Ray Eden says:
How do you like the El D[u]co sword? I took a look at it on the site, and it seems quite nice. One drawback is that it appears to be later than Medieval Times.
I'll look into the non-gimmicked methods that you mentioned. Can you offer any sources that I could start checking into?
Well, I know Howie Schwarzman has a method, but I'm about 99 percent sure that it is unpublished. But you may want to check around.
As for the first question, the El Duco sword is great, although the gaff is of a material that might be hard to replace exactly when it breaks (and trust me on this one: it DOES break). However, there's an easy and inexpensive solution (not going into detail as to method, obvious as it may be).
I think the El Duco looks the most realistic of all the swords out there, and especially for the little loop it has at the back of the handle/pommel, which you can tie a red scarf or some such to. This adds historical realism, as these devices were actually used as a distraction in actual fights, and adds to the general misdirection of the prop as well, since it draws the eye away from the most glaring discrepancies between a card sword and a real one.