How to Size a Military Sword
We periodically receive questions about how to properly size a sword or saber. Contrary to much of the information that is "out there", the sword and saber blade length is not simply a function of a person's height.
The correct length is the blade length that will place the tip of the blade at approximately eye height when an individual carries the sword at the "Carry Sword" position (sword drawn, arm at side, and blade in a vertical position pointing up). More correctly then, the correct blade length is a function of the individual's arm length, the individual's neck length, how the individual carries the sword piece, and even the type of sword.
Why is blade length important?
For those intending to mount the sword or saber on a wall and having no intention of executing manual of arms (draw sword, present arms, parade rest, etc.), blade length is not critical. A 30-inch blade length is the most common length, generally fitting those between 5'8" and 5'11" in height.
For those intending to execute manual of arms, blade length is important. A sword blade that is too long not only looks odd and non-uniform, but also risks knocking off headgear or increases head movement when going to the "Carry Sword" position.
What sword or saber length do I need?
- The best way to size a sword or saber is to hold another sword or saber in the "Carry Sword" position to see how the length fits.
- If one does not have another sword or saber on hand, measuring for the fit is possible. Stand at a modified position of attention with your arm extended down at your side and your fingers extended down.
- Measure from your eye to the "V" between your thumb and your index finger. Using this measurement, the correct sword length depends on the type of piece:
- Army Officer Saber, Navy Officer Sword, Coast Guard Officer Sword, USMC NCO sword, NOAA Commissioned Corps Sword, and Public Health Service Sword above measurement minus 3 inches.
- Army NCO Sword, USMC Officer Sword, Air Force Sword, and academy swords (West Point, or Army Academy) above measurement minus 2 inches.
- If you are within a 1/2-inch of a sword size: we generally recommend rounding up to the nearest size.
- If you are within 1-inch of a sword size: we generally recommend rounding down to the nearest size.
- For 1-1/2-inches: since most of our swords are sized in 1" increments (a few are offered in 2" size increments) it would be rare to have a 1-1/2-inch rounding issue, unless we were back-ordered on some sizes and you needed a sword very quickly. We would generally suggest against rounding 1-1/2-inches or more, but if necessary, we would suggest rounding down to the nearest size. It is easier to compensate for a shorter length sword by slightly raising your hand/arm's position (to bring the point up to eye level) than it is to compensate for a longer sword by lowering your hand.