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This is a list of historical weapons, divided into categories of melee weapons and ranged weapons. They are further subdivided by weapon type and then ordered alphabetically. Although primarily consisting of cold weapons, early gunpowder weapons are also included.

Weapons are grouped according to their uses, with rough classes set aside for very similar weapons. Some weapons may fit more than one category (e.g. the spear may be used either as a pole weapon or as a projectile). Bladed hilt weapons follow Col. D.H. Gordon's classification where applicable.[1][2]

Melee weapons[]

Hand or fist weapons and fans[]

Single-handed weapons not resembling a straight dagger blade, usually wielded without wrist action; often protects the forearm.

  • Bagh nakh, tiger claws (Indian subcontinent)
  • Brass Knuckles, knuckle dusters (Europe)
  • Cestus, bladed cestus, caestus, myrmex, sphairai (Mediterranean)
  • Deer horn knives (China)
  • Finger knife (Africa)[3]
  • Gauntlets (Europe)
  • Indian parrying weapon (India)[3]
  • Katar, Suwaiya (कटार) (South Asia)
  • Korean fan, Mubuchae (무부채), tempered birch fan (Korea)
  • Madu, buckhorn parrying stick, Maru (South Asia)[3]
  • Nyepel, Larim fighting bracelet (Africa)[3]
  • Pata, sword gauntlet (South Asia)
  • Push dagger, also see Katar (dagger) (India)
  • Roman scissor (Mediterranean; not well attested. May have been a semicircular blade affixed to the end of a metal cylinder encasing the forearm.)
  • Tekko (Japan)
  • Tessen, iron fan (Japan)
  • Wind and fire wheels (China)
  • Emei daggers (China)


Thrusting and slicing weapons for close quarters melee.


Delineated as 20-28 inches/51–71 cm total length.[1]

Straight shortswords[]
  • Baselard (Europe)
  • Bilbo (Europe)
  • Bronze/iron sword, Celtic dagger, Celtic sword, leaf-shaped dagger, leaf-shaped sword (Europe)
  • Bolo (Philippines/Southeast Asia)
  • Cinquedea, Anelace (Europe)
  • Khanjali Georgia (Caucasus)
  • Colichemarde (Europe)
  • Cossack dagger, kama, kinjal, Ottoman quama, quama (Middle East)[3]
  • Gladius (Europe, Mediterranean)
  • Misericorde (Europe)
  • Small sword (Europe)
  • Swiss dagger, Holbein dagger, Schweizerdegen (Europe)
  • Xiphos (Mediterranean)
Curved shortswords[]


Long swords were classified by Gordon as longer than 28 inches/71 cm.[1]

Curved one-handed swords[]
Straight one-handed swords[]
Curved two-handed swords[]
Hand-and-a-half and two-handed greatswords[]
  • Assamese dao (Indian, Southeast Asian)[3]
  • Boar sword (European)[3]
  • Changdao (Chinese)
  • Claidheamh Da Laimh, Highland sword (European)[3]
  • Claymore, Scottish Gaelic for "great sword", (Scotland, European)
  • Dadao (Chinese)
  • Espadon (European)
  • Executioner's sword, heading sword, sword of justice (European)
  • Flame-bladed sword, flambard, flammard, Flammenschwert (European)
  • Great sword (European)
  • Katana (Japanese)
  • Longsword, bastard sword, espée bastarde, hand-and-a-half sword (European)
  • Nagamaki, Nagamaki sword (attached to sword handle, as opposed to the polearm) (Japanese)[5]
  • Nodachi (Japanese)
  • Otachi (Japanese)
  • Parade sword, Paratschwerter (European)[3]
  • Wodao (Chinese)
  • Zanbatō (Japanese)
  • Zhanmadao (Chinese)
  • Zweihänder, bihander, Dopplehänder, lowland sword, tuck, two-handed sword (European)
Axe-like swords[]

Generally, convex blades used for heavy chopping or slashing.

  • Aruval (South Asian)
  • Bolo, Itak (Philippines/Asian)
  • Falcata (Mediterranean)
  • Golok (Southeast Asian)
  • Harpe (Mediterranean)
  • Kopis (Mediterranean)
  • Kora (Southeast Asian)
  • Machete, Vettukathi (Southeast Asian)
  • Makhaira (Mediterranean)
  • One-handed dacian falx, Sica (Mediterranean)
  • Parang pandit (Southeast Asian)
  • Sosun pattah (South Asian)[3]
  • Yatagan, yataghan (Middle Eastern)
Other swords[]

Knives and daggers[]

Sickles and sickle-like knives[]

Generally short, concave blades used for heavy cutting.

  • Arit (Southeast Asian)
  • Karambit, kerambit, korambit (Southeast Asian)
  • Kujang (Southeast Asian)
  • Mandau (Southeast Asian)
  • Pichangatti (Indian)[3]
  • Punyal (Philippines/Southeast Asia)
  • Sickle (Worldwide; improvised)
  • Sudanese sickle-knife (African)[3]
  • Wedong (Southeast Asian)

Picks and pickaxes[]

  • Chicken sickles (Chinese)
  • Crowbill (European, Central Asian)
  • Elephant goad, Ankus, Ankusha, Bullhook, Elephant Hook (South and Southeast Asian)
  • Hakapik (European)
  • Horseman's pick, Martel de Fer (European; also a blunt weapon)
  • Kama (Japanese)
  • Mattock (European; improvised)
  • Pickaxe (European; improvised)
  • War hammer (European; also a blunt weapon)


  • Adze (European; improvised)
  • Bardiche (European)
  • Battle axe (European)
  • Broadaxe (European)
  • Bhuj, with blade shaped like the dagger on a long shaft[3]
  • Congolese Ax (African)[3]
  • Dahomey Axe Club (African; also an effective blunt weapon)[3]
  • Dane Axe, English Long Axe, Hafted Axe, Shorter Danish Axe, Viking Axe (European)
  • Doloire (European)
  • Fu (Chinese)
  • Hand axe, Ovate handaxe (Paleolithic)
  • Hatchet (European)
  • Labrys (Mediterranean)
  • Long-bearded axe (European)
  • Masakari (Japanese)
  • Nzappa zap (African, also thrown)
  • Ono (Japanese)
  • Palstave (European, Bronze Age; improvised)
  • Sagaris (Mediterranean)
  • Shepherd's axe, Valaška (European)
  • Sparth Axe (European)
  • Tabarzin (Middle Eastern)
  • Tomahawk, Spontoon Tomahawk (Americas; also thrown)
  • Vechevoral (Middle Asian)[3]

Trauma weapons (clubs)[]

Wielded with one or two hands at close quarters with swinging motions.

  • Aklys (Origin unknown)
  • Cambuk (Southeast Asian)
  • Chúi (Chinese)
  • Club, baseball bat, bludgeon, cudgel, stone club, truncheon
  • Returning boomerang (Australia)
  • Clubbing boomerang (worldwide)
  • Eskrima Sticks, straight sticks (Southeast Asian)
  • Flail (European)
  • Frying Pan (improvised)
  • Gurz, Ottoman Gurz (Middle Eastern)[3]
  • Hammer (improvised)
  • Hanbō (Japanese)
  • Horseman's pick, horseman's hammer, martel de fer (European; also a pickaxe weapon)
  • Jutte, Jitte (Japanese)
  • Kanabō (Japanese)
  • Knobkierrie, knobkerry, knopkierie (African)
  • Kurunthadi, churuvadi, kuruvadi, muchan, otta (Indian)
  • Kotiate (New Zealand)
  • La canne (European)
  • Macana (Americas)
  • Mace, flanged mace (European), spiked mace (European, Middle Asian)
  • Macuahuitl, maquahuitl (Americas)
  • Mere (New Zealand)
  • Morning star, goedendag, holy water sprinkler (European)
  • Mughal Mace (Central Asian)[3]
  • Ōtsuchi (Japanese)
  • Patu, Patuki (New Zealand)
  • Plançon a picot, Planson (European)
  • Rock (universal, improvised)
  • Roundhead (European)
  • Rungu (African; also thrown)
  • Sai (weapon)
  • Shillelagh (Irish)
  • Short Scepter, Mace Scepter (European)
  • Sledgehammer, maul (European; improvised)
  • Tambo, tanbo (Okinawan)
  • Tekkan (Japanese)
  • Tewhatewha (New Zealand)
  • Tonfa (Okinawan)
  • Waddy, Nulla Nulla (Australian)
  • War hammer (European; also a pickaxe weapon)
  • Wrench (improvised)
  • Yawara, Yawara-bo (Japanese), Dulodulo, Pasak (Southeast Asian)
  • Yubi-bo (Japanese)

Pole weapons[]

Wielded mainly with two hands. Primarily for melee with sweeping, thrusting, and/or hooking motions.

Blunt staffs[]

  • Bâton français (European)
  • (Japan)
  • Eku (Okinawan)
  • Gun (staff) (Chinese)
  • (Japanese)
  • Lathi (Indian)
  • Naboot, asaya, asa, nabboot, shoum (Middle Eastern)
  • Quarterstaff (European)
  • Shareeravadi (Middle Asian)
  • Taiaha (New Zealand)


Thrown spears and javelins are listed under ranged weapons.

Polearms with axe-like blades[]

Polearms with spikes and hammers[]

Ranged weapons[]


Spears and javelins[]

All could be used as polearm spears, but were designed and primarily used for throwing.

Throwing sticks[]

  • Boomerang (Australian, worldwide)
  • Knobkierrie, knopkierie, knobkerry (African; also a blunt weapon)
  • Rungu (African)

Throwing blades and darts[]

  • Chakram (Indian, Southeast Asian)
  • Martiobarbuli, plumbata (Mediterranean)
  • Shaken or shuriken/kurumaken, bo-shuriken/throwing spikes, hira-shuriken/throwing stars (Japanese)
  • Kpinga (The Zande tribe)
  • Kunai (improvised, Japanese)
  • Throwing knife (Worldwide)
  • Thrown darts (worldwide)
  • Swiss arrow

Throwing axes[]

Could also be used as axe weapons, but were specifically designed for throwing.



Recurved bows[]

Short bows and reflex bows[]



  • Blowgun, blow tube, blowpipe (worldwide)
  • Bolas (South Americas)
  • Fukiya (Japanese)
  • Kestros, cestrosphendone, cestrus, kestrophedrone (Mediterranean)
  • Sling (paleolithic, Mediterranean, European)
  • Stave sling, fustibale (Mediterranean)
  • Slingshot (American)

Gunpowder weapons[]

An illustration of an "eruptor," a proto-cannon, from the 14th century Ming Dynasty book Huolongjing. The cannon was capable of firing proto-shells, cast-iron bombs filled with gunpowder.

Composite projectile weapons[]

Having a built-in gun or ranged weapon combined with some other type of weapon.

  • Ax match and wheellock (European axe with five barrells under a removable blade)[3]
  • Carbine ax (European axe)[3]
  • Halberd double-barreled wheellock (European Halberd)[3]
  • Mace wheellock (European mace)[3]
  • Matchlock ax/dagger (European axe, dagger, matchlock combination)[3]
  • Pistol sword (European sword)
  • War hammer wheellock (European pick/hammer)[3]


  • Bullwhip (Worldwide)
  • Cat o' nine tails (European)
  • Chain whip, jiujiebian, qijiebian, samjitbin (Chinese)
  • Knout (Eastern Europe)
  • Lasso, lariat, uurga (Americas, Chinese)
  • Nagyka (Eastern European)
  • Sjambok, chicotte, fimbo, imvubu, kiboko, kurbash, litupa, mnigolo (Africa)
  • Smallwhips, crops (worldwide)
  • Stockwhip (Australia)
  • Urumi, chuttuval (Indian)

Sectional or composite[]

Having multiple handles or holdable sections.

Chain weapons[]

Having a heavy object attached to a flexible chain. Wielded by swinging, throwing, or projecting the end, as well as wrapping, striking, and blocking with the chain.

  • Chigiriki (Japanese)
  • Cumberjung, double-ended flail, flail with quoits (Middle Asian)[3]
  • Flail, fleau d'armes, Kriegsflegel (European)
  • Flying claws (Chinese)
  • Kusari-gama (Japanese)
  • Kyoketsu-shoge (Japanese)
  • Kusari-fundo, manriki, manriki-gusari, manrikigusari (Japanese)
  • Meteor hammer, dai chui, dragon's fist, flying hammer, liu xing chui, sheng bao (Chinese)
  • Rope dart, jouhyou, rope javelin, sheng biao (Chinese, Japanese)
  • Slungshot (European, Chinese, Japanese; improvised; not to be confused with a slingshot)
  • Surujin, suruchin (Okinawan)


Used not only to block strikes and missiles but also swung outwardly (or in quick upward motions) to strike an opponent. Also used to rush an opponent (known as shield bashing). Some shields had spikes, sharp edges, or other offensive designs.

  • Aspis, hoplon (Mediterranean)
  • Buckler (European)
  • Ceremonial shields, hide, leather, wickerwork (worldwide, tribal)
  • Heater shield, heraldic shield (European)
  • Hoplon shield (European)
  • Hungarian shield (European)
  • Ishlangu (African)
  • Kite shield (European)
  • Scuta, oval scutum, tower or rectangular scutum (Mediterranean)
  • Targe (European)

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Cope, Anne, ed (1989). Swords and Hilt Weapons. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. pp. 8. ISBN 1-55584-290-9. 
  2. Gordon, Col. D.H. (1953). "Swords, Rapiers and Horse-riders". Antiquity Publications Ltd. pp. 67–76. 
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 3.24 3.25 3.26 3.27 3.28 3.29 3.30 3.31 3.32 3.33 Regan,Paula, ed (2006). Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor. New York: DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7566-2210-7. 
  4. Levine, Bernard; Gerald Weland. Knives, swords, & daggers. New York: Barnes & Noble. pp. 66. 
  5. Levine, Bernard; Gerald Weland. Knives, swords, & daggers. New York: Barnes & Noble. pp. 200. 

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