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Is it a "Sword" or a "Saber"?

Definition of Sword vs. Saber:

The dictionary defines a sword as “a weapon consisting typically of a long, often straight or slightly curved, pointed blade, having one or two cutting edges, that is designed for thrusting or cutting.”

The same dictionary defines a saber as “a heavy cavalry sword with a slightly curved blade, sharpened on one side, with a thick back edge and a hand guard.”

If you really want to make your hair hurt from thought, try to figure out the difference between a saber and a sabre!

Photo: Army Sword? or Saber?

Army Officer: Saber or Sword?

The US Army Officer Saber was worn by the US Cavalry and has the slightly curved blade, so it is traditionally called a saber. Today's saber, however, is not strictly worn by cavalry officers, but can be worn by all officers except those who do not bear arms (e.g., chaplains). In fact, the current Field Manual 3-21.5, Drill and Ceremonies, states that “The nomenclature for the saber is saber for all officers, model 1902.” (Appendix F).

On the other hand, the straight-blade pieces are swords – the Army NCO Sword, the Navy Officer Sword, the Air Force Sword, and the Coast Guard Officer Sword.

Marine Sabers

Marine Officer: Saber or Sword?

For our traditional Army customer, the US Marine Corps reference to their swords can be confusing to the Army mind. The Marine Corps Uniform Regulations (MCO P1020.34F) prescribe both the Marine Corps Officer Sword and the Marine Corps NCO Sword. Both pieces are curved. The traditional Army mind set tempts a Soldier to call them both Marine Corps Sabers, but we guess that the Marine Corps does not have a lot of horseback in their rich history. Furthermore, in the case of the Marine Corps Officer Sword, the sword has no hand guard.

West Point Sabers

West Point: Saber or Sword?

Why do cadets often refer to their swords as a "West Point Saber"?

Obviously, the West Point sword is just that … a sword with an edge on each side of the blade (see definition above). The confusion arises because the Army's FM 3-21.5, Drill & Ceremonies, refers to sabers for officers. We believe West Point adopted the same manual of arms commands for its "swords"; for example, "Officers, draw, sabers", when executing manual of arms with their "West Point Sabers".