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American US Navy Cutlass, Naval Cutlass M1917 (and M1941) Boarding Cutlass: The Model M1917 US Navy Cutlass was the Last Official Naval Cutlass Authorized For Use as a Personal Weapon and Inventoried Armament and the ONLY Cutlass Ever Actually Manufactured by the Government!


Photographic Historical Analysis, Technical Characteristics, Price and Availability. There is no mistaking the Dutch Klewang heritage of the US Navy M1917 naval cutlass!

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Model M1917 Naval Cutlass with Scabbard

Here you will find Price and Availability as well as a brief Historical Analysis and Documentation of the U.S. Navy's last Authorized Naval Cutlass, the Model M1917.

Towards that end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, and after having retooled it's entire fleet and sailed around the world in the first completely steam driven fleet the US Navy was about to retire its 50 year old mainstay naval cutlass, the M1860, first developed and used for the Civil War.

Just as it did for all of its naval cutlasses, the US Navy went out to seek the best current design of cutlass the world had to offer at that time and chose to pattern its new model M1917 after the Dutch Netherlands Klewang Cutlass model M1898-M1911.

M1917 Naval Cutlass with Scabbard
Once the basic adaptation decision was made the Navy added a few enhancements such as the japanned steel hilt with a full half basket cup like its predescor the M1850, (as opposed to the Klewang's open half cup or the M1860's brass cup), and an all wood squarish cross-hatched grip. But apart from that there is little essential distinctive difference between the US Navy's new M1917 and the Dutch Klewang M1911.

The US Navy then went to its mainstay cutlass maker the Ames Corporation who amazingly though politely declined the contract for no officially known reason. The US Navy was intent on replacing aging M1860 cutlass and so it decided to manufacture it themselves in one of its armories. This was the first time that the US Navy manufactured its own cutlass and it is believed that the production took place at the Navy Yard either in New York or Boston. Records are scant regarding who and where and even how many of the M1917 cutlass were actually made.

Along with the distinctive clipped point, full half basket cup, and wooden cross-hatched grip the only other identifying mark on this cutlass are the large initials U.S.N. found on the obverse ricasso.

Additionally, it is not even known whether the M1917 naval cutlass was even issued to the fleet! There are no records of this specific cutlass being issued, inventoried, or part of any ships armament. There are no period photographs of either sailor or marine carrying this particular model of cutlass, even though there are period photographs of the M1860 being used in the 1930's during some of the Boxer uprisings and unrest.

The U.S. Navy's M1917 Naval Cutlass was a relatively plain cutlass made for the enlisted sailor with no frills or gew-gaws, and like its predecessors it had an honesty of purpose about it. This cutlass also came equipped with a full leather scabbard and leather frog (both stitched), with the throat being of leather and tip being of brass, with metal staples/rivets securing both the frog and scabbard.

Here below is an example of the American US Navy model 1917 Naval Cutlass - a weapon for the enlisted sailor:

us navy m1917 naval cutlass boarding sword

The above US Navy model M1917 Cutlass has the sweeping upturned blade (called a falchion) with the distinctive clipped point, a single fuller (a fuller is the long groove found on some sword blades, it is there for balance and not as some think for exiting blood). Note again the distinctive closed cup steel hilt. This cutlass certainly has that traditional "piratey" look and feel of a true boarding cutlass seen in all of the movies and artwork of the time.

us navy m1917 naval boarding cutlass hilt

The only marking on the M1917 were the initials U.S.N. as seen here, no other markings will be found on this cutlass or on the leather scabbard.

As mentioned previously, there are no records showing where this cutlass was actually manufactured other than the Navy did it. It is also unknown as to how many the Navy even produced!

There are no known records showing where this cutlass was stored after it was manufactured, or whether it was ever even issued. This particular model M1917 naval cutlass while not entirely rare to find, is also not so readily available especially in good condition.

However, a visitor to The Pirate's Lair contacted us and relayed information about how his grandfather back in the 1950's found a cache of these cutlass models stashed away in a warehouse in Norfolk, Virginia. Him and a friend each took a cutlass and it has been handed down through the family since then as an heirloom.

The blade of the M1917 was heavily blued and the steel hilt and wooden handle were black japanned. This was (or would have been) a very formidable boarding cutlass and an excellent replacement to the M1860 naval cutlass used during the Civil War up through and including the Spanish-American War.

 
Description US Navy Cutlass Model M1917 Boarding Cutlass
 
Dimensions
 
Additional Information
 
Overall Cutlass Length (blade tip to pommel):
 
31"
 
Additional Information
 
Blade Length (point tip to quillon):
 
24 1/2"
 
Additional Information
 
Blade Width (at ricasso):
 
1 1/4"
 
Additional Information
 
Blade Thickness (at spine):
 
1/8"
 
sometimes measured at 5/16"
 
Blade Fuller Width:
 
3/8"
 
wide fuller running length of the blade from ricasso to 5 3/8" from blade tiptygf
 
Blade Fuller Length:
 
14 1/2"
 
no further information
 
Length of Steel Hilt (from outer edge of quillon to tip of pommel:
 
4 7/8"
 
Entirely Blued
 
Hilt, guard, and closed half basket:
 
Steel
 
No markings. Grip is made of cross hatched fitted wood secured with 3 copper rivets, black japanned
 
Quillon Shape:
 
Tab facing forward
 
no markings
 
Leather Bushing Between Hilt and Blade:
 
No
 
no information
 
Scabbard (length):
 
24 1/2"
 
Leather body with brass tip ending in a ball. Large stitches run full length on reverse side. No markings
 
Scabbard, Brass Tip:
 
4 1/8
 
terminates in ball, has two staples or two rivets, no markings
 
Weight (Cutlass only):
 
2 lbs, 8 oz
 
no further informatioin
US Navy Cutlass M1917 naval cutlass full length obverse blade and scabbard

Photo showing the obverse side of the M1917 US Navy Cutlass Model M1917 Naval Cutlass and Scabbard.

US Navy Cutlass M1917 naval cutlass

Photo showing the reverse side of the M1917 US Navy Cutlass Model M1917 Naval Cutlass and Scabbard.

US Navy Cutlass M1917 naval cutlass US Navy Cutlass M1917 naval cutlass

Left photo shows the wooden cross-hatched grip and the right photo shows the entire closed half basket cup and deeply stamped initials USN.

US Navy Cutlass M1917 naval cutlass

This brings us to the conclusion of our technical dissertation on the US Navy Cutlass, Model M1917 Naval Cutlass. We hope that you found it both interesting and factual, and a help in finding that special cutlass for your collection. Below you will find price and availability of this naval cutlass.

 
RARE! US Navy M1917 Naval Cutlass #12
Excellent Condition - No Scabbard. Classical curved falchion blade with clipped tip and closed half basket cup giving that "piratey look". Definitely does not hide its Dutch Klewang heritage!
 
us navy m1917 naval cutlass #11 for sale
Click Photo!
 
$895.
 
To Order Call
540 659 6209
 
RARE! U.S. Navy Cutlass - Model M1917 Naval Cutlass with Leather Scabbard #13
Excellent Museum Quality Condition! 100% Blueing on the blade. Hilt, Closed Cup and Cross Hatched Grip has 100% of the black Japanning. Deeply etched initials USN on the blade. With RARE Original Leather Scabbard. Definitely does not hide its Dutch Klewang heritage!
 
US Navy Cutlass, Model M1917 Naval Cutlass with Scabbard For Sale #12
Click Photo!
 
$1295.
Sold!
 
To Order Call
540 659 6209


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Why just get a shadow box or a newly made trunk with no history! One of our 100+ Year Old Nautical Antique Trunks can be used for both a Shadow Box and Storage Chest for your Uniforms, Photograph Albums, and Memorabilia!


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The naval cutlass was also sometimes known as a navy sword or naval short sword as the blade was sometimes significantly shorter than some of the 30" plus blades found on infantry and calvary swords.

moreover the sweeping blade of the cutlass was called in french the "falchion" which distiguishes it from the straigher sword blades.