Cossack saber: description and photo. Ancient edged weapon

Saber - a common weapon in Russia in the 16-19 centuries. Each species has its own characteristics. The Cossack saber supplanted other types of similar weapons. In the 19th century, it was the most common option in Russia and the Caucasus. A saber of this type was also called a Cossack saber. With the development of firearms and the elimination of metal armor, a combat saber was used by almost all the soldiers of the imperial Russian army. In conditions of warfare, in which bullets could penetrate the warrior’s iron armor, an attack using a Cossack saber became more than relevant. This was possible due to a number of characteristics and features of such a variety of knives.

general characteristics

A Cossack saber is a sharp-cutting weapon with a rather long blade. It was used in battle and served as an attribute of military attire. Today, such a saber is a valuable antique edged weapon. It makes it possible to understand the tactics of warfare of those times.

The original Cossack checker consists of a blade and a hilt (handle). The standard blade length reaches 1 m. It is single. But for the battle they used a 2-blade weapon. The blade itself was slightly curved.

Cossack Saber

Ephesus does not have a cross. At its end, the handle bifurcates. May have a round tip.

It is a Cossack saber called a saber. In this case, it is one and the same. But an ordinary saber is not equivalent to a checker. In the first case, wounds were inflicted only in the chopping type, and in the second, the ability to stab and prune was added. This is a feature of Cossack weapons.

Two main varieties of checkers of this time stand out: the Caucasian and Asian samples. They have some differences. Cossack sabers vary by year of release.

Wearing and using checkers

The Cossack checker did not have a guard, a pronounced tip. The curvature of the blade was minimal. All these factors determined its different balance, in comparison with the usual saber.

The saber was held in a sheath of wood. Due to the method of its use in battle, the saber was placed forward in the butt. The sheath was usually skin-tight.

The saber was attached to the waist or shoulder harness. For this, one or two rings attached to the curved side were used.

In the dashing Cossack amusements, the battlefield had to not only participate in the battle, but also sometimes repel sudden attacks. Therefore, in the sheath she lay with the blade up.

The Cossack checker was easily snatched up and did not require a change of hand. This is a convenient weapon. According to the characteristics, the saber can be compared with a samurai katana. They have a similar blade shape, as well as application and wearing.

The origin of the checkers

The word "checker" is borrowed from the Circassian or Adyghe language, where such weapons were called "sashkho" or "seshkhue." Translated, this means a "long knife."

Circassian models were different from Russian. They were shorter and lighter. The progenitor of the Cossack drafts of the sample of 1881, 1904, 1909 is a weapon of 12-13 centuries. Researchers found it in the Circassian lands.

Cossack checker

This type of saber was first adopted by Terek and Kuban Cossacks. Their saber is considered a traditional part of a military costume. Already from the Cossacks, such weapons began to be used among the lower and higher army ranks.

As a registered checker, it was used by cavalry, gendarmerie, police, and also among officers. And still dashing Cossack amusements, military feats are invariably presented in combination with a saber. We can say this is an attribute of the Cossacks.

Checker Asian pattern

Cossacks for a long time used Turkish, Persian-style checkers for their weapons.

Until the mid-19th century, there were a lot of sabers of the Caucasian type. But the most popular, regulated checker of Cossacks in 1834-1838 was an Asian saber.

Checker Asian pattern

She had a single-blade steel blade with a curved shape. The weapon had one broad dale. The combat end was two-blade.

Its total length reached 1 m, and the blade - 88 cm. Its width was 3.4 cm. The checker of the Asian sample of 1834-1838 had a curvature of 70/395 mm. Such a weapon weighed about 1.4 kg.

The officer saber of the Asian type had jewelry on the hilt and scabbard. Similar weapons were assigned to the lower and higher army ranks of the Nizhny Novgorod and Seversky Dragoon Regiments, as well as sergeants of the Plastun battalions and local teams of the Kuban army of the Cossacks.

Later they were approved with military weapons in the Tverskoy, Pereyaslavsky, Novorossiysk dragoon regiments.

Cossack drafts sample 1881

After the defeat of the Russian Empire in the Crimean War (lasted from 1853-1856), there was an urgent need to carry out reforms in the army, starting with the highest levels of government. This process was controlled by the head of the Ministry of War, D. A. Milyutin. After his resignation in 1881, the reform of the army ceased.

The establishment of a single model of weapons was made in the same year. All other edged weapons were abolished, and a single type of saber was introduced for cavalry, dragoon and infantry troops.

Cossack Checker 1881

Very quickly the Cossack saber of 1881 became the most common piercing and cutting weapon in the Russian army. They were of two varieties: for lower ranks and for officers.

The geometry of the weapon allowed to inflict deep, severe wounds. This feature became the reason for choosing this saber as a single model in the Russian army.

Cossack saber of lower ranks (1881)

The soldier’s checker had a total length of 102 cm. Its blade was standardly changed to 87 cm, and its width was 3.3 cm. The weight of the weapon was 800 g. The handle had a straight shape with a sharp bend at the end. It was made of wood and had deep sloping grooves. The hole was dark for technological reasons was shifted down to the stop.

The sheath did not have a bayonet mount. It was not provided for by the Cossack carbines. However, some regiments were given at that time a sheath with a closed bayonet block. By 1889, drafts of the Asian type were issued in all lower ranks. This exemplary weapon is referred to as a Cossack saber, the original of 1881.

Officer Checker 1881

In 1881, the General Staff of the War Department issued Circular 217. It contained a detailed description of the officer’s checkers. According to this document, the blade and hilt of the weapon were described in detail. To the smallest detail their components were specified.

Antique Edged Weapons

The blade consisted of a combat end, a middle part, a heel and a lower thickened rib (butt) and an upper blade. That part of the blade, which is intended for cutting, is called a febel, and for reflection of blows - forte.

The center of the blade is located at a distance of 0.25 arshin, as measured from the tip. There also ends the dale on the blade.

The hilt consists of a nut, a head, a handle, its rear and front rings, a bow, and a leather ring.

The handle is made of wood called a backout. Sometimes other breeds were used for these purposes.

The antique edged weapon of the 1881 model has a cross section in the middle part in the form of a tetrahedron, in which the corners are rounded. At the ends, it has an oval shape. The back of the handle is slightly thicker than the front.


The blade of the weapon was a steel doll. For the manufacture of hilt used a variety of materials. The back ring was made of copper with gilding. This element was oval. At the top of it was a slot for a bow. The front ring is also copper, gilded.

The nut located inside the hilt may be steel, copper or iron. It is screwed onto the tail of the blade very tightly.

The head of the handle is copper with gilding. It has the appearance of a whisk. A handle is made of the same material.

The ring, pinched between the hilt and the back section of the heel, is made of leather. Cossack weapons of those times were made of the listed materials for both soldiers and officers.

The difference between the soldier and officer drafts of the sample of 1881

Both for the lower ranks, and for the higher ones, almost the same edged weapons were used. The blade was no different. The difference was in the handle mounting technology.

The sleeve located on top and the handle were attached to the blade shaft with three rivets. Therefore, two veins were cut into the wooden base from the top to its middle. They were beaten along with the tip. A middle rivet was drawn through them.

Due to a change in design, the officer’s checker’s hole was higher than that of the soldier’s sword. It was in the midline of the handle.

However, the Cossack saber of the lower ranks was distinguished by the simplicity of fasteners. Over time, officers cold steel began to be manufactured using the same technology.

Checker of the lower ranks of the model of 1904

The Cossack checker of the lower ranks was similar to the previous sample. However, there were some differences. Typical of such weapons was the application of abbreviations by etching. They were located on the inside of the blade and looked like this: “KKV” (Kuban Cossack Army), “TKV” (Terek Cossack Army). On the other outer side of the blade were also the letters "ZOF", which stands for Zlatoust weapons factory. Also here was indicated the year of issue of the checkers. This became a feature of the Cossack saber of 1904.

Checker Cossack original

The scabbard was wooden, covered with leather. The combat checker was sunk into them to the head of the hilt thanks to the bell at the top of the wooden case.

The weapons of the lower ranks of the 1904 model weighed 1 kg. Its total length is 92 cm, and the blade is 74 cm. The width of the blade reached 3.5 cm.

This saber was adopted by the Caucasian Cossack troops for soldiers. Later it was slightly improved. But the general appearance has remained virtually unchanged.

Checker officer model of 1909

The Circular of the General Staff 51 of 03.22.1909 introduced changes to the regulations for the description of officer drafts. The golden edged weapons of the highest army ranks and sabers with the Order of St. Anne 4 degrees. To them was added only decoration on the booth and the back ring.

Cossack weapons

The officer sabers of the 1909 model had no differences from the previous type of weapon in the field of the blade, except for the location on the outer side of the blade named after the Emperor. On the other hand was the emblem.

The back ring was decorated with laurel branches, as well as the convex name of the Emperor. There were also decorative borders. The head of the handle had a decoration in the form of a vignette.

Later, other models were developed, but in the post-war years (after the Second World War), such weapons were abolished. The checker has become a parade attribute of the army, as well as an integral weapon of the Cossacks.

Today it is a premium saber. Get it is considered very honorable for military ranks. You can wear a checker only with permission, like any similar products. After all, this is a formidable military weapon.

Considering such edged weapons as a Cossack saber, you can deeply delve into the military organization of past times. In a way, it was a formidable instrument on the battlefield. With the regulation of this particular weapon, reforms and transformations began in the Russian imperial army. It was ubiquitous and was available to both ordinary soldiers and officers. Today it is an integral attribute of the Cossacks, which acts as an award weapon, as a symbol of military honor and valor.


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