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Old 29th January 2018, 07:47 PM   #1
Roland_M's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: Germany
Posts: 520
Default The Secret Of The Persian Shamshir

Dear friends,

many storys have been told about the legendary cutting power of the Persian Shamshir, especially the early examples up to the end of the 17th ct.
As a pre-conclusion for for impatient readers, yes they are true!

Why they are true. My intention is a technical explanation, which is also based on my personal experiences, without any unconfirmed storys. This leads us to our main problem, we have nothing but storys and some drawings.
This is not much more than nice to know for seriuous research. It`s a little bit like religion, you have to believe in it.

My great luck is, that I have two of this legendary blades (Shamshir and Kilij) and after some years of practical learning, me know how to swing a sword.
It is important to know, that the effectiveness of a pure or mainly based cutting blade like the Shamshir or most Sabers have nothing directly to do with musclepower, the effectiveness mainly depends on the geometry of the blade and its weight!
The muscles are needed, to hold, guide and accelerate the blade.
This is the main reason, why there are so huge differences between different types of curved blades, the geometry (including weight distribution and c.o.g.) and weight.
The strength of a well trained swordsmann is roughly similar all over the world. They all very powerful.

Enough preface, lets go to the interesting part of my text.
The great secret of the Persian Shamshir is that the blade got at least two curves instead of one on European blades!
Please look at the first picture with the curves now. My Shamshir got three different curces, the smallest radius is shortly behind the middle of the blade.
The German copy of the Shamshir got only one curve.
This leads us to the next picture, the most powerful part of the edge. The most powerful part on a curved sword is the "deepest" point.
I highlighted the areas in the second picture.
It is clear to see, that the most powerful part of the Shamshir is closer to the point.
Closer to the point results in more velocity, which results in more kinetic energy and more impact power.

Another very important effect of the two radius design is that the blade hits its target in the right moment, when it reaches its highest speed.
This is ideal, slightly curved back plus a small radius for maximum impact power.

The thickness distribution and the center of gravity are also important.
The Shamshir is heavy (970 gramms) and long (80 cm blade only point to point) but even at a blade of that weight, there is no pommel at all, the blade is very well balanced in itself.
The crossguard got some reponsibility for this and it is better to place the weight in front of the hand than behind.

As an evidence for my opinion I added a picture of the cartonage in which the Shamshir was delivered.
It was a mild forehand-blow with the untouched Shamshir, which was not really sharp. But to my greatest surprise, the massive cartonage was almost cut in half.
I tried the same with a mid 19th ct. German M52 saber (850 gramms, blade 85 cm long), which was brutally used on battlefield.
The M 52 also was much sharper and thinner than the Shamshir but nothing after the first blow with the same speed. I made a second attempt with the double speed, resulting in a little bit of damage.
I know, the comparison is not 100% meaningful, but we see total destruction after a mild blow vs. nothing (german blade was much sharper).
I am sure, if I do the same thing with my French M1822, which is much bigger and heavier than the Shamshir, the difference would still be breathtaking.
And this is why I think, that the Europeans never fully understood the secret of the Shamshir.

I also added a sound file of the Shamshir Sound, drawn through the air with full power.
What you hear is a full 360 degree blow and you can hear the sound of maybe 250 degree.
If you have good ears, you can hear a bang, when the air hits the microphone of my mobile phone, lol.

Now I hope for a spirited discussion!


p.s. In a few days/weeks I will present the Shamshir after restoration, because I made it!

Per aspera ad astra
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Last edited by Roland_M : 29th January 2018 at 08:08 PM.
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