Wavy Blades

I posted something below concerning a firearm of antique design called the Apache.

unfolded apache with gold leaf

This prompted Steven to ask a question …

Why is the blade on the Apache wavy? Is it must more cutesy adornment or is there a practical reason?

The most famous weapon with a wavy blade is probably the kris, a dagger popular throughout Indonesia.

kris knife with wooden sheath

Europeans got into the act with the flamberge, or flame sword.  The wavy blade is supposed to be suggestive of a tongue of flame as it writhes and flickers in the air.

flamberge sword

(Picture source.)

In modern times, I’ve come across the occasional switchblade and other street-fighting knives which sported a wavy blade.


a collection of balisong knives with wavy blades

The idea is that the wavy design will cause wounds that are wider than a straight blade of the same weight.  Stab someone with a wavy dagger, so the story goes, and the resulting wound will cause the blood to gush out of the body at a faster rate.  This makes sense, as those who use knives for self defense really depend on blood loss to stop violent criminals.

The problem with wavy blades is twofold.

The first is that knives are used peacefully as tools as their primary purpose, even though they also work extremely well as weapons.  One can use a hunting knife to fend off a crazed attacker but one can also use it for a thousand different chores, from skinning a rabbit to shaving off wood chips from a log to use as kindling needed to start the evening campfire.  A knife with a wavy blade can also do the same things a straight blade can, but only at the cost of extra effort and lost precision.   While a knife with a straight blade is almost perfect for just about any purpose, a knife with a wavy blade only really works as a weapon.

The second problem is one of blade durability, as it is far from uncommon for people in Indonesia to seek professional help in having their kris repaired.  The curves in the blade result in many places where the metal is not reinforced against shearing force.  They just can’t take as much strain as a traditional straight blade.

So now we get back to the original question Steven asked.  Is the blade on the Apache pistol wavy in order to increase the fighting power of the weapon, or is it mere styling that was included to entice greater sales?

Keeping in mind that the blade on the Apache is a mere one-and-a-half inches long (4 centimeters), I really don’t think it is worth much as a fighting tool no matter how straight or wavy.   Considering the extremely small and shallow wound that would result if stabbed by an Apache bayonet, it seems unlikely that the extra fraction of width that would result from a wavy blade could result in any measurable effect at all during a frantic melee.

I surmise that the designer of the weapon realized that their customers were most likely not keen on hauling their Apache out into public view in order to use the bayonet to open a letter, or to cut some string to length.  Since it didn’t make any difference in a fight, and since the bayonet was not going to be used as a day-to-day tool, why not make it all bendy?  The exotic blade might catch the eye of someone who otherwise would buy a more traditional revolver for defense.

5 thoughts on “Wavy Blades

  1. A friend of mine who knows a bit about medieval weapon once suggested that wavy blades on swords were to make it more difficult for your opponent to grab.

    Hmmm . . .

    The theory is that you can grab a straight edge and hold it tight without cutting yourself e.g. a straight razor, but you can’t do the same with a serrated edge e.g. a bread knife.

    Hmmm . . .

    Well that’s the theory; I have not, nor do I have any intention of putting this to the test!

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