1803 British Infantry Sabre

Swords » Single-handed ID: RWS144

Information for 1803 British Infantry Sabre:

the blade is tempered high carbon spring steel with etching. Carved brass hilt and leather wrapped grip. Leather scabbard with embossed & carved brass detail
Sword Weight: 1.10 kg * Entire Weight: 1.55 kg

This sabre was introduced to fill an important need amongst British officers who duties took them away from the safety of regular Infantry line formations. Skirmishing with the enemy as light infantry or riflemen was a very dangerous venture, and these extended formations were vulnerable to being overrun by timely movements of enemy cavalry or concerted pushes by enemy infantry.

The 52nd initially introduced its own pattern of sabre (of steel hardware) only months before the army pattern came out in 1803. The 52nd slowly adopted the army pattern as new officers joined the regiment and the gilt scabbard fittings of the above officer documents this.

While the regular pattern 1796 Infantry straight had some cut and thrust functionality to it, it was completely inadequate for the Grenadier, Light Infantry and Rifle officers of the British Army. In the late 1790s unofficial curved bladed Infantry sabres started popping up in regiments. These sabres came in many shapes and sizes and in 1803 the army officials took steps to standardize this sabre.

In addition, this pattern was taken up (with a white ivory grip) by many mounted regimental field officers (majors and colonels), again because of its usefulness in combat. Even some General officers adopted it instead of the 1796 staff pattern.

This pattern of sword even made its way into the Royal Navy. It is suggested that the flank companies of the Royal Marines adopted this pattern with the white grip. However there is evidence that some Royal Navy officers chose it as well. This may have been simply an issue of commercial availability and the degree of independence of selecting their fighting sword, despite the Admiralty’s efforts in 1805 to standardize the sword.

As an interesting bit of trivia, Admiral Lord Nelson received a sword from the City of Exeter in 1801 that is almost identical to the one offered here:

Even with standardization there were a number of variations in the 1803 pattern. In studying originals, the blade’s shape, ornamentation, and functionality vary greatly. Some blades have the same effective curve of a light cavalry sabre, without engraving, and well fullered. While other blades are curved to the point of uselessness, and constructed flat, and well etched, blued and gilted.

In our reproduction we have decided to go with the more functional blade as this is most likely the blade of chose for officers on campaign, leaving the more delicate blades to the Volunteer Corps officer strutting about the county, or those serving at Whitehall or on recruiting service.

As with the blade there were variances historically in the hilt particularly the deviations with shape of the lion. Some have a bulkier lion with a shorter nose and a fuller mane, while others, like the reproduction here, have a sleeker lion’s head more conducive to the lines of the back strap and guard. On the guard is cast the royal cypher (GR and crown). The grip is wrapped with black leather and wire. Grips wrapped with shark skin was uncommon at this time.

The elegant scabbard is designed to be worn with a frog style shoulder belt or on a sling waistbelt. The scabbard reproduced here is by far the most attractive designs used in this pattern of sword.

Manufactured by: Universal SwordsMaterials used: high carbon spring steel

Overall length: 97cm
Blade length: 85cm
Weight: 110g



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1803 British Infantry Sabre

1803 British Infantry Sabre