Which fencing foil is best?
Originally practiced as a form of dueling, fencing has been around for hundreds of years. There are three main weapons used in the sport, each with its own rules and style: the saber, the epee and the foil. The epee is the fastest, the saber is the heaviest and the foil falls right in between the two.
If you’re new to fencing, a foil is a great beginner’s weapon. The American Fencing Gear Size 5 Electric Fencing Foil is the top pick because it’s versatile and comes with a spare blade.
What to know before you buy a fencing foil
Parts of a fencing foil
- Blade: Long and thin, a foil blade is usually constructed from a durable yet flexible metal like low-carbon steel. Unlike knives, fencing swords aren’t meant to be sharp and instead boast a very lightweight and malleable construction. This design makes the blade bend on impact, thereby preventing any injuries to the athletes.
- Guard: These components are usually bell-shaped and designed to protect the fencer’s hand. The look of the guard can vary depending on your style of fencing, but foil guards are usually very thin with the blade in the exact center of the piece.
- Grip: This is the part of the foil that the fencer holds. There are two types of grip, the French style and the pistol style. A French grip is usually straight with a small knob – or pommel – at the end. Pistol grips have an ergonomic shape with a protrusion that juts out from the handle. The vast majority of foil fencers prefer the pistol grip, while French grips are more commonly used in epee-style competitions.
The action occurs very quickly in fencing, making it nearly impossible to tell who is winning with the naked eye. To make this easier for judges and competitors, many fencing swords now feature electric components that transmit information when the tip of the blade makes contact with an opponent.
Today, a great number of fencing foils are electric, with a thin wire that runs through the gear to the fencer’s back. Non-electric, or “dry,” foils are available but typically only used by instructors, casual fencers and sword collectors.
What to look for in a quality fencing foil
Most modern fencing foils are constructed from low-carbon or maraging steel, but you can also find weapons that are made of painted plastic. These affordable swords are particularly popular among junior fencers and will often boast a vibrant color so they’re easier to see during matches.
There are four different sizes of fencing foils, numbering from smallest to largest: zero, two, four and five. Most young fencers will do well with a size 0 or size 2 blade, while most teenagers and adults will use a size 5 foil.
Although most fencing foil blades look nearly identical, the appearance of your grip, guard and blade tips can be customized to fit your style. These parts are traditionally black or silver, but you can also find attractive weapons that are bright blue, red or even gold-colored.
There is a lot of equipment needed for competitive fencing, so you can save some money by purchasing a foil that comes with additional accessories. Some products may come with protective clothing like masks and gloves, while others may include replacement blades or interchangeable grips.
How much you can expect to spend on a fencing foil
The cost of a fencing foil can vary widely, depending on its quality and whether or not it’s electric. You can expect to spend around $35-$75 for a non-electric weapon, while electric fencing foils are typically $65 or more.
Fencing foil FAQ
Are fencing foils ambidextrous?
A. No. Fencing foil grips are usually designed for right-handed users, but many manufacturers sell both right-handed and left-handed versions of the same weapon. If you need a left-handed foil, check the product details closely before purchasing.
Is fencing safe?
A. Despite its deadly origins, fencing is actually an incredibly safe sport. In addition to the protective gear worn during competitions, fencing blades don’t have a sharp tip and are flexible enough to bend upon impact.
What’s the best fencing foil to buy?
Top fencing foil
What you need to know: This electric fencing foil boasts an attractive red and blue design with an ergonomic pistol grip.
What you’ll love: Lightweight and versatile, this popular fencing foil has electric capabilities and a comfortable pistol grip for practice and competitions. Size five is recommended for most adult fencers, and the weapon comes with a replacement foil blade.
What you should consider: A few people didn’t like that the weapon was manufactured in China.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top fencing foil for the money
What you need to know: This budget-friendly starter set includes a solid foil alongside several pieces of protective gear.
What you’ll love: The foil features a French grip design and there is an option for both left-handed and right-handed fencers. The beginner set includes a standard front-zip jacket, gloves and a mask, all of which are available in a variety of sizes.
What you should consider: This mid-tier starter set is perhaps best-suited for beginners, not experienced fencers.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: This non-electric fencing foil is simple and well-suited for casual practice or instruction.
What you’ll love: The weapon is available in all four sizes, making it a great choice for junior fencers who are too old for the smallest foils but too young for size five. The pistol grip is easy to hold.
What you should consider: There were reports of a dented guard and a pistol grip with visible scratches, leading users to question the manufacturer’s quality control.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Patrick Farmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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