Types of Swords

Swords are quite amazing. And they have a very long history. And over the centuries of sword making and sword use there have been a lot of varations. In this article I have chosen some of the major types of swords with included illustrations. The purpose here is to give you a good cross section of the different sword types.

There are a lot of reasons why swords vary so much and let me give you a quick summary.




Why Swords have varied over the centuries

  1. The metals available to the sword smith and the skill and abilities that were known at the time is a very important factor. This can most easily be seen in the fact that as metal working improved and steel was introduced the swords got longer, thinner, and stronger.
  2. The use of the sword. This was based on how it would be wielded and what the defenses of the opponent were. Scimitar like swords were effective for horse mounted attacks. Rapier like weapons were effective for finding small gaps in an opponents armor. And ax like hacking swords such as the khopesh and the falchion were great for delivering hammering percussive blows that could break bones or crush armor.
  3. Speed of use was a big factor that was really improved as metal technology improved. This probably reached its pinnacle in the phenomenal speed of a rapier. And it also was a deciding factor in the curved blade of the samurai because it could be drawn and used in a lightning fast manner.


Rapier - 16-17th centuries. About 36 inches long with a thin blade of about one inch. Mostly a stabbing weapon although sometimes sharpened with an edge on one or both sides. The hilt was either a shield or a complex basket of wires.

Viking Sword - This covers a lot of ground and quite a few centuries but the Viking age is around the 9th to 11th centuries. 36 to 39 inches and single handed. This sword did vary a bit of course and over the centuries the length grew a few inches the pommel changed and the crossbar was extended. and it had a fuller.

Falchion - typically about 36 inches in length. 11th-16th centuries. bladed on one side it had characteristics of both a sword and an axe. So, it had tremendous striking power but was slower as a sword.

Katana -24-30 inches. It is a Japanese weapon and It saw its greatest use and achieved its current shape between the 14th and 16th centuries. It is a curved blade slashing weapon that is sharpened on one side.

Scimitar - 12th -16th century Persian and Middle Eastern slashing sword with a curved blade and sharpened on one edge.



Khopesh - typically 20-24 inches in length. It was used by the Egyptians from approximately 3,000 bc to 1,000 bc. In the yearly centuries it was made of Bronze and in the later centuries it was made of Iron. The curved blade gave it added strength and made it a good hacking weapon. The pointed tip which pointed back at the user was useful as a hook which could hook and pull an opponents weapon. If you would like to see more and make a cardboard khopesh I have a tutorial here: How to Make a Khopesh

Sabre - This has a curved blade with one edge and a pretty big handguard which also had an extension that protected the thumb. The Sabre has many predecessors dating back to the Middle Ages and the form we see here and know as the sabre came into existence and use around the 18th century and saw extensive use into the 19th century. The Swiss version of the sabre appeared as early as the 16th century. Right up until the early 19th century it was a common weapon for soldiers and in particular cavalry.

Chinese Dao - They are a single edged sword with strong hacking and slashing capabilities. Occasionally a few inches of the back side were also sharpened. They changed a lot over many centuries and the first instances of the curved shape are first recorded around the 11th century. There are a few different variations of this sword and some are a standard in various martial art systems.

Longsword - 2 handed and usually the blade was 40-48 inches in length add another foot of handle and this sword could be as much as five feet in length. It was used from the 14th to 16th centuries. 14th - 16th centuries. A sword of this length was only capable of being made when the art of blacksmithing had advanced enough to make high quality steels.

Roman Gladius - Typically 25 - 32 inches in length. It was a standard roman weapon from approximately between the 4th century bc and the 3rd century ad. It was sharpened on both edges but it was also very effective as a thrusting weapon.


Trademark Warrior Scimitar of Persia

Massive Stainless Steel Radius Blade! "Warrior Scimitar of Persia" This Middle Eastern masterpiece has just arrived and is very impressive. This 37 inch sword has a steel handle done in natural wood grain and also rainbow....as well as a stainless steel blade that has a massive scimitar style radius edge. This sword is extremely blade heavy and may take 2 hands to control. This sword comes with a protective leather sheath to accomodate the massive blade.


Cold Steel 1917 Cutlass Handle with Leather Scabbard

Our 1917 Cutlass features the signature 25" curved blade and a half basket guard that's stamped out of heavy 18-guage high carbon steel, and both the blade and guard are blued to resist rusting. The handle is made from carefully shaped hardwood, painted brown and secured to the tang by three heavy brass cutler's rivets.The scabbard is an accurate reproduction of the original and is made of high quality leather and features brass and copper fixtures. It can be worn comfortably at the side on a pistol belt without chafing its owner.


Cold Steel Katana, Ray Skin Handle, Wood Scabbard

The Warrior Series swords are very handsome in their own right and share the same steel, heat treatment, and sharpness as their more expensive Emperor counterparts. Like the Emperor swords, they have Samé covered, cord wrapped handles and quality fittings. If you're in the market for a strong, good looking, reasonably priced Japanese sword we know you'll be happy to own one of these.


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Swords and Sabers: An authorative history and visual directory of edged weapons from around the world, shown in over 800 stunning colour photographs




Records of the Medieval Sword

Forty years of intensive research into the specialised subject of the straight two-edged knightly sword of the European middle ages are contained in this study. Spanning the period from the great migrations to the Renaissance, Oakeshott emphasises the original purpose of the sword as an intensely intimate accessory of great significance and mystique as well as an artefact for archaeological examination. There are over 300 photographs and drawings of swords, each fully annotated and described in detail, supported by a long introductory chapter with diagrams of the typological framework, now updated, first worked out and presented in The Archaeology of Weapons, and further elaborated in The Sword in the Age of Chivalry. There are appendices on inlaid blade inscriptions, scientific dating, the swordsmith's art, and a sword of Edward III.




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