Object Title

1881 Pattern Dragoon Shashka

1881 Pattern Dragoon Shashka


By 1881 there was a total of six sword patterns worn by the various regiments of Russian cavalry and a total of 13 different types across the whole military. At a time when the use of swords as a primary combat weapon was in sharp decline, such variety was unnecessary. As such, a commission under General Gorlov was set up to come up with a standard sword pattern that could be used by the whole cavalry. The result was that the hilt of the Pattern 1841 Dragoon Shashka and the Caucasian type blade.

This was a thick, single edged, spear pointed blade with one broad fuller. The 1881 Cossack version retained their distinctive Caucasian type hilt although from 1909 Cossacks were allowed to forgo altogether regulation swords and 'to serve carrying the weapons which have been handed down to them by their fathers and forefathers, provided such weapons are in a serviceable condition.' The Dragoon, Cossack and Officers Pattern of shashka formed the combat 'system of 1881', which was worn hanging from a narrow belt over the right shoulder, whereas most cavalry swords of the period were attached to the saddle. The sword was worn with the edge facing backward, in the Caucasian style. The Dragoon scabbard also contained a fitting to hold a bayonet.

In addition to the Pattern 1881 Shaska, from 1913 until the 1930s all the front ranks of Russian cavalry units carried the Pattern 1910 lance. This was a crudely made weapon of all steel construction with a short, hollow-ground, cruciform point.

Use and effect

Because of their small horses, the Russian cavalry were generally unsuited to shock action with the sword or lance. As such, they tended to operate more as mounted infantry, with bayonets fixed to their scabbard for dismounted action. However, there were exceptions and the Russians were involved in the only full scale cavalry battle of the War, and the last of history, at Jaroslavice, on 21 August 1914. The Austro-Hungarian 4th Cavalry Division was pitched against the Russian 10th Cavalry Division in an indecisive clash, as part of a failed reconnaissance in force by the Austrians.


Blade length 86 cm (33.8 in)
Country of manufacture Russia
Date entered service 1881
Manufacturer Unknown Russian state arsenal
Overall length 1.01 m (39.7 in)
Primary operator Russia
Weight 924 g (2 lb 0.6 oz)


Henry Yallop