List of premodern combat weapons

Premodern combat weapons include include both ranged weapons and mêlée weapons weapons which, in general, existed before the invention of the true flintlock gun around 1610, or until the 1700's for incendiary weapons. This does not include statically emplaced weapons such as traps or siege engines, but rather any weapon from the prehistoric, ancient, classical, medieval, or premodern world which could be carried by a single individual. Shields are included at the end as they could often be used offensively. This list does include, with comments as such, realistic (non-magical and physically combat feasible) weapon types from fantasy and role playing games as premodern weapons figure heavily in paper and computer role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Diablo (video game) or World of Warcraft, often featuring weapons of multiple geographical origins and time periods together (medieval Europe and feudal Japan being particularly prevalent). Game designers might use a list like this when choosing weapons to include in their games. Similarly, only combat effective weapons are included, for a list of practice weapons, such as the fencing Foil or Épée, see Practice Weapons. This list is for types of weapons and does not include specific, named weapons. For some examples of these, please see List of mythological weapons or List of magical weapons.

The list is categorized generally by Weapon Type, organized approximately by how the weapon was mainly used (style of attack, weight, and length). Where possible, each is tagged with a general region of origin, recognizing that most weapons were developed long before modern nations were and across country borders. For more on categorization of weapons, see the System of Weapons Categorization section below.

Hand or Fist Weapons and Fans

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


Thrusting and Slicing weapons for close quarters melee.

Knives and Daggers

Very roughly delineated as 5-22" total length. Many bladed weapons with the same name and shape came in a wide variety of sizes, especially over years of development.


Very roughly delineated as 22-30" total length.

Straight Shortswords

Curved Shortswords


Roughly 30" and up.

Curved one-handed swords

Straight one-handed swords

Curved two-handed swords

Hand-and-a-Half and Two-handed Greatswords

Other Swords

Axe Knives

Generally short, concave blades with the sharpened edge running the length of the non-handle part. Used for heavy chopping motions.

  • Karambit, Kerambit, Korambit (Southeast Asian)
  • Golok (Southeast Asian)
  • Kukri, Khukri (Southeast Asian)
  • Kopis (Mediterranean)
  • Sickle (Worldwide, improvised)
  • Sudanese Sickle-Knife (African)
  • Arit (Southeast Asian)
  • Pichangatti (Middle Asian)
  • Wedong (Southeast Asian)
  • Mandau (Southeast Asian)
  • Hunting Cleaver (European)
  • Pichangatti (Middle Asian)

Axe-like Swords

Generally concave blades with the sharpened edge running the length of the non-handle part. Used for heavy, chopping motions.

Picks, Pickaxes and Axes

Primarily chopping weapons (as opposed to chopping swords that thrust, cut, and slice), often with wide, forwards point blade, wielded with one or two hands for melee (throwing axes listed under Ranged, thrown

Picks and Pickaxes


Blunt Weapons and Clubs

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

Staffs, Staves and Polearms

Wielded with mainly with two hands, primarily for melee in sweeping, hooking, and thrusting motions. Throwing Javelins and Spears listed under Ranged, Thrown, Javelins & Spears. Organized from most axelike to most blunt or club like (poleaxe to Jo)



Polearms with axe-like blades

Polearms with spikes and hammers



Spears and Javelins

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

Throwing Sticks

Throwing Blades and Darts

Throwing Axes

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



Recurved Bows

Short Bows and Reflex Bows




Composite projectile weapons

Having a built in gun or ranged weapon combined with some other type of weapon. These weapons would be particularly at home in a steampunk type role playing game similar to Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura.

  • Pistol Sword (European Sword)
  • Mace Wheellock (European Mace)
  • War Hammer Wheellock (European Pick/Hammer)
  • Halberd Double Barreled Wheellock (European Halberd)
  • Matchlock Ax/Dagger (European Axe, Dagger, Matchlock Combination)
  • Carbine Ax (European Axe)
  • Ax Match and Wheellock (European Axe with Five barrells under a removable blade)


Used with whipping or swinging motions, sometimes attached to another type of weapon.

Sectional or Composite

Having multiple handles or holdable sections.

Chain Weapons

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


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

Systems of Weapon Categorization

Weapons of the world can be categorized in many different ways according to use or areas of origin, etc. Many role-playing games make specific use of their own weapons categorization systems (often known as weapon classes) in order to determine staticstics for that weapon when used by a particular character. This list was compiled by listing weapons according to their uses, with rough classes set aside for very similar weapons. There are always weapons that do not fit particularly into any category and are thus difficult to classify under any system. Games often classify by use as well. For instance the game Diablo II uses the weapons classes of Axes, Bows, Claws, Crossbows, Daggers, Javelins, Clubs, Orbs, Polearms, Scepters, Spears, Staves, Swords, and Wands . Wands and Orbs are included as magical weapons. In Dungeons and Dragons 4.0, weapons are grouped into Axe, Bow, Crossbow, Flail, Hammer, Heavy Blade, Light Blade, Mace, Pick, Polearm, Sling, Spear, Staff, and Unarmed, with certain weapons falling into more than one group. Weapons then are given a category by quality of Improvised, Simple, Military, or Superior and then melee, ranged, one-handed, or two-handed . Because weapons are so incredibly varied, many classification systems of weapons inspire disagreements about how particular weapons should be categorized. The system detailed in this list will be no exception, although it should be recognized that all classification systems are just attempts to give arbitrary divisions to what is in essence the vast and very diverse spectrum of weapons.


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