Question: Rapier and Hand axe?
I was walking on the campus of the uni I go to, when I thought struck me. The potential use of a hand axe as an off hand weapon with a rapier.

So, to the question:

Are there sources on this, and, if so, has anyone tried it?
I'm not well-versed in using a rapier, but I think its not a good idea for a couple reasons. I've done a bit of practice with a baton and a knife in the off-hand, and I wouldn't want to replace the knife with an axe.

One purpose of an off-hand weapon or buckler is to provide a second line of parrying defense. A hand axe or tomahawk is slower and doesn't have better reach over a long dagger and doesn't protect the hand and body as much as a buckler. I should try baton + buckler sometime, but I can't really carry a buckler around everywhere.

Another thing an off-hand weapon is good for is hitting at extremely close quarters, grappling, and fending off attempts at grappling. A dagger is good for this. An axe is less good because to strike as hard as possible, space is needed to swing. One can strike with the butt of the handle and thrust with the top point, but both of those attacks are much less powerful than a swinging strike.
I've never seen any period reference to this, and likely for the same reasons that Dan mentions. Plus it seems a little awkward to do.
Since just about anything can conceivably be used as an offhand weapon, I suppose it can be done. But to my knowledge there is no informational source covering the use of a hand axe or tomahawk in conjunction with a rapier. As Dan and Bill have already pointed out the use of a small axe as an off hand weapon would be awkward and inefficient. I believe that it probably isnít covered for the same reasons that the so-called ďcase of rapiersĒ is discouraged in favor of rapier and dagger. The main purpose of an offhand weapon is to parry and tie up your adversary primary blade. This requires speed and deception with an economy of movement to perform correctly. Swinging an axe in the process doesnít really fit the criteria. Now Iím not saying that it canít be done, but the question is why bother when there are more efficient means at your disposal?

Jim Holczer
Student Ė Umbs School of Fence / Martinez Academy of Arms.
Indeed. This all occured to me, but I thought that if it were in a period source... but as it is not, ah well. It would look cool in a movie though,

I suppose that speed would be the real issue, because if it were a bearded had axe the "tieing up" bit would work out. It would still be really slow though.

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