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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 3:42 pm    Post subject: Dagger/ vs Sword vs spear         Reply with quote

Anyone aware of any testing done on a dagger thrust vs a one hand spear (and two hand spear) thrust? I guess even through sword thrusts into the equation.

I have a debate with a friend that a spear with one hand may perform a bit better than a dagger, but it would be close, at least that is my thought.
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Nathan Gilleland





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PostPosted: Wed 03 Dec, 2008 4:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I suppose it would completely depend on the quality of the user's thrust, and the style of the weapon.

Some daggers were made for thrusting, (narrow blades, reinforced tips, etc.), while others were more for cutting, (single edges, curved, etc.)

The same goes for swords and spears.

I know this doesn't help your scenario, but it's something to think about. If your friend thinks that a dagger would pierce better than a spear, then you may respond, "Ah, but the roman javelin pierces much better than a seax!" (Don't know if that's true, but I would assume so, given the profile design of each.) Laughing Out Loud

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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Sat 06 Dec, 2008 10:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-Do not forgrt the Zulu thrusting spear, which was intended to be used like a Roman gladius (not that Shaka ever read Roman history ) he simply hit on the best way to get a sharp object onto the body cavity. The spear, about a yard long with shaft, was used by the Zulu warrior hooking the left edge of the enemy shield with his own left edge, then yanking back and thrusting under the enemy's left armpit.That was a real owie
Ja68ms
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Ben C.





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PostPosted: Sat 06 Dec, 2008 9:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

what do you mean by perform? are you referring to their ability to penetrate armour or the severity of the wounds they cause?

In terms of penetration it's not even close. A spear has much more mass and is quite capable of penetrating even metal armour. Using an icepick grip a dagger can deliver a fair amount of power but a spear would still have a fair bit more.

forum member Michael Edelson performed some interested armour penetration tests last year. He tested a poleaxe, a modern bow & arrows, and a number of swords against riveted mail with padding and then further went on to test a large range of longswords as well as a gladius, a katana and a rondel dagger against a several types of layered jacks. The longswords and gladius had no trouble thusting through the jacks regardless of the thickness, but the rondel was completely unable penetrate even the (relatively) thin 10 layer jacks. A thrust oriented longsword was used against the mail but only a small amount of penetration was achievable. The poleaxe though was absolutely devastating and went completely through the mail and padding underneath. You can read the entire thread here;

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=11131

It's not a definitive test by any means but it is still very intesting and does show much power is achievable from a two handed polearm thrust or swing. A one handed spear thrust would obviously lose a lot of power but I still think it would be considerably more than what a dagger could achieve.
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Marc Pengryffyn




Location: Canberra, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 4:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Condon wrote:
...In terms of penetration it's not even close. A spear has much more mass and is quite capable of penetrating even metal armour. Using an icepick grip a dagger can deliver a fair amount of power but a spear would still have a fair bit more.


My immediate assumption was that the dagger would have more penetrative power, but you make a good point (pun un-intended Big Grin ) Hmm, more mass, that's true. But I wonder if the extra length of the spear might actually reduce the amount of force transferred to the target, unless the thrust were delivered very precisely? I'm not sure of what the proper term is for what I'm trying to say..'sideways torque'? The tendency of leverage to force the longer weapon to deflect some of it's force sideways, with even small deviations from the proper line? Sorry, I know I'm not being very clear, I really can't think of how to express this thought. It's times like this I wish I'd studied engineering Big Grin I hope you can work out what I'm trying to say.

Plus whatever flex there might be in the spearshaft needs to be taken into account. I'm not saying that any of this reduces the power of a spear thrust below that of a dagger, I'm simple speculating Wink

Also, as to- "A spear... is quite capable of penetrating even metal armour"- don't forget we're talking one-handed spear use in this scenario, less power and control than two-handed. And slim, stiff-bladed daggers, like rondels or stilettos can penetrate metal armour too. It's what they're designed for, after all.

I'm not saying you're wrong, I hasten to add! But the disparity between the penetrative power of daggers and spears may not be as clear as you suggest.

The thing to do would be to line up sets of weapons, spears, daggers and swords, with identical tip profiles, and try them out against a variety of targets. Can't beat the empirical approach, in my books! Sadly, I don't have the wherewithal to perform the experiment myself Cry

Interesting question!

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Ben C.





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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marc Pengryffyn wrote:
My immediate assumption was that the dagger would have more penetrative power, but you make a good point (pun un-intended Big Grin ) Hmm, more mass, that's true. But I wonder if the extra length of the spear might actually reduce the amount of force transferred to the target, unless the thrust were delivered very precisely? I'm not sure of what the proper term is for what I'm trying to say..'sideways torque'? The tendency of leverage to force the longer weapon to deflect some of it's force sideways, with even small deviations from the proper line? Sorry, I know I'm not being very clear, I really can't think of how to express this thought. It's times like this I wish I'd studied engineering Big Grin I hope you can work out what I'm trying to say.

Plus whatever flex there might be in the spearshaft needs to be taken into account. I'm not saying that any of this reduces the power of a spear thrust below that of a dagger, I'm simple speculating Wink


I definitely think the length of the spear and the type of grip used would drastically affect the results. The longer the haft the less power you should get while wielding it one handed but in my limited experience this isn't really a major issue with a regular 6'-8' spear. In regards to deflection, I think against most targets it shouldn't be a major factor. The only target that would cause much deflection would be a solid metal one and that is not something a dagger can deal with anyway. A shield might cause similar problems but I'm not sure thrusting into a shield would be a common objective.

Quote:
And slim, stiff-bladed daggers, like rondels or stilettos can penetrate metal armour too. It's what they're designed for, after all.


the slimmer daggers are not for penetrating metal armour but for stabbing into the gaps between plates in a harness. If a thrust oriented longsword can only achieve a slight amount of penetration against riveted mail, even when half-sworded, then it can be assumed that a dagger of any type would have no chance. It's also interesting to note that the thinner thrust oriented daggers don't seem to fare well against layered textile armour. I've seen evidence of this in a few tests (including Michael Edelson's one that I linked to above) and it seems that the lack of a good cutting edge and possible the lack of mass is what hampers them.
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Marc Pengryffyn




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Dec, 2008 3:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Condon wrote:
... the slimmer daggers are not for penetrating metal armour but for stabbing into the gaps between plates in a harness. If a thrust oriented longsword can only achieve a slight amount of penetration against riveted mail, even when half-sworded, then it can be assumed that a dagger of any type would have no chance. It's also interesting to note that the thinner thrust oriented daggers don't seem to fare well against layered textile armour. I've seen evidence of this in a few tests (including Michael Edelson's one that I linked to above) and it seems that the lack of a good cutting edge and possible the lack of mass is what hampers them.


Hmmm, ok, I was under the impression that they could penetrate mail fairly easily, but perhaps I'm wrong. Although I do remember reading.....somewhere.... that the slim, stiff blades of stilettos were for penetrating the mail shirts that were often worn under clothing among the more contentious parts of Italian society. But that mail would probably be much lighter and less sturdy than that for military use, and it may have simply been someone's speculation, anyway.

You're probably right about the spear having greater penetrative power. I think the added mass would be the deciding factor. I'd still like to see the experiment done, however, if anyones got a bunch of spears and daggers lying idle Big Grin

Oh, and thanks.."deflection" was the term I was searching for! I must stop posting on forums so late at night. The brain shuts down after pumpkin-time, these days Sad

(edit added after further pondering) Actually, I knew that the slim, stiff daggers of the plate era were for 'going through the gaps', but I'd thought that those gaps were usually protected by mail gussets sewn to the.... undergarments (my brain's gone blank on the proper word again). I'd thought that this was the reason for the extremely awl-like blade profile of many of these weapons. If they couldn't penetrate the mail, then were they solely used for eye-slits and opened visors? Or were those mail gussets not as common as I'd thought?

Oh, this isn't directly pertinent to the thread, but I'm curious. Were one-handed spears used in foot combat in the plate era? It was my impression that they weren't, but I may well be wrong. I don't think we should count lances since they used the momentum and mass of the horse. I'm aware that dismounted men-at-arms are often described as cutting their lances short to use on foot, but my impression was that these were used two-handed. Is that supported by evidence?


Cheers

Marc

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David Black Mastro




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 9:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James R.Fox wrote:
Sirs-Do not forgrt the Zulu thrusting spear, which was intended to be used like a Roman gladius (not that Shaka ever read Roman history ) he simply hit on the best way to get a sharp object onto the body cavity. The spear, about a yard long with shaft, was used by the Zulu warrior hooking the left edge of the enemy shield with his own left edge, then yanking back and thrusting under the enemy's left armpit.That was a real owie



This spear was called the iXwa, a phonetic word based on the sound the spear makes when it enters the body...

"Why meddle with us--you are not strong enough to break us--you know that you have won the battle and slaughtered our army--be content with your honor, and leave us alone, for by God's good will only have we escaped from this business" --unknown Spanish captain to the Chevalier Bayard, at the Battle of Ravenna, 1512
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Luka Borscak




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 9:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marc Pengryffyn wrote:
Ben Condon wrote:
... the slimmer daggers are not for penetrating metal armour but for stabbing into the gaps between plates in a harness. If a thrust oriented longsword can only achieve a slight amount of penetration against riveted mail, even when half-sworded, then it can be assumed that a dagger of any type would have no chance. It's also interesting to note that the thinner thrust oriented daggers don't seem to fare well against layered textile armour. I've seen evidence of this in a few tests (including Michael Edelson's one that I linked to above) and it seems that the lack of a good cutting edge and possible the lack of mass is what hampers them.


Hmmm, ok, I was under the impression that they could penetrate mail fairly easily, but perhaps I'm wrong. Although I do remember reading.....somewhere.... that the slim, stiff blades of stilettos were for penetrating the mail shirts that were often worn under clothing among the more contentious parts of Italian society. But that mail would probably be much lighter and less sturdy than that for military use, and it may have simply been someone's speculation, anyway.

You're probably right about the spear having greater penetrative power. I think the added mass would be the deciding factor. I'd still like to see the experiment done, however, if anyones got a bunch of spears and daggers lying idle Big Grin

Oh, and thanks.."deflection" was the term I was searching for! I must stop posting on forums so late at night. The brain shuts down after pumpkin-time, these days Sad

(edit added after further pondering) Actually, I knew that the slim, stiff daggers of the plate era were for 'going through the gaps', but I'd thought that those gaps were usually protected by mail gussets sewn to the.... undergarments (my brain's gone blank on the proper word again). I'd thought that this was the reason for the extremely awl-like blade profile of many of these weapons. If they couldn't penetrate the mail, then were they solely used for eye-slits and opened visors? Or were those mail gussets not as common as I'd thought?

Oh, this isn't directly pertinent to the thread, but I'm curious. Were one-handed spears used in foot combat in the plate era? It was my impression that they weren't, but I may well be wrong. I don't think we should count lances since they used the momentum and mass of the horse. I'm aware that dismounted men-at-arms are often described as cutting their lances short to use on foot, but my impression was that these were used two-handed. Is that supported by evidence?


Cheers

Marc


Narrow daggers can reach the flash without breaking mail rings. The same is with acute sword tips like you can see in M. Edelson's test.
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Ben C.





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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 12:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Luka Borscak wrote:
Narrow daggers can reach the flash without breaking mail rings. The same is with acute sword tips like you can see in M. Edelson's test.


That's true but the penetration in Edelson's test without breaking any rings was only about 1.5cm. When you take into account the padding underneath then that's possibly not even enough to reach the skin. A narrow dagger would probably be able to get deeper but at the same time the thinner blade would probably have even more trouble with the padding underneath.

However it is true that mail used as a secondary defence under plate was usually thinner with larger links than regular mail. In addition the arming doublets underneath a plate hardness were generally not as thick as the aketons/gambesons used underneath mail. Therefore when striking the vulnerable areas of a plate harness a dagger would have a much better chance of achieving penetration than against a guy wearing mail as a primary defence.
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Mon 08 Dec, 2008 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Ben,

Evidence suggests that 15th century arming doublets were unpadded, so that's not really a factor. We know that such thrusts into mail were effective, both with daggers and more acutely pointed longswords, because period texts specializing in how to overcome harness advocate just such a technique. In some places, such as this passage from the 1452 'Von Danzig' compendium, the mail is called out explicitly:

And when you have planted upon him, then if he is taller than you, note that you should thus press forward at him, and be sure that your point goes upward, and is well set into the rings of his mail. Or if he is shorter than you are, then let your hand and sword sink down to your right hip with the point extending up against him, and well set into his harness, and thus press forward at him.

All the best,

Christian

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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2008 12:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting testing info. Anyone ever done any testing with one handed spears? My understanding is they were mostly used overhand.

I am familiar with the "COmmonplace Book" testing, where much is done in terms of Joulles. But there is stabbing joulles listed, though from the athor that was using a contemporary knife.

Would be curious how a Rondel dagger would fare vs a 6-8' one handed spear thrust.
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello all,

One point I forgot to mention is that at least some German masters advocated gaining complete control, preferably on the ground before trying to work the other guy over with the dagger through his harness. Here's the introductory paragraph to the close quarters portion of the anonymous commentaries on Liechtenauer's armoured combat, as found in the 'Von Danzig' compendium manuscript:

Now you should know that, for the most part, all fighting in single combat in harness comes in the end to dagger fighting and to wrestling. Therefore note, when you close with an opponent, then attend to nothing else but the wrestling and let your dagger stay in its scabbard, because you cannot hurt him through the harness as long as he is standing before you and hinders your hand. When you secure him with the wrestling or have thrown him and have overcome him, then work with the dagger to the openings that you will find explained hereafter, and that have already been explained.

All the best,

Christian

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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 2:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
you should know that, for the most part, all fighting in single combat in harness comes in the end to dagger fighting and to wrestling.


Sounds a lot like MMA (LOL)
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Christian Henry Tobler
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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 2:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Gary,

Heh, yeah, except it's over a *lot* quicker. If you don't escape a ground hold immediately, you've been stabbed a lot of times. And, while one can toughen up to take a punch, the same doesn't work against a dagger point going into one's mid-brain.

Such encounters must've been truly terrifying.

All the best,

Christian

Christian Henry Tobler
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James Lopez




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 5:31 pm    Post subject: this         Reply with quote

Spear would so own cause they got a longer reach and they could possibly also used as staff's woot!
El Lopez,Imperial Lieutenat Colonel of the Kasursain Empire,Diplomat of the Tribe Domination,And the Protector of the weak conquerer of the Corrupt.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 12 Dec, 2008 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Spear would so own cause they got a longer reach and they could possibly also used as staff's woot!


NOt sure what you mean here James, but a spear in grapple type combat would be very unwieldy. And if you want to use it as a staff, you have no free hands to grapple.
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Mark Millman





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PostPosted: Fri 12 Dec, 2008 11:31 am    Post subject: Re: this         Reply with quote

Dear Mr. Lopez,

On Thursday 11 December 2008, you wrote:
Spear would so own cause they got a longer reach and they could possibly also used as staff's woot!

But you're getting a bit off-topic here, as the question is which weapon might deliver, in general and on average, a more penetrating thrust. As you'll notice if you refer to the original post, range is clearly not the issue, and use of the spear as a staff is irrelevant.

Best,

Mark Millman
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Darryl Aoki





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PostPosted: Fri 12 Dec, 2008 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd think the haft of a spear, if thrust one-handed, would absorb some of the force of the thrust, as I'd expect it to deform a little. A dagger thrust seems like it'd be a little stiffer and would therefore transmit more impulse upon contact with a target.

Against an unarmored target, though, the point may be moot.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 12 Dec, 2008 11:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One thing about the whole "spear has more mass than the dagger" thing -

IIRC my physics correctly, of course we have mass x velocity squared for force.

But a Spear thrust (or dagger) is a very complicated equation.

Here's the part where I think I'm getting it right, but I'm probably missing a few points. The "base" where mass is measured from is from the fulcrum down, though perhaps the weight furthest from the fulcrum is more imporatant than
the mass closer to the fulcrum.

Also, there are many "fulcrums" in thrusting a weapon. Feet or body mass going forward, the fulcrum of the waist, shoulder, elbow, wrist.

Now my question/thought is that the shoulder and elbow do most of the movement. Each of these has the part of the arm below the fulcrum as mass in additon to the weapon. I think elbow to wrsit is a good 5 pounds+ for most, from the shoulder would be even more.

So a thrust from the shoulder may have 8-10 pounds or more in additon to the weapon itself - making a a pound dagger say 10 pounds, a 5 pound spear 14 pounds.

If you have more velocity from a dgger thrust (not saying you will), even a slight bit more velocity, both will deliver a similar amount in Joulles.

Now I have no idea as to exaclty how to do the calcualtion, I leave this for those with more of a physics inclination. But it would have some effect, but only doing the calculations would truly gove the right number.

That being said, anyone know what a spear/dagger thrust would be in feet per second?

There is also the "recoil", or perhaps more accurately arm give, i.e. your wrist bends somewhat upon impact, your hide slides up the shaft a tad, etc. etc.

Adding to all that, it seems true what I call "daggers" were very well designed for the thrust, perhaps better than most spears, though it does seem the spears had a broader head to cause more disruption of tissue upon penetration, though this is of course two different aspects, penetrating armour and damage upon penetration.

My overall guess is the dagger will have similar penetrating ability to the spear used with one hand, though probably a bit less. The spear though will generally cause more damage, the dagger's damage will dpend more upon what organs are struck including arteries/veins.
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