28 Different Types of Swords by Name & Origin [Pictures]

The sword is a famous weapon associated with many legends, such as the Japanese Samurais. Swords are a great part of many histories around the world. These weapons symbolize strength, power, authority, and protection.

It takes constant practice to master the art of using a sword. They were the weapon of choice in the ancient Roman and Mesopotamian Empires and even featured in World War I.

Origin of Swords

Types of Swords

A sword is a sharp single or double-bladed weapon used for thrusting or cutting. Swords were originally made out of knives and daggers in the Bronze Age around 1600 BC. They had a longer blade that was connected to a hilt. Naue II was a common sword in this era.

 In the 12th century BC, the Iron Age sword emerged with little advancements. They were made out of iron through hammering and were slightly heavier and stronger than Bronze swords. In the mid-1st Millennium BCE, swords were made out of Damascus steel from ancient Greek and India. At around the same period, Persian armies began using acinaces swords, which became a popular weapon.

The sword technology significantly improved in the Middle Ages and became an advanced weapon. Unlike bronze and iron swords which would bend after impact, spathas were made out of hardened steel and could stand even the hardest impacts. The spatha evolved throughout the migration period and the Viking age but still maintained the same design.

Swords had simple quilts until the 11th century when they used cross guards. The sword fast gained popularity until the 14th century, when the bastard sword came into existence. It had an extended grip that could be used single-handedly or with both hands. 

In the 15th century, two-handed swords became more common. These weapons became more versatile and were used in warfare. The cutlass and the sabre were heavily built for chopping and slashing at multiple enemies. Some were modified into curved blades to capture and pull down opponents during wars. Most sabers had double edges and sharp points to pierce into soldiers. 

In modern culture, the sword bears a lot of significance from history. It is associated with knightly power and strength. 

Different Types of Swords

A sword is essentially made of a hilt and a blade. There are numerous types of swords classified according to their hilt type and blade type. Below is a compilation of 28 types of swords and their features.

1. Ninjato

The Ninjato was a ninja weapon used by Japanese warriors (Shinobi) in the feudal era. It was typically short with a straight blade of iron or steel and a square guard. The handle was made of wood, metal, or silk. The whole sword was about 50 cm in length. Today, martial arts Ninjutsu use this sword for their practices. It is also a common weapon in Japanese popular culture.

2. Claymore

Originally from Scotland, claymore was a popular sword that meant a ‘great sword’ among the Gaels. It was discovered in the 18th century. The word ‘claymore’ was used to describe basket-hilted swords. The claymore was largely used in the Middle Age and Early Modern Period during border fights from 1400 to 1700. At this time, they had a quatrefoil design, unlike those used during the fight for Scottish independence. They were last used significantly in 1689 in the Battle of Killiecrankie.

3. Nimcha

This was a single-handed sword used in the North African parts of Algeria and Morocco. The Nimcha had two forms of blades: a deeply curved style (cutlass) and a longer, slender type. The makers would often buy the blades in Europe and ship them to Africa. It had a unique quilt with a cross guard that formed a bud. Nimcha were mostly used by seafarers, which saw the popularization of a similar sword in Yemen, Arabia, and Zanzibar.

4. Long Sword

Originally from Europe, the long sword is a late Middle Age weapon designed to use with two hands. Its blade was straight and double-edged, approximately 85 to 110 cm. Its longer hilt is what gave it the name.

They were used for military activities in the 14th and 15th centuries. Its use slowly became obsolete in the 16th century when the Germans introduced the Zweihander. It became used for knightly duels and sportive competitions. It comes in several variations that can be used with one hand.

5. Nandao

The Nandao is a Chinese sword used in Kungfu exercises. It is single-bladed and quite heavy, making it a two-handed sword. It is fixed with a massive steel or iron quilt to deflect the opponent’s blows. It is an alternative to the Northern broadsword, except it is not curved. Its use in other activities and wars has not been documented.

6. Shotel

This is an Ethiopian curved sword used by the Damotians in Eritrea and Ethiopia. It has a flat, double-edged blade that assumes a semi-circle shape and a wooden hilt with no guard. Both foot and mounted soldiers used the shotel in war activities. This sword had numerous techniques for use, such as hooking and ripping soldiers off their horses, going around an opponent, and stabbing them on crucial areas such as lungs.

7. Jian Sword

This is a straight, double-edged Chinese sword used in ancient times since the 7th Century BCE. It came in two variations; one-handed and two-handed. The single-handed Jian had a blade of about 18 to 31 inches.

Two-handed swords were much longer and heavier. It was mainly used for martial arts training (Kungfu). They were initially made from bronze before steel became popular. In Chinese culture, the Jian is the “gentleman of weapons” as it is among the four major weapons, including Qiang (spear), gun (staff), and dao (sabre). 

8. Khopesh                   

The khopesh is a sickle-shaped sword originally from ancient Egypt. A typical khopesh was an average of 20 to 24 inches long. The curved blade was used to trap opponents or pull their shields out of the way.

Some of these swords had sharpened edges, while others had dull edges and were mostly used for ceremonial purposes. These swords were lastly used in 1300 BC. Royal graves and several pharaohs are illustrated with the khopesh as a historical feature. 

9. Butterfly Sword

This short single-edged sword was first used in the early 19th Century in Southern China. The blade is typically a human forearm length, making it easily concealed in boots and sleeves. The handle has a small crossguard for protecting the wielder against an opponents’ blows. A unique feature is that the blade is usually sharpened halfway. This sword is used in Chinese martial arts such as Wing Chun, Choy Li Fut, and Hung Ga. Each weapon’s features come in designs specific to the martial art.

10. Cutlass

Originally from Europe, a cutlass is a short, wide, slashing sword. The blade comes in two variations, either straight or slightly curved. Its hilt resembles a basket shape. Cutlass was commonly used in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries by pirates and sailors.

It was best for sailors because of its ability to cut through the thick canvas, ropes, and wood. Its short length made it easier for use at close quarters, for instance, below decks. It was versatile enough to be used as an agricultural tool (machete).

11. Tachi

Tachi is a traditional Japanese sword mostly carried by the samurai in the army. It was used between 900 and 1596 before being modified to make the katana swords. Japanese ancient swords were produced in different years, with the Tachi falling under the Heian period.

The blade of this sword is fixed to the hilt by a small pin known as mekugi. Tachi was worn on the waist with the sharp edge facing down. It was a preferable weapon for soldiers on horseback.

12. Mambele

Also known as goleyo, kpinga, and hunga munga, this sword is a firm of an axe or knife commonly used in Central and Southern Africa. It was artistically carved out of a dagger by the mangbetu community.

This sword features an iron blade, a curved back, and rear spikes, forming 4 blades. It is both a throwing and a close combat weapon as a dagger. This sword varies in design and uses across Africa and was a highly respected weapon in pre-colonial times.

13. Migration Period Sword

Popular during the Barbarian invasions, the migration sword was used between the 4th and 7th centuries by the Germanics. It was a derivation of the spatha used in the Roman Empire and later produced the Viking sword. The sword had straight and smooth double edges, about 30″ long. It had a short guard at the handle. Different words such as maki, heoru, and swerdan have been used to describe this sword, especially in poetry.

14. Viking Sword

Also known as the Carolingian sword, the Viking sword was widespread in Northern and Western Europe in the Early Middle Age. It evolved from the migration period sword in the 8th century. The Viking was later developed to the knight sword in the 11th century. This sword was notably used by Vikings, such that when they died, they were buried alongside their weapons.

15. Knightly Sword

The knightly was a straight and double-edged sword commonly used in the High Middle Age. It was a single-handed weapon with a cross-shaped handle. It originated from the Viking sword and was mostly used with a buckler or shield. The blade was about 28 to 31 inches and had inscriptions majorly inspired by religion. Common knightly swords include the Norman sword and the Cawood sword.

16. Makhaira Sword

Resembling more like a knife, the name Makhaira is derived from the Greek word ‘ machaira’. Machaira is a single-edged sword consisting of a curved edge and was mainly invented to be used by the people in the cavalry.

17. Celtic Sword

The Celtic sword consists of a lenticular cross-section and it is a double-edged sword. The Celtic sword was essentially a part of the infantry division.

18. Gladius Sword

This type of sword was the go-to weapon of those who fought in arenas for the purpose of entertainment known as gladiators. Gladius was popular among the Roman soldiers and consisted of a wooden hilt. Gladius was a dual-edged weapon. Gladius was of three varieties – Fulham, Mainz and Pompeii.

Pompeii was the shortest variant of gladius and also the easiest to handle. The Mainz consisted of a longer blade length. Fulham was a derivative of Mainz consisting of a longer trip. 

19. Spadroon Sword

Usually favored by officers in the navy, the spadroon consisted of a straight double-edged blade with a three-shaped hilt and a five-ball stirrup. The specialty of the spadroon swords was the presence of a central fuller with a single edge.

20. Rapier Sword

Mainly used for thrusting attacks, the rapier is a short pointed sword. It consists of a complex basket hilt and also a protective covering for the wielder’s hand. Rapier swords were mainly used in combination with daggers and cloaks for defense purposes. 

21. European Style Saber Sword

Put into use by the cavalry and infantry by the army, European style saber contains a single-edged and curved blade covered with a large hand guard mainly used to cut and slash. This type of sword was generally placed in a scabbard and kept at the side as worn by the army, navy, Air Force and marine officers along with their ceremonial uniform.

22. Broadsword

This 6 th century sword is one of the most primitive swords of the medieval period. The broadsword consists of a double-edged blade along with a single fuller stretching till the edge. It was modified as a double-handed sword by the addition of an even hilt. 

23. Zweihander Sword

Zweihander was a two-handed sword and a larger variant of the longsword mainly employed by the Germans and carried across the shoulders. 

24. Swiss saber Sword

It equips a type of backsword Swiss saber with a straight blade or sometimes a curved blade. Plated with gold and silver, the Swiss saber swords were arranged in regular hilts along with pommels of varying designs and worn enclosed in a sheath.

25. Fencing Sword

Aimed at hitting the vital points, fencing swords were mainly used by the aristocrats. Some of the types of fencing swords include:

26. Epee Sword

Epee consists of a long and rectangular cross-section with a triple edged blade and provides a pistol grip. Epee was the most predominantly used sword for shelling purposes in the 19th century. 

27. Saber Sword

Sabers contain elongated blades where the pommel projects outward and enables the hand to be protected from any type of injury. They are usually preferred as they are extremely lightweight. 

28. Foil Sword

Foil type of sword contains blades which are tape tapered containing a sharp tip which bends on use and it is mainly used as a thrusting weapon.


What is the deadliest sword type?

The claymore was the deadliest sword in history. It was used in the Middle and Early Modern Age during clan skirmishes and border wars against the English. This two-handed sword was double-edged and was regarded as a ‘Great Sword’ among the Scottish Gaelic.

What is the best sword type?

Double-edged swords are the best type of swords in the world. The two edges make them more lethal for attacking enemies. What is more, double edges can easily and effectively penetrate through amours compared to a single edge. With this sword, a wielder can attack an enemy from any side without having to turn it.

What is the most powerful sword?

The Katana from Japan is the most superior sword in history. It was commonly used by Samurai warriors. It has a good average length of about 60 cm. The blade is slightly curved towards the end and has a long grip that two hands can hold.

What is the easiest sword to use?

The long sword is the easiest to use because of its simple design. It has a reasonably large hilt measuring between 16 to 28 cm, enabling gripping by both hands. The long sword weighed approximately 1kg and was commonly used in the European Renaissance period and Late Middle Age.

What is the sharpest sword?

The Damascus sword from the Asian parts of India was the sharpest. The blade was made out of wootz steel and carbon particles. The pointed ends could slice through stones and silk. The edges remained sharp even after use in several battles. Damascus steel has been used to make and modify swords and other similar weapons in the past several years.

What sword is better than a katana?

While katana is a mighty sword, the long sword arguably takes the crown. The long sword comes with two edges and is longer than the katana, giving the wielder a longer reach. It also features a crossguard at the quilt, offering both offensive and defensive benefits, something that the katana doesn’t have.

Does the Queen have a sword?

A knighting sword is given to a monarch when they assume a high official rank to become a knight. Queen Elizabeth II of England inherited a knighting sword from King George VI, who was his father. She used it to knight several monarchs, including Sir Francis Drake.

Are swords illegal in Japan?

No. Ordinary Japanese citizens can own swords as long as they are registered under the Japanese Sword Association. The import and export of bladed weapons such as the sword in Japan have tight restrictions. This is because they are considered national and historical artifacts.

What’s the best sword ever made?

The curved Egyptian khopesh sword was the best weapon for fighting in ancient times. It had a sharp curved blade that made it easy for the wielder to attack and disarm an enemy in an instance. It was lightweight, making it quite flexible to carry around.

What Swords are used in the Olympics?

Fencing or Olympic sports uses three types of swords which are the epee, foil, and sabre. Each sword has a unique style of use, which makes it essential for fencers to specialize in one type.


Like any other weapon, the sword is filled with a lot of history and significance from ancient times very many years ago. Its history is centered on the make and origin of blades, legendary wars, and famous wielders. Swords come in many types according to blades and quilts, as seen above.

Also read:

Leave a Comment