Military Review

Differences between a sword and a rapier: the historian's version

Differences between a sword and a rapier: the historian's version

The sword and rapier are very similar blades in appearance, but they have different names. This often becomes the subject of disputes between experts who prove to each other which of the above types weapons carry one or another blade.

The Russian historian Klim Zhukov tried to clarify the situation in one of his videos.

The expert noted that outwardly, both the sword and the rapier are very similar. There is an opinion that the first one has a slightly wider blade, but the classification does not indicate how much. At what point should a sword be considered a rapier and vice versa?

Another difference between these two blades is the decoration of the hilt. It is believed that the more “rich” is the rapier and it was used for duels. The sword was a purely military weapon.

However, as Zhukov noted, duels were often fought with combat blades, and expensive elements were present not necessarily on civilian swords, but also on knightly ones, which they used in battles.

The essence of the difference, according to the expert, lies in the terminology. So, translated into Russian, a sword means a sword. That is, a double-edged long blade.

But the rapier is double-edged. Therefore, she is also a sword.

At the same time, according to Zhukov, if we turn to the Spanish terminology of the 16-17th centuries, then the rapier is a “sword for a costume” or for civilian wear, which brings us back to the version of the use of this blade in duels.

Summing up, the Russian historian noted that disputes over the difference between these swords are meaningless. Since in terms of weapon classification, they are almost identical. The difference is only in the origin of the names.


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  1. Ezekiel 25-17
    Ezekiel 25-17 29 August 2023 19: 23
    Well done Klim: burn them with the word of truth!
    1. Shurik70
      Shurik70 29 August 2023 19: 36
      I always believed that the rapier only stabs, and the sword cuts, and cuts, and stabs.
      And suddenly "the rapier has a double-edged sharpening."
      Multiple realities are increasingly mixed up.
    2. Aaron Zawi
      Aaron Zawi 30 August 2023 21: 23
      I love his shows. A peculiar, but unambiguously scientific approach to the presentation of material.
  2. abrakadabre
    abrakadabre 29 August 2023 19: 43
    The author could have limited himself to referring to the video of Klim Zhukov, and this would have been enough with a margin. What is the merit of the author in covering / revealing the topic? The article is a fat minus. Like the editor who missed this ..., he does not turn his tongue to pronounce the word "article" for publication.
  3. cpls22
    cpls22 29 August 2023 20: 33
    The sports rapier is lighter, with a four-sided thin blade, in contrast to the sword, which is both heavier and with a larger guard.
    The latter is dictated by the rules that allow hitting the hand as well.
    After all, such a division was based on something ..
    An analogy with the division of weapons into civilian and combat comes to mind. At the same time, duels could also be on combat blades, especially if the duelists were from a military caste.
  4. Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov
    Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov 30 August 2023 11: 15
    In fact, the main difference is the balance - the center of gravity. Outwardly - it is not visible in any way, therefore confusion occurs. The rapier balance is closer to the guard, the sword further.
    Of course, if the cross section of the blade is round or multifaceted, then this is a rapier and this is immediately visible. But if there is a blade sharpening, then it can be a sword and a rapier, and you can distinguish it only by taking a weapon in your hand.
    But there may not be a rigid separation - the balance of the rapier is 5 - 10 cm from the guard (maybe closer, but the weapon will be too "fidgety"), and the balance of the swords - 10 cm and further (the farther - the stronger the chopping blows, but weapons are more difficult to maneuver).
  5. linux28
    linux28 30 August 2023 17: 38
    How, again? :-)
    In general, we have GOST for this business. Controversial, of course, like many GOSTs for terminology, but people prepared no more stupidly than Zhukov.