Dagger vs. Maille and Cloth Armor

In this video we test how far a rondel dagger penetrates through a combination of chain and cloth armors while they are worn. The penetration of the dagger point through the maille and the gambeson is substantial and may affect how we think about the efficacy of dagger, sword, and spear thrusts against the gaps in plate armor where chain and cloth provide the only protection.

rondel dagger
Arms and Armor Rondel Dagger, a specialized weapon for fighting armored opponents

Many medieval and renaissance daggers were made to stab through heavy cloth armor and had very fine points that were capable of protruding through chain maille.  Rather than breaking through the rings of the armor as is often supposed, our experiments suggest that the very pointy tips of these weapons were designed to defeat the armor by simply poking through the holes in the center of the rings and piercing through the under-layers of cloth armor.  

Koln Messer
Arms and Armor Koln Messer, another dagger suited to armored combat

This type of penetration is unlikely to strike a mortal blow, but and inch of dagger in your armpit, neck, elbow, or knee is certainly dangerous, painful, and gives your opponent a distinct purchase upon your person, allowing them to manipulate your body and position you for further strikes and throws.  

14th century dagger

Arms and Armor 14th Century dagger, also great for armored combat...



divider swords

Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.

Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.

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