What is the Strongest Sword in History?
What’s in this article?
Because different swords were created for various uses and had varying degrees of success, the topic of what is the strongest sword in history has sparked much discussion and argument, especially on the internet. Certain swords are truly extraordinary, whether because of their unique design, the quality of their materials, or the skills of their makers.
Swords have been used for both defense and offense throughout history. Blades for swords have evolved based on certain needs and have become increasingly robust as humankind has discovered and adopted better materials and methods. In this article, we’ll lay out every factor that must be met to find the perfect and, ultimately, the strongest sword in history.
Is There a Best Sword in the World?
In any category, it can be hard to say what the strongest and best thing is, and the same goes for bladed-edged weapons. The simple and honest answer is that there is no best and strongest sword in history. If there had been such a thing, why would swords continue to evolve and improve worldwide, century after century?
Just as you wouldn’t expect a sports car to drive through thick mud without getting stuck or a truck hauling a heavy load to navigate twists and turns easily, you can’t expect to find a sword superior to all the others. Many factors make a sword exceptional, and because it can depend on these factors, the answer will differ almost every time.
Each sword in the world has its purpose. While some are stronger than others, they all have their place. For example, an intimidating Zweihander that can keep multiple enemies at bay in open space is much less effective in a tight-knit area, where a short knife would suffice.
If the ancient Egyptian Khopesh is the strongest sword in history, as many articles on the internet say, why wasn’t it the only sword ever used? Finding the strongest sword may not be possible, but we will try to find the best blade for almost every scenario.
We will examine the most popular and effective steel swords in history but overlook those that have little to no use in combat use but are commonly described as the strongest swords. Examples would be the Zulfiqar or Urumi and myths that the Katana is the fastest sword made from pure steel.
Our Opinion: The Strongest Sword – Longsword
The strongest sword of all time in history would be a bladed weapon that can satisfy many factors mentioned throughout the article. The only weapon that can come close to fulfilling these needs is the Longsword, a jack of all trades.
The Longsword can be carried around easily, making it very adaptable if a situation were to occur. The longsword can hold its own against spears, large two-handed weapons, enemies with shields, and armored opponents.
It is extremely effective in attack and defensive movements with quick and powerful slashing and thrusting capabilities. It can be used to rush opponents with versatile reach, and the pommel can sometimes be used for bashing. It offers good protection due to its long blade and large guard quillons that can be used for combat.
It is the strongest one on one sword, as explained in the factors below, and thanks to its length, it can also be an effective mounted weapon. While it may be cumbersome, it can be used with a shield. In conclusion, in any particular situation, one sword could be truly useless, while the Longsword is nearly perfect in almost every possible scenario.
Factors: Why it is the Strongest Sword
As will be explained, a different and specialized blade excels in each of these factors, yet the Longsword is either the ultimate weapon in some or just adequate to be used in any of these subcategories.
1. One vs. One (Sword vs. Sword – No Shields)
When looking for the finest and most resilient swords, people first ask if they can pit the blades against each other and fight to the death. The problem is that not every sword was made for this purpose, so it wouldn’t answer the question of what is the strongest sword, but it would satisfy some as an answer.
The longsword is the most outstanding sword made for one-on-one combat. It has a long crossguard to offer a lot of protection. People who have trained with swords will understand how important this is. It is the same size and weight as a Katana but has a slightly longer blade. It can be used in a variety of ways, such as half-swording, which is a good way to fight by grabbing the blade. The pommel can be used to bash, and the double-edged blade is excellent for slashing and thrusting through gaps in armor, whether at a distance or in close range.
Most people think the Rapier is the strongest one-on-one sword, but we don’t agree because it depends. This long thin blade would be great for rules-based fighting, like European fencing martial arts, where blades can not be touched with the hands and fighters can’t rush up against each other. Another thing to consider is whether or not the opponent is wearing armor. If they were, the Rapier would be useless.
Reach is a very important part of sword fighting, but using a very long sword like the Claymore would give you reach at the cost of speed, maneuverability, defense, and quick exhaustion, leaving you vulnerable to attacks. On the other hand, smaller swords without a shield would lack the reach needed to take down a swordsman effectively.
All this comes down to having blades long enough for proper defense and offense and a wide range of moves that can kill opponents with or without armor. Although similar in style to the Longsword, the Katana isn’t the strongest sword in this case because of its curve, which limits its capabilities. The Chinese Jian is good for fights and duels, but its smaller guard and shorter length work against its effectiveness.
2. Best for Large Scale Battle
In medieval battles, the sword was the ideal weapon, especially when fighting people wearing armor. Aside from the sword, there was considerable use of spears, arrows, and battle axes. In our opinion, one-handed swords, or hand-and-a-half swords used with a shield inside formations with double or single-edged sturdy blades that don’t rely on sharpness alone, would be ideal for large-scale battles.
Another good example is the Gladius used during the Roman Empire, which was the ideal sword against the spear and polearm. It was a short, deadly, double-edged, one-handed thrusting tool used with a shield. Double-edged blades kept up with this trend and got longer, more rigid, and wider, like the Carolingian or Viking Sword. The Gladius could last longer, be used as a tool to strike armor and shields effectively, and still be used as a one-handed weapon in a frontline wall formation.
Greatswords that are quite sizable, like the Zhanmaodao often appearing in video games and anime, don’t suffice when battling in formation simply because their movement is limited and may cause injury to their allies rather than foes. However, this depends because they can be used as a backup weapon attacking behind shield walls and can also be very effective in taking down enemy cavalry.
Curved swords or sabers can be used in infantry formations adequately. Still, slashing isn’t as powerful as thrusting in these battles, which requires less movement of the hands in tight melee situations. However, they can be used very well as mounted combat weapons.
3. Mounted Combat
The best sword that evolved, due to the need to adapt to mounted combat, was the curved Turko Mongol saber. There are instances where it is slightly curved like the Scimitars or dramatically curved like the Persian Shamshir.
In any case, curved blades work best when attached to mounted units. The wielder can deliver vicious stabs that, when combined with the momentum and speed of the horse, can be deadly to both armored and unarmored opponents. The real benefit of the curved sword over the straight sword is that it is less likely to get stuck on a shield or other equipment.
Along with the primary weapon of choice being firepower and guns, the light and curved cavalry sabers were the main swords of choice in 19th-century battles throughout most of the world.
Speed, which comes from the design and weight of a blade, is a significant factor in finding the strongest sword in history. However, people often think that curved single-edged Japanese swords, like the Katana, are the fastest swords in the world because of how they are made, but this is not true.
For example, the Katana and the Longsword weigh about the same, which is between 2.4 and 3 lbs (1 to 1.3 kg), and have the same handle length, except that the Longsword’s blade is a little bit longer. The Katana also has a more forward center of gravity than the Longsword, which is closer to the hilt, allowing for faster and smoother movements.
The Katana’s design is intentional because it is primarily a cutting and slashing weapon. While the curve and heavier end of the blade might offer better punturing capabilities in some strikes, it does not mean it is faster, as it’s believed that it cuts through the air quicker.
With the further back weight point of the Longsword, the double edges, and the long tapered tip, it is much faster, more maneuverable, and offers longer reach. If the reach isn’t a target, the fastest swords would be short swords, but they would need to be combined with a shield which might impact the user’s speed.
5. Anti Armor
Finding the primary sword against armor means one that is best equipped for several methods of offense against plate metal. Piercing gaps in the opponent’s armor with a thrusting double-edged blade, using that same blade with both hands as an elongated dagger, and using the pommel for bashing are prime examples. Even using a brute force blade that could severely damage armor would be acceptable.
There’s also the idea and myth that the type of sword affects how well it works against armor. The myth is mostly based on the fact that the Katana is the best sword against people without armor, and the Longsword is the best against people with armor. This is also incorrect.
In reality, neither of these swords or any other is effective against armor, especially 14th-century European plate armor. Other weapons, like war maces, are made for those tasks. However, illustrations exist from the Middle Ages that show swords cutting through armor, which could mean that medieval armor wasn’t as tough as we think it is, or they are simply hyperbolized elements of prowess.
6. Combined with Shield
Shields are great for defense and have been used throughout history worldwide. They give the person who wields it a lot of protection but also limit them to one hand to use a sword.
Some swords are better than others when used with a shield, but not all can be used with one hand, depending on the type of combat. For example, one-handed swords that primarily slash wouldn’t work as well as double-edged swords that mostly thrust in a long battle shield formation. Two-handed swords with a shield would be out of the question in these battles.
When used with a shield, however, two-handed curved swords would still be flawed, but two-handed straight, double-edged swords could be useful in some cases. Curved and wide single-edged swords like the Falchion would work very well with a shield. However, the best weapon to use would be one that could both slash and thrust, such as the Arming Sword, which would make it ideal for both individual and large battles.
When people talk about swords, they usually say that the sharper the blade, such as Damascus Steel, the easier it can cut through almost anything. But this is not correct. Depending on what kind of protection and defense the sword can offer, one cut on the user’s gripping hand could cause even the greatest martial artists to lose a battle.
Sacrificing the offensive capabilities in return for protective attributes is done in these cases. Basket hilt swords are some of the best examples of weapons offering immense protection to the hand. Some European Sabers are perfectly suited to use as cavalry or foot swords due to their unique basket designs.
Some swords, like the Shashka, don’t have a guard, which makes them ideal for slashing on movement but makes the user prone to hand damage. On the other hand, some swords with very large guards, like the Indian Gauntlet Sword, offer good protection of the hands but greatly limit the motions and movements one can achieve with their weapons.
Making the most powerful bladed-edged weapon in history is crucial by having the protective means of the sword available. Even a cruciform long quillon on each side would make a massive difference compared to round Asian-style guards. Some protective quillons offer offensive options, such as the Messer, which can be used to hook.
8. Slashing & Cutting Power
Slashing is the type of attack delivered by the sharpened sides of the blade, whether single-edged or double-edged. Generally, it is thought that single-edged blades are only made for slashing while double-edged are only made for thrusting.
In reality, both swords can be used in either case. But when single-edged blades are curved, they will have a slightly more pronounced slice attack capability when used against armor. This is also especially true regarding flesh, especially when used while mounted when the blade tip is widened like the Kilij sword. Slicing attacks can sometimes go through the gaps in the armor, causing deep wounds to the opponent. Double-edged blades can also deliver intense slashing attacks, but most rely on their cutting power.
Cutting power is similar to an axe’s impact when hitting a tree. Both broad or thinner, sharper blades would be ideal for chopping through parts of the human body, sometimes with a single slash if facing an unarmored opponent. This is the case with the late Dadao or Niuweidao swords, primarily used to fight unarmored opponents.
Chopping slash attacks are also much easier to master when using a short single-edged blade like the Falcata or Khukri. Still, from our knowledge, longer double-edged blades are more versatile when slashing but require more expertise.
Most people think swords are only dangerous when used with slashing strikes, but the strongest swords must excel at both slashing and thrusting. Thrusting is usually done with the pointy tip of a double-edged sword or a single-edged blade with a sharpened blade tip.
When used against armor, a sword that can pierce through the gaps can be the deadliest. These swords can also be used in large battle formations because they can be used behind a shield, making them a powerful weapon with just one hand. Because it took a skilled swordsmith to make a full double-edged blade, single-edged blades with sharpened tips were more common but didn’t work as well.
When fighting one-on-one, thrusting offers a wide range of attacks used for defense or offense, making all the difference in battle.
Reach is another important function of a sword that would make it one of the most powerful in history. When blades have an exceptionally long reach, they often fail at the speed needed for offense and defense. However, when blades are short, and the user doesn’t have a shield, they can also be ineffective in battle.
If a 39-inch (100 cm) blade and a 51-inch (130 cm) blade were to meet in a duel, both would function the same and would be ideal for close and medium-range fighting. But the longer blade would usually be the victor.
Many deadly swords, however, sacrifice their combat duel capabilities and are specifically made with a long reach to be used in a team-based battle formation, for example, hitting from the sides or holding the front like the Naginata Sword.
The most durable weapons must be able to hold their own no matter what type of battle they are used in. Some see durability as the most important factor, leaving the swordsmith with the most important decision about the type of steel he will use.
The longer the blade, the more likely it is to bend and break, so shorter swords shine in this factor. Ultimately, it all comes down to the expertise of the sword maker. There are broader double-edged blades, making them effective for powerful slashing strikes like the Ulfberht swords.
It is, without a doubt, easier to create and maintain a durable single-edged blade. Due to the single-edged blade, this sword would be used more frequently. The double-edged blades have two sharp edges, and if used in a long battle or duel, one can easily switch between the edges leaving the user with the promise of extended durability.
But at the same time, the single-edged blade can taper gradually throughout the entire blade, as seen in the third example in the picture above. The smoother this transition is, the better the cutting power. The double-edged can be made thinner and wider, giving it the same cutting power but sacrificing some of its durability. However, a razor-sharp blade has less staying power too.
12. Versatility & Adaptability
One thing that makes the most powerful swords in the world is versatility. A perfect sword must have the ability to cut and stab. It must be useful for dueling, battles, and as a means of defense for civilians. The perfect sword must also excel in offense and defense against opponents with or without shields and those heavily or lightly armored, using many weapons.
Versatility is what combat and real swords have that is different than dueling swords. For example, a Smallsword is used against another Smallsword only in dueling scenarios. The more versatile the sword, the better it is in all combat types and, according to some – the most powerful.
A sword’s adaptability is just as important. A sword must be easy to carry as an everyday weapon as well as one used on the battlefield. It must possess the motion and capability of being used for attacking or defending, combined with a shield and being effective in a confined space. In this situation, shorter swords and the Katana work best, especially because of how quickly they can be removed from their sheaths.
Finally, as noted previously, there is no such thing as the best or strongest sword. From the battlefield to the arena of dueling and everything in between, each blade was created with a specific use in mind. Nonetheless, we believe that the Longsword is the strongest sword because of its versatility and adaptability in almost all situations. Still, it comes down to the expertise of the sword user.
“You don’t choose the strongest sword; the strongest sword chooses you.” – David Mickov