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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 854

PostPosted: Sun 11 Nov, 2007 8:06 am    Post subject: Cold Steel 1796 Cavalry Saber         Reply with quote

Some of you who've seen a few of my posts are aware that I've been on a quest to
acquire or have made a Polish Hussar Saber ( L-hilted, with thumb-ring ) from the
17th or 18th century. I've also looked at other sabers, and one of the most popular
seems to be the British 1796 Light Cavalry Saber. Along with my searches I've more
than once looked at Cold Steel's replica of the British Saber, and after checking out
the review on The Sword Buyer's Guide ( discussed here in another forum ), I decided
to take a chance and purchase this relatively inexpensive sword.

Here's SBG's review :

http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/british-military-swords.html

Two things convinced me order this sword, 1. The videos and pictures on SBG's site.
I can't recall finding a decent pictorial review of the saber anywhere else. Any picture I
found seemed like a cookie-cutter job that, as I know now, did NOT do this little dandy
justice. And 2. SBG was offering this sword, priced as high as $ 380, for about $ 225
which included 3-day FedEx shipping ...

I ordered the sword last sunday and recieved constant email notifications with regards
to placing the order, the order being sent to the wharehouse, then shipping information
followed. I asked one question -- just to check the response time -- and recieved a reply
within a day. The saber was scheduled to arrive friday, but arrived a thursday.

As you can see, the sword was packaged expertly and professionally ! Sword and sheath
were wrapped seperately. The sword, well greased, in plastic from pommel to tip, and the
tip had a protective plastic cap to prevent damage or puncturing the box. The scabbard in
plastic and paper. Both were held in place firmly by cardboard racks; the first box bubbled
wrapped and placed in a second box. This pleased me immensely !


Inside were two signed and dated inspection notices as well as the bill WITH a coupon
for 8 % off my next purchase -- excellent encouragement for a new customer ! The only
thing I'd quibble about ? The inspections took place in March and April of 2006, so this
boxed up sword had been waiting for me for over a year ...




After careful unwrapping and an initial wipe-down my first impressions were very
favorable ! Now, remember, we are talking about a $ 225 production sword, and not
a custom-built sword. Keeping my perspective, I was VERY pleased with the fit, feel,
and finish. Pictures I'd seen made the knuckle-guard seem fragile, but it is far from
that ! And while SBG even notes that the grip is NOT historically pinned, but only
peened at the pommel area, everything appeared firm and tight !



While I had expected a wood - steel covered scabbard, I was not at all disappointed
by the leather one ! This is supposed to be of wood too, but it kinda' feels more like a
very very stiff leather with the metal parts held in place by small screws and, I'm guessing
here, glue as well. There also appears to be a plastic insertion of some kind INSIDE the
scabbard. Does it need to be removed ? I don't think so. It MAY be for preventing a well
oiled blade from staining the leather or wood. Not an historical feature, obviously, but
not a detriment to this package either ....

All in all, this ensemble is clean, neat, and attractive !

Finally, to provide a bit of historical perspective, here is a couple pictures of an actual
British Light Cavalry Saber. I'm not an expert, ladies and gents, but I think for the price,
the Cold Steel saber is a surprisingly nice addition to my small collection. And a rather
... fulfilling ... discovery with regards to my ongoing quest for The Hussar !


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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sun 11 Nov, 2007 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew,
Congratulations on your new acquisition. I am sure you are eager to learn more about this famous cavalry sword pattern. I highly recommend reading these two articles by Richard Dellar that originally appeared in Classic Arms & Militaria magazine: British 1796 Light Cavalry Sword part 1 and British 1796 Light Cavalry Sword part 2. The first article examines the origins of the pattern and discusses the 1796 trooper's sword, and the second article discusses the 1796 officer's sword. Both of these articles can be found at www.swordsandpistols.co.uk, a site that features a few articles and a good number of photos of mainly British and French swords from the Napoleonic period.

Cold Steel have some inaccurate product descriptions at times, and the 1796 suffers a bit from this standpoint. In the product description and in the video, Cold Steel state that the 1796 light cavalry sword is based on the Indian tulwar. To my knowledge this is not quite accurate. While the design might be influenced by Eastern designs, the tulwar does not stand out as a direct influence.

Cold Steel also confuses the meaning of hatchet point, at least as I understand it. They state that the "swelling" of the blade towards the point is what defines the hatchet point. Below I will illustrate the difference between a hatchet point and a spear point, and hopefully the difference will be self-evident. The swelling of the blade has nothing to do with this designation. A blade can not exhibit a swelling and can be said to have a hatchet point (e.g., the 1796 heavy cavalry troopers' sword).

Here is an illustration from Brian Robson's Swords of the British Army:


And here is a hatchet point from an antique 1796 light cavalry sword:


And a spear point from a British officer's hanger c.1790:


Regarding the lack of a pin through the ears of the grip's backstrap, yes that is a-historical for a trooper's sword, especially one with ears. However, a number of 1796 officer's swords have backstraps with no ears at all, and therefore no pin. Other swords have a pin through the ferrule.

I have seen Cold Steel distinguish the British 1796 from the Prussian 1811 "Blucher" saber by stating that the steel scabbard is for the 1796 and the leather scabbard for the 1811. I think this designation is their own, although I don't know enough about Prussian swords to say that a leather scabbard is accurate or not. There is a difference between the steel scabbards, however. The shoe, also known as a drag, on the British sword is much smaller and more svelte that the larger, more angular one found on Prussian 1811s.

ADDED: Oh, one more thing. The pommel button, while not commonly found on troopers' swords, can occasionally be seen on officers' swords.

For fun, below are my two 1796 LC officer's swords:

1796 LC Officer's Sword by J.J. Runkel:


Close-up of the hilt:


Variant 1796 LC Officer's Sword with beak pommel, pin through the ferrule, and a pipe-back blade:


Close-up of the hilt:
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Sun 11 Nov, 2007 10:47 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew,
If you could provide some close-ups of the hilt I would appreciate seeing its design more clearly. Also, can you provide a shot of the proof test paperwork? I am interested in what they do for their test.

Thanks,
Jonathan
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Jeff Larsen




Location: Austin, TX
Joined: 06 Jan 2004

Posts: 300

PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 7:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

HI Matthew,

So, are you going to have a scabbard made?

Nice review.

Thanks,

Jeff

"It is easier to find men who will volunteer to die, than to find those who are willing to endure pain with patience." Julius Caesar
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Larsen wrote:
HI Matthew,

So, are you going to have a scabbard made?

Nice review.

Thanks,

Jeff


It came with a steel mounted leather scabbard.
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 854

PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 3:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
Matthew,
If you could provide some close-ups of the hilt I would appreciate seeing its design more clearly. Also, can you provide a shot of the proof test paperwork? I am interested in what they do for their test.

Thanks,
Jonathan


Hiya Jonathan, thanks for the excellent pages on the historical sword. I enjoyed the pics, and
I get the impression that an original would be more imposing than the Cold Steel replica; the
blade characteristics more sharply defined.

As per your request, and hope these pics suit you ...




As you can see there is some oxidation on the metal parts. There was a bit on the blade as well,
but nothing a bit of flitz couldn't handle ...

Also, the blade-test inspection included in the package.
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 854

PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeff Larsen wrote:
HI Matthew,

So, are you going to have a scabbard made?
Nice review.
Thanks,
Jeff


Hiya Jeff, as Jonathan said, this sword comes with a rather nicely made scabbard.

The scabbard is actually VERY surprisingly nice. The metal pieces have a peuter-like
tint. The brackets and rings are far from flimsy, the throat and scabbard-end chapes
seamless, and everything looks to be of pretty good, attentive workmanship.

I don't get the impression that this sword will unravel like a war-profiteer's infantry boot --
you know, ' Hey, the boots work great as long as you don't walk around in them ! '

And here's an interesting comparison, gentlemen. Its not fair to compare TWO different
historical styles / replicas. But let me suggest ... one saber is custom-made, the other
production-made ...

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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew,
I am glad you found the articles informative. Thank you for posting the additional pics and the proof test information. Antique 1796 light cavalry swords are climbing in price, but on occasion they can still be found for relatively good prices--sometimes not much more than the CS replica, although I would not suggest cutting with them! BTW, do you plan on cutting with your 1796?

Jonathan

ADDED: Simultaneous post! That is a nice comparison shot. Another interesting feature of the suspension rings on British 1796 scabbards is that they look much like those of a key ring, as opposed to a ring that is just braised together.
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GG Osborne





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Nov, 2007 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't know about yours, however my Cold Steel saber had a very brittle pot metal guard that cracked off very easily (knucklebow in half!) while I was disassembling the grip. Also, the scabbard is a fiberglass core with a thin leather coating, not stiff leather. You can easily tell if you remove the throat assembly. The interior of the scabbard has a plastic thing-a-ma-giggy (for lack of a better description!) that keeps the oversized scabbard from rattling when the blade is inserted. I hate to rain on a parade, but really be careful with this one. The blade may have passed some sort of British proof test, but the rest of the package is very questionable, especially the scabbard. I used the blade on another conversion project and threw the rest of the grip and scabbard in the trash. I really wish I could be more positive as I know how proud you are with your new acquisition and I am very sorry to be blunt. I hope the product has improved and your model is a better and more authentic one than mine. Good luck!!
"Those who live by the sword...will usually die with a huge, unpaid credit card balance!"
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
Reading list: 3 books

Posts: 854

PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 6:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

GG Osborne wrote:
Don't know about yours, however my Cold Steel saber had a very brittle pot metal guard that cracked off very easily (knucklebow in half!) while I was disassembling the grip. Also, the scabbard is a fiberglass core with a thin leather coating, not stiff leather. You can easily tell if you remove the throat assembly. The interior of the scabbard has a plastic thing-a-ma-giggy (for lack of a better description!) that keeps the oversized scabbard from rattling when the blade is inserted. I hate to rain on a parade, but really be careful with this one. The blade may have passed some sort of British proof test, but the rest of the package is very questionable, especially the scabbard. I used the blade on another conversion project and threw the rest of the grip and scabbard in the trash. I really wish I could be more positive as I know how proud you are with your new acquisition and I am very sorry to be blunt. I hope the product has improved and your model is a better and more authentic one than mine. Good luck!!


Hiya, Mr. Osborne ... Your experience and decisions with the Cold Steel Saber are exactly what someone
interested in purchasing the item needs to read about. I've tried to keep my perspective with regards to this $ 225
purchase; everything DOES feel tight, neat, and relatively clean -- But remember : The sword was inspected over
a year ago and since then? what has sitting on a shelf in a box, well packaged or not, done for it ? I had to clean
up oxidation on the metal handle parts and blade. Spending so little on a sword doesn't necessarily mean it has
quality issues, but that is the general opinion of production pieces in that price range.

From my own experiences ? I'll grab these two : Some years back I purchased a $ 1,400 range Japanese Style
Sword. Brand new. Robust blade. Beautifully packaged. Etc etc. When I unsheathed the sword ? The blade was
pitted. The fittings just slightly lose. For what I spent I wasn't expecting utter perfection, but I wasn't expecting
lose fittings or a pitted blade. I had no problems returning the sword and getting a refund, thankfully ... From
Kris Kutlery ( in myArmoury's links ) I once owned their $ 195 gladius w/sheath, and at that time it seemed to
me to be -- quality wise, and remember I'm no history expert -- equal-to if not very close to equal-to an Albion
Gladius ( In fact, I believe at that ime I had owned one of Albion's first generations Pompei swords and felt
the KC fittings outshown it quality-wise ) ...

The scabbard of the Cold Steel Saber does LOOK well put together, and quite nice, but I noted as you do there
is a plastic insert of some-kind. Nor would I be surprised if -- upon disassembling the scabbard -- I found my
" impressions " seriously wrong. Furthermore, I'd raise questions about the grip assembly -- which you decided
to trash. I think the review at SBG mentions briefly knowledge that some customers of this particular blade did
what you did. But without taking it completely apart its impossible to tell if the core is a relatively good quality
wood, a horrid mish-mash, or even plastic.

After all my blather, Mr. Osborne ? I appreciate your input. I want to believe the product's quality has improved,
but for $ 225 ( or Cold Steel's advertised $ 389 ), just how big a jump in quality is represented ?
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Michael Mercier




Location: Durham, NC on my way to Iraq
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 6:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I seem to remember Arms and Armor displaying one of the Cold Steel 1796s at ISMAC in July that they modified to look more like the original. I don't think they were going to continue to modify them to sell, but it was interesting to see the changes they had made (like reshaping the point and pinning the hilt from what I can remember). Now all I want to do is find a rebated 1796 or even a CW cavalry sword for training.

Mike
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Tue 13 Nov, 2007 6:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Military Heritage offers several replicas of British military swords, including the 1796 light and heavy cavalry swords (just scroll down): http://www.militaryheritage.com/swords2.htm I believe they are sold blunt.

Jonathan
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 6:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
Military Heritage offers several replicas of British military swords, including the 1796 light and heavy cavalry swords (just scroll down): http://www.militaryheritage.com/swords2.htm I believe they are sold blunt.

Jonathan


Got a question for you, Jonathan, regarding SBG's description of the blade :

Quote:
The blade was very sharp as it came. It would slice paper with ease and would almost lift
hair. At least the forward half of the blade (the foible) was this sharp. Like most military sabers,
the rear half of the blade (the ricasso) was unsharpened and is designed for blocking or catching
an opponent's blade, not cutting. Also, the first 8 inches of the false edge (back of the blade) was
sharpened. This is used for backhand cuts and makes a very effective "hooking motion" cut.


The blade on my sword IS only sharp half-way down ( something I only discovered a day or so ago,
don't ask me why ... ); the other half unsharpened. As it is apparently a characteristic included in the
sword SBG offers, I didn't get all panicy. But taking a brief look at the Cold Steel website, I see that
detail not mentioned at all ( unless I'm missing something ). Would you know if this statement is
an accurate one ?

I've looked at Military Heritage's site too, and they have a more varried selection of sabers to choose
from at what certainly appear to be reasonable prices.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 6:58 am    Post subject: Cold Steel Saber         Reply with quote

Hi All

Michael is correct. I did have a Cold Steel that I had modified on the table at ISMAC. That’s what happens when you hang around the HMCA guys and Kirk too much Happy

We have a couple versions of this in the original in The Oakeshott Collection and I was interested in comparing the cold steel side by side and seeing what it would take to modify it to a closer representation of the originals we had. I having always thought they did a pretty good job with this piece and was impressed on how close they were to the items we had. It was interesting to note the variations in the originals as well as they are not all exactly the same.

A note here as I just checked out Jonathan' s link to Military Heritage. I purchased my sword as a cold steel off of eBay at a reduced price it came packaged as described by Mathew, but the piece I got was pinned in the grip as the originals and the Military Heritage piece are it also did not have the tang button. The scabbard was metal. So I just realized I may have been sold one of theirs as a cold steel. Does the cold steel have a mark?

The piece I received had a decent steel guard it did not seem to be of pot metal but is almost certainly cast.

Now to the replica item: The tip was shaped in profile like the general officer swords we have, this is a bit thinner and with a touch more taper than the trooper issue we have in the collection (this item is one that was in the regiment formed by the Percy's) this tip is a touch broader and less tapered.

The guard on the replica was more like the trooper weapon as the General officer pieces are more refined in a way and I see more variation in these, as one would expect.

The trooper original we have had literally a degree or two more cant downward in the position of the hilt to the blade. I modified mine in this way but it was so minor that I would guess it was in the envelope of standard either way for the sword.

The biggest difference is of course the weight of the sword. The replica being quite a bit heavier. This often surprises people as the saber looks so substantial when viewed in profile but the last third of the blade is very thin and one can flex the tip easily with three fingers on the original blade. I spent some time working the replica blade down to close to this thickness but I still would have some way to go before being right on. All of the weight reduction was done on the last half of the blade and the lower bevel below the fuller. This improves the handling a great deal. It is a light fast weapon one did not club people with these swords and I imagine they were quite good in close combat.

All in all I thought the replica I got was well worth the money and now I just need to figure out which piece it is Happy

Best
Craig
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew,
I am not sure why Cold Steel (or whoever sharpened your blade) chose to only sharpen half of the blade. I have not heard of the using an unsharpened portion of a blade to catch another blade, especially pertaining to the 1796 light cavalry sword. It sounds like speculation to me, but I would need to do some research on LeMarchant’s sword drills to be able to speak to how the 1796 was to be used when facing another swordsman. I need to look more closely at my antiques, but I can tell you that my variant pattern was sharpened to within about 3” to 4” of the hilt. My 1796 heavy cavalry trooper’s sword was sharpened for its entire length. BTW, is that statement from the SBG review or the vendor’s item description?


Last edited by Jonathan Hopkins on Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jonathan Hopkins wrote:
Matthew,
I am not sure why Cold Steel (or whoever sharpened your blade) chose to only sharpen half of the blade. I have not heard of the using an unsharpened portion of a blade to catch another blade, especially pertaining to the 1796 light cavalry sword. It sounds like speculation to me, but I would need to do some research on LeMarchant’s sword drills to be able to speak to how the 1796 was to be used when facing another swordsman. I need to look more closely at my antiques, but I can tell you that my variant pattern was sharpened to within about 3” to 4” of the hilt. My 1797 heavy cavalry trooper’s sword was sharpened for its entire length. BTW, is that statement from the SBG review or the vendor’s item description?


Thanks, Jonathan ( Craig, too ! ) ... The quote is from SBG's review. I found nothing on Cold Steel's website
mentioning whether or not the blade was only half-way sharpened .... It seemed odd to me, but again, I'm
no expert and appreciate the interest being taken in this lil review of mine.
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig,
They still knew about distal taper in the final century of the sword as a battlefield weapon! I have heard other people echo your remarks about the Cold Steel 1796 blade. If you have any photos to share of your re-worked CS (or Military Heritage) 1796 and/or the originals from the Oakeshott Collection, it would make for an interesting comparison.

There is subtle variation from maker to maker regarding original 1796 LC trooper sabers, but also surprising uniformity. I have found it interesting to weigh and measure my antique British military swords and compare the specs with those originally conceived for the patterns. Almost invariably they are spot-on weight- and length-wise.

Jonathan (who one day might be tempted to get a replica 1796 just for fun)
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz wrote:
Thanks, Jonathan ( Craig, too ! ) ... The quote is from SBG's review. I found nothing on Cold Steel's website mentioning whether or not the blade was only half-way sharpened .... It seemed odd to me, but again, I'm no expert and appreciate the interest being taken in this lil review of mine.


Matthew,
The part about which I am skeptical is the reason for leaving a portion of the blade unsharpened—the bit about catching an opponent’s blade. There certainly are examples of 19th century military swords that saw service and were not sharpened for the entire length. One example is a British blade pattern (1892) that has a dumbbell cross section for roughly half of its length, leaving just the final half to be sharpened. This blade is most commonly found on British 1895 and 1897 infantry officers’ swords.

Thanks again for posting your review. While I am fascinated by most forms of European edged weapons, I am most familiar with 18th and 19th century swords. It is nice to add some diversity (time frame-wise) to the discussions here.

Jonathan
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 7:47 am    Post subject: Saber details         Reply with quote

Hi Jonathan

I will see if I can take some side by side detail shots to post.

I think this is a good opportunity for those interested in this period and style of comabt to use these replicas to good advantage in working the systems of the day and doing some work with the sword as a replica. Especially with the ability to do some minor modification to the blade one can get a good feeling item that will play as the original would quite nicely.

Craig
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Jonathan Hopkins




PostPosted: Wed 14 Nov, 2007 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The review at SBG was done by Mike Harris, who is also a member here. Hopefully he will chime-in with some additional thoughts. Maybe he can comment on how his has held up over time.

Jonathan
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