1796 LC saber reproductions and distal taper
Hi all,

Does anyone know if either the Universal Swords or Cold Steel reproductions of the 1796 light cavalry saber have decent distal taper? I'm guessing neither is really like the historical examples.

If neither of those are any good, does anyone know who makes a more accurate reproduction?

Last edited by Ian Hutchison on Sun 03 Aug, 2014 8:00 pm; edited 2 times in total
Both of those have distal taper, but less than originals. Both of them are thinner near the base, and thicker near the tip. In my experience, originals thin to less than 2mm, while repros usually only get to somewhere between 3mm and 4mm.

To make matters worse, the repros are overweight as well. The Cold Steel is about 100g too heavy, and the Universal about 150g by the specs. (The Weapon Edge version was about 200g overweight.)

I don't know of any better production repro than the Cold Steel version.
Thanks Timo,

I want to say I remember a French company selling repro Napoleonic swords a few years ago. They were pricier but perhaps they would be closer if they are still around, can't find anything though.
You might be thinking of http://www.chevalierdauvergne.com/

Might be a good option if you were after a French sword. Alas, no British 1796LC or Prussian 1811 on their list.
There are a number of very good threads on Sword Buyer's Guide in regard to this very topic. I believe Dave Kelly may have posted a comparison at some point, I'm not sure, but here's a few:

http://www.sword-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=12313 This is a comparison, no real stats though.

http://www.sword-forum.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=2745 This particular thread is a review of a Cold Steel that the poster had re-ground by A&A to closer to historic spec. I had the privilege of handling this piece and an original; a very interesting experience. Both were good swords, but the original absolutely had better handling. I had a lot of trouble putting that one down, to be quite honest! The most notable difference was that the Cold Steel started with thinner stock-- absolutely standard Indian 3/16", I believe-- while the original was almost a full 1/4" at the hilt and tapered to almost nothing versus the Cold Steel still being around 1/16" or a hair above up to about an inch from the very point.


There's plenty more if you do a Google search like so: site:sword-forum.com Cold Steel 1796, or any other keywords after the "site:url".

In general the biggest difference is that historic versions started with thicker stock, and you're almost never going to find that with the standard Indian-made versions. Cold Steel's is probably the best handling out of them all, but it still handles like a very large machete. The closest you could get to a historic version, if you intend to cut with it, would be to contract a custom from a sword-maker and specify that they use thick stock. But we'd be talking $1000-2000 versus $200-something for the Cold Steel... or just buy a historic version, shrug off scruples, sharpen it up and start amputating pumpkins.
Period sabres were up to 10mm and more at the guard. None of the reproductions of the 1796 come close to the radically concave distal taper exhibited in many period swords up into the mid 19th century. The Cold steel sabre is the best bet for an out of the box experience. I have handled a reground Cold Steel and still have to be a bit jaded by having owned period swords.

There is a review here somewhere of the Haidrik sabre that was almost promising.

Unfortunately, reviews of all the 1796 repros seem to show the sames distal issues. Some of the other sabre repros have had better stats. Truly by the end of the 18th century, those same compromises start to be apparent in the mass production of military swords. Up to that point and somewhat beyond, we see that old maxim of distal almost universal even on slim epee. 10mm to 6mm by the pob and then to 4mm by the cop, reducing to wafer thick at the point. That is an approximate ballpark found in slashing swords back a millennium.

The rant and chant of low polar moment found on modern made medieval swords, putting mass closer to the hilt while using 3/8 inch stock.

There are buckets of pristine Prussian artillery and train battalion sabres out there. Born of the 1796 profile and quite adoptable at nominal pricing. They lack the broad point, they will lack as aggressive distal but are sound users with a past. My own solution, an 1830ish mounted artillery sabre that is sound and cost in the $300 range. When I hand it to my friend with the reground Cold Steel, it is a matter of night and day. A favored 220+ yr old spadroon, also sharp, also $300.

If intent on a sharp 1796, I would still recommend The Cold Steel out of the box and regrinding/filing yourself if you want it. Spending to have it to be redone by another will likely add up to what a sound play toy antique will run. I can appreciate what some think of my being horrid in using antiques but really, that is what they are here for. I don' t use a majority of my antiques for play but I do so with some of them.

Grab a tulwar or two :)


Thanks for the advice everyone. A few weeks ago there was a 1796 up on eBay, very decent blade with quite poor guard/grip. The guard had been damaged/modified and was heavily pitted. The blade would have made an excellent candidate for remounting. I wish I had picked it up, it went for a very reasonable sum.

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