Long Knives

Long Knives

By long Knives I mean swords, kukri’s and machete’s. Anything over 10 inches that can be used for chopping in a self defense senario. I am not a sword expert and have only just brought my very first sword blade. I have had a large collection of kukri’s, down to 5 at the current moment and had a little experience with machete’s. Below is the research Ive collated from the following links, that I thought may make it easier for another purchaser to use when buying their first long knife.

Ive found that anything over 18 inches is not practical in terms of concealment POST SHTF. Anything under 10 is more a camp chopping blade. 12 inch kukri’s can be carried in a dundee rig, inverted across the shoulder blades as can a medium length golok, 14.5 inches in blade length. Ive modified my golok by reshaping the tip so its more rounded and had it reground from a convex to a V grind for better decapitation qualities. At the moment it is also having a kydex sheath made for an inverted carry option. I suggest watching Cold Steels fighting Machete dvds from Cutting Edge Knives to see the capabilities of a machete in action. As these seem the wave of the future in defensive choppers.

I was about to purchase a Cheness Ko-katana but just got in with the pre-orders of Swamprat Rodent Waki’s made from SR-101 with a 17.5 inch blade. If I ended up purchasing a ko-katana. I probably would have cut it down to an 18 inch blade from the handle end and replaced the grip with micarta. (Personal observation). I believe theyve now come out with a Practical Katana called a Tak Wak at 18 inches in length made from 5160 steel.

One blade Ive taken a chance on buying to see how it would perform is a Rambo 4 chopper. Ive got to tell everyone before mentioning this not to laugh, but it ended up being a great chopper at 12 inches. The temper is a little soft, so doesnt keep an edge when chopping hardwood. However it wasnt brought for that reason. Going up against a steel bar or similar a softer temper has less chance of snapping when compared to a harder steel, being brittle with a harder temper. Ive ended up doing the same as with the golok with an inverted kydex sheath and reshaping the initial grind to a slightly thinner edge for slicing. I havent touched the secondary grind to keep the weight behind the length. The grip has also been replaced with black paracord. These would make a very good design for a combat machete made from a better quality steel.

Cold steel DVD’s


Swamprat Rodent Waki


Valiant Goloks




Cheness Ko-Katanas


Sword Buyers guide


Cold Steel Gurkha Kukri

Review of the Cold Steel SK-5 Gurkha Kukri

by Mc Joe Donald


So far, the CS SK-5 Gurkha Kukri has been a fantastic companion. It chops, it splits, it carves, it stabs and pierces deeply. It comes with a great edge, and it keeps a great edge. I’ve used mine regularly with little more than the occasional touch up to the edge, I haven’t had to actually re-sharpen the knife in the year that I’ve owned it.�

Aesthetics: The knife is 17″ from tip to tail, 5/16″ at the spine (which tapers after the curve down to the point), with a wedge-shaped blade, and a v-shaped edge grind. �
It has a kraton handle, which can be described as a hard rubber or soft plastic, durable, grips well when wet, and has proven to be comfortable so far. The black coating has held up well. I’ll be posting pics and hopefully videos of the knife in action at a later date.�

Steel: SK-5 (I’m no expert) is a high carbon tool steel. It’s similar to that used in hardened cutting tools, such as chisels and wood carving knives. It is a tad on the brittle side as compared to say 1055, but with the shape of the blade it seems it would take a really stupid mistake to ever make this a factor. I’ve split countless logs (batoning) chipped tinder, carved spears, notched traps, drilled fire boards, hammered tent stakes, cleared trails and lanes and so far the only noticeable wear on the edge is where it caught a couple grains of sand while splitting a 4″ ash log (you can feel it with a finger nail, still cant really see it). For as much hardwood as this knife has been through, I am amazed. I’ve never seen an edge on any knife last this long after so much hard use, except for my high quality bee-keeping hive knife.�

The kukri shape of the blade definitely adds to its utility. I do not exaggerate when I say this knife chops like a good hatchet. There’s one less tool you need to carry. The downward angled, weight-forward design makes it bite deep, and the V-shaped grind on the blade makes it spit chunks like an axe. Have yet to get it stuck.�
The narrow part of the blade (nearer to the handle) makes carving tools a breeze. You have good leverage when choking your hand up nearer to the edge, and the weight of the blade makes taking small consistent shavings an easy task. This is one area where a heavier knife shines, as you are able to make more controlled (and resoundingly safer) strokes with less effort. Let the weight of the blade do the work. I’ve found a lighter knife for carving tools to be dangerous and much more fatiguing.�

Advantages: When in the wilderness, every calorie counts. Every drop of sweat counts. Every drop of blood really counts. Having a little weight in your blade will save you effort in the long run, even though it’s more to carry. That’s why I like a bigger knife… fewer blisters, you don’t have to swing as hard. You don’t have to push the knife to carve, you gently swing it. And more weight = more steel, and usually that means stronger. It’s worth the extra carry weight to me to have it easier when its work time.�

Quality:The knife comes with a 5 year Warranty. Judging from what I’ve seen I don’t think I’ll need it. The handle would probably be the only thing I’d expect to wear out. It is made of Japanese steel (great stuff) in China (eh, didn’t know it when I bought it, glad I didn’t though) but so far it has far exceeded my expectations.�
The sheath is decent, 2 pieces of molded kydex style plastic, suspended vertically on a nylon web loop. The halves are riveted together, kind of a negative in my mind, as I like to be able to take the sheath apart. It secures on the bulge near the business end of the grip by snapping around it. There is a hole in the sheath tip to allow for water drainage. There are many places to attach a leg-lashing to keep it in place. I like to lash the sheath to a pack with the 2″ wide holes running along its sides. It also hangs low enough to wear it on a belt on your hip while also wearing a backpack padded belt (mine is a Kelty external frame) and still have easy access to it.�

Drawbacks: The only other negatives I can see to the knife are the fact that you need to keep the edge oiled (animal tallow would work for this), and the fact that it is a tag big for gutting and skinning smaller animals, but does well at this task, with care, on whitetail (and I assume larger) deer or animals. This would be a reason to carry a smaller, more suited knife for fine tasks, besides the the fact that you should always have a backup anyway. I like the Tom Brown Tracker T2 by Topps for this purpose. I’ll be reviewing it at a later date.�

Overall: I’d give this knife a 9 out of 10, loosing a point for the potential long term durability issues of the handle, and limited utility on small game. I plan on ordering a couple extra handles from cold steel, I understand they are hammered on, so it should be a simple task to replace the handle once the worn one is removed.�

This is my favorite knife to date. The price is reasonable (i’ve found them for less than $80) the steel is quality with a good ring to it. It is hard and sharp, and in my opinion, just the right size.

What is the best type of steel for a sword?

This is a common question asked by beginners, but it is somewhat akin to asking ‘how long is a piece of string’ – mostly because ‘best’ depends on what type of sword we are talking about and what its intended usage is…

Not to mention that there are other factors that are actually more important than just the type of steel it is made from (for example, heat treatment and the quality of the forging is more important than the steel itself – a properly heat treated piece of the cheapest plain carbon steel is much better than than the best quality L6 tool steel if the attempt is not NOT tempered properly!).


So let’s ask instead ‘what are the different types of steel commonly used to make a sword – and what are their strengths and weaknesses’ (when tempered properly of course!)?

In this article, we will attempt to answer THIS question – and let you make up your own mind on what types of steel best suit YOUR preference (and budget) in a sword.


It used to be that just about every sword on the market was made from Stainless Steel. Now, it is almost only relegated to cheap decorative swords – and for good reason!

Stainless steel swords (or any blade over 12″ long) is considered to be TOO brittle for serious usage and can shatter relatively easily.

To get just a little technical with it – Stainless steel is ‘stainless’ because it has a high Chromium content (over 11%) – and when a blade gets over 12″ long (such as a sword..) the grain boundaries between the chromium and the rest of the steel start to weaken, creating stress points. So the purpose of a sword made from stainless steel is to put it on the wall – and just keep it there to admire from a distance!

NOTE: There are a few exceptions to this rule. Stainless steel swords can be used for NON CONTACT forms practice. And there have been a few smiths who have been able to use more sophisticated techniques to make it suitable for cutting – but these techniques come at a price, and are never found on the ‘surgical quality stainless steel’ blades being sold on the Internet and marketed as battle ready because they are sharp… (Yikes!).


At the very least, for a functional sword it has to be a (properly tempered) ‘High Carbon steel sword’. But what exactly does this mean?

Generally, The American society of automotive engineers (SAE) scale is the one most commonly used by sword manufacturers. And the most commonly used steel for functional swords is plain carbon steel, which is designated by the first two digits 10 – and a number from 01 to 99 afterwards, with each point signifies that .01% of that steel is carbon.

For example, steel classified as AISI 1045 has 0.45% carbon content, 1060 is 0.60 carbon, etc.

Steels with a carbon content between 0.05 to 0.15 are considered to be LOW CARBON STEEL, and 0.16 to 0.29 MILD STEEL – neither of which are suitable for a functional sword (as any sword with a carbon content of less than 0.40% can’t really be hardened and given a decent heat treatment).

The most popular three types of carbon steel used in swords are 1045, 1060 and 1095, starting with the most inexpensive (1045) with most sword experts agree that the ideal range for a durable and sharp sword is somewhere between 0.5 and 0.7 carbon content.


1045 Carbon Steel swords are quite cheap to make because, being relatively soft, they are easy to make (either by hand forging, pressing or machine milling) but can be hardened, so are effectively the MINIMUM acceptable steel for a functional blade.

If well tempered, they can be surprisingly strong, and when you look at a sword under US$100, if it just says ‘high carbon steel’ – it is probably 1045… (and at this price, it is almost certainly machine milled).


1060 Carbon Steel is a great compromise between hardness (edge holding ability) and pliability (strength) – and many swords famous for their DURABILITY, such as those by COLD STEEL and DARKSWORD ARMORY , are made from 1060 carbon steel.

Consequentially, 1060 Carbon Steel swords are very popular, though because the steel is harder than 1045 – are more difficult to forge, shape and polish and thus almost always has a higher price tag.

Definitely a great all round steel that is hard enough to take and keep a good edge but focused primarily on it’s durability.


1095 Carbon steel is very HARD – and unless it is properly heat treated, this hardness can sometimes be problematic when used on harder targets (either intentionally, or unintentionally – such as accidently hitting a wooden stand).

The main advantage to swords made from 1095 carbon steel is that they can take and keep a much keener edge than swords with a lower carbon content. The disadvantage is that they can sometimes be a little on the brittle side – so durability is traded off for edge retention.

It doesn’t mean that a sword made from 1095 carbon steel is exceptionally fragile, but it is simply no where near as TOUGH as the lower carbon content swords. The video below of the Akio Hattori Katana distributed by DARKSWORD ARMORY show that while they may not be as tough as the lower carbon content swords, they are still quite durable…

So it just depends on what you are looking for in a blade…


For our purposes, there are basically two types of spring steel swords – 5160 and 9260. As with the plain carbon steel swords, the last two digits represent the carbon content – so both have .60% carbon and therefore, are like the 1060 carbon steel swords (a great compromise between hardness and durability) – and when properly heat treated, allows objects made of spring steel to return to their original shape despite significant bending or twisting, thus giving 1060 spring steel a special kind of ‘twist’.

So let’s take a look at these two different steel types:


5160 Spring Steel is a low Chromium alloy steel, with around 0.7 Chromium – which is not enough to make it stainless (which requires a minimum of 13% Chromium) – but combined with a small amount of silicon (0.2%) results in an extremely tough and durable sword and is favored by sword makers such as ANGUS TRIM, GENERATION 2 and the blades designed by Michael Tinker Pearce and made by the HANWEI FORGE.

5160 Spring Steel was also the steel of choice for the famous Nepalese Khurki – blades so tough and so sharp they are reportedly able to cut off a buffalos head with a single strike!

Again, what is critically important is the heat treatment – if it is applied wrong, even the best 5160 Spring Steel sword will take a set (Generation 2 had some issues with this way back in 2007), but when applied properly – the end result is spectacular.

Made famous by CHENESS CUTLERY – 9260 Spring Steel (also called Silicon Manganese Steel) consists of 2% silicon content, giving it an even more dramatic resilience against lateral bends and allowing it to spring back to true even after being bent almost to 90 degrees.

Swords made from 9260 Spring Steel have a reputation for durability – with 9260 Spring Steel having a tensile strength almost double that of 5160 (source – efunda.com).

While these swords are almost legendary for their toughness, like any blade they are not indestructible – and while rare, they can be broken or damaged. I’ve tested quite a few myself very hard and never had this happen, but I have heard of it occurring – and there is this video on youtube showing a Konron forge 9260 blade breaking against a thick bone (thicker than any human bone would be) – which would happen to almost any blade striking it – so they don’t have magical powers that defy metallurgy or physics..! 😉

The moral of the story is that no blade is indestructible – and because of the nature of what swords were originally designed to do, it is never a good idea to put yourself in a situation where you expose yourself to the potential of a blade snapping off and flying through the air anywhere near you…


Tool steel swords have been quite popular in recent years, mostly because swords made from these steels are hard yet quite tough and tend to hold and keep a good edge. While there are several types on the market, there are two that everyone tends to be talking about – and those two are T-10 tool steel and the legendary L6 Bainite.


T10 Tool Steel is a Tungsten alloy steel with a very high carbon content (around 0.9 to 1.0%) with a little bit of silicon (around .35% maximum) and is often referred to as ‘High Speed Steel’.

This stuff tends to be very hard (above HRC60 when properly tempered) and the Tungsten means that it is also more resistant to scratches and abrasions than most other types of steels, plus considerably tougher than other swords with a similar level of carbon content.

While these swords are generally only seen on higher end production swords, the $330 SBG Custom Katana series swords are made from T10 steel, hold their own quite well.


L6 Bainite is also a tool steel (band saw steel actually), with the L designating it is a low alloy steel and – when properly heat treated, has a reputation as the TOUGHEST type of sword steel currently on the market – mostly due to the innovative custom sword work of Howard Clark, a smith for the Bugei Trading company who started producing this steel in the late 1990s.

While when properly heat treated (it can be a hard steel to work with) there is little argument that it is one of the toughest steels commercially available for swords, it can sometimes be prone to rust so needs plenty of maintenance, and of course, is quite expensive to make (no decently made L6 sword has a price tag of under US$1,000).

REAL Swords have a FULL TANG

The weakest point of most modern swords is the handle, in particular the metal insert into the handle attached to the blade known as the tang. Unless a sword has what is known as a “full tang” it is liable to break when struck against any surface. Or worse still, come loose from the handle like a helicopter blade when swung with even moderate force (and for obvious reasons cannot be called a functional sword).

REAL Swords have been properly HEAT TREATED

Real swords (at least these days) are for safety reasons always properly heat treated and tempered to create a blade that is not too brittle and not too soft. If a sword is described as “carbon steel” but there is no mention of how it is heat treated and you don’t know about the manufacturer – there is a good chance that it hasn’t been heat treated at all. And if it hasn’t been heat treated, it doesn’t qualify as a real sword.

REAL Swords are made from CARBON STEEL

Real swords are always made from carbon steel. The vast majority of cheap swords being sold online are made from stainless steel. While stainless steel is a great choice for knives, it starts becoming very brittle on anything longer than 12″ and is NOT a suitable material for a functional sword, no matter what some marketers might claim�

What are you going to cut with your sword?

  • There are light, medium, and heavy use cutters. Most manufacturers will tell you right up front what a particular sword is designed for:�
    • Light cutting: beach mats, pool noodles, water bottles, etc�
    • Medium cutting: regular cutting of light targets and occasional cutting of tatami omote�
    • Heavy cutting: regular cutting of Tatami Omote and occasional cutting of heavy targets such as 3″+ bamboo, multiple rolls of tatami omote, or mats wrapped around an oak dowel

A Beginner’s Glossary of Terms�

Arms of the Hilt | Basket | Blade | Blade Length | Blunt | Button | Center of Gravity (CoG) | Center of Percussion (CoP) | Counterguard | Cross (Cross-guard) | Cruciform | Edge | False Edge | Ferrule | Finger Ring | Forte’ | Foible | Fuller | Furniture | Grip | Guard | Hilt | Knuckle-guard | Langet | Overall Length | Pas D`ane | Point of Balance | Pommel | Port | Quillion | Quillion Block | Ricasso | Scabbard | Shell Guard | Side Ring | Tang | Terzo | Turk’s Head | Wire-wrap

Arms of the Hilt�
Part of the sword hilt extending on each side from the cross guard (or quillions) toward the blade and having the form of a small arc. The arms of the hilt are known to have been in use from the 15th century but they had probably made their appearance in the 14th, protecting the forefinger when it gripped the ricasso. They represented an important step in the development of the guard. In the swords of the 16th and 17th centuries the arms of the hilt served as a support for loops and rings of the guard, as well as for bars of the counterguard. �

An arrangement of bars, plates, and rings that form a “cage” around the sword hilt, creating a protected guard (or “basket”) around the wielder’s hand. �

The cutting and/or thrusting part of edged weapons, excluding the hilt. �

Blade Length (BL)�
A unit of measurement representing the length of a weapon’s actual blade; generally measured from the tip to the end of the guards. �

A term applied to an unsharpened sword or dagger that has had its edges rounded for safe sparring activities. �

A raised piece on the pommel of swords, daggers and knives, to which the tip of the tang of the blade was peened. It usually formed part of the pommel, but could also be a separate piece; it was sometimes made of a different material. Since the 19th century the button on military weapons has had a threaded hole inside to be screwed onto the threaded end of the tang. �

Center of Gravity (CoG)�
See Point of Balance.�

Center of Percussion (CoP)�
The Center of Percussion of a blade is the measured value along its length that produces the least amount of vibration upon hitting a target. It’s the area able to deliver the most efficient, powerful blow and is often called the blade’s “sweet spot”. �

Also called inner guard, a system of rings, loops, and bars in a sword guard that was developed in c.1500 to protect the inner side of the hand and body. Bars or branches of the counterguard usually joined the knuckle-guard and arms of the hilt. �

Cross (Cross-guard)�
A part of the furniture of edged weapons, positioned crosswise to the blade and the grip. As the simplest form of guard, it has been known since antiquity. In some swords of the 16th to 18th centuries, cross guards were extended forward and backward to form the fore and rear quillions. Cross guards can also be seen on some staff weapons, on which they served the same purpose of protecting the hand. �

A term describing a sword with a simple cross-guard, that when inverted point up, forms the profile of a crucifix. �

The sharpened cutting portion of a weapon’s blade. �

False Edge�
In single-edged weapons, a sharpened portion of the back near the point; it is also called the back edge. It served both for better thrusting penetration and for cutting strikes carried out from the same position of the sword (without turning the hand). �

A ring or cap reinforcing the grip of an edged weapon or the shaft of a pole arm. The term is also often applied to scabbard bands. �

Finger Ring (Finger Guard)�
The portion of a sword’s guard that is a semi-circular bar laying in the plane of the blade, attached to the root of the quillions and curved round to touch, or nearly touch, the edges of the blade. Finger rings are also called the Arms of the Hilt. �

The upper third of the blade, ending in the point. The division of the blade into forte, terzo, and foible is attributed to the Italian school of fencing, which enjoyed a fine reputation in the 16th and 17th centuries �

The lower third of the blade of a sword, nearest the hilt, which is the strongest section of a blade and does most of the parrying. �

The grooves running lengthwise on some blades of edged weaponry, designed to both lighten and make flexible the weapon. Compared with the various other structural modifications made to blades, the fuller appeared relatively late and only after considerable technological advances had been made in metalworking. In the Bronze Age there were opposite forms, with various angling and ribbing methods designed to reinforce the blade. During the “barbarian” migrations, we find swords with blades having a wide, shallow groove running down both faces. At a later stage the first signatures or marks of the craftsman appeared in these grooves. Through the centuries the fuller became an even more integral part of the blade until, in the 16th and 17th centuries, it also became a demonstration of the craftsman’s skill. �

A generic word used to describe the accessories and fittings on various types of weapons. It refers, in particular, to everything built onto the tang of any edged weapon to facilitate its use and any decorative mounts on the handle, blade, or scabbard. It is also used in a general sense, when referring to attachments, fittings, and accessories of armor. �

The part of edged weapons that is gripped by the hand. In the Stone Age it was made by rounding off and smoothing the part held, then binding it with leather or fabric. In the Bronze Age, because of the greater possibilities offered by this metal, the grip became markedly different from the rest of the weapons and added some sort of protection for the hand. From the late Middle Ages, the wooden shaft was predominately used, covered with colored fabrics, sheets of decorated precious metal, polished leather, or twisted and braided wire. In order to provide a firm hold, the grip almost invariably had a spindle-like form, was fairly rounded, and trimmed and grooved. �

In edged weapons, a device or a part designed to protect the user’s hand. �

The whole of the grip and the guard in a bladed weapon, generally consisting of the pommel, grip, and cross guard. �

Knuckle-guard (or Knuckle-bow)�
An important part of the hilt of swords and sabers in the form of a bow extending from the cross guard toward the pommel. As can be adduced from several English swords, it appeared no later than the mid-15th century, first as an extension of the cross guard strongly bent upward to protect the hand from cutting blows. Later the knuckle-guard became a central piece of the sophisticated system of side bars forming the guard of swords and rapiers. Although it gradually lost its importance with the introduction of light thrusting smallswords in the second half of the 17th century, some examples of this weapon preserved the knuckle-guard as a traditional pattern up to the 20th century. In most types of military swords and sabers, the knuckle-guard has always retained its role of protecting the hand from cuts, and it is still a feature of fencing sabers and of swords of historic form worn with full dress uniforms. �

In staff weapons, the langet consisted of an iron strap, usually straight but sometimes zigzag shape, extending from the socket down the wooden part of the shaft and attached to it by nails or screws. There were usually two langets, in line either with the cutting edges or with the flat faces of the head. They carried out the dual task of increasing the strength of the attachment of the head to the staff and of protecting the most exposed part from blows; in hafted combat weapons, therefore, the other two sides of the wood were sometimes protected by “false langets,” with one end fitted into the socket or into a square ring under the socket, thus protecting the other two sides of the wooden staff.�

In sabers, and less often, in other swords, the langets are extensions of the cross guard going symmetrically from its center into the grip and over the shoulder of the blade, on both faces of the blade. In most cases, there is a small space between the blade and langets, which tightly fit the locket of the mouth of the scabbard, thus preventing an accidental unsheathing. There is a possibility that strong langets were also used by experienced swordsmen to stop and catch an opponent’s blade at a sliding lateral strike. �

Overall Length (OL)�
A unit of measurement representing the complete length of a weapon from tip to end. �

Pas D`ane�
A term of French origin, used fairly widely but incorrectly since the 19th century to describe the arms of the hilt. In the 17th century, it was used to describe one of the oval shells forming the sword guard. �

A term referring to the sharp tip or end of a sword blade at the opposite end of the hilt. �

Point of Balance (PoB)�
The Point of Balance on a sword is simply the point on which the center of gravity is located. In other words, it’s the spot along the blade’s length that has equal mass on either side of it. The PoB will vary widely between sword types and their intended functions. �

The end of the grip in swords and daggers, which served either to give a better hold on the weapon or to balance it. �

See Side Ring.�

Quillion (or Quillon)�
An extended cross guard of swords and daggers designed in the 16th century to parry or entangle the opponent’s blade. The quillions extended from a base, the quillion block, below the grip, and were either straight, recurved in S-Form, or bent toward the blade (especially in parrying daggers). In some types of hilts the forward quillion was curved toward the pommel, serving as a knuckle-guard. �

Quillion Block (or Quillon Block)�
Part of the guard of edged weapons consisting of a small block of metal with the tang passing through it, acting as a support for the shoulder of the blade and the base of the cross guard. This feature was absent throughout most of the Bronze Age, appearing in antiquity as an intermediate element between the grip and the blade, being slightly broader than the latter. With the appearance of quillions and other elements of the guard, its form and function became more defined; in fact, the quillions extended from it, as did the knuckleguard and the arms of the hilt. The quillion block was also called the ecusson. �

The unsharpend section of the blade near the hilt and usually within the guards in front of the quillions. One purpose of the ricasso was to allow a user to curl a finger over a quillion, allowing for better point control. Often times, longer swords would have an extended ricasso, allowing the gripping of an entire hand onto the blade past the cross guard for more leverage. �

A rigid sheath made of wood, metal, or leather-often cuir-bouilli (hardened leather)–used to enclose and carry the blade of an edged weapon, both to protect the wearer and to keep the blade clean and sound. In the protohistoric period, it was often made with plaques of cast bronze; later it was made with small wooden plaques that were covered with leather or fabric and then fitted with bindings and metal mounts. The edged weapon has always been something of a status symbol, and the scabbard was therefore of great importance to keep the weapon in good order.�

The ways in which scabbards have been made down the ages vary a great deal, but they have been generally simple for weapons of war, and richly decorated and ornate for weapons carried by leaders and royalty, and for presentation and ceremonial weapons. �

Shell Guard�
A type of the sword guard, often round or oval in shape. It appeared in the early 17th century and was used in various swords, such as the Pappenheimer or the Walloon sword. By 1630 it had assumed the hemispherical shape and was widely used in Spanish and Italian swords. Shell guards were also fitted to smallswords and to various hunting and naval weapons. �

Side Ring�
Also called ring guard or port, a part of the guard of swords and daggers for protecting the hand during parrying actions, first seen in the 15th century and particularly widely used in the 16th and 17th centuries. The side ring was positioned at the center of the cross guard, at right angles to the blade. It was made of a solid piece of steel welded or brazed to the cross guard and was sometimes fitted, for additional protection of the fingers, with an openwork metal plate. Occasionally a smaller side ring was placed inside another, both meeting at the cross guard. In other types, one side ring projected from the cross guard and the other from below it, both being linked by the arms of the hilt. The latter construction is frequently found on rapiers and two-handed swords. �

The stem of the blade, which extends into the handle and serves to attach the hilt. Its form varies depending on the system that joins the handle to the blade. If pointed, the tang is driven in like a nail, a very simple system still used for tool handles (e.g., files, chisels, etc.). In order to achieve a stronger join, the tang is usually shaped like a tapering cylinder that slightly exceeds the length of the handle and is peened onto the pommel or button. In the 19th century the end of the tang was often threaded, and the button was screwed onto it. �

The middle section of a blade, between the forte and the foible. �

Turk’s Head�
A modern nickname for rings made of twisted-wire braid sometimes used to finish off both ends of the grip of swords and daggers. It is so called because of its resemblance to a turban, a type of headdress typical of some Moslem peoples. �

A form of covering and finishing the grip of a weapon, consisting of twisted or braided wire spun round the handle. Often the wire was of alternating types (iron, bronze, copper, etc.) or alternating patterns (twisted clockwise, counter-clockwise, straight, etc.), forming complex visual patterns. Wire wrapping was employed both to increase the security of a weapon’s grip as well as of a means of decoration.