Most of us have been fascinated by swords since childhood, but I’m sure most of us don’t know the basic parts of a sword! It is important that you understand the anatomy of a sword if you ever want to be a good fighter with one, or at least, as a collector.If you are going to buy a sword, you should first learn the basic parts of a sword. That’s why I’m going to give you a quick tour of the parts of a sword and explain each part’s function. I will provide you also images that will help in the learning process.
For example, you can use these informations to detect any creaking in the handle. A sword that creaks when you move it is in danger of breaking. Swords with loose handles can be dangerous because they can easily slip out of your grip.In a sparring, loose handles can also cause the sword to come off the hilt (more about hilt later). Swords with loose handles or broken handles can be dangerous to practice or spar with. Remember that your sword is a weapon, and that you should treat it with respect.
But even if you don’t use your sword as a weapon, it is still equally important to know the parts of a sword as a collector. Why? Because you need to know what you’re talking about. You don’t want to be that guy who doesn’t even know what a hilt is and where the pommel of the sword is located. That’s just embarrassing for someone who thinks he is a sword aficionado.
Without further ado, I’m going to give you now a quick tour of the parts of a sword and explain what each part does.
The 3 Primary Parts: Hilt, Blade and Scabbard
The Hilt is the part that you hold in your hand when you are using a sword. It has a Pommel at the bottom (the end opposite the pointy end) and often has a Grip and a Cross-Guard on the top (the end nearest your hand).This is the part of the sword that is visible when used with a Scabbard.
The Blade is the part that is attached to the hilt. Blades come in many shapes and sizes. Some swords have one solid piece of steel for the entire blade. Others may have a section near the hilt made of a harder metal than the rest of the blade. There may be another section near the tip made of even harder steel. This section is called the “sharpening zone.”
The Scabbard is the sheath that is used for holding a sword. Over the history scabbards have been made from the most different materials, such as: metal, wood, leather, brass or even steel.
Here below you can find a useful table that shows the anatomy of a sword in all its parts.
But now let’s proceed with order, from the pommel to the point!
1. The Pommel
The pommel is the decorative and ornamental end of the hilt. It often has an eyelet or two for a hand-guard. Wherever it is attached to the hilt, the pommel serves as a kind of anchor for the sword and prevents your hand from slipping. It also helps in counter-balancing the sword when you maneuver it. Knights of the middle age used to paint their order symbol in this part of the sword.
2. The Tang
The tang is the metal rod that connects the handle to the blade. It can be full or partial, depending on the extent of the handle it covers. As you can guess, the longer is the tang, stronger is the leverage one can apply against harder material. On most swords it is about 1-1/2 inches long.
3. The Grip
The grip is the area on the top of the hilt where your fingers grip the sword. On some swords there is no grip. On others, there may be a natural indentation, several finger-holes, a leather wrap or a textile wrap. His size can be as long as one hand, one and a half hand, up to two hands, that’s the case of a longsword grip!
4. The Cross-Guard
Also known as quillon, the cross-guard is the piece of steel that runs across the front of the hilt from one side to the other. Its main purpose is to protect your fingers if you are using the sword to strike with the point of the blade. It also has another important function: It serves as a stop for your sword when you are in a fight and need to maintain your balance. The cross-guard can offer a decorative function too.
5. The Ricasso
The Ricasso is one of the most distinctive features of the two-handed longswords, but it’s not present in every type of sword ( for example is totally absent in the roman gladius) . This area of the blade is generally sharpened much like the rest of the blade; however, it is much thicker and is much more prone to damage if you hit something with it. This part of the sword is sometimes not sharpened as finely as the rest of the blade. In fact, on some swords it is left completely unsharpened due to the fact that is rarely used to hit your opponent in battle.
6. The Fuller
The fuller is the part of the sword that takes the most damage and is the first part to break or fail. The fuller will fail before the rest of the sword. This is because the fuller is the thinnest part of the sword, and the weakest part of the blade.
The fuller is not just an aesthetic feature. The purpose of the fuller is to help lighten the sword and to allow for easier and increased blood flow during battle. The fuller is usually either straight or is shaped like a D and usually has rounded edges.
7. The Sharp Edge
This is the part of the sword that is used to cut. The sword can be single edged (like a Katana) or double-edged (like most medieval swords. Obviously, it is the most important part of the sword. It is also the part that gets the most attention. However, it is the sharpening zone near the tip of the blade that gets the most attention. This area is often referred to as the “single step” since it is the only section of the blade that is sharpened all the way from the hilt to the tip. If we are talking about double-edged swords the edge can be “true” or “false”, the true edge is the one facing the opponent during a battle.
8. The Central Ridge
The central ridge is a series of tiny ridges that run the length of the blade on each side of the fuller. These ridges serve two purposes: they allow the steel to “breathe” and they prevent the blade from becoming too hot during battle; and they give the sword its “edge.” The edge is much sharper when the steel is straight rather than having these tiny little peaks and valleys. These ridges are usually not sharpened at all. However, on some swords they are sharpened so they are not as pronounced.
9. The Point
The point of the sword is the very end of the blade that is used for thrusting or stabbing. It is the part of the sword that actually makes the cut or thrust. On most swords, the point is very sharpened compared to the rest of the blade. This is true both because it needs to be (you don’t want to kill your opponent by tickling him, do you?). A properly sharpened point will make a clean, deep cut or thrust. An unsharpened or improperly sharpened point will drag and rip and often fail to penetrate the target.
10. The Scabbard
The scabbard is what you see when you remove the sword from the sheath. It is made of some kind of hard, strong material and it has an opening (usually a slot) that allows you to draw the sword. The scabbard can be attached to your belt, your horse, your shield, or any other convenient location. Scabbard is usually one of the parts of the sword most finely decorated.
The scabbard should be big enough for the sword to fit inside of it with room to spare. This is important because it gives you more freedom to move. If the scabbard is too small, you will constantly have to reposition the scabbard in order for you to draw the sword. If the scabbard is too large, the sword will fall out when you need it most! Sometimes the scabbard has a second opening that allows you to attach a lanyard so you don’t lose your sword.
11. The Chape
It is a part of the scabbard that fits over the point of the sword. It keeps the point from being exposed when the scabbard is not in use. It also provides some protection for the point when the scabbard is being transported from one location to another. The chape is usually made of leather or some other hard material like metal.
12. The Throat
The throat holds the sword in place and provides leverage for drawing the sword from the scabbard. The throat is usually made of metal and is attached to the scabbard with a ring or other type of fastener.
Now you have a complete overview of the anatomy of a sword. A sword have 3 main parts: the hilt, the blade and the scabbard. Parts that all kind of swords have are: tang, grip, tang, sharp edge and point. Optional parts can be: cross-guard, ricasso,fuller, central ridge.
Knowing the anatomy of a sword will give you also an understanding of how a sword works whether it is a Katana, a Longsword or a Saber. This will help you also be a better judge of a sword’s quality when you see it one in a store or you want to buy an historical one. Now you’ll also be able to recognize inferior sword workmanship when you see it.