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Cutting Edge Weapons: 10 Unusual Knives, Swords and Blades

In this age when we think of weapons, we tend to think of aircraft, electronic guidance systems, bombs and missiles. Sophisticated star wars systems may come to mind or huge warships and aircraft carriers or even chemical or nuclear weapons.
Of course that has not always been the case.

From man’s earliest days the blade has been the basic form of weapon whether for hunting, defence or warfare. For close combat and ceremonial occasions it is still in use today: the dress sword of the mounted officer or the bayonet of the infantry. If you are lucky enough to be Knighted you may even get a tap on the shoulders by the British Queen with a ceremonial sword.

I would like to make it clear at this point, that this article takes no stance on the use of weaponry.

My own beliefs and convictions are not included here. This is a look at some of the non standard, more interesting and curious forms that blades have taken, with historical, geographic and cultural differences. I use the term blade because some of the forms shown cannot be described as knives or swords.

  1. The Kukri

    Some readers may be surprised to find that the image shown is actually modern British army issue. It is issued to one of the most feared units in the British army: the Gurkhas.

    It is their weapon of choice in close combat, rather than the bayonet.

    The story of the Gurkhas is a long and historically complicated one.

    Succinctly: Gurkhas hail from Nepal which was part of India. In its Empire building days, Britain made India one of its colonies. The Gurkhas were seen as brave and heroic fighters who were recruited into the colonial Indian army as a “Martial Race”, a term which meant that they were not classed as mercenaries.

    With the independence of India in 1947 four regiments became part of the British army. Prior to this they have fought in both World Wars and latterly were part of the forces that in the 1980’s defeated the Argentine army in the Falklands and also served in the Middle East.

    The Kukri shown above is the standard army issue with karda and chakmak.

    Traditionally the blade is 12-15 inches (30-38cm) long. The karda is a small accessory blade used for many tasks. The chakmak is unsharpened and is used to burnish the blade. It can also be used to start a fire with flint.

  2. The Shamshir

    The Shamshir is a sabre that is part of the scimitar group of swords.

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User Comments
  1. lindalulu

    On June 4, 2009 at 8:09 am


    Very interesting article…

  2. Swayam Siddha

    On June 4, 2009 at 8:45 am


    very nice article. most of these weapons had their origin form south asia

  3. Fegger

    On June 4, 2009 at 9:27 am


    Very interesting read, Chris…penetrating text, honed and unsheathed to describe this warring slice of life.

  4. Johanan Rakkav

    On June 4, 2009 at 9:33 am


    I have a sort of morbid fascination with blades, and this article fed that beast nicely. For better or worse, man’s creativity in designing and using weapons for his own destruction seems endless, again as you’ve demonstrated.

    Every so often, I’ve visited museums with arsenals from medieval Europe. They have unusual and wicked-looking blades too. Wait until you see the huge one used against charging armored calvary. I have no idea how a foot solider would counter it. If you do another article on swords, I hope you’ll investigate the Western European weapons (and the fine Damascus and Toledo swords come to mind too).

  5. Patrick Bernauw

    On June 4, 2009 at 9:36 am


    Sharp stuff here!

  6. Francois Hagnere

    On June 4, 2009 at 9:52 am


    Remarkable work! beautifully illustrated.

  7. s hayes

    On June 4, 2009 at 10:46 am


    Very interesting and original article x just looking at some of those bad boys made me feel queasey.

  8. Glynis Smy

    On June 4, 2009 at 11:14 am


    Interesting, cutting edge stuff ;0

  9. John McDonnell

    On June 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm


    My father was in India during the war, and said the Ghurkas were fierce fighters who were expert with a knife or sword.

  10. Lauren Axelrod

    On June 4, 2009 at 1:26 pm


    Can I cook with these. That would be so much more enjoyable. Cool Piece C.

  11. Lostash

    On June 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm


    Some impressive weapons here! And just look at some of the craftsmanship too! Brilliant article.

  12. George W Whitehead

    On June 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm


    All of the knives featured here are useless. None of ‘em have got a spike for removing stones from horses hooves! Great article, CJ.

  13. Geri Ohara

    On June 4, 2009 at 6:08 pm


    Hi Chris a sharp and interesting piece

  14. clay hurtubise

    On June 4, 2009 at 6:37 pm


    Geri beat me to it: I was going to say your never dull, always a sharp article and to the point!
    Thanks,
    Clay

  15. Unofre Pili

    On June 4, 2009 at 8:40 pm


    Those are so artistic and sharp cutters.

  16. Juancav

    On June 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm


    Picturesque pieces.Well researched.

  17. Majic

    On June 4, 2009 at 9:38 pm


    Maybe we should start looking for ways to use them in the culinary arts rather than in the arts of murder. Hehehe! The Japanese are using their 6-foot long, battle-weary masamune to cut up the tuna for their fish-loving citizens!

  18. Jo Oliver

    On June 4, 2009 at 10:36 pm


    thx I enjoyed viewing and learning about these

  19. kate smedley

    On June 5, 2009 at 3:33 am


    Some scary weapons but very interesting piece, I learned a lot, thanks.

  20. Ravana

    On June 5, 2009 at 3:48 am


    A different piece and nicely researched too.

  21. DannySlater666

    On June 5, 2009 at 6:03 am


    I have a weird obsession with all forms of weapons, i find them quite fascinating and also like to know there origin and what they where used for.

  22. David Irvine

    On June 5, 2009 at 2:43 pm


    cool!!

  23. Betty Carew

    On June 6, 2009 at 8:28 am


    Very interesting article CJ

  24. Resounding Glass

    On June 7, 2009 at 2:41 am


    Very interesting article. I have featured this on my blog. Hope that’s ok.
    http://developingwriters.blogspot.com/2009/06/10-unusual-knives-swords-and-blades.html

    Nicely done,

    -Resounding Glass

  25. Annie Hintsala

    On June 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm


    My husband is a professional knife maker, and does museum pieces and things for the SCA. Really good article, though he says most Indian peices were meant to be scary, rather than practical. :)

  26. Deep Blue

    On June 7, 2009 at 4:54 pm


    Nice article, aren’t ninja weapons worth the consideration?

  27. CHAN LEE PENG

    On June 8, 2009 at 12:17 am


    Interesting piece! Two thumbs for you!!!

  28. hiho

    On June 8, 2009 at 9:49 am


    Interesting article and good pics illustrating the origin and use of some of the world’s most unusual knives/swords. Good article.

  29. catlord

    On June 8, 2009 at 2:23 pm


    very interesting article

  30. valli

    On June 8, 2009 at 8:16 pm


    Interesting read.

  31. amilia snow

    On June 8, 2009 at 10:35 pm


    cool…

  32. Saxxan

    On June 9, 2009 at 2:35 am


    Absolutely fascinating article!
    I wonder if the “Tang” you show might have got it’s name from the saltwater Tang fish which has a spine either side of it’s body, just in front of the tail?

  33. nekkoli

    On June 10, 2009 at 12:22 am


    Never even heard of many of these weapons….so damn interesting!

  34. JJ Patton

    On June 10, 2009 at 1:26 am


    Wow! Real Chakrams?! Who knew! LoL Fascinating read!

  35. HatedNation

    On June 10, 2009 at 10:03 am


    I owned a very wild curved knife once, it the same one shown on the cover of the movie “The Chronicles of Riddick” I never saw the knife in the movie, but it was a very unique blade. I wish I knew what happened to that thing….

  36. Andrew Davies

    On June 10, 2009 at 11:08 am


    I love bladed weapons. Nice article.

  37. games

    On June 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm


    wow, i thought some of those only existed in games lol

  38. charlie21

    On June 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm


    dude nice love the keris

  39. R J Evans

    On June 10, 2009 at 3:54 pm


    Great stuff! Blogged @ Webphemera!

  40. mark streich

    On June 10, 2009 at 10:42 pm


    Very nice article, I hadn’t even heard of some of these weapons existing outside of video games!

  41. Teresa M Sims

    On June 11, 2009 at 12:10 pm


    thanks for sharing havent seen or heard about weapons like this since my dad died

  42. Teresa M Sims

    On June 11, 2009 at 12:10 pm


    thanks for sharing havent seen or heard about weapons like this since my dad died

  43. David

    On June 12, 2009 at 6:09 pm


    very interesting! the katar is cool lookin lol

  44. David

    On June 12, 2009 at 6:09 pm


    very interesting! the katar is cool lookin lol

  45. rutherfranc

    On June 13, 2009 at 11:32 pm


    sharp article…

  46. rutherfranc

    On June 13, 2009 at 11:32 pm


    sharp article…

  47. Adam Henry Sears

    On June 14, 2009 at 4:01 pm


    This is an impressive list of weapons. I wouldn’t mind have a collection like this, especially with the beautiful knife. Thanks for sharing.

  48. RS Wing

    On June 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm


    Awesome piece…historically informative and very cool as well nice work!

  49. ysmar135

    On June 15, 2009 at 9:44 am


    cool wepons it made me think of mid times were they would run around with swords and fighting agains other ppl………lol

  50. Debra.

    On June 15, 2009 at 10:20 am


    The craftsmanship is remarkable. All beautiful pieces of art! Wonderful article Chris!

  51. Scott Weisenhauf

    On June 15, 2009 at 4:20 pm


    I’m a big fan of Katar and “claw” or “wrist” type weapons, it was EXTREMELY fascinating to be enlightened to the existence of a dual pistol/katar hybrid.

  52. Earl Schmegley

    On June 15, 2009 at 5:54 pm


    Cool article – even a non blade-enthusiast can take away some interesting information from this piece. Great images as well. Good work!

  53. BlackBeer

    On June 15, 2009 at 7:09 pm


    Wow this article really gets done to the “point” of it :] I enjoyed it a lot.

  54. dakis

    On June 17, 2009 at 4:36 am


  55. Allana Calhoun

    On June 17, 2009 at 11:03 am


    Very interesting article! I’ve always had a fascination for swords and blades. Would love to own a collection someday. Thanks for this awesome collection of info.

  56. Judy T Lloyd

    On June 17, 2009 at 7:07 pm


    I collect knives and swords, do not have any like these.

  57. fishfry aka Elizabeth Figueroa

    On June 18, 2009 at 11:45 am


    Holy Macaroni, I never saw weapons such as that, the article and the blades are awesome.

  58. Jeffrey B. Merrow

    On June 18, 2009 at 8:05 pm


    Fantastic work. Well put together. I enjoyed it a whole lot.

  59. Rod Ferrandino

    On June 19, 2009 at 8:41 am


    I simply join in the admiration for this article. Very, very interesting.

  60. jambo1984

    On June 19, 2009 at 9:40 am


    Прикольно жаль что написано не по русски!!!!

  61. alfrhnsby

    On June 20, 2009 at 12:02 am


    ohhh good

  62. Nivu Whatani

    On June 20, 2009 at 1:16 am


    nice work!

  63. S A JOHNSON

    On June 20, 2009 at 3:42 pm


    Very cool.

  64. deatstar

    On June 21, 2009 at 6:49 am


    cool work could do with newer pics dont you think well done though!

  65. Meg Smith

    On October 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm


    Great article. I really enjoyed the photos of rare blades. Lots of inspiration…

  66. cdm1018

    On December 2, 2009 at 8:49 pm


    very cool. i own a kukri btw. there are three of us in my family who carry them as a tradition. mine is the longest by several inches at about 17 1/3 inches. less curved than the other it would be the fastest in a fight, though my brothers carry heavier blades both dating to WW1 and would pack more punch. very nice weapons, i enjoy collecting all sorts of blades though. i would very much like to own a chakram, katar and kris.

  67. Jack Slater

    On December 12, 2009 at 7:47 pm


    This is some sweet stuff for a Medieval Junkie like me!
    But you must admit, some of these blades don’t look nice, but I guess that sort of adds on to its ‘deadly’ factor.

  68. Marie Milton

    On July 27, 2011 at 11:02 am


    I have got to get me some of those! lol

  69. TigerTommy1982

    On August 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm


    Nice article, I liked reading about the real weapons, although I knew about many of them already. Aside from the ones given to the Gurkhas, are there still blades of these types made in production anywhere on a regular basis?

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