Before the Evolution of Combat, the Rune scimitar was viewed as the superior weapon compared to the Rune longsword. The scimitar had more damage over time as a result of the increased attack speed, making it a more efficient training weapon than the longsword. This made it one of the most popular and most used non-members weapons in the game. Though its popularity has dropped considerably since the release of the Evolution of Combat, it is still a fairly commonly seen non-members weapon.
The rune scimitar was commonly used in PvP Combat in free-to-play. With the Evolution of Combat release, however, the rune scimitar's popularity in player killing situations (and combat in general) is dwindling because all other one-handed rune weapons offer the same damage per second. Furthermore, the Rune mace also offers a Prayer bonus along with the same damage and attack speed of the scimitar, only differing with its crushing attack style (which does not matter in PvP). The rune 2h sword also offers far superior damage per second to the scimitar and use of two-handed abilities that the scimitar cannot use, at the cost of the inability to use a shield.
On 28 July 2009, the Animation Pack 1 update changed the appearance and attack animations of the Rune Scimitar in order to make combat look more realistic, This was done with the godswords, the dragon scimitar, the rune and dragon longswords, and the abyssal whip.
On 23 July 2009, five days before the scheduled update, the Rune scimitar image in the Grand Exchange database was replaced by the new model. Players found the image and posted about it in the RuneScape Forums, making it widely known before Jagex removed the image a few hours later. Five days later, the image was once again put up along with the official release.
Before the Evolution of Combat, the rune scimitar was one of the most common, if not the most common, weapons in the F2P game due to its popularity in the F2P PKing community. After the launch of the EoC, however, many F2P PKers began switching to either the rune 2h sword (with its better damage per second) or the rune mace (due to its +4 Prayer bonus, cheaper cost, and identical stats and attack speed to the scimitar). The lack of monsters with a slash weakness in the non-members game is also contributing to its sudden drop in popularity. Nevertheless, due to the reputation it has gained before the EoC, it is still a fairly common sight among free players.