Steel Vs Steel?

by Jason Roland
(bastian_reinhardt@yahoo.com)

QUESTION: How would a traditional Katana stand up to plate or chain maile? I have seen demonstrations of traditional English broadswords and even roman gladius against plate and chain maile and it uses its weight and blunted edge to rip and smash more than cut. But I'm curious as to how well a traditional katana, or even our modern Paul chen practical plus style katanas would do.


ANSWER: Swords of all types aren't good against plate. Chain can be punctured by a good thrust, and occasionally cut - though the damage is hugley minimized. Real plate vs a real sword though and the results are not promising...

A Katana is no exception, and probably even worse as it never faced plate on the field and was designed for cutting an unarmored opponent in a duel - not on the battlefield.

The best weapons against plate are maces and warhammers, that rely on pure force and concussion.

Hope this clarifies things a bit.

- Paul




Jason Roland.

Comments for Steel Vs Steel?

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Hmmm, how would a Katana do
by: Shorinmonk

I saw a video a long time ago with a forged Katana from Japan. The swordmaker took it and used it on a steel helmet as a test. The blade was undamaged but the steel helmet had a nice 3 inch cut in it. I agree that the optimal weapon would be a mace or warhammer, but remember these items were not hardened an the sword was, so cutting should be in favor of the sword if used correctly. I use high speed steel all day to cut unhardened steels so I know that it is not beyond imagination. In my opinion, I would much rather take on a plate armor wearing combatant because the thickness of his armor would serve to slow him down. Where as the speed of my katana strikes would be quick and to his exposed areas, deadly.

Steel Vs Steel?
by: Adam Pendragon

Good answer, Paul. I'd just like to add a couple of things for those who are sword enthusiasts but not necessarily historians.

Firstly, any medieval sword with an acute enough point can penetrate mail and kill the wearer. Mail was designed to ward-off sword strokes. Durring the golden age of mail most swords weren't very acutely pointed.

Secondly, plate armor was not as sword-proof as many imagine. A hard enough sword blow (from a Europian sword) COULD even split helms open. Plate armor was designed to deflect swords, using glancing surfaces. Later swords were specifically designed to punture plate armor, and many times did.

And thirdly, the problem with katanas (katani?)is threefold: 1)Most katanas did not have acute enough points to penetrate mail enough to cause serious damage (it would have to get through the heavily-padded garmet underneath it as well). Technically speaking, most katanas were not "pointed" at all, but rather, wedged-shaped at the end. 2)Katana blades were curved and (as stated above)not even really pointed, and so make poor thrusting swords. And 3)Katanas were simply not massive enough to deliver a hard enough blow to combat Europian armor--mail or plate.

But then, like Paul said, katanas were designed for cutting unarmored opponents--like Japanese peasants!

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