29 April 2020

Still Need A Saber

It's going on three years since I acquired a Horse Pistol.

My M1894 Mills pattern cavalry belt has a saber chape.

I now have a repop M1904 enlisted saber hanger to clip to that saber chape.

I have no saber.

"To Ebay!" I cry!

It appears that every single M1840 and M1860 saber made by Ames Manufacturing Company has survived to the present day.  Nifty, but spendy.

Cold Steel used to make a replica of the M1860 light cavalry saber which is always labeled as a heavy saber.  They also made an M1840 heavy saber.  Much more affordable and are some of Windlass Cutlery's best work, they will actually work as swords!  $230 to $300 depending on the seller.

Then there's the butter knives for $120 or so.  They look the part from a distance, but aren't actually weapons.

Donations always, cheerfully, accepted.

This is such a damn conundrum.  I also still need a hat!  7-3/8 size if you're feeling generous.

On of the silliest things about this sword is it's one of three I actually know how to use.  I know a bit of Kenjitsu and the katana.  I got pretty decent with a point-and-edge rapier when a friend decided to do a research project on a fencing manual he'd found in Italy.  And thanks to doing a bit of reinacting, I know how to use, not just A cavalry saber, THIS cavalry saber.

I have a basket-hilted claymore, but other than being a fair hand with a cleaver, I claim no particular skill.

GURPS thinks that Melee Weapon - Broadsword covers both the basket hilt and a cavalry saber.  Maybe, but I think they're different enough that familiarity penalties should apply.


  1. There are handling and penetration differences for a straight blade vs a curved blade of the same cross section. So. Yes. Same weight, same basic handle and cross section, wildly different techniques.

    A broadsword hack and chop is significantly different than a cutlass/saber hack and slash.

    Then there's the whole use of the point. Again, wildly different to thrust with a straight blade than with a curved blade.

    Straight blade. Useful for armor and brute force. Punching with the point. Chop. Smash. Crush.

    Curved blade. Useful for cloth and meat. Ripping with the point. Slashing. Draw cuts. Whacking.

    Yes, one can use one for the other, but not well.

    So... GURPS needs to be fixed.

    Even Traveller got the difference between broadsword and cutlass/saber.

    1. Some of it is that it's too generic. But there's some historical basis, all of the various sword types in the Oakeshott Typology would be called "sword" by their owners. And Broadsword by GURPS.

      We didn't really start differentiating between them until fairly recently and only then because historians needed a way to talk about different designs.

      The Broadsword skill is sufficient if you add in familiarity penalties like with firearms. I've done this sort of kludging before.

      A katana doesn't handle like a European hand-and-a-half but will use the same Broadsword for single handed use and Two-Handed Sword for two-handed use.

      The katana has different stats than the broadsword and cavalry saber so the differences in them is accounted for, just not in the skill section.

    2. I will give GURPS credit for making the cavalry saber a heavy chopper and completely different from a fencing saber; including the skill.

      A cut and thrust fencing saber is Melee Weapon: Saber and is noted as a fencing weapon for the rules. (Never mind that 'fencing' applies equally to all swordplay historically...) A briquet is the model for a combat fencing saber here.


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