What's the Best?

by Marshall
(Concordia, Kansas USA)


First of all thanks for putting up this great site. Lots of great info.

You have lots of practical hands on experience cutting with many different styles of swords from many different eras and cultures. This experience qualifies you as an expert of sorts.
I'm just curious what your comments are in general about how all these different types of swords compare/contrast as weapons. Does anyone type of sword stand out to you as a better weapon? More lethal? Are some of them better at some things? What is the best combat sword of all time, in your opinion? Are the more modern swords better weapons, more deadly? Or are some of the old designs just as good? How do western medival swords compare to the eastern ones? Which is better?



ANSWER: Hi Marshall,

Thanks for your kind words, but I would hardly call myself an expert.. ;-) I have seen, handled and cut with quite a few swords - but I still personally consider myself to be nothing more than an experienced beginner as it were...

Anyway, just based on my own personal experiences, I honestly can't decide on my favorite sword or what I would call the 'best all rounder'.

Some swords that have stood out to me over the years is the Hanwei Ninjato, the Katana, some single handed medieval swords and hand and a halfers - but one of my favorite blades is actually a Filipino Bolo - and then there are the Chinese Dao and Jian...! Argh..!

So there is no way I could say definitely 'X sword is the best of them all'.

At the end of the day, they are all better at some things and worse at others. I must admit that I do have a special affinity with the Japanese Katana, but it is not the ultimate sword. There really is no such thing...

Of course if there was a lightsaber, that might turn the tables on them all! Or, perhaps more feasible, a sword actually made of impact resistant glass... As glass can be so much sharper than steel, if you could take away its brittle quality - you'd have one of the most frighteningly effective cutters known to man.

But I digress... ;-)

Sorry I couldn't be of more specific help. But the further along you get into your study of swords, the more you realize that there are no cut and dried absolutes...

Best regards, and never stop learning!

- Paul

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A historical approach
by: Caleb

Welcome to SBG, Marshal!

I look at it this way: there is no absolute best because it depends on which angle you define "best". However, i refuse to accept such a non-answer, so I've developed the following ~arguments~. They are not answers; only arguments to faciliate thought.

1)it has been said that, in a over-simplifying, overgeneralizing way, that while the Europeans invented the armor to defeat the sword, the Asians developed the sword to defeat the armor. By this definition, Asian swords have generally received more dedication. One can appreciate a nation's glorious history for their swords: The Chinese when they invented the "Horse-cutting sword" to successfully resist the Mongols; the Scandinavians' for their damascus steel; the Japanese for their controversial "sword renaissance" of Edo period...etc, etc. All nations have history, but it won't take long for you to find out which one has LONGER ones

2)A sword is mainly used for thrusting and slicing WITH a lot of momentum behind it. So, unlike my razor-sharp box cutter which i've never been able to chop anything off or pierce ~through~ anything, a sword even with a blunt edge is inflicts A LOT of damage. It is therefore also more slow than short swords/knives. In defining the "best" weapon, it needs to be established whether the context is for just injuring the guy, or killing their whole armies. Illegal switch blades/butterfly knives etc. tends to be a top contender in modern contexts.

3)For all SWORDS that are not "short swords", they can be viewed as either tip-heavy, or more evened out as a "fast" sword. European swords have heavy pommels to counter the weight, making a very "fast", versatile sword that can change directions easily, but somewhat lacking ~dedication~ for heavier slicing-cuts. Chinese swords are simply heavier (i think), so it can be both tip-heavy AND a generally versatile cutter--if one's wrists can handle it. Japanese swords makes an obvious effort to be "faster", but because of their two-handed slicing-cut applications, feel nonetheless somewhat tip-heavy. Islamic blades (i think) are lightweight and very tip-heavy, allowing devasting.

4)Modern materials and sharpening methods are more durable and effective. If seen as tools, modern blades are better than historical ones, hands down. However, the sword is no longer seen by the general public as tools, but rather, artistic objects whose ARTISTRY (not functionality) includes functionality. Therefore, a sword's ~artistic~ merits must be considered. Modern steels simply is not so artistic (inferior at producing grain patterns, temper lines, accepting polishes, etc). But that won't matter: if you bring an "artless" super sharp, super tough, rust-proof, lightweight blade made of kevlar/polycarbonate/nanotubes back to medieval Japan, they will WORSHIP that sword as the supreme work of art!

Read up before you select your sword(S)
by: Chris Childress

Currently I'm reading up on different swords through the ages. With several categories such as Ancient, Viking, Medieval, Japanese and Ninja swords (do ninjas exist?)- my approach will be to buy 1 or 2 from each group.

I have just bought my first sword - Musashi Bamboo Warrior Katana here -


After some sharpening - my water bottles had no chance of survival - any of them - 1 gallon, 2 Liter or the new small 16 ounce.

SBG is a lot of fun and with great reviews and should be able to save you money on decent functional swords.

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