The dork bluff!
I want to tell you about the “dork bluff.”
“Dork bluff” is when you have some shop owner who is part of an ohhh sooo cool set that you have to be special enough to be a part of, and who assumes all sorts of knowledge when he has none. Of course, his clientèle are posers also, so, the shop owner “dork bluffs” them with a mix of elite sounding words, exclusive language, condescension and appeal to authority.
“We only deal in tactical gear, and concealment ain’t an option when you’re tactical, bro.”
I went to the Renaissance Festival with Miss S. on Sunday. For the record, she looked amazing in a corset and flowy chemise… but, I digress.
As many of you know, I am something of a sword geek, to put it mildly. I have many years of fencing and kendo under my belt and I have been studying some of the Chinese forms lately.
Rennfests sell swords, or to be more specific, mostly sword shaped objects, that are priced higher than any number of actual swords. Frequently the shop owners will try to tell you that these are priceless works of art, forged by Masamune and Elrond, specially for a vampire, were-ocelot hunting quest of Conan, transported to ancient Britain, held aloft by the Lady of the Lake (her arms clad in shimmering samite), and presented here - to you- for the low, low price of around $300-1500.
I went into one of the sword shops - as I always do. Sometimes there is something worth looking at, or at least, once there was.
I saw several heavy cavalry sabers hanging up on the wall.
Behind the counter - glass and filled to the brim with Conan, Rambo, Klingon and fantasy goth weenie knives (the kind with a split blade and ornate snakes coiled around the pommel) was a slightly pudgy kid with curly blond hair and watery blue eyes. He was about 20.
I asked “Could you tell me about the steel in those sabers?”
He pulled one down - an obvious Chinese “replica” of a Confederate heavy saber - that was too long, had a loose bell guard, and was “distressed” to make it look older.
“This is a U.S. Marine saber” He intoned. “It is fully battle ready and made of high carbon steel.”
Partially drawing the blade, I pointed out that the cheap, pattern mold engraving said “CSA.”
“CSA is marine special forces.” He said. Gaining confidence, he continued, “the S is for special. Everyone who is serious about swords would know it is Clandestine Special Actions… sir.” The sir was said with just the right surly tone and a dismissive roll of the eyes.
The kid was good. I knew I had caught him by surprise when I asked about the CSA… Coming up with that took talent.
Ohhh… I said, sort of like very old school marine rangers who carry shiny cavalry sabers, in shiny metal scabbards on special missions! “Wow” I said! “Learn something new each day…”
“Japanese army carried katanas into the field to this day! People who take swords seriously know they still have uses.” He said.
“You sure CSA isn’t Confederate States of America?” I asked.
He rolled his eyes again.
So you said this was high carbon steel? I asked.
“Yes, high carbon.”
“So like 1060, 1080, 1095, T-10?”
“It’s high carbon steel man.”
“Why does it say STAINLESS China on the forte then?”
I pointed to the part of the “blade” near the guard.
“Ohhh… well stainless is high carbon…” He was muttering…
“I see. And you are telling people that this is battle ready?”
“Yes and it is great for cutting!”
“I was enjoying playing with you, but now this is a little serious. Stainless steel is made with a lot of chromium in the alloy. It allows for good hardness and edge retention, and that makes it suitable for knives, but it is too brittle to make into a sword. Any blade of that steel over six or seven inches is begging for problems. If someone used this for cutting, there would be a very good chance of it shattering. A shattered flying blade can seriously hurt someone. I don’t mind you playing up a wall hanger, but you can’t tell people lies that might get them hurt. And yes, they may be dumb kids, but you could at least not try to convince them you are an expert and then sell them junk in a way that would hurt them.”
Anyway, that is the “Dork Bluff.”
Ohh and the “blade” which likely had a welded, rat tail tang was only $350.