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.
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.
Similar in function to the earlier 'Falcata', from which it may have possibly derived its name, 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. Likewise, the German Messer was - as the name suggests (messer is german for knife) Effectively a massive
oversized and modified variant of a butchers knife, and it it took little skill
to inflict massive injuries, especially to other lightly armored combatants..
While not exclusively a commoners weapon, with a few gold plated and very ornate examples used and treasured by the nobility, Falchions and Messers tended to be their default weapon and was very, very common on the medieval battlefield for centuries because - well, it worked...
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..
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)...
While its origins are unclear, the Saber (also spelled Sabre "I say
Potato, you say - argh... never mind") is commonly believed to the result of
the evolutionary development of
Falchions and Scimitars over the centuries - and were the last types of swords ever used on the battlefield.
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.
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