Wide vs. Narrow Rapier Blades. What's the Difference?

Today we take a look at two different styles of rapier blades that produce two different sword dynamics.  The widths of rapier blades varied significantly, depending on which complex hilted, single-handed swords you include in the category of 'rapier'.  Some are quite narrow at the ricasso -- the part of the blade that is not sharpened so that you can put your finger over the guard -- while others are significantly wider, more akin to a sidesword blade.  Historically there are many examples of very similar hilts from the same time and place with seemingly very different blades.  

Town Guard Sword, is it a rapier? Blade ~1.8 inches wide at ricasso
French Rapier with narrow blade ~1.25 inch wide at ricasso
Bavarian Rapier with blade ~1 inch wide at the ricasso
In today's video Dr. Nathan Clough takes a look at two of these swords, the French and Bavarian Rapiers, to think through how these different blade widths effect the use and performance of the swords.
As always, our swords are entirely made by us at our shop in Minneapolis, MN out of 6150 carbon steel, hardened and tempered to 50-52 Rockwell. Our swords and other weapons are made to look, feel, and function just like the historical originals on which they are based

divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography.  He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985

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