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Skallagrim (born June 16, 1982), otherwise known as Skallagrim Nilsson, or affectionately as Skall, is a YouTube-based personality with, in his own words, "a camera and a passion for swords, knives, firearms and other weapons / tools, as well as gaming and other random stuff." He also demonstrates basic self-defense techniques.

Of these, Skall focuses primarily on bladed weapons, offering reviews, demonstrations and testing, myth debunking, and critiques of fantasy weapons; as a practitioner of Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA), he usually knows what he's talking about when it comes to these weapons, though he'd also be the first to tell you that he's far from an expert.

Skall's friendliness and the informative nature of his videos have earned him 1,108,983 subscribers as of March 2019.


For two shows that are also popular with Skall's fans, see Lindybeige, Schola Gladiatoria and Shadiversity.

Tropes associated with Skallagrim:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: While he loves making fun of fictional conventions when it comes to weapons and fighting, but often points out one place where he accepts the inaccuracies by necessity: telegraphing or overly slow movements in video games. The reason being that if they were one hundred percent accurate, then it'd be nearly impossible to actually play them due to how fast reaction time would need to be.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Happens frequently, to Skall's chagrin, with all the discussion of "thrusting" and "penetration" that comes up. One of the highest innuendos-per-minute scores comes in his "Scale Armor" video, where he demonstrates the titular armor... using Cara as an armor dummy. And at one point Skall has to explain the target of his strike by placing his hand on the armor's chest area...
    Skall: (preparing to test the armor with one of his swords) Don't worry, I'll be careful.
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  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Owns a few, and how sharp a sword comes is one of his criteria for reviewing swords. Of note is his Albion Knecht, which he and his friends call a "cheat code for cutting."
  • Ambiguous Gender Identity: Cara is genderqueer but viewers generally assume they are female due to how their body looks. Skallagrim has also referred to Cara as his wife in the oldest videos, further confusing the issue for some viewers, but has stopped using any gendered words about Cara in the last few years.
  • An Ax To Grind: Has a number of axes on top of his more well known swords.
  • Anti-Climax: Brought up in his widely requested Lord of the Rings video, where he admitted viewers would likely be disappointed because he didn't have anything much to say about the films' weapon designs. Nonetheless, he still gives a reasonable analysis of the weapons in the series, and mostly ends up giving a clean bill of health (with the exception of the Morgul Blade and the Witch-King's Epic Flail).
  • Armor Is Useless: Averted all over the place. Many of his videos emphasize the usefulness of armor, not only in historical settings but also in modern-day martial arts.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The basis for his "Fantasy Weapons Scrutinized" and "Weirdest Knives" series. Then there's also the strategy of trying to "end him rightly".
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Skallagrim Nilsson, which is both awesome sounding and goes rather well with Skall's overall image.
  • Badass Beard: Skall's signature Viking-style beard matches his credentials as a weapons expert. A number of viewers have asked whether it qualifies as neck protection.
  • Badass Bookworm: Skall is definitely this since he studies martial arts from a literary standpoint as well as a physical one. Cara is even more of one since they are currently working on a Ph.D.
  • Battle Couple: With Cara, although they haven't actually fought together much.
  • BFS:
    • Pretty much every real-life example of such swords has been at least discussed at some point; Skall even owns a few accurate reproductions.
    • A more traditional example occurs when Skall critiques Cloud's Buster Sword and Guts' Dragonslayer in one episode of his "Fantasy Weapons Scrutinized" series.
  • Blade on a Stick: Skall loves spears and notes out of most options, it's his go to when people ask what weapons he'd suggest to use against zombies. He also owns a few of varying types.
  • Boring, but Practical: He's very much in favor of this, particularly in his "Fantasy Weapons" videos, where series like the Lord of the Rings films tend to get a thumbs-up from him for sticking to basic tried-and-true historical weapon designs.
  • Carry a Big Stick: Owns a number of maces and similar weapons in addition to swords, and has gone into detail about their advantages and disadvantages.
  • Cool Guns: In a change of pace, he tests and demonstrates the KRISS Vector.
  • Cool Sword: Collects them, and has some stand outs. Despite his critique of fantasy designs, he definitely does enjoy fancy, ornate swords that don't sacrifice practicality for the beauty.
  • Crossover: He appears on Lindybeige's channel via Chroma Key to complain about discussing such a mundane topic as the historical value of salt. Lloyd returns the favor by appearing in his video about the comparative advantages of straight versus curved blades, saying that the type of blade doesn't matter as much as getting the first hit, until Skall gets fed up and ends him rightly.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Skall's humor is generally of this flavor.
  • Deceptively Simple Demonstration:
    • Skallagrim makes it clear, that while slashing or smashing various objects like fruits and glass might be visually impressive, one should be wary about taking it as an indication of how actually useful something would be in factual context. A weapon breaking through actual armor or armor deflecting the strike? Impressive. Cutting through a watermelon, which can be accomplished even by a dull-blade Kukri given sufficient force? Not so much.
    • As for the trick of cutting a 0.4 mm steel plate in half with a katana, it does require plenty of skill to do so cleanly and without damaging the sword, but that plate is flat, relatively thin, held in place by a sturdy frame, and struck edge-on. That's nothing like trying to cut through armor, a sword, or a gun frame. Skall can point to fellow YouTuber Thegn Thrand for proof that the katana isn't the only sword that can cut such a plate: Thrand—responding to a viewer who claimed that a traditionally made Viking sword wouldn't be able to cut a 20 ga. steel plate in half but a traditionally made katana would—decided to do one better and cut through the plate using a Mycenaean-style bronze sword made by Neil Burridge. The bronze sword's edge was mostly undamaged, and while Thrand had to settle for cutting through a six inch wide plate instead of one that was a whole foot across, that was simply because he knew that the less massive, one-handed sword he used would have less momentum than the larger, two-handed katana.
  • Diagonal Cut: Skall and his friends have managed to perform this trope in several videos. One particularly impressive example can be found here, though not by Skall himself.
  • Formerly Fat: Mentioned that he used to be a heavy guy when he started making videos in 2007, but has since become skinnier. He was still temporarily put out of commission for heavier physical activity after his injury in early 2016, but this doesn't seem to have affected his interest in resuming it.
  • Fun with Subtitles: In Light Bow / Medieval Crossbow Tested on Ballistic Gel and Padded Jacket, whenever the crossbow is loaded, the subtitles have things like "Clank", or "Satisfying Clank" or "THAT CLANK YO", as well as other subtitle notes.
  • Hypothetical Fight Debate: Like many students of historical martial arts, things like the "Knight versus Samurai" debate tend to annoy him because people who pose this question often fail to specify all kinds of variables such as the time period, rank and social standing of the combatants, where the fight would take place, what equipment they would be allowed to use, etc. He doesn't find it particularly useful to discuss a fight between two warriors who were unlikely to encounter each other in the first place, nor does he think this kind of thought exercise necessarily leads to a better understanding of any warrior culture.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: Discussed frequently. Skall isn't much of a fan of stylized weapons that fly in the face of all realism, but often analyzes them in detail anyway because it's fun to listen to. That being said, he claims to appreciate, for example, the weapons in Monster Hunter for being so patently silly and creative in their design.
  • Improvised Weapon: Skall notes the ease at creating these is one reason many weapon bans are ultimately pointless: if someone is that determined to harm someone with a weapon, there are numerous perfectly legal ways to create equally lethal options from readily available, unrestricted items that if anything are far easier to obtain than the banned weapon would be if it was legal.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted. Though Skall acknowledges katanas as good swords for their intended purpose and historical context, he has a strong dislike for this trope and its associated memes, and often begins his reviews of Japanese swords by saying that he has little interest in them.
  • Knife Nut: Defied. While Skall doesn't hide his enthusiasm for bladed weapons, he stresses that he supports safe, responsible weapon collecting and takes issue with the notion that anyone who shares his hobby is necessarily a murderous, unhinged individual. He also doesn't like the mentality that fighting or warfare is somehow glorious or honorable.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: With so much talk of "thrusting" and "penetration" going on, Skall is generally good about heading off the obvious jokes before commenters can make them, if only out of necessity.
  • One Head Taller: Skall (1.76m) in relation to Cara (1.60m).
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: If his commenters know his legal name, no one seems to address him as such.
    Skallagrim: I don't care about my birth name, and you don't have to either.
  • Pet-Peeve Trope: Skall despises the notion that Japanese swords are inherently superior, and will not hesitate to mock this attitude or the weeaboos who believe it any chance he gets. He even made a whole video about it.
  • Pistol-Whipping: In "Empty Gun vs. Sword?", Skall's springboard is the final fight in Sukiyaki Western Django in which The Gunman catches Yoshitsune's katana strike using the frame of his just-emptied revolver. Skall points out that a sword would never be able to chop that deeply into the frame of a revolver, which is thick steel, but more to the point he shows how difficult it would be to block or parry a sword strike using a handgun, or to close the distance enough to bludgeon a swordsman with one's pistol. He certainly wouldn't try to catch a cut under the barrel near the trigger guard like The Gunman does, since that exposes the hand to being cut, nor is he confident in his ability to stop a cut dead with a static block; his preference is to dodge to one side while using his barrel for a deflecting parry at the same time, enabling him to close in and pistol whip his opponent in the head. Success is doubtful, however, since the sword has so much more reach and can quickly change trajectory to slip past the tiny area on the gun that Skall can use for parrying. A decent swordsman would kill him before he could ever club them with his handgun. It's a different story with a long musket, however, since even without a bayonet it has reach, a large area for parrying, and enough heft to inflict severe bludgeoning damage.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Often points out how weapons and techniques from fiction, especially fantasy, would, or wouldn't, work in real life. One subject he brings up a few times in this regard is the BFS, noting how heavy it would be in real life, and even if granted the conceit that it's supernaturally light or the user has super-strength, the design is simply inefficient due to the laws of physics.
    • In "Being a Time Traveler in the Middle Ages - Probably Sucks!", he deflates the classic Connecticut Yankee fantasy of a modern time traveler going back to Medieval Europe and making himself the boss using modern weapons and technology:
      • Even if an English-speaking time-traveler went back to medieval England, Middle English was different enough from present day English that even if you had studied Middle English well enough to understand and make yourself understood, you would at least sound funny and obviously like an outsider.
      • You'd also have no money, and even if you brought things to sell or barter, you might get ripped off because you don't know about the prices. If what you have to sell isn't familiar to them, neither you nor they will really know what it's worth in local terms.
      • The greater problem is that you have no friends or connections whatsoever, and that makes you suspect. If nobody knows who you are or where you're from you'll be considered a vagabond or potential outlaw, especially if you're in funny clothes. They did have Sacred Hospitality back then, but maybe they wouldn't let you in if you looked really suspicious, and if you were found outside after dark they would definitely arrest you as a suspected criminal. And if someone high-ranking or locally respected were to accuse you of something, you'd have no one to back you up and you would probably be held without due process and tortured for a confession.
      • But you can just kill them all, right? Well, no. Back then, safety came from working in groups. People would never travel alone, seeking safety in numbers against threats like bandits. If you're all alone, then even if you have superior weapons you'll be vulnerable when you sleep, and in the wilderness you could be ambushed by outlaws or even wild predators. If you seek lodging in a village, you are expected to surrender your weapons when staying somewhere. If your hosts take a liking to your stuff and there's no one who would investigate if you went missing or died suspiciously, they might just kill you and take it.
      • So your modern gun makes you invincible, right? Well it's certainly a huge advantage, but ammunition is heavy. 500 rounds of 7.62 x 39 AK ammunition weighs 8 kg, and even 100 rounds of 9mm parabellum weighs 1 kg. You also need to carry your first aid kit, water, food, weapons, etc., so realistically there's a limit to how much ammo you can take with you. You can't manufacture modern propelant cartriges if you run out, and even if you bring a muzzle loader instead, you probably can't make gunpowder without any help and would have to buy it from somebody. A possible outlaw making high value transactions isn't going to go unnoticed. And even with your gun, you're outnumbered. Twenty longbowmen could shoot about four arrows at you per second. The kind of armor that could protect you from edged weapons or powerful bows would be heavy and/or not full coverage, and if you got wounded you'd eventually run out of medical supplies and have to submit yourself to primitive and often dangerous medieval medical care.
      • Even if you were a really good negotiator and had some technology you could offer to a powerful person in exchange for patronage, it would be difficult to obtain an audience with such a person without connections, and while they might be interested in something like a modern gun, they might not have the technological base needed to manufacture it. And if you were to set yourself up as a leader with the help of advanced weapons, all the other powers would see you as a threat and gang up on you. The pope might decide you're in league with the devil and declare a crusade against you.
      • And finally, even as a successful person you wouldn't enjoy the modern comforts you're used to. Any changes in medicine, sanitation, hygiene, or food quality that you introduced would probably not come to full fruition within your lifetime, and for the most part you would have to get used to the quality of medieval life.
  • Refuge in Audacity: In his video on Monster Hunter, he basically admitted that he couldn't critique it from a practicality perspective, because it was so ridiculous that the creators obviously had no interest whatsoever in creating something that looked like a person could use.
  • Removing the Head or Destroying the Brain: Has some nitpicks about how this trope is used in films and television, pointing out that most motor functions are focused in the cerebellum near the back of the skull and parts of the brain other than the frontal lobes, and that it seems unlikely to him that shooting or stabbing a zombie in the forehead would incapacitate it in the same way as a human since they've lost most of their higher brain functions already. He also notes an example from The Walking Dead where a character stabs a zombie in the head with a small knife which immediately kills it, saying that even if you could punch through the bone of the skull with such a flimsy thing, the damage would be superficial and insufficient.
  • Running Gag: Ever since his video on a bizarre fighting technique that involves unscrewing the pommel of your sword and throwing it at the opponent, pommel-throwing and the phrase "end him rightly" is mentioned in the comments of nearly every of his videos. Even those that don't have anything to do with swords. This joke has even spilled over to other YouTube channels like Schola Gladiatoria.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: At the start of "Empty Gun vs. Sword?", Skall pops up from the bottom of the frame and points a musket right in the camera's face. Later in the same video he attaches a bayonet and pokes it at the camera. (The viewers were lucky he didn't throw a pommel at them.)
  • Simple Staff: Examined in his "Sword vs. Guard" video, where he analyzes how an unarmed foe with a staff would do against an armored one with a sword. Turns out, the advantage is immensely in the favor of the staff user, because 1) the staff's effective range allows them to keep any sword user at a distance, 2) the ratio of exertion required vs. output in force for each weapon greatly favors the staff, 3) a staff user can jab multiple times much quicker than a swordsman can swing a heavy blade, which makes it very difficult to defend against and 4) a heavy staff of strong wood can put out immense force when swung with any degree of strength, even one-handed.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: He greatly prefers this kind of sword or other weapons compared to the alternative, and praises the sword designs of Lord of the Rings for either sticking fairly close to actual historical weapons or designing something new in a way where form follows function rather than the other way around.
  • Slow Motion: Some of his videos involving testing weapons are filmed at least partly in slow motion. This seems to be almost a requirement for videos where the target is water bottles. Got much better once his videos began using actual slow-motion cameras rather than slowing down standard frame rate video.
  • The Southpaw: Zig-zagged, since Skall is normally right-handed, but switches to his left hand whenever he draws. He even lampshades how strange it is.
  • Sticks to the Back: Mentions this trope in his video on bucklers, specifically that a point in favor of bucklers is that this trope does not happen in real life, making full-sized shields more of a pain to carry around in a non-military context.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: Deconstructed in "The Weapon Triangle in Fire Emblem - Realistic?", where he breaks down the actual advantages each weapon has over one another; and concludes that skill, experience, and physical fitness greatly outweigh the merits of said advantages.
  • That Came Out Wrong: In his video review of the Knecht Kriegsmesser by Albion he commented that you would have to "pound [the guard] quite hard to get it off." He then comments "that sounds... Wrong."
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Made a video showing how this actually can work. The key is not to toss it so it spins end-over-end as seen in the movies, but to grip and throw it like a spear. The fanbase is nevertheless in agreement that throwing the pommel would indeed work every time.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: "I was born in Europe, but you don't need to know where because it doesn't matter." He doesn't identify with his place of birth and says all you need to know is that he lives in Canada.
    • Judging by the accent, very likely Bergen, Norway. Most viewers automatically assumed he was a Viking (or at least Norse in some degree) because of the beard.
  • You Get What You Pay For: Repeatedly mentions this in regards to swords and other weapons, as typically the cheaper the weapon, the worse the build quality, and generally the worse quality steel or metal it's made of. However, when it's Subverted, he will definitely mention it and praise the weapon for bang for your buck.

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