Swordsmiths & Metallurgists: Alloys

In the best of all possible worlds, what alloy would make the best possible sword?

Do you mean one solid type of alloy or are laminates included…

Im not sure I have an answer, just wanted to be totally sure of your question…

Good point. What alloy, combination of alloys, or manufacturing technique would make the best possible sword?

There is no right answer until you’ve defined your terms better. What kind of sword? A heavy broadsword that needs to be rigid or a katana that needs flexibility? Will it be milled from a billet or forged? what kind of durability does it need? Are you willing to accept an edge that nicks easily in exchange for a blade less prone to break? Most properties have a tradeoff. If you increase hardness to hold an edge the sword will be more brittle.

IMHO the recently re-discovered secrets of Damascus steel could arguably make the best sword in the hands of the right blacksmith. It seems that specific impurities, Vanadium in particular, in the Wootz cake ingots from India and the specifics of the forging process produced strong, resilient steel that was filled with ultra hard carbide fragments which gave it exceptional wear resistance. Note that true Damascus is not laminated as are Kantanas though they show patterns typical of laminated steel when etched.

Article on what some call the best made sword ever. It’s a custom designed alloy.

We’ve discussed that Dragonslayer sword before, in the context of a very interesting and extensive thread on sword materials which I unfortunately cannot now find (though searching the board for swords, alloys and the like did bring up some other very interesting threads). From what I recall, the consensus emerged that the makers of that sword knew a lot about metallurgy, but not so much about swordfighting, and that as a result the sword would be far from optimal for actual combat.

Chronos remebers the thread well, as do I, and that indeed was the final word on it.

The reality is that steel is the best material to make functional swords out of, and that modern technology can do little better than the swordsmiths of old in terms of a functional blade.

What they can do is create much more consistent and exacting results. Of course, as mentioned, until recently swordsmiths did not really know what a swordsman needed in a blade. It wasn’t until interest in HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) began to grow that SOME smiths took to listening to martial artists and improving the design of their replicas.

Now that you mention it, I recall that thread as well. I know Una seemed to think that titanium might work for an ideal sword.

Which we later refuted.

Titanium just wouldn’t work when the necessary blade geometry is implemented.

Oops meant to include the relevant article:


I am specifically interested in the alloys needed to make an optimal sword. I have heard vanadium, molybdenum (sp?), and titanium mentioned. This Ferrium sounds interesting. Is there any consensus?

Neutronium. The gravity will pull the enemy onto your blade.