Tag Archives: sword cane

Q&A: Sword Cane

How practical is a hidden sword inside a walking stick/cane? How wide could a person go before the cane became suspiscious as to be concealing something? And would such a weapon be strong enough in serious skirmishes? Or should a user stick to simply using the cane, and perhaps having a hidden blade in the end?

Amusingly, I used to own a sword cane. I threw it out during the last move, otherwise I could post pictures.

The sword canes I’ve seen have been screw on arrangements. Externally, they look like a normal cane with a metal band just below the grip (which isn’t unusual for normal canes either).

They use very narrow blades to maintain the silhouette of a normal cane. This is a necessary component of the design, by the way. The entire point is to have a hidden blade, which falls apart when you’re carrying around something that looks more like a scabbard than a cane. You’re talking about a blade that’s going to be, at most, around 1/2″ across, and usually around 24″ to 25″ long.

The primary purpose of these things was as a self defense tool. It’s not a weapon intended for heavy combat, just to deal with one guy armed with a knife.

To some extent, overall practicality depends on the individual weapon, not sword canes as a whole. For example, the one I owned featured a very loose blade, which could be rattled by shaking the grip slightly. Rattling it may serve the intended purpose of scaring off a potential mugger, but I wouldn’t have wanted to take the thing into a fight.

-Starke

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For the “sword/dagger hidden inside of a walking cane” trope in media, how effective would that actually be? I feel like in some cases, clubbing the opponent with a heavy cane would be quicker and easier than hiding a bladed weapon inside of one

Swordsticks (or in this case sword canes) are real weapons. I’ve got a cheap one around here, somewhere. They’re very specialized, and for their intended use, they work. In the 18th and 19th centuries, these were used as a self defense tool and, probably, a status symbol.

Usually these are canes constructed in two parts. The main shaft is hollow, and attaches to the head via threading or some kind of locking mechanism. The head doubles as a simple hilt, with a blade extending down through the shaft. When separated, the shaft functions as a sheath, though in some cases it can be used as an improvised parrying tool.

The short answer to it’s effectiveness is, it can kill you. It’s a long, thin, sharp blade. Getting run through by one will ruin your day. They’re not a particularly useful weapon for general combat, but that was never their intended purpose.

As with most weapons, swordsticks range from simple, mostly practical designs, to highly ornate display pieces. Depending on the quality of the individual cane, it could be entirely functional, and quite lethal, or not.

The idea behind the swordstick is, as a cultured gentleman, if you were attacked, you could pull the blade and use it to defend yourself. This is roughly equivalent to a modern concealed carry pistol. It’s not a great combat weapon, but if someone’s trying to kill you, it’s better than nothing.

As an emergency self defense tool, they’re functional, and far more lethal than a simple cane. A mugger armed with a cudgel would be able to defend themselves from a cane, but a swordstick would prove much harder to deal with especially when it’s wielder is also a trained fencer. Try to remember that for the 18th and 19th century English gentlemen, fencing was still an expected past time. It’s not just that the gentleman was carrying a sword in his cane, he also, usually, knew how to use it.

For what it’s worth, I’d much rather deal with someone swinging a dogwood cane at me than a lunging with a swordstick. You can deliver a lot of force with a cane, but a swordstick will deliver lethal injuries quickly, and that’s part of it’s purpose. The point of drawing a blade is to tell a would be assailant, “you thought I’d be an easy mark, now I’m going to end you.”

-Starke

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Would a sword disguised as an umbrella be a useful/efficient weapon? If not, what would be the best way for a person to carry a sword in public (best disguised as what)?

I’m not convinced an umbrella would be a good place to hide a blade, given the mechanical complexities would mean there were so many more things that could go wrong. It’s one thing to have an umbrella, but what happens when the umbrella mechanisms start breaking?

That said, umbrella swords do actually exist, and you can buy cheap knockoffs for a couple hundred dollars, online. There’s also umbrellas with various sword hilts because… it’s the internet, so of course there are. Just like the sword canes that masquerade as revolvers, because when you’re trying to conceal a sword, your best choice is as a different weapon that people are more likely to be worried about. They’d never suspect you’d actually stab them with a gun, that’s ridiculous.

Anyway, I actually have a cheap sword cane around here somewhere. Now, even at their best, they wouldn’t be able to keep up against someone using a sword intended for heavy combat. But, if your character can carry a cane without coming under a lot of scrutiny, and isn’t trying to take it through a metal detector, it might just be their best option.

I’m also going to post this link. It’s to an ask we got a while ago about fighting with umbrellas.

-Starke