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Authentic Early 19th Century French Naval Boarding Axe Model AN IX.

This specimen has the classic features of the later regulation French Navy Boarding Ax Model An IX (Sept 1800-Sept 1801) or Year 9 in the French Revolutionary Calendar of the 1st French Republic. Was possibly produced between the early 1800s to the late 1820s just prior to the introduction of the Model M1833 boading ax.

The spike on this later model An IX is shorter and a bit thicker than on the earlier An Ix model and is substantially shorter than what is found on the M1833 model boarding ax. All 3 models (1786, An IX and M1833) incude the belt hook though the model An IX featured here appears to have a much thinner hook than found on the earlier model An IX.

The langets on this later model ANIX are long and thin ending in a taper, whereas the langets on the M1833 appear to be thicker and more globular. The wooden handle on the later model An IX is ovoid in shape and almost flat at the end, whereas the earlier model An IX handle is round ending in a ball. The M1833 handle is also round and ending in a ball.

The Model 1786 and both the early and later Model An IX French Boarding Axes have been found in the inventory of American Navy ships from the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, as well as aboard Privateers and ships with Letters-of-Marque. The An IX model boarding axes were later provided by the French in outfitting the American Navy's newly constructed men-of-war frigates in the very early 1800s, namely the USS Constitution and her sister ships which fought in the Barbary Pirate Wars and War of 1812. It is also quite concievable that these French Boarding Axes were supplied to the Confederacy during the Civil War as they were found in the US Navy's inventory in the late 19th century and sold as surplus.
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French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX

French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX

French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX

French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX

French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX

French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX

French Naval Boarding Ax AN IX

French Naval Boarding Ax Model AN IX (1801-1802)
Classic early 19th Century French Naval Boarding Ax in Excellent Condition as Illustrated and Described in "Boarders Away" pages 34 and 35. This is the later model ANIX described and illustrated by Gilkerson as it has the shortened spike and 23" ovoid handle. Blade has the classic French flare with just a short beveled spike reminiscent of the later Model M1833.
French Naval Boarding Ax Model AN IX
Click Photo!
 Overall Length: 23" long
Head: 7.5" long
Not For Sale
Displayed Historical Purposes Only


The naval boarding ax was the most indispensable and versatile weapon used aboard a naval vessel prior to the advent of propeller-driven steel-hulled ships of the late 19th century. During the era of wooden hulled naval vessels powered by wind and sail the boarding ax was a critical piece of equipment used by the enlisted deckhand throughout a naval engagement from beginning the beginning shots of canon fire to the end when capturing or vanquishing an opponent. Outside of the large bore canon and skilled seamanship of captain and crew the boarding ax was likely the most single most important weapon which would determine a ships survivability during battle.

Critical to a naval vessels survivability during an engagement would be to ensure that:
A) all "hot shot" was quickly removed and efficiently dug out from the hull, masts, or any wooden structure which it may have been imbedded preventing a catastrophic fire,
B) the rapid removal and discarding overboard of any downed rigging, ropes and masts which would prevent a vessel to properly navigate,
C) instrumental in allowing naval infantry or boarders to climb up the side of a wooden hull on an opposing vessel,
D) an effective weapon or sidearm used in close quarter combat either as a boarder or in repelling boarders.

Boarding Ax Collection Photo to the left illustrates a partial collection and representation of Scandinavian, European and British naval boarding axes from the 18th and 19th centuries. The Scandinavian and French boarding ax are very similar and distinctive with wide flaring blades and curved spikes, while the British boarding ax has a more traditional hatchet-type smaller blade and slightly straighter spike.

The 16th thru 19th centuries saw the culmination of the Naval Boarding Ax and Boarding Pike as vital defensive and offensive personal weapons as part of the inventory of a man-of-war. Both of which became obsolete by the beginning of the 20th century due to the advent of steel ships, small highly accurate personal multi-round firearms such as pistols and rifles, and of course highly accurate large-bore short and long-range naval artillery which would prevent close-quarter boarding.

From the Spanish American War onward there no longer came the need or even opportunity to board other vessels by climbing up the bulging wooden sides using the boarding ax, or the need to pick out "hot shot" rounds from wooden timbers and masts, or to drag and cut away ropes and sails taken down by canon fire, or to use the boarding ax to hack away or throw at an opponent.

Just as the enlisted naval cutlass was specially designed for close quarter combat by an ordinary seaman aboard a fighting vessel, as opposed to its landbased bretheren the sword; so was the naval boarding axe and naval boarding pike differentiated from its cousins the landbased military battle-axe and the halberd or pike.

US Navy Boarding Ax US Navy Boarding Ax

Above are two examples of late 18th and early 19th century US Navy boarding axes which were very distinctive as to origin. The long bearded blade with large sharp cutout teeth were a completely American design to facilitate the gathering and dragging of fallen rope and sail.

In the day of wooden hulled and sail driven vessels there were typically no nails of any consequence used in the construction, so the teeth seen in these American-made naval boarding axes were not used to pull out nails. In fact the notches one sees in todays hatchets and axes which are used to pull out nails are a throwback to the original naval boarding ax.

french hache de board m1833 boarding ax french hache abordage m1833 boarding axe

The above photos illustrate a French Model M1833 Hache de Bord or Hache Abordage naval boarding ax. Note the long fore and aft langets securing the axe to the shaft while there is an extra langet acting as a shield for the wood against a cutlass thrust. The design is very similar to the Swedish boarding ax.

Below are links to other Antique Nautical and Naval Artifacts that may be of interest:

Click Here For Antique 19th Century British Royal Navy Mess Plates, Dinnerware, Rum Cups, Kegs and Mess Pails

Click HERE for WWII US Navy Anchor China

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Music Credits: Donald Where's Your Trousers/Drunken Sailor medley by The Bards

The naval boarding ax was an indispensable part of a ships armament inventory for the deckhand.

One often sees pirates and sailors holding a cutlass in one hand with a french hache de bord boarding ax in another as they were used in conjunction with each other when boarding a naval vessel during a battle. The boarding as was used to clear ones own deck of debris including ropes and rigging which may have been shot away and fallen as well as digging hot shot out of wooden hulls, bridges, railings, decks, sails, etc etc.

The french anix naval boarding ax as an offensive weapon was used to help a boarder climb up the side of an enemies wooden hull, then used to chop away at their rigging making it difficult or impossible for them to properly maneuver, and then to used as a personal weapon in close quarter combat. The boarding ax was also used to throw at an enemy to keep distance. In fact it has been said that a well thrown boarding ax was even more lethal than an early 19th century gun (both were equally only one shot!)