Boarding Axes From the Age of Sail  Hache d’abordage, Enterbijl, Entrebil, Änterbila,  Entrebile, Hachas de Abordaje
HOME FUNCTION and FORM AXES by NATION PRIVATE PURCHASE NOT Boarding Axes Sources and Acknowledgement Links Halberd Type Boarding Axes
Boarding Axes by Nation

I would like to thank the following who have contributed their expert knowledge to the website and those who have supplied photographs from their collections or simply advice and inspiration.

Sim Comfort

Jan Piet Puype

Fernando (Portugal)

A special thanks to my researcher and French translator Anne Elizabeth.

And also my local library staff, Christina, Beth and Shirley who have over, several years tracked down some very obscure books for me.

Previously William Gilkerson was the only scholar to have made a study of Boarding Axes from several nations, it being a chapter in ‘Boarders Away’, a book that covers naval weapons from the age of fighting sail (1626 - 1826). This work remains a valuable reference even now, twenty five years later.

I acknowledge its contribution as part of the foundation for this study and in some ways the inspiration for it. For the sake of completeness I have covered the same material as Gilkerson, with some updating due to more available information. I have expanded the timeframe to include regulation patterns adopted by governments later than 1826 and also widened the scope to include more countries.

I have also included a section on private purchase axes which are perhaps the most difficult to identify. The page on NOT Boarding Axes will, I hope, provide some protection to collectors from the mis-selling of axes that are incorrectly identified.

Since the publication of ‘Boarders Away’ there have been other scholars who have covered the subject for particular nations as part of wider studies on marine weapons, for example Kurt Bang Peterson’s excellent “Danske Marineblankevåben”, and I have used these where I could find them.

Museums and their curators have been very helpful and I have especially made use of online digital collections wherever possible.

Expert knowledge is hard to find and for some nations information is very scarce. I hope that some gaps may be filled in by drawing on the resource of collectors and experts viewing this site. I am aware of the dangers of drawing conclusions from a small number of examples but unfortunately with boarding axes, that is often all there is.

Measurements with a small sample size can also be suspect especially if there has been damage - a broken off spike, for example, repaired to a point may not be discernable.

Translations can also be a source of error and although I have tried to verify any uncertainties there is always some scope for inaccuracies.

To the best of my knowledge the information is accurate but due to the limitations as stated above this may not always be the case.

I have attempted to attribute all photographs used, but it has not always been possible to track down the source from online content. Again, I hope that submissions of better photographs from collectors will add to the value of the site.

Corrections, additional information, photographs and the submission of boarding for axes for inclusion, especially those for the private purchase section will be considered.

Contact:  sea.axes @

January 2015  

Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information contained in this website it cannot be guaranteed. The scarcity of written work, personal interpretation of material, the dangers of translation and the limited amount of surviving examples may have led to inaccuracies.

The two measurements generally given for each axe are the total length, including the head and shaft, and the distance from the edge of the axe blade to the point of the spike. These are to the nearest quarter inch and half centimetre.

All articles, descriptions and photographs, where not otherwise attributed, are the copyright of Seaxe and must not be reproduced without permission. Copyright © 2015 sea.axes @ · All Rights Reserved.

William Gilkerson

Boarders Away - with Steel        1991

Colonel Robert H Rankin

Small Arms of the Sea Services  1972

Christian Aries

Armes Blanches Militaires Francaises        1974  

Sarah C Wolfe

Naval Edged Weapons (1775 - 1865)         2005

Kurt Bang Peterson

Danske Marineblankvåben I     2001   

Juan L. Calvo

Armas enastadas (III) Chuzos y hachas de abordaje        2006

Drs. G.R. Hof  

De blanke wapens van de Frans-Nederlandse Marine     2009

George Neumann

Swords & Blades of the American Revolution       1973

Curator. Leon Homberg  

Marinemuseum/Dutch Navy Museum

Digital Archives

The National Maritime Museum, The Navy Museum, and the Army Museum, Sweden.

Digital Archive

The Norwegian Navy Museum

Curator. Frédérique Chapelay

Musée national de la Marine. Paris

Curator.  Robert Woosnam-Savage

Royal Armouries. Leeds

Secondary Sources listed below:

Jean Boudroit and Michel Petard

Marine Royale 17th- 18th Century Uniformes, Equipement, Armement.     1977

Jean Boudroit  

The Seventy-Four Gun Ship         1980

Charles Ffoulks       

Sword, Lance and Bayonet - A Record of the Arms of The British Army and Navy    1938

John McGrath and Mark Barton

British Naval Swords and Swordmanship     2013

Digital Archive

The Rijksmuseum


Historical perspective of national navies  

Cesare Calamandrei  

Storia Dell'Arma Bianca Italiana           1999  

Michel Pétard

Le Sabre d’Abordage                2006

Curator. Dominique Prevot

Musée de l’Armée. Paris

Skennerton Ian D. (Ed)

List of changes in British War Materials 1886-1900            1977

The Main Sources of Reference are listed below:




June 2015

+1786 Model French Axe, Improved Spanish Information, + Scandinavian private purchase axe, + Manufacturer  British axes - Edwards.

French,Spanish,P P, British pages

January 2016

 French 1852 additional pictures, + French 1833 Private Purchase, + Brit/US Wolff Private Purchase

French, Private Purchase pages

August 2016

Spell correction Bates to Yates. Add photo Gilpin mark. Latest date to 1899. Add Maberly, Whyll to makers.

Spell correction Brookes to Brooks. Add photo of Brooks maker name.

Addition of Portuguese page.

Email button.

Addition of Halberd Type page

Addition of Links page


Private Purchase


Home, Sources and Portugal

Halberd Type Boarding Axes


April 2017

Major revision to French page

Correction C&N to C&M



March 2019

Major revision to British page.



William Gilkerson

1936 - 2015

Thanks to all those who have already contributed to the site and sent in pictures from their own collections.

If you have any knowledge to pass on concerning boarding axes or if you have an axe that you would like identified - email me at:

 sea.axes @ or click on the button.