Falchions, Scimitars, Messers and Sabers

Ok, I'll admit it. Lumping Scimitars and Falchions (and Messers) in with Sabers together in one category like this is a bit of a stretch...

After all they come from very different time periods, were used in very different periods (two were cavalry swords, eastern and western, the others an oversized butchers knife of a peasant conscript) - but the medieval Falchion, Middle Eastern Scimitar and the early modern Saber all have one thing in common.

They are exceptionally good at slicing and chopping things into pieces!

In this article, we will be taking a brief look at all of these blades - from the battlefield huge cleaver knife of the conscripted peasantry - used with about the same grace as one would use an axe (and with a similar effect) to the noble swords of cavalries, both Eastern and Western that would ride in on horseback and 'cleave a man in twain' to put it quaintly.

These are their entry level replicas. Some do well. Others not so.

Medieval Falchions

Similar in function to the earlier 'Falcata', the Falchion was a unique sword that was essentially a sword shaped axe...

Essentially a 'poor mans' field weapon - the Falchion was a common sight among conscripted peasant soldiers from the 11th to the 16th century. Effectively a massive oversized and modified variant of a butchers knife (like the Grosse Messer), it took little skill to inflict massive injuries, ripping through medium to even heavy armor.

While not exclusively a peasants weapon, with a few gold plated and very ornate examples used and treasured by the nobility, it tended to be their default weapon and was very, very common on the medieval battlefield for centuries because - well, it worked...

Extremely well.

Unfortunately, not all the replicas in our price range do.. But others do a better job than the medieval originals ever could have hoped to..

Falchion and Messer Reviews

"Gross messer"

Cold Steel

Price Range: $179-339

OVERVIEW: This sword can be hard to source at times, but after seeing the official promos and testing it out ourselves, we can kind of understand why that might be..

Click here for the full review

"Medieval Falchion"

Windlass Steelcrafts

Price Range: $154-185

OVERVIEW: Windlass tried their hand at a few Falchions, but in the end narrowed it down to one. Sadly, the example we see in this review suggested they may have been actually been better off keeping the other one that they actually discontinued.. This one may or may not need some work out of the box.

Click here for the full review

DISCONTINUED SWORDS - REVIEW ARCHIVE

Click on the image for the Archived Review

Eastern Scimitars

Some people believe that the origins of scimitars can be traced back to Egyptian Swords like the Khopesh...

However history suggests that Scimitars are actually a lot more contemporary. In fact even during the times of the crusades the Saracens were armed with straight swords, not Scimitars (a fact that Hollywood in its wisdom often likes to ignore!) and most antiques are of 17th and 18th century manufacture and were believed to have come about gradually throughout the Islamic world after (unfriendly) contact with the Mongols..

Regardless of their origins, most modern functional replica scimitars are based on the Persian 'Shamshir' and in our price range, there are essentially only two real models to consider - the Cold Steel and the Windlass Steelcraft versions - and as you will see, they are in fact almost identical...

The first one may appear more modern and contemporary than the Windlass version, but is designed with straight out of the box functionality in mind. The second Shamshir in our price range is more subdued and historically accurate looking of the two but the default blade comes out of the box with a dull 1mm edge, however is relatively easy to sharpen if required (see below for the full review).

But otherwise, the differences between these two scimitars is largely only skin deep. (You'll find out exactly why in the Shamshir review below where I made an interesting discovery)...

Functional Scimitar Reviews

"Shamshir"

Cold Steel

Price Range: $239-399

OVERVIEW: Of the two, this feels like the sturdier. Though less historically accurate, it comes with a decent edge out of the box and seems to be build to Cold Steels specs - but who actually makes it was an interesting discovery..

Click here for the full review

"Scimitar"

Windlass Steelcrafts

Price Range:$179-235

OVERVIEW: More historically accurate than the Cold Steel version but with an unsharpened edge by default, even with the optional sharpening service it is possible to get it for a few dollars cheaper than the Shamshir. And as you will know from that review, the differences are not so major..

Click here for the full review

Post-Renaissance Cavalry Sabers

While its origins are unclear, the Saber (also spelled Sabre "I say Potato, you say er"... never mind) is commonly believed to the result of the evolutionary development of Falchions and Scimitars over the centuries...

With their usage peaking during the Napoleonic wars (where they were feared and loathed by the French) they continued to see service in the American Civil War and even as recently as World War I - and are such a part of the military tradition that a saber is still a distinctive part of the dress code of the officer ranks in modern day militaries from all around the world.

Once again like with Scimitars and Falchions, when it comes to functional replicas of these swords, the most common examples to be found are made by either Cold Steel or Windlass, with the Cold Steel versions tending towards being extremely sharp, quite heavy and remarkably effective cutters and Windlasses offerings generally more affordable and coming in varying degrees of historical accuracy.

"1796 Cavalry saber"

Cold Steel

Price Range: $239-399

OVERVIEW: An extremely good, and almost perfect historical replica, this sword is both a solidly constructed and extremely powerful cutter. Very close to a 5 star rating.

Click here for the full review

"1860 Cavalry Saber"

Windlass Steelcrafts

Price Range: $89-109

OVERVIEW: Probably the first thing that grabs you about this piece is the price. But having a closer look, it actually appears to be a very decent saber - which is no huge surprise as the manufacturer supplies the military to this day..! Excellent value.

Click here for the full review

"Troopers Sword"

Atlanta Cutlery

Price Range: $39

OVERVIEW: A functional Civil War saber for under $40? Seems impossible, but it's true! Why does it have the same rating as the swords above? Value for money! The general moral of the story is, buy the best one you can afford - but all are great bang for the buck (though for different reasons)

Click here for the full review

DISCONTINUED SWORDS - REVIEW ARCHIVE

Click on the image for the Archived Review

Windlass Pirate Sword: Ok, it's not a cavalry saber, but rather a ship shape weapon that got lost overboard by Windlass. A fun review though, I think you will enjoy it.

Further Resources

While there are few further resources available on Scimitars and Falchions, the best bet is to trawl through the various sword forums where there are numerous hidden gems waiting to be uncovered. Just watch that pirate fellow with the Cutlass..


I hope this information on Scimitars, Falchions and Sabers has been helpful. To return to the homepage from Falchions, Scimitars and Sabers, click here

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