If you look at it in historic terms, swords and blades in general have killed far more people than guns, so its understandable that people may contemplate them as alternatives to firearms when these are not available. Before we go any further into this, I’d like to remind everyone just in case that while blades have a place, something like a sword shouldn’t even be considered in countries where you can legally own firearms. Even a double barrel shotgun would be a MUCH better alternative. If you live in USA, the alternatives you have in firearms makes even thinking about swords for self defense a ridiculous idea. Get a Glock my friend. If you’re worried about stopping power get one in 357 SIG or 10mm. A sword shouldn’t even be in the picture.
Having said that, lets just suppose you can’t own firearms. Blades are your second best option. I’ve mentioned often enough that even if you carry a firearm, you should definitely have a folding fighting knife as well. The reason for this is that at contact range or when struggling with your attacker, the knife is more useful than any firearm. The "don’t bring a knife to a gunfight" line is only true when you have a certain range. At sidewalk range you will get cut, and if the knife wielder has the slightest idea of how to us it and you have no h2h training you will get killed, gun or no gun. Also, if your gun isn’t working anymore for whatever reason) the knife can still be used as a weapon.
But what about swords? The first problem we see with them is that you of course can’t carry it with you at all times. Getting a big folder means you have a tool for self defense with you at all times, but the sword will stay home or maybe get carried in the car.
Second, and this is of particular concern for people that live in countries where firearms are available, lets just suppose you do use it to kill or even worse in legal terms, injure a home invader. The first question everyone (including the judge and jury) is going to ask is, Why the heck do you have a sword for defense when you can buy a gun? Playing the devils advocate, the strategy I would use would be that you wheren’t concerned that much about self defense as you where about playing your Nippon manga fantasy, you wanted to be Akira, you’re sick in the head and believe you are Higlander the Inmortal.
Having said all this, lets say guns aren’t available and you go for a large blade, a sword of some kind. The world of blades is huge and tomes have been written about it, I don’t intend to summarize all of that in this simple article, yet I’d make a couple distinctions. First, there are blades for war and blades for defensive use. Cavalry uses a saber that cuts heads like water melons, mostly while on horse, but what about turning it against a would be killer in a narrow corridor, using only one hand, while keeping his own knife or gun away from your body with the other? Long narrow blades like rapiers and dueling blades are out of the equation as well. The second distinction worth mentioning is, the kind swords that proved most effective in combat. While many have interesting characteristics, for the purpose of self defense I believe the short roman sword, the gladius, holds the key of what to look for. The gladius along with outstanding military tactics and discipline was a main factor of the roman’s effectivenss in combat. The galdius is short, so it didn’t tangle with people or equipment around during the fight, it has a narrow tip, perfect for stabbing, and that’s how it was most often used, and finally it is broad enough to chop with the strength of a machete. A short, broad sword with a penetrating tip fits the bill in my opinion. Machetes have these same characteristics, except for the penetrating tip in the tipical latin machete, but a clip point is easy to make. The clip point can be found in Cold Steel Cutlass mentioned earlier.
For self defense I’d prefer something even shorter though, around 12-14 inches is more than enough, and is more handy at close quarters. Even A big butcher’s knife or chef knife should suffice.
Wenger Swibo 14-1/10-Inch Butcher Knife, Large Blade (otherwise known as the "please shoot me instead knife")
As an added bonus, its cheap, readily available and isn’t out of place in a houses kitchen. “I just grabbed the first thing I found…”
When it comes to machetes, I’ve often recommended the Cold Steel machetes for these same reasons. These days there are more machetes out there and many have more narrow tips than the typical latin machete.
Just some more food for thought, take care and enjoy your weekend.