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10 Best Swords for Self-Defense Inside and Outside Our Homes

Written By: David Mickov
Published On: August 21, 2023
Edited by: Juliana Cummings

Swords are edged weapons of war that were used for self-defense for more than 3000 years and are still viable today despite the technological advancements of firearms. Different swords can bring different self-protecting attributes, but there is one that satisfies all the requirements to be the perfect self-defense weapon today.

In this article, we will find the best sword for self-defense, in our opinion. We will start with a brief history and explain why swords can still be useful for protection today. We will then reveal some worthy mentions and present the best sword for defending your home and family. 

Can Swords Be Useful for Self-Defense?

Sword being Useful for Self Defense
Smaller short swords and daggers being used to defend from bears as seen in an early 17th-century depiction- Credits: Knives and Bayonets

Although swords have generally been replaced and bested by the invention of firearms, they are still useful for self-defense. A sharp blade can easily penetrate human flesh and possibly inflict serious harm, making it a reliable method for upholding one’s safety.  

Swords can also weigh very little, sometimes just over two pounds. They can be easily carried and stored in an undisclosed place in the home. One-handed swords can also be used with a shield or dual-wielded with a pistol for medium-range protection.

A sword can easily intimidate an intruder or assailant, giving the user a sense of protection when faced with a dangerous situation. In the 21st century alone, there are many cases where smaller knives and even stainless steel swords have driven away bears, lethally injured more than four armed home invaders, and even scared away 40 robbers at once.

10. The Katana

Katana Sword for Self Defense
The katana is an excellent option for defending one’s home – Credits: The Walters Art Museum

The katana, made popular by the Japanese samurai, is a useful sword for self-defense. While its weakness is that it’s a two-handed weapon, the katana is not a very long sword, making it a viable self-defense tool with a sturdy handle that allows precise blade edge alignment.

It excels at slashing and stabbing attacks, and with enough practice, it can be unsheathed quickly to deter a home invader or attacker.  

9. The Messer

Messer Sword for Self Defense
The one-handed messer is an excellent tool for self-defense – Credits: Darksword Armoury

The messer is a single-edged one-handed sword used primarily by the common folk of Medieval Germany. It has a large crossguard that can be used for protection and for handling the sword differently to carry out unorthodox strikes. The blade slightly broadens at the end, making it an excellent tool against unarmoured opponents.

This broadening makes the blade’s tip much more tapered and sharp enough to pierce human flesh easily. Smaller messer swords are very light weapons that can also be half-sworded for an effective strike.

8. The DaDao

Dadao Sword for Self Defense
The larger and intimidating dadao sword is an excellent tool for self-defense – Credits: Weapons of the East Exhibition

Dadao swords are Chinese single-edged weapons of war that were used substantially in the 20th century, especially during the First and Second World Wars. They have a broad blade design that makes them ideal against an opponent. The dadao also excels at chopping while being held with one or both hands.  

While appearing heavy, the short dadao is a considerably light weapon. It is also alarming to the eye and can be used not only for chopping, but the reverse blade’s tip is a powerful bashing tool. 

7. The Cutlass

Cutlass Sword for Self Defense
Single-edged cutlass swords with a protective cup guard to be used for bashing – Credits: Museum of American Revolution

The cutlass was the main sword used by sailors and pirates during the 17th and 18th centuries. This European model of a shortsword has a crude, basic look because the entire focus is on the cutting function. It has a cupped guard that can be used to protect the hands of the user and successfully smash an intruder.  

Cutlass swords can feature fairly broad blades, allowing them to function as a utility tool similar to the machete. Most cutlass swords are light, but by preference, heavier ones can be chosen as destructive self-defense weapons.

6. The Niuweidao

Ming Qing Dynasties Niuweidao
The curved and very balanced Niuweidao is excellent for fast cutting and slicing attacks – Credits: Mandarin Mansion Antiques

The niuweidao, or the “ox-tail saber,” was the most popular Chinese sword during the tumultuous Late Qing Dynasty. It gained popularity as an excellent tool for hashing unarmored opponents. The blade has a broadening at the tip, which makes it excel in cutting power.

This Chinese weapon has a design with a lowered handle and an upper pointed blade, giving it unique and easy handling. The niuweidao is a light saber, and the weight-power ratio makes it an exceptional home self-defense tool. There are also versions of a dual-wielded niuweidao if one is preferred.

5. The Shashka

Shashka Sword for Self Defense
The guardless and light shashka with a very deadly blade – Credits: Caucasus Archives

While longer European sabers are generally frowned upon for self-defense because of their big guards and longer length, the Cossack shashka is an exception. This single-edged guardless saber is one of the most agile swords in the world due to its simple, light design. It can easily be carried and used for a swift attack.

The attack techniques stemming from the shashka’s design make it a lethal self-defense weapon that moves at lightning speed. It can effortlessly be thrown from one hand to another due to its light weight. It can also be combined with another Cossack weapon called kindjal, a dagger used for stabbing.

4. The Kukri

Kukri Sword for Self Defense
The popular Kukri sword used by the modern Gurkha Warriors – Credits: Met Museum

Kukri short swords are still active in various military units from Nepal to the United Kingdom. They feature a recurved shape blade which is an excellent tool for dismembering your opponent.  The Gurkha warriors successfully used the kukri in the past, and it still serves as their melee weapon of war today.

While it lacks thrusting power, its lighter weight and chopping capability compensate for it. It is very short and can be easily concealed while being extremely manageable. It can be gripped firmly, like an extension of the hand used to defend against  40 unwanted visitors.

3. The Falcata and the Kopis

Kopis and Falcata Sword for Self Defense
The kopis or falcata swords that share the forward swept blades – Credits: Fandom

The falcata and kopis swords are ancient single-edged blades with curved and forward-swept blades. These swords, used to intimidate the Romans, were effective against unarmored opponents. They were the favorite of the ancient Greeks and Celto-Iberians. These swords are light and fairly short, allowing them to be combined with a shield or another weapon for self-defense.

Their guards are semi-closed and have protectors from each side, giving the sword a solid handling attribute. While excellent at chopping, the blade tapers to a very sharp tip that can also be executed for powerful thrusting strikes.

2. Yatagan

Yatagan Sword for Self Defense
Short and simple yatagan sword that be the ideal self-defense weapon – Credits: Met Museum

A lighter and much simpler design than the falcata and kopis is the Turkish yatagan used by the Janissaries during the Ottoman Empire. This single-edged blade is short and slim, yet it is an impressive chopping tool with its semi-forward swept blade design. It can easily be concealed because it does not have a guard, allowing the wielder to attack quickly.  

The yatagan is an excellent choice for a self-defense weapon because it can be effectively used for chopping and thrusting due to its very sharp tip. Its simple design makes it a stealthy protective weapon that can easily catch an unwanted visitor off guard. 

1. The Gladius

Gladius Sword for Self Defense
A Mainz gladius sword is one of  the best for modern-day self-defense – Credits: Gabriel Victor

In our opinion, the best sword for modern self-defense is the Roman gladius. This short double-edged blade held up against large spears prevalent during the Roman Empire due to its simple yet effective design. The gladius can be used for lethally executing chopping and thrusting attacks against even armored opponents. 

It is a short, light weapon that can be carried effortlessly, easily concealed, and combined with a shield or another weapon. With the tightened center part, the Mainz gladius excels as a self-defense weapon.

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