Shiny swords

Okay, I try to keep at least a semblance of realism when I write. Which of course means a lot of research and attention to detail. Unfortunately, my google-fu is failing me.

Swords and armor in general made from metal. I vaguely recall something about them being shiny but I cannot remember if a shiny sword meant some kind of defect in the metal or if it meant it was a good sword or if it just means that it happens to be shiny.

And unfortunately google keeps trying to sell me Pokemon Sword and Shield when I google this.

Any sword… people here care to weigh in? I’m a gun man and I can tell you a lot about the firearms in general. I know the average reader won’t care/won’t know but the level of detail I intend to hit demands perfection.

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I’m pretty sure that any metal shining means that it has been polished, or at least covered with shiny substance. It was actually pretty common to use oil on swords for maintenance.


Metal is shiny, however that imply it’s well maintained and clean.
As for the weight: they are usually relatively light, unless they are a two hands great sword type or an odachi for Japanese swords.

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I thought swords in general were light, including two handed ones?

Thank you both by the way. Apologies, I was writing and didn’t notice that anyone had replied.

Depending on what you consider light I suppose, but it’s true that people generally overestimate how heavy swords are. A zweihander is about 2 kilograms, which is considerably less than a loaded rifle. It’s not exactly something that requires workout to swing around.


Swords weren’t heavy to swing, not even great swords. The reason why they packed such a punch was because of their length, they weren’t heavy but they took a lot of effort to swing in a timely manner because you had like 10% of the sword by your hand and you want to manipulate the tip at the other end.

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Also because they’re hard, I’d assume. Plus one might think the sword builds quite a lot of speed.

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And all the force is focused on a thin line/point, instead of a greater surface.

Also, swords are not the same at all time periods, all over the world, so it might not be all swords that should be shiny.

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Any well maintained and clean steel sword is generally going to be “shiny”, could also depend on the type of steel that is used, and how it is handled. As for the weight, it just depends on how well balanced it is really. A sword that’s 2.2 kg(on the heavier end) that’s well balanced, could feel a lot lighter than a sword that isn’t well balanced at 1.4* kg(on the lighter end).

Edit; if by shiny you mean like you’d see with wallhangers, that could double as mirrors, that’s more of a movie thing(or ceremonial).

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Thanks everyone. I was asleep and could not respond.

The shiny is a dull, somewhat but not really reflective surface. As for era, we’re looking at modern smithing techniques but with technology you could scavenge or make readily in a modern apocalyptic setting.

Hope this helps.

I’m not sure I understand exactly what the question is, but if it’s about whether or not a steel sword made under these conditions could be shiny, the answer is yes, and no that would not really be an indicator that it had a defect or anything… generally cheaper(and more easy to work with steel) and tool steel( much much harder to work with and expensive) have more of a shine to them. Hope that helps somehow :blush:

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There is a show called: Forged in Fire (on Netflix and History channel) where they sometimes forge swords from scrap metal or scavenged from things like cars.

My suggestion would be to watch an episode where they do this, and you should be able to see exactly how these swords in your story should look.


Thanks guys ^-^

If I’m reading a story set in the apocalypse I would assume that a shiny sword is one recently made or very well maintained and a dull sword is one that is scavenged. I’d be thinking about the characterisation of the sword and its wielder and I wouldn’t think of realism even a little bit. Not an important consideration at all.

Mostly because the presence of swords indicates to me that this will not be a realistic story. They’re not practical apocalypse weapons.


I take it from the perspective of logistical upkeep. A modern weapon has a lot of tiny springs and mechanisms that must, eventually, be replaced. And modern ammunition using smokeless powder (which is comparatively hard to refine to say, black powder) takes a lot of logistical legwork to get all the materials in one place.

In an apocalypse scenario, modern weapons would quickly deteriorate due to their exposure to the elements. One spring rusting beyond use turns an AR-15 into a bolt action rifle, effectively, and at worst disables the weapon entirely. Since replacement parts are an issue, that means either you’ll have to work with less weapons or swap to an alternative that is easier to manufacture; black powder and revolvers.

Revolvers don’t jam as often as modern weapons, but it’s a widespread misconception that they never jam. A revolver has many issues a modern weapon doesn’t have such as the cylinder coming out of timing which disables the weapon entirely. Both must contend with dud rounds though in the case of the revolver it’s as simple as pulling the trigger again.

If we swap to a revolver, which takes a long time to reload by comparison to a modern weapon, you may not have enough time to reload. Swapping to another weapon (another revolver, in this example) may be an alternative… but a sword doesn’t jam. In the confines of a building with limited ammunition, a sword may be the best alternative. Or a bayonet.

It’s certainly a niche weapon, but all weapons are technically niche. You can’t use an AR-15 to hit someone two miles away, though its niche is certainly much broader than something like a .50 cal sniper. Likewise, you’re certainly not charging across open field with a sword to stab the guy with an automatic weapon, but from horseback (because something has to replace the car and gasoline is no longer useful past roughly 90 days) the sword becomes more useful if you cannot, for whatever reason, use a firearm.

The obvious counter to this is using improvised clubs, but anyone can use a cudgel. Swords take skill and a good situation. Up close and personal, a moderately skilled swordsman will likely win against even an experienced rifleman simply because he has more options.

I’d assume most people would swap to bikes or walking, because a) there may not be horses available, and b) they need to be kept alive, in a way that’s in no way comparable to cars.

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Bikes as in bicycles?

The ones that move with muscle power, yes.


I think bikes would likely be used as well but you can’t pull a plow with a bike or a cart. Well, maybe a small cart but nothing large. If there’s any sort of civilization popping back up in the long term, horses will return. Mules, donkeys, oxen… so forth.

Certainly, but you don’t want to risk your workhorse by riding it to battle if you can avoid it, I think.

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