Looking for a quick double-check on mail stress tolerances.
The first reason I joined this site is that I have a thriving interest in historical arms and armor for its own sake, and wanted to know more.

The second reason (and the one behind this post) is that I write fantasy short stories for fun, and I want to have people whose knowledge is greater than mine in this area available to double-check me, so I don't screw up. God knows, we've all seen horrible movies or read terrible books where armor affords all the protection of wet tissue paper. Thankfully, I'm not nearly as ignorant as those writers. :D I'm aware that good mail shirts are capable of stopping most sword cuts, but not so good at stopping hard dagger or spear thrusts, or blows from an axe.

But, since I'm working on a story at the moment, I need to have someone who knows more about mail than I do double-check my ideas here, since I'm having to guess.

Getting to my actual question: Say you've got four dagger-length canine teeth in a set of jaws exerting about 3000 pounds per square inch of pressure (about the force of a large saltwater crocodile's jaws), biting on a fairly standard mail hauberk (16 ga., 3/8", riveted). Now, all logic suggests that the extreme force of the bite will drive the canines through the armor, correct? A tooth might break in the process, but the bite's going to get through, right?
I think this is a little harder than it might seem in the first place. A force of 3000 lbs per sq inch that is applied to the point of teeth that can slip through the mail, will effectively be a force on the area of the ring its point slipped through, if the original area was very small, and the area of the ring quite large, the ring will have a pressure in its strongest direction that is much much smaller than the original force. A jaw snapping shut will not be very fast, but will have something akin to inertia, so the effect is not as much like an arrow, more like a pollaxe with the spike side (or a spear). I think the jaws will punch through if the force is enough (but after that, there are more rings, and a gamberson will stop rather much of a point coming through, more than people initially think), but the most damage will be from a deforming of the body (especially with something akin to the shaking dogs do with their prey).
I've hesitated till now to say anything, being a plate specialist, but I've studied mail and know some of the better mail makers and own some. I don't think even a saltwater croc has the jaw strength to do the job. I don't think there is a modern beast (sperm whale, maybe?) that could do it.
Modern made mail is used by shark researchers to protect them from shark bites.

So, at a guess, mail would work against a crocodile bite.

I don't think the mail would be compromised. I do think that that amount of pressure would cause damage to the wearer. Val Taylor has had dislocated joints caused by sharks biting her limbs even though she was wearing shark-mail.
But I wonder if the dislocations are due to the motion that sharks use when they attack. Because if I remember my shark week material, don't they do like bit of a jerk or roll when biting?
Dan Howard wrote:
I don't think the mail would be compromised. I do think that that amount of pressure would cause damage to the wearer. Val Taylor has had dislocated joints caused by sharks biting her limbs even though she was wearing shark-mail.

Cool. I was hoping to hear from someone with your level of expertise.

Of course, now I have to do a minor bit of rewriting... :eek:

Many thanks to everyone for correcting me.
Most predators shake their prey in their mouths once caught. I think there are lots of reasons. For sharks this will as a serrated knife cut up their food more. They get a better grip as the teeth edge in with the shaking. It shakes the fight out of prey. I saw a shark get a seal.... aside from feeling sorry for the seal who had been performing so well, the shark shook it and then dissapeared deep into the water. If you watch how they grab prey their teeth are almost facing forward when they strike. Pretty scary looking.

I think Crocodiles roll.

All I know is if I had to be bitten by either I'd like mail between me and them but man I can imagine it'd hurt!

Yes some sharks shake from side to side when they bite. This is exactly what happened to Val Taylor - I saw the footage. My point is that it is entirely possible to be injured while wearing mail even though the armour itself remains undamaged. It offers excellent protection from both cutting and puncture damage. It is not so effective against other types of trauma. The padding is meant to absorb this damage. People often forget that mail was worn as a composite defense.
I was, perhaps, limiting my reply too much to the integrity of the armour, not the wearer. Of course, mail is not very effective in itself against blunt trauma, and that would include sufficient pressure exerted at four points to possibly even break bones or cause organ trauma inside the mail, and, of course, being shaken like a rag doll.

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