Swords have been around for about 5,000 years. Warriors and soldiers used swords as a primary weapon in battle until the 1900s. However, just because swords no longer play a role in modern warfare doesn’t mean they’re obsolete.
Swords are essential equipment in martial arts and fencing. Military swords play a ceremonial role in events worldwide and frequently appear in movies, television shows, video games, and novels. And swords are a valuable collector’s item.
Collecting swords is a popular hobby—and a good investment. According to the Antique Dealers’ Association, the value of swords increases about 20% annually. Premier knife distributors Blade City see a growing interest in commemorative swords and blades that serve a practical function.
History of Swords
Swords—defined as a long metal blade used for cutting or thrusting—were the weapon of choice throughout the world for centuries. The first swords date back to 3700 B.C. in Egypt and Turkey (then known as Anatolia). One of the most used early swords was the khopesh, a weapon with a hooked blade used primarily in the Middle East.
Swords evolved through the ages and helped build empires. Historians consider the Roman gladius to be the deadliest weapon used by ancient soldiers. Samurais used the katana sword for centuries to protect Japanese feudal lords, and the Vikings famously trampled much of Europe in the 700s wielding Ulfberht swords.
Swords remained a standard battle tool even after the advent of gun powder. It wasn’t until World War I that the U.S. government stopped issuing swords to troops. In 1918, the U.S. issued its final sword to troops—the Patton cavalry saber.
Today, there are three main uses for swords:
- Decorative: Made for display only, most have stainless steel blades for low maintenance.
- Functional: Also known as battle-ready, these swords have sharp blades, often are made of high carbon steel or another traditional sword material that replicates their historical models. Functional swords can be valuable collector’s items.
- Fantasy: These swords typically have rounded edges and tips and allow people to use them in cosplay, on stage, or in other fantasy situations.
Historians believe that the Chinese first used swords in the 3rd Century BC. There were two types of ancient Chinese swords: jians (double-edged with straight blades) and dao (single-edged with curved blades. In general, Asian warriors preferred curved swords while Europeans favored straight blades.
Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian troops found that curved blades were easier to wield in cavalry charges. The Mongol Genghis Khan employed a cavalry armed with curved scimitars and sabers to conquer much of Asia. As the technology for steel swords advanced, the Japanese created a curved longsword called the katana, still considered one of the most finely crafted blades in history.
Katanas, also called Samurai swords, are Asian-style swords that serve as an iconic symbol of premodern Japan. In ancient times, Samurai kept a single katana for their lifetime and were buried with the sword. People believed that the blade held the warrior’s soul.
Katanas have curved blades, and the handles can accommodate a two-handed grip. Warriors traditionally paired a katana with a shorter sword, the straight-bladed wakizashi, which was better for close combat. Sword makers would test the katana by beheading a convicted criminal before presenting the blade to a samurai.
Some katana sword manufacturers use Damascus steel, which is stronger and makes a sharper and more durable blade than other materials. Today, it is legal in most states to purchase katana and samurai swords. Some katanas available at Blade City include:
- Hand-forged Vulcan Damascus Katana
- Shinwa Black Knight 3-piece handmade set
- Shinwa Makaku Katana Samurai Sword
- Cold Steel Tactical Katana Machete
Although Europeans used Asian-style swords, most used straight-bladed weapons called longswords—long-handled implements for slashing and thrusting. Broadswords, a type of longsword, are a double-edged weapon known for causing blunt damage. You can use longswords with a one or two-handed grip, but most people use a single-handed grip with broadswords.
People throughout Europe used broadswords, including the British Knights. Claymore swords are Scottish-style swords that are basket-hilted broadswords. Following 1707, when Scotland and England united, Scottish soldiers used claymore weapons to distinguish themselves from English troops, which used more slender swords.
You can find broadswords at Blade City:
Vikings used single-handed weapons with wide blades called Ulfberht swords. Ulfberht served as a symbol of wealth and status because they were so finely crafted and expensive. Ulfberht could slice mail armor better than most other blades.
Fantasy and Novelty Swords
Although there’s no longer much use for swords on the battlefield, replicas of the weapons are popular in fantasy play. Star Wars lightsabers continue to introduce new generations to European-style swords, and anime and video games have drawn new interest to ninja swords and other Asian-style blades. Blade City offers dozens of replicas of fantasy blades, including:
- Anime swords: Anime typically features curved Asian blades and Medieval swords. The Black Zelda Sword and Scabbard is a replica of a sword in a popular anime game of the same name. It has a false-edge blade made of stainless steel and snaps into its matching scabbard.
- Video game swords: Replicas of video game weapons are popular cosplay props. The Halo 4 Blue Lightning Sword is a replica of the Halo Energy Sword from the Halo game franchise.
- Hidden swords: Looking for a taste of the early 1900s? The Cold Steel 1911 Guardian is a sword cane with a blade hidden in the shaft. The cane’s handle mirrors a 1900s pistol grip, and the slim sword blade is stainless steel with a sharp point.
Still Deciding Between the Different Types of Swords?
Blade City is the premier online source for military swords, sabers, machetes, knives, and other blades, and our inventory changes frequently. You can sign up for alerts for notifications of new swords and knives and know when a sold-out item is back in stock.