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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
Joined: 25 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 10:36 am    Post subject: Tanged arrowheads         Reply with quote

Hi all,
After a couple of recent trips to museums, an observation I made was that in the exhibits for Scandinavian Iron age and Viking eras, there was a lot of tanged arrowheads on display.

In medieval exhibits, I have not seen any. Am i correct in assuming tanged heads went out of style somewhere in the 12th century, at least in northern Europe?

However on the reproduction market, I think I have never seen a tanged arrowhead for sale. They are all socketed.

So here is a few points that I would love some input on:

1. Are there any traditional archers out there that make and shoot arrows with tanged heads?
2. What is the drawback/benefits as compared to a socketed arrowhead? (I guess ease of manufacture could play a role?)
3. Do you know of any vendors that make and sell tanged arrowheads?

Links to images:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxXTpSwyELmDSGVneThzaW45ZTA/edit?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxXTpSwyELmDUkJXcWRmcjVsQmc/edit?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxXTpSwyELmDWnhWTmU3R1FiRGc/edit?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxXTpSwyELmDVmxjOTBJb21zeW8/edit?usp=sharing[/list]

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Daniel Wallace




Location: Pennsylvania USA
Joined: 07 Aug 2011

Posts: 580

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

my first thought when i see the heads is that wow their tangs are really big, i expected to see something smaller.

when you think about it, its easier to produce a flat arrow head rather than one fixed with a socket.
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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
Joined: 28 Dec 2006

Posts: 801

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For starters, when you shoot a tanged arrow and it hits something reasonably solid the impact drives the tang in and splits the shaft. Some have shoulders that help prevent this but not greatly.

2ndly when retrieving the arrow its more likely to pull out and remain in whatever you have hit. Again, there are ways and means with glue as you need to do with a socketed point or the same thing is more likely again.

Never having forged a tanged one (and only 2-3 socketed ones) I've no idea what the time/cost advantages are but you'd have thought that there would be a high percentage of these 'disposable' arrows in the record from the 12th cent onwards as well but for whatever reason, there doesn't seem to be, socketed massively outweighs them.
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Marik C.S.




Location: Germany
Joined: 16 Feb 2010

Posts: 163

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 12:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Maybe it's not the time forging the head that is the key issue but fitting the arrow to the shaft?

With a socketed arrow head you can just about take a branch of a tree and put a head on it - vastly exaggerated of course Wink - but with a tanged one my guess would be that there is much more work necessary to get the head fixed properly and straight on the shaft.

Europe - Where the History comes from. - Eddie Izzard
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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
Joined: 25 Oct 2007
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Reading list: 8 books

Posts: 325

PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 2:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Marik C.S. wrote:
Maybe it's not the time forging the head that is the key issue but fitting the arrow to the shaft?

With a socketed arrow head you can just about take a branch of a tree and put a head on it - vastly exaggerated of course Wink - but with a tanged one my guess would be that there is much more work necessary to get the head fixed properly and straight on the shaft.


Interesting notion, I would have thought the exact opposite! Or rather, with a socket arrowhead, you must make sure that you taper the tip of the arrow exactly to the socket, to make the glue stick properly, and have the tip inline.

With tanged heads, I would have assumed you just split the end of the shaft, push in the tang and then lash the shaft end behind the head with glue/pitch and some fibre? Plenty of opportunity to adjust it along the way to make it straight.

Also a nice pointer from Mark on the effect on hitting a target. I never really thought about that!

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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
Joined: 08 May 2009
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PostPosted: Sun 27 Oct, 2013 9:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Tanged arrowheads         Reply with quote

Bjorn Hagstrom wrote:
However on the reproduction market, I think I have never seen a tanged arrowhead for sale. They are all socketed.

So here is a few points that I would love some input on:

1. Are there any traditional archers out there that make and shoot arrows with tanged heads?
2. What is the drawback/benefits as compared to a socketed arrowhead? (I guess ease of manufacture could play a role?)
3. Do you know of any vendors that make and sell tanged arrowheads?


There are tanged repro heads out there. Firstly, tanged heads are standard for East Asia, so Japanese, Chinese, and Korean traditional heads are tanged (though there are plenty of socketed target points; military/hunting heads are tanged more often than not). Secondly, there were Western tanged heads as well. Searching ebay for tanged arrowheads yields modern repros, supposed antiques, and fake antiques.

East Asian use of tanged heads might be related to bamboo shafts.

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Isak Krogh




Location: Sweden
Joined: 07 Feb 2012

Posts: 20

PostPosted: Mon 28 Oct, 2013 2:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have made and used tanged arrowheads a bit over the last few years and the problems Mark pointed out are the big drawbacks with them! The production time is a bit less than a socketed one, but the greatest advantage with them is if you want to make a lightweight arrowhead! To avoid splitting of the shaft it is a good idea to bind the tip with cord and glue!
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