Pavel Moc "Mini-Moc" Feder Review

Chuck Gross of Broken Plow originally wrote up this review for his blog, and asked Jorge and Geoff to help add additional context.  Doug Bostic and myself also have experience with Pavel Moc, and will be adding commentary where appropriate. Only light editing has been applied.


Editor: The author should be commended on the excellent care he gives to his cuticles prior to taking pictures.

Editor: The author should be commended on the excellent care he gives to his cuticles prior to taking pictures.

Hey there, it’s time for my first gear review! While I don’t intend to do many reviews, my first feder was one that’s not very common and not something that I’d seen reviewed before. Since my go-to place for gear reviews is Measure and Weigh. I’ll be borrowing their review format, with one exception: I like the idea of having both an initial impression *AND* a review after a few months.

Generally, Pavel Moc’s products are sold through his website and without a US distributor; however, some of my friends at Broken Plow had ordered a batch of “Mini Mocs.” Because of that, I was able to reach out to those people who purchased them to get their reviews as well. So we have additional reviews from Jorge Vendries and Geoff Wilkerson.

The reviews here are Type D with the Type B Blade.

If you are interested in one, please contact Ashleigh Hobbs via Facebook, or contact Pavel Moc directly moc@swords.cz. The small batch of feders that Ashleigh currently has available are the Type D with Type C Blade.

Review Methodology

Chuck: Prior to purchasing the “Mini Moc”, I’ve tried using various other feders such as a Castille, a standard Regenyei, some of the options from Ensifer, the club loaner Mac Arms, as well as the standard feder options (B and C) from Pavel Moc.

Out of all of those, I liked the way that the Pavel Mocs looked and felt so I ended up ordering a Feder B from him (being the 57”). I backed out of the order once there were length restrictions being discussed for Longpoint, and Pavel was entirely understanding. That left me relying on club loaners.

As fate would have it, two of the club loaners broke. I remembered that there were still a few Mini Mocs available so I picked one up the next day. My buying this feder was a combination of 1.) wanting a feder as quickly as possible, 2.) liking Pavel Moc’s work. Pavel is not aware of this review.

Jorge: I purchased my feder more out of expediency than anything else – it was the only feder that I could get immediately. I have used it for about two months+ of training, sparring and mock tournaments within our club, so I cannot comment too much on durability yet. I have had no communication with the manufacturer and was not asked by anyone involving the making of the feder for a review.

Geoff: I started practicing HEMA in September of last year and knew I wanted to move up to steel as quickly as possible. I tend to be a cautious person regarding big purchases, and will devote absurd amounts of time to research.

My fellow club practitioners were a huge help in loaning me their expertise and even their own feders- I was able to sample Regenyei, Chlebowski, Castille, and Black Horse before making any real decision. To compound this already intimidating set of comparison parameters, availability was and is a major factor. Some feders require a willingness to wait several months with an uncertain timeline before delivery.

I’ll admit that I was pretty demoralized about the wait times for many of the above, so when a friend posted that a mini Pavel Moc feder was available for immediate delivery, I threw out most of my “data” and just decided to go for it. Any worry I felt disappeared the moment I opened the box and held it in my hands.

Initial Impressions

Chuck: Prior to buying it, some friends offered their opinions on this feder - things from it being too long at 53”, that it’s floppy, that it would be weak in the bind, that the crossguard is too wide (or quillons are too long).

Being that I’m 6’2”, it felt like it was a more appropriate length than a shorter blade. (Editor: while I don't think that weapons fit like clothing from a right/wrong size perspective, a 53 inch weapon is perfectly historical and perfectly acceptable for someone this height).

I was super excited to tear into the cardboard that it was wrapped in, and my first impression was that the leather handle felt amazing. I did notice some of the “floppiness” in the blade but as an initial impression, that didn’t matter as I was aware of that before purchasing. The pommel is a work of art, and I really liked the shape of the schilt. I didn’t have any choices on the color of the leather, but I ended up with black leather which I preferred over the brown. Pavel Moc #291 wooo!

Jorge: The first thing I noticed when wielding the Moc Mini was its balance, which is very close to the end of the schilt. It makes the feder handle as if it was lighter than it really is, which is nice for a person just getting into HEMA and longsword practice (Editor: I like that this gives me more play in my dominant hand position, especially if I don't want to choke right up against the cross).

The second thing I noticed was the grip. The leather handle is fantastic. It feels comfortable both with and without gloves, it allows for a firm hold without applying too much pressure, and doesn’t slide very much in your hands. It is one of my favorite features. It may be slightly too long for my taste, as I can grip with while using gloves and still have some room left on the handle, but I can see the space being useful for people who have bulkier gloves/really large hands.

The blade seems to be durable. It is slightly longer than I would ideally have liked, and it has several nicks and scratches from training and in club sparring, but nothing out of the ordinary. However, I find it to be a bit too flexible, and due to this, my blade has a slight bend perpendicular to the cross guard. It is hardly noticeable is still completely functional, but I feel that a slightly less flexible blade, or a slightly shorter one, would have prevented this.

Geoff: The sword is aesthetically very impressive. Tastes are subjective of course but like a 16-year-old with a new Mustang, I occasionally catch myself just admiring the thing.

The leatherwork and the shape of the handle, combined with the metalwork on the pommel, make this feder a really eye-catching piece of work. I had planned on just keeping it in a closet but on a lark, I put together a basic mantle and now hang it on the wall.

Even my wife, who is quite uninterested in such dorky things, saw it and said: “wow that looks really nice”. To compound my joy, the feder is extremely well balanced and moves very gracefully, partly due to the length of the handle. The pommel is slightly larger than a golf ball and has deep ridges carved into it, which provides great tactile feedback when using bulky gloves. The quillons are fairly long, which some may like or dislike (I am neutral on this).

(Editor: the grip is great for those who do later period longsword.)

Construction

  • 53″ total length
  • 14″ handle
  • 39″ blade
  • Point of Balance: Near the schilt (approx 4inches / 10cm)
  • Tip: Spatulated
  • Weight: approx 1500-1700g
Editor: The spatulated tip and flex in the blade are extremely welcome to thrust heavy fencers like myself. Normally I might pull a thrust with another feder, but with the mini-moc, I will bury it to the hilt.

Editor: The spatulated tip and flex in the blade are extremely welcome to thrust heavy fencers like myself. Normally I might pull a thrust with another feder, but with the mini-moc, I will bury it to the hilt.

Chuck: Unfortunately, I’m not sure of what options are available. My understanding is that any customizations beyond the standard B and C feders would need to be requested, and in fact, this batch of “Mini Mocs” was a customization request of “please make a bunch of 53” long feders.”

(Editor: this was a batch of prototype feders to gauge interest in shorter moc feders. However, these will be going into full production soon)

Performance

Chuck: I have found that the crossguard can be a bit long and felt in the way during some techniques. While it floppier than most other feders I’ve tried, this hasn’t been an issue for me.

I haven’t noticed any weakness in the bind, at least nothing worth commenting on. It is very much a feder though, and after doing all of my drills in and out of class with it, I still plan on buying a blunt simulator to enhance my training. (Editor: These have more flex than a standard regenyei, but unless I'm intentionally using the flat, I've never noticed it not binding well. The flex is almost exclusively in the top 1/2 of the blade.)

As of June 23rd, 2017, in addition to it being used 2-3 times per week in sparring and club only tournaments, I’ve used it at the following events:
FlowerPoint
Shortpoint
Broken Point
Klopfterfecht
FechtYeah! – (my wife used it for this while waiting on her own feder from Atomic Celt Bladeworks)

I’ll also be using it for Longpoint.

Some pics of my big head in action using my Mini Moc

Much like I’d assume would happen to any leather handle, the leather handle is falling apart. My understanding is that this has more do with using SPES Heavies and taking hand hits as opposed to anything specific to this feder. The crossguard now looks rather beat up, and one quillon is rather bent, while the blade itself has no burrs despite being used against variety of different feders.

(Editor: My leather began wearing away after some strikes to the grip, but otherwise was fine. Having said that, I've had this problem with almost all of my feders regardless of vendor, so I've started wrapping them in tennis grip by default.)

Jorge: The balance of the feder makes it easy to feel the pressure and be responsive in the bind, something that I struggled with prior. Also, although I would prefer a slightly shorter blade, I find the reach this feder provides is fantastic for a beginner practitioner: it lets you ease into using your feder, feeling more comfortable with thrusting as well as getting a sense of positioning while fighting.

It is also a good tool for practicing cutting structure and mechanics, as you can get audible feedback (editor: 'swordwind') easily when using it to practice cutting structure. 

Geoff:The blade is quite flexible in the weak- which turned out to be quite a surprise for me. With some of the stiffer feders, I found myself overly hesitant to use thrusts due to a strong aversion to potentially causing pain and/or injury to my club mates. I didn’t really mind this in those other feders as it’s a personal aversion but after sparring with my Moc, I realized that I was much less hesitant to use thrusting and had much more confidence in my ability to land hits without leaving bruises.

This was and is a huge plus for me. The reverse to this is that some fencers may find the feder to be less effective in a hard bind, and almost incapable of delivering a beat/Glutzenhau. Lastly, on the blade, it has a tendency to create a very pleasing ringing sound when it makes light contact with another feder. I know it’s a small detail but as far as I’ve seen, it’s a unique quality to the Moc feder and even in a crowded arena filled with a dozen fights going on, I can hear a Pavel Moc blade above all the ruckus. I think that’s pretty cool.

(Editor: It does sound pretty sexy, I have to admit.)

Customer Service

As mentioned earlier, all reviewers that were contacted for this review did not purchase the “Mini Mocs” from Pavel directly so have not yet had a reason to engage him for any issues or communication. If that changes and Pavel needs to be contacted for any reason, I’ll be sure to provide an update in that regard. From others with swords from Pavel, I’ve heard only great things about this customer service though!

Editor (Jason):

This is where I get to contribute!  While I purchased my mini-moc through Ashleigh and Chris, I also ended up breaking the feder after a few months. It seemed a little on the soft side, and eventually, the tip broke off.

After contacting Pavel, he immediately stated that he was going to replace the blade in the next batch...without having seen the damaged trainer.  

I can't tell you how special this is - even the nicest smiths often times will be skeptical that you, the consumer, are somehow to blame. Some smiths even start with this accusation right away - you must simply train too hard!

But not Pavel - he understood the defect immediately and offered to replace the blade before I had returned the broken one (He has yet to ask for it, which is consistent with other customer service stories about Pavel, but I don't want to give the impression that he definitely will let you keep a broken trainer). He gave me a time as to when the replacement will be finished and has been proactive on giving me status updates.

Look, for the new people - trainers break, and they break often if you are sparring regularly. This is a fact of life, and not something you should use against a smith. You should be concerned about quality if there are consistent stories about breaks, and the smith consistently handles it poorly.

I've been so impressed with how Pavel handled the broken feder that I decided to commission a custom sharp from him, and he's been fantastic to work with on that front as well. He's been honest if my requests aren't ideal, and that feedback is important when getting custom work.

So far he's been one of the best vendors I've worked with.

Conclusion

Geoff: So for positives, we have aesthetics, balance/handling, and safety.

Now onto the negatives. The big one in my mind is durability. Don’t get me wrong- the feder isn’t fragile or prone to breakage, but the quillons and leatherwork are particularly susceptible to damage. While the quillons on my feder haven’t been bent, a club mate has a similar Moc and his has taken a bend and it’s a complaint I see fairly often on forums/posts. The steel on the quillons also seems fairly easy to dent/score and does require occasional file work to remove sharp protrusions caused by this.

The Moc is definitely not as robust as say a Black Horse feder. The leatherwork is similarly gouged and roughed up after only a month or two of light to medium use. (My inexperience may be showing here and this may simply be common in all leather wrapped handles)

(Editor: as mentioned previously, this is somewhat common with even cord wrapped grips, not just leather ones. My quillons had bent after a nasty cross parry, but they were simple to return to the original shape without any set in the steel.)

One other potential drawback is price. I purchased mine for $400+ shipping, which isn’t outrageous but for a beginner’s feder, may make it less desirable for those concerned with cost. There are definitely cheaper feders out there, but I feel that the price tag is completely justified by the quality.

I tend to almost always have some buyer’s remorse when purchasing something that costs more than a hundred bucks. I often see negative aspects of a purchased item as a failure to do “adequate research”. I can say that I have had no such qualms about this feder. It’s almost perfect for my purposes and aside from a few concerns about durability, it’s been one of the best purchases I’ve ever made and has deepened my appreciation and passion for HEMA. 

Chuck: I think the “Mini Moc” is a great first feder for me, and I love how it looks and feels in my hands. I will add the caveat that I, fortunately, don’t have an issue with also buying a blunt, and also buying more feders. If you are only buying one sword simulator at this time, I’d encourage you to fence with as many as you can and find the one that’s the best fit for you. I’m just not a “one blacksmith” type of guy.