de conchas veneras) by Yllart Martinez – Review

This week, a special review, by my friend and guest author, well-known rapier and longsword instructor George Zacharopoulos, who had a chance to test out and review a rapier from a skilled Spanish smith.

Total length: 113cm
Blade length: 97cm+6cm ricasso
Length of grip+pommel: 12cm
Quillons: 28 cm
Width at the base of the forte: 15mm
Thickness of ricasso and base of the forte: 8mm
Blade weight : 400gr.
Aprox Total weight: 900gr
Flex: 8kg
Point of balance : around 10cm from the hilt (with the small pommel) and 8cm (with the big pommel)

Yllart Martinez’s website

It has been a long time since I wanted to buy one of Yllart’s rapiers. I have seen his swords used by fellow fencers, I even handled a few of them… they felt quite good but not as great as I was expected… but I decided to give it a go and order myself one.

I waited about six months for it. We talked with Yllart about some details that I wanted and I was really eager to see his new blade because all his rapiers I handled before were mounted with the old type of blades he was making.

So around December I received the rapier. Was it worth the wait? ABSOLUTELY! After 4 months of extensive use I can honestly say that this rapier is one of the best I ever handled-especially for studying the Spanish system of late LVD-in my HEMA life!

It feels so great in my hand that after a month or so I ordered another one (unfortunately his waiting list is almost a year now, reminding me the good old Danelli days, but it makes sense because he makes everything by hand).

First of all: the blade.

As you can see from the photos is a relatively thin, light and slender blade but due to it’s thickness (not width) has a very powerful forte which permits you effortless domination on other blades. This way a light blade like this can retain a very strong forte.

Also the stiffness: the blade flexes down to the last 10-12 cm towards the point and even then as much as it is needed, meaning: NOT a floppy blade! Floppy blades were always a problem for me (and for a lot of people I guess) since I think that it affects your technique and it destroys the focus of your point.

So overall you get a light, strong (in the proper parts), stiff (properly and safely) but agile blade to do your bidding! Seriously there is nothing more you can ask from a blade ! Wow!

The hilt is a beautiful design based on historical specimens (as most of Yllart’s swords). The finishing of the parts may not be perfect (I saw Yllart’s recent works and he has improved a lot) but it does not affect the overall image or performance of the weapon.

One of the things I asked specifically from him was the escudo (escuson), this little piece of metal which extends a very few centimeters on the ricasso, which for me is very important for the way I hold the weapon and how I place my thumb on it. Yllart was kind enough to do it at exactly at the length I requested and I am grateful for it.

Overall I received an agile, strong and beautiful sword which exceeded my expectations. And the ratio of price vs quality is perfect.

I highly suggest this weapon for anyone interested in LVD or not, because it can work with and against everything and Yllart is offering a few variations on blade length, plus you get 2 pommels: one small and light and one bigger and heavier.

Now, I am only looking forward to the next sword coming from him…..