My fencing experience consists of only a modest amount of German Longsword schooling. Of late, I have been trying to contemplate functions of quillons. What abilities does one give up with a well hand protecting hilt that doesn't have them or has minimal ones? Other than weight, what is the disadvantage of having more than two angularly equidistant ones? I have some notions about the answers but my lack of experience leaves me with insufficient confidence in them and their completeness.

With rapiers at least, the quillons have the advantage of forcing the opponent to make longer disengages around them. You can move the tip around a more compact hilt in a much tighter circle, hence quicker and more deceptive. This is eloquently described in Thibault.

Their ability to constrain and manipulate the opponent's weapon is applicable to most sword forms in my opinion.

Quillons can be a weapon in their own right, more devastating than looping branches. But I think this is secondary.

More than two would make the weapon far less convenient to carry around and store, with little benefit as far as I can see: a quillon is never far when you need it anyway.

The increased motion needed for an opponent to disengage is very important when fighting against a spear. Thus the very long quillons you see on large two-handers. If your opponent will be using a sword, rather than whatever weapon they might have brought to the battlefield, you don't give up as much by getting rid of your quillons.

You also give up a convenient handle for your opponent to control your weapon (whether with their weapon, or by grabbing it if close), and a projection that can snag on clothes, shields, weapons, etc. A quillon isn't all advantage; there are some disadvantages, too, beyond just weight. If you won't get enough benefit from it in trapping and forcing larger disengages, and you don't demand one as a fashion item, then get rid of it.

I agree with Vincent re 3 or more quillons. Convenience for everyday wear matters a lot for a sidearm.
Timo, Vincent, thank you. That is what I was looking for.

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