Neal Stephenson’s Telescoping Sword

Neal Stephenson’s Telescoping Sword

As promised, here are shots of Neal’s telescoping sword. Pictured is Neal’s collaborator, Pablos, with Komposite.


Nice work, guys! I suppose the world of recreational swordfighting is now a slightly safer place:)

14 thoughts on “Neal Stephenson’s Telescoping Sword

  1. Confused says:

    I dont get it. what am I looking at?

  2. Mike says:

    Second that.. I’m lost as well.
    I rate this FAIL for improper description.

  3. michael says:

    i assume that this is a way for a foam sword like that which would be used for Belegarth or Daggorhair fighting to be safer. by the covering used, it actually looks like the sword is primarily going to be used in force exercises as one would perform in ARMA. However I’m confused as he bends the sword more than is allowed by and of those rules making it fail weapons checks.

  4. JohnW says:

    In the interview posted yesterday he mentioned developing a telescoping sword so that thrusting attacks were less dangerous/painful.

  5. Colecoman1982 says:

    JohnW is right, I saw the same comments the other day. He’s designed a sparring sword that telescopes so you don’t hurt someone when you thrust. From the pictures, it looks like it’s a foam covered sword with a semi-flexible joint just above the hilt. The joint allows for limited telescoping as well as some flex in the slashing direction. The top pic shows him displaying the slash flexing, the bottom-right pic shows the joint above the hilt pre-thrust, and the bottom-right pic shows the joint during a thrust. I can’t speak for the balance, weight, or wobble compared to a real sword, but from a safety standpoint this seems really cool.

  6. Anonymous says:

    yes but if you want to actually fight with swords getting hurt is a give-in
    i have fenced for 5 years and it is fun. getting hurt is an assumed risk and that is why we ware PADDING
    if you get stabbed you will have a nice stiff bit of plastic on your chest and if you get slashed some pretty thick fabric all over
    all i am saying is that this is a pointless addition to a perfectly good weapon.
    also if you are fighting with Kattanas and other types of swords fencing padding beats defaming your sword.

  7. says:

    I’m Pablos, the guy in the picture and one of the inventors. We’ve been swordfighting for years and have built at least a hundred different types of swords in search of various attributes. One of the very common things we found was that in sport or play, you adapt your fighting to the weapon, partly for safety. This is true for all martial arts practice, you try not to damage your partners – at least not faster than you can replenish your supply. Anyway, with swords, we found that we just wouldn’t use thrusting attacks very often because they’re not very safe with any kind of practice sword. You can still have a lot of fun fighting, but you slash a lot more. This drove us to create retractable swords that would allow for thrusting. The one in the picture is a fairly old model made using spring steel and Kevlar. I believe it can retract 6″. It has relatively accurate weight and weight balance to a large two-handed sword. That sword is a hell of a lot of fun to fight with, and it is reasonably non-lethal, even if you aren’t wearing any armor. We typically used hockey gear with it. We aren’t affiliated with any of the other fighting organizations and our weapons have never been made to comply with their rules. In our pursuit of an authentic swordfighting experience, we never found a complete solution. These days we fight more with real steel swords, but it requires a lot of careful concentration. Fighting with those foam covered retractable versions is a blast because you don’t have to pull any punches, you can just just fight instinctively and not have to worry too much about hurting anyone.

Comments are closed.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!
Luke Iseman

Luke Iseman makes stuff, some of which works. He invites you to drive a bike for a living (, stop killing your garden (, and live in an off-grid shipping container (

View more articles by Luke Iseman