What makes a lightsaber ‘duel worthy’? A duel worthy lightsaber is a lightsaber that you can use in full contact sparring. Full contact lightsaber sparring is pretty rigorous and demanding. Any dueling lightsaber (i.e. battle ready lightsaber) needs to be both durable and safe if you are going to use it for full contact. Here’s what you should look for in a duel worthy lightsaber.
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1. Evaluate the Hilt Material and Integrity
To determine whether a lightsaber is duel worthy, one of the first things you need to examine is the material of the hilt. Some people sell PVC and 3D printed lightsaber hilts on eBay and Etsy and those are probably not going to be durable enough for dueling.
Although aluminum is one of the most common lightsaber hilt materials, not all aluminum hilts are duel worthy. For example, The Pach Store’s Darth Nihilus inspired Unicron hilt is thin in certain areas, so The Pach Store advises that the hilt is only suitable for light dueling. Bendu Armory makes durable carbon fiber lightsabers that may be duel worthy.
2. Avoid Sharp Edges, Points and Raised Areas
Another aspect of this hilt to consider is edges and points. Some hilts and hilt components have sharp edges and points that could cut or poke you or your opponent during a duel. Some dark side lightsaber hilts use in particular use claws around the emitter area. Avoid hilts and hilt components with edges and points during full contact dueling. Also avoid lightsaber blades with a pointed tip/bullet tip (use a rounded tip or parabolic tip instead).
Some hilts may be less suitable for dueling because the hilt uses bulky, raised features. Although activation boxes look cool and exude an Original Trilogy vibe, bulky features like activation boxes may be hazardous during dueling and also obstruct your grip. Recessed buttons and slim features are more suitable for dueling.
3. Select a Blade Made from the Proper Material
The lightsaber blade also weighs heavily into a lightsaber’s duel worthiness. As with lightsaber hilts, the material of the lightsaber blade matters. Flat acrylic blades are show blades and not suitable for dueling, because acrylic is a brittle type of plastic. Some acrylic lightsaber blades also contain sharp edges or points. Ripper Blades [AFFILIATE LINK] is the largest and most famous flat acrylic lightsaber blade maker and Ripper Blades advises on their website that the flat acrylic lightsaber blades are not for dueling. The acrylic blade featured on the far right of the image was made by eBay seller sdalton256 (Sactown Sabers).
Many duel worthy lightsabers use polycarbonate blades, but even if you have a polycarbonate blade you need to make sure the blade is thick enough for dueling. Duel worthy blades are often called: dueling grade, heavy grade or thick walled. Dueling grade blades are thicker than standard blades, which are often called: midgrade or thin-walled blades. The thicker dueling grade blades are necessary for full contact sparring, while thin-walled blades may suffice for mild dueling.
4. Choose a Suitable Blade Diameter and Type
Blade diameter also matters. Although 1 inch diameter blades are the most common blade diameter among custom saber companies, some lightsabers use 7/8 inch blades or, less commonly, 3/4 inch blades. Typically, 3/4 inch blades are not recommended for heavy dueling and 7/8 inch blades aren’t as commonly used for heavy dueling either.
The type lightsaber blade also affects the duel worthiness of a lightsaber. Many Star Wars The Black Series Force FX lightsabers from 2019 and earlier use string blades, which are permanently attached to the lightsaber hilt and contain the LEDs within the blade itself. Due, in part, to use of a permanently attached string blade, none of the Star Wars The Black Series Force FX lightsabers are considered duel worthy. During heavy dueling, the LEDs within a string blade could become damaged, causing unsightly dead spots, and the lightsaber blade could snap off. Some saber enthusiasts do convert Force FX lightsabers into duel worthy lightsabers.
5. Evaluate and Protect the Saber’s Internals
Finally, when it comes to duel worthiness, the lightsaber internals and the protection of the internal strongly influences the duel worthiness of the saber. Stunt sabers, which are custom sabers with an in-hilt LED (i.e. baselit) and no sound are simple, cost effective, and easier to fix and repair than more sophisticated configurations. Some sound sabers (with in-hilt LED) and pixel sabers may also be duel worthy.
In-Hilt LED (i.e. Base lit) vs. Pixel Saber
An in-hilt LED, sometimes called base lit, stunt saber or sound saber is equipped with LED inside the hilt itself. When the wielder activates the saber, the in-hilt LED illuminates a simple tube blade.
A pixel saber uses a component blade equipped with a string of LED directly inside the blade. Although pixel saber blades may be adequately sturdy for dueling, fixing or replacing a standard tube is easier/cheaper than fixing or replacing a pixel blade. Some duelers utilizes a neopxiel to in-hilt LED conversion module. The conversion module enables the wielder to conveniently attach and use a standard tube blade with a pixel saber.
Importance of the Chassis
Some custom saber companies, like Sabertrio, use a chassis to contain and protect the lightsaber internals or the battery pack. A chassis helps minimize saber rattle during dueling. If the internals are not contained and secured during dueling, they may shift and slide around inside hilt, which could ultimately damage the wiring and the soundboard over time or after a bad hit.
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What are some of your favorite duel worthy lightsabers? What additional qualities do you think a lightsaber needs in order to be considered duel worthy?