FORGED – A Phil Holland Film on Tony Swatton’s Damascus Gladius

On occasion we are known to cross into the bladed weapons territory. Many of our beloved manufactures of firearms also offer blades of various types. Smith & Wesson is the most common, but Beretta and others have recently gotten in on the game. In fact, Smith & Wesson plans to expand into the “outdoors” market over their core of firearms as its nearly 4x the total dollar value of firearms alone.

Using a not-yet-released RED camera in full 8K resolution, cinematographer Phil Holland worked to capture the tedious and labor-intensive process of the manufacture of a damascus steel gladius by noted bladesmith Tony Swatton.

Using 93 layers of steel, the blade starts life as a stack of steel chips. From there, the steel cards are welded together to then be forged into a single piece of steel through constant applications of heat and force. Only then is the steel broken, folded, and forged yet again. This process repeats for until the smith meets the desired grain pattern. Note – the same painstaking process is used for nearly all “damascus” steel firearms parts as well.  

The footage is utterly mezmerizing to watch and I am sure in the full 8K on an appropriate screen, jaw-dropping. Enjoy it below and for those interested, you can see Tony Swatton’s other work here.



Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • John Yossarian

    Awesome – And a nice touch with the music (T.Reznor) – Thanks for sharing!

  • ostiariusalpha

    Not to put too fine a point on it (gnuck, gnuck), but judging by the length, that’s a spatha not a gladius.

    • Tassiebush

      As always a sharp observation… Yeah it’s a bit long to be a gladius but the spatha label fits well with the length and grip style.

  • Anonymoose

    10/10 would carry in the apocalypse.

  • Giolli Joker

    “Many of our beloved manufactures of firearms also offer blades of
    various types. Smith & Wesson is the most common, but Beretta and
    others have recently gotten in on the game.”
    Beretta has been in the game for quite a while, Browning as well, both with a few decent models… Glock is pretty famous for a no-nonsense military knife based on a philosophy similar to the one of their pistols… conversely S&W, like Colt, has always been branding crappy Chinese knives with no other value than the logo they were carrying.

    • ostiariusalpha

      The Smith & Wesson 6010, 6020, and 6060 were all designed in America by well-respected knife creators like John Wilson, Roy Jinks, and Blackie Collins; and manufactured right in the S&W plant at Springfield, Massachusetts. They were limited editions at the time (1970’s), and are fairly pricey collectors items now.

  • gunsandrockets

    With all due respect to the skill and effort put into making that sword, but what the heck? Skulls? Serrations? Piercings? Why even call that sword a gladius? More like gladius-ish. I guess my taste in swords doesn’t run towards something that looks like it belongs in that Mad Max movie remake.

  • Anton Gray Basson

    Hey its original Man at Arms

  • politicsbyothermeans

    I love watching true artisans at work. Thanks for this.

  • mike

    Sad part is that the artists who do this kind of work are getting old and the younger generation shows little interest in working with their hands. In a generation or two this work will be almost unheard of.

  • john huscio

    Looks like More of a movie sword than anything historical. Nice craftsmanship though. Not gonna pull me away from Albion or del tin.

  • gunsandrockets

    Is Damascus steel the proper term for this kind of blade material? Isn’t it really pattern welding?