: My question is what exactly makes a blade a "maraging" blade? I know that
: they are supposed to break more cleanly, to lessen their ability to
: penetrate your opponent, but how are they made? Is there in fact a
: different grade of steel? Are they heat treated differently? Why do they
: cost so much more? Why do fencers not like to use them?
|> "Maraging" steel is a metallurgical term. As I remember, it has quite a
|> low carbon content, something like 0.5%. It simply refers to a different
|> class of steel alloy, and maraging steel has a reputation for toughness,
|> durability and resistance to breakage under shearing forces.
It has some nickel and chromium content, too. Qualitatively, it
holds its temper well, is very resistant to rust, and is supposed
to break cleanly without any of those long spines that you sometimes
get on the cheapo blades. I've never seen any really *** maraging
breaks, but even those clean breaks can be pretty sharp.
I find the blades tend to last me about 2 years, which is amazing
compared to the 3 months I used to get out of the regular Hostin
Plus and Allstar blades I used, which makes them a deal that I can't
refuse. Interestingly, they seem to last EXACTLY 2 years; my last
batch of Allstar maraging foil blades were all purchased at the same
time, and they all broke within a one month period last spring.
Unfortunately, the maragings I've found in North America tend to be
war clubs, especially the older France Lames which are so sturdy you
could probably pass them on to your grandchildren (great for club
loaners, if you ask me). The Allstars I use are lighter, but still
pretty hefty compared to many non-FIE blades I see. I'm told that
the Europeans keep all the nice blades to themselves, and send the
brutes over to us (or perhaps the easterners are doing it to us
west-coasters...). Having seen some very nice maraging foils
purchased in Europe, I have to say that there may be some truth to
this. I'm currently test-driving some Hungarian blades that purport
to be maraging for 40% less cost than German blades, but their
pedigree is dubious (although they have served me well so far).
As for maraging epees, they may not break as cleanly as the foils
due to their V-section, which may be why they are no longer required
(but I'm speculating). I still expect that they would break less,
however. The maraging epees that I have seen/used also fit the war
club description when compared to various lightweight cheapo brands,
which may be why many epeeists don't like them (although I haven't
personally compared them to other FIE epee blades). I haven't seen
any maraging sabres, although they were made. I also heard that
electrical resistance was a problem with them, but that seems dubious
since you would expect spurious white lights in foil if the blades
didn't conduct well.
-- Morgan Burke