Weight of halberds and spears

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Weight of halberds and spears

Postby Vino » 27 Sep 2014 20:15

How much did spears and halberds weigh in general? Is a halberd at a disadvantage against a spear in unarmored combat because of its higher weight?
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby Martin Greywolf » 28 Sep 2014 16:18

Spears, in general, about 1 - 2 kg, halberds 3 - 4 kg, but there's quite a bit of range. i recently did some spear length comparations in medieval art, and the length seems to go from a head taller (so, just a bit short of 2 m) to almost three heads taller (3 m). That's quite a bit of range in only infantry spears, and then you get things like lances and spear/javelin hybrids that you can throw as well as fight with. Halberds cover similar range, usually from head shorter to head taller. And then there's the question of you have anything metal at the butt end.

In general, when it comes to weight, most main weapons are in 1 - 4 kg range, rarely going higher, though there are exceptions. This also applies to modern weapons - M4 carabine is 3 kg unloaded to 3.5 loaded, AA 12 was deemed too heavy at 5 and 7 kg, respectively. Sure, one is a carabine, and other a shotgun, but both were meant as main weapon for soldiers.

Important thing to note is that pole weapons have weight distributed in a friendlier manner, since you're generally holding them at the end of the pole with one hand, and at the third with the other (give or take, your results may vary with different lengths of weapon and arms), or even have both hands equidistant from the middle. Swords aren't held that way, barring half-swording.

As for the other half of the question, spear will have slight advantage over a halberd because of weight. About the only action you can do with a halberd and can't with a spear is hooking, which has its' own problems. Usually, spears have blades long enough to cut or slice with, though it's not something you will be doing often at wide range - and you want to do your best to stay at a wide range (known as place where the other guy can't hit you with a sword or grapple you) with a polearm.
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby Vino » 28 Sep 2014 19:15

Thanks for the info
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby MEversbergII » 29 Sep 2014 03:14

Musashi seemed to believe that the spear (as he knew it) had advantage in initiative over the halberd (as he know it).

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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby Vino » 11 Oct 2014 22:13

Martin Greywolf wrote:Spears, in general, about 1 - 2 kg, halberds 3 - 4 kg, but there's quite a bit of range. i recently did some spear length comparations in medieval art, and the length seems to go from a head taller (so, just a bit short of 2 m) to almost three heads taller (3 m). That's quite a bit of range in only infantry spears, and then you get things like lances and spear/javelin hybrids that you can throw as well as fight with. Halberds cover similar range, usually from head shorter to head taller. And then there's the question of you have anything metal at the butt end.

In general, when it comes to weight, most main weapons are in 1 - 4 kg range, rarely going higher, though there are exceptions. This also applies to modern weapons - M4 carabine is 3 kg unloaded to 3.5 loaded, AA 12 was deemed too heavy at 5 and 7 kg, respectively. Sure, one is a carabine, and other a shotgun, but both were meant as main weapon for soldiers.

Important thing to note is that pole weapons have weight distributed in a friendlier manner, since you're generally holding them at the end of the pole with one hand, and at the third with the other (give or take, your results may vary with different lengths of weapon and arms), or even have both hands equidistant from the middle. Swords aren't held that way, barring half-swording.

As for the other half of the question, spear will have slight advantage over a halberd because of weight. About the only action you can do with a halberd and can't with a spear is hooking, which has its' own problems. Usually, spears have blades long enough to cut or slice with, though it's not something you will be doing often at wide range - and you want to do your best to stay at a wide range (known as place where the other guy can't hit you with a sword or grapple you) with a polearm.


By the way, did other cutting polearms like bills and glaives weigh as much as halberds?
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby admin » 15 Oct 2014 12:42

Halberds and bills vary a LOT in design - some are light, some are heavy. The same can be said of most other polearms. However, if we take 'averages', as best we can, and put them into approximate groupings:
1) bills, pollaxes and halberds are generally about the same weight and amongst the heaviest polarms,
2) glaives, spetums and partisans are usually lighter and
3) spears are the lightest (though if they are longer, like a half pike or pike, then total weight could be the same due to shaft length).
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby Martin Greywolf » 22 Oct 2014 13:33

MEversbergII wrote:Musashi seemed to believe that the spear (as he knew it) had advantage in initiative over the halberd (as he know it).

M.


Let's take a look at Musashi (c. 1584 – June 13, 1645):

Musashi, Book of Five Rings, Book 1 wrote:The halberd is inferior to the spear on the battlefield. With the spear
you can take the initiative; the halberd is defensive. In the hands of one
of two men of equal ability, the spear gives a little extra strength. Spear
and halberd both have their uses, but neither is very beneficial in con-
fined spaces. They cannot be used for taking a prisoner. They are essen-
tially weapons for the field.


Keep in mind that halberd is likely naginata, in this case (I don't have japanese transliteration) - very different from European halberd. Thing is, naginata appears to have been mostly used in a two-thirds grip, as opposed to spear's first third, and is also shorter than spear, most of the time.

Wood print from early 1800's:
Image

Can't date this one, but the instructor died in 2010, so it's pretty new:
Image

Now, if I were to translate that particular section into European-ish weapon terminology, I wouldn't call it halberd and spear, but spear and shortspear, or spear and sword-staff. And again, a short yari versus a long naginata would turn the tables completely around, but probably didn't happen much, if Musashi is anything to go by.

Paul Dolstein, swiss militiaman with a sword-staff, 1510:
Image
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby Vino » 23 Oct 2014 08:24

Speaking of polearm lengths, how long were halberds, etc.? Matt said in his video on polearm lengths that cutting polearms tended to be around 8 feet long, but Silver separates polearms between lighter ones that should be 8-9 feet and heavier ones that should be 5-6 feet. Some sites on the internet say halberds and bills were 8 feet and others say 6 feet, so I'm kinda confused here. :?
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby admin » 23 Oct 2014 13:09

The simple answer is that cut-and-thrust polarms tended to vary between 5 feet and 8 feet. They could be made longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, depending on the intended purpose. For example, you see some pretty long halberds in period art that look around 8 foot long, as well as shorter halberds that are only a bit taller than a man. Pollaxes and other armoured-fighting weapons tend to be shorter, at 5-6 feet, because they are for close-in armoued fighting. Things like glaives and partisans were a variety of lengths from 6 to 8 foot long. The general rule seems to be that guys with armour tended to use shorter polearms, whereas unarmoured guards or lightly armoured infantry in formations tended to use longer polearms. It basically comes down to whether you are mostly going to hold the weapon point-online a lot, often with a group of other people, or whether you intend to swing the weapon around a lot (as with some glaives, pollaxes and some halberds). If the latter, then it cannot be too long, as it would be too unweildy.
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Re: Weight of halberds and spears

Postby Vino » 23 Oct 2014 17:03

admin wrote:The simple answer is that cut-and-thrust polarms tended to vary between 5 feet and 8 feet. They could be made longer or shorter, heavier or lighter, depending on the intended purpose. For example, you see some pretty long halberds in period art that look around 8 foot long, as well as shorter halberds that are only a bit taller than a man. Pollaxes and other armoured-fighting weapons tend to be shorter, at 5-6 feet, because they are for close-in armoued fighting. Things like glaives and partisans were a variety of lengths from 6 to 8 foot long. The general rule seems to be that guys with armour tended to use shorter polearms, whereas unarmoured guards or lightly armoured infantry in formations tended to use longer polearms. It basically comes down to whether you are mostly going to hold the weapon point-online a lot, often with a group of other people, or whether you intend to swing the weapon around a lot (as with some glaives, pollaxes and some halberds). If the latter, then it cannot be too long, as it would be too unweildy.


Alright, thanks for the info. :)
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