Spent all of yesterday hacking at pieces of pork with swords, axes, hammers, and bayo
Yesterday in the interests of improving my understanding of melee weapons I went to a friend's house with a group of people and we all brought things like pig feet, picnic cuts, pig necks, a goat leg, and some coconuts. We attached these meats to a wooden post with coverings like cloth and leather and attacked them with various melee weapons in order to learn the kind of trauma that can be caused by the various weapons as well as the impact that cloth or leather would have on the effects of the weapons.
Some of the items I got to try on various types of meats included:
*An arming sword from Albion (http://www.albion-swords.com/) which is a one-handed double edged sword. (this is the one: http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/...knight-xii.htm )
*A German longsword, agian by Albion, in the style that is portrayed in Talhoffer's manuscript. (this one: http://www.albion-swords.com/swords/...hoffer-xva.htm )
*a warhammer, with a hammer part on one end and a big spike on the other, like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:War_hammer2.jpg
*a small axe
*a double edged dagger
*My Mosin Nagant spike bayonet, mounted on the rifle of course
*My AK 47 bayonet, mounted on my AK
Basically, what we found was that bony bits of meat, like the pig's feet, will *thwunk*, pretty much be severed, or deeply cut, by a cut from a sword, especially if they're not covered by cloth or leather.
The picnic cuts, with lots of fat, meat, and big bones, were a lot harder to cut with swords. Typically you'd just create a 3 inch cut with the one-hander, even with a full power swing.
What was *really* interesting was that once you put cloth or leather over the meat, the swords just started to bounce off! I could hardly believe my eyes, but I actually saw and experienced swords just bouncing off of picnic cuts that were covered with cloth or leather. If you did a cut at just the right angle, sometimes you might be able to cut through the cloth, but we almost never made it through the leather. That being said the meat still tended to get damaged by the blunt trauma even though it wasn't actually being cut. Sometimes I'd cut and my sword would bounce off, and would go bwwwoooonnnngggg, with the springy steel all wiggly and vibrating! Even the axe didn't succeed in getting through the leather all the time.
In spite of all the difficulty with cutting through leather, thrusts tended to punch through the cloth or leather much more easily. Maybe that's why as time went on people started to use rapiers.
The spike end of the warhammer can get through just about anything. We even put a rusty steel sheet over some meat and attacked it with the spike end of the warhammer. Whereas the swords were having trouble with cutting leather, the warhammer punched through the steel no problem. It looked like someone had been shooting the steel with a .30 caliber rifle or something. I'm convinced that warhammers are terrific for penetrating armor and skulls. The only problem is that the warhammer gets stuck really easily after you've rammed the spike through the metal. Maybe it would be ideal to carry a bunch of warhammers so after your one gets stuck in someone's skull you can just drop it and pull out another one instead of trying to remove the one you just used in a combat situation. I wonder how a warhammer would fare against a NIJ level 3 kevlar vest?
I noticed that the dagger tended to cut the cloth and damage the leather moreso than the swords, probably because the way you use it tends to produce a lot more slicing. Obviously just making slices in the leather doesn't really cause trauma to the flesh under the leather like bashing with the sword does.
I was extremely thrilled to be able to try out my bayonets. Ever since I got that Mosin Nagant I've really been excited about bayonets and it's really something that fascinates me. Now, the Mosin bayonet is an old fashioned spike bayonet, whereas the AK bayonet is pretty much like a modern bayonet, basically a camping or survival knife that you can mount onto the AK.
On uncovered meat, both bayonets just sank in like they were penetrating butter. It was really smooth and easy.
However, once you put cloth or leather over the meat, the AK bayonet started to bounce off! However, the Mosin bayonet still sank right into the meat. It had no problem punching through the leather. Afterwards we had a piece of leather with a star-shaped penetration on it from the Mosin bayonet. I tried circling around the meet, stepping in and out, and jabbing with the bayonet, and each time a real smooth and deep penetration. Afterwards I noticed that the Mosin bayonet also seemed to be pulverizing the bones inside the meat as well. It caused much, MUCH more damage as a thrusting weapon than the knife-style AK bayonet.
In my opinion a spike bayonet is really superior to a knife-style bayonet. I rammed that spike bayonet through meat, bones, leather, and wood, and it didn't get scratched or dinged or anything. The Mosin Nagant is so heavy and long that I really have started to think of it as a spear that can also shoot as opposed to just a rifle.
Interestingly I experimented with butt-stroking the wooden post with the Mosin, and I actually ended up slightly denting some of the wood on my rifle. Oh well, it was a learning experience. I learned that if you don't want to ding up your rifle it's a lot better to stab with the bayonet than to go for the buttstroke.
I'm so excited about that Mosin now. It's really an intermediate historical piece in my mind where it was as much a spear for a spearman as it was a rifle or a rifleman. That extra length and long barrel will actually let you use spear fighting techniques, like deflecting or binding onto the opponent's weapon and then stabbing him. And in my opinion that bayonet will cause extreme trauma and damage which is far superior to that which will be caused by a modern knife-style bayonet.
That being said I also appreciate even more the power and destructiveness of modern firearms. Of course a simple 9mm round will punch through leather, cloth, meat, shatter bones, etc. It's just so incredibly simple, easy, and destructive compared to all the techniques and skills you'd need to circle around someone and try to bash through his leather with your sword or cut his hand off while not getting stabbed, sliced, or bashed yourself. In medieval times, if you had metal armor and a sword you could go out and fight with people and the vast majority of weapons and attacks would just bounce off you possibly causing blunt trauma, whereas you could just to in there and carve up anyone who wasn't wearing armor. That's probably why a lot of historical or mythological storytelling, like in the Odyssey for example, deals with a few VIPs who have the gear and the skills, and they can just go and slaughter huge amounts of un-named people without the gear and the skills. That's also probably what happened to Peter the Hermit's group of peasants in the First Crusade, who entered the middle east but were almost immediately and without difficulty mass-slaughtered by a few local professional soldiers, such that contemporary records talk about huge piles of bodies with flies buzzing around them. But nowadays when everyone has firearms, no matter if you have the gear and the skills, you can still be killed or crippled in an instant by a random lucky shot. Now I'm beginning to think that in medieval times if you were a professional high social class fighter that it was easy to be brave, compared to today where even the toughest man in the world could still be taken out by a piece of shrapnel to the head due to dumb luck.
At the end of the day we took all the mutilated chopped up meat, put it in a pile, and shot arrows at it. It was my second time attempting archery so yet another wonderful learning experience. I learned that a broadhead arrow will embed itself deep into a bone! We could remove it fairly easily by just cutting all the meat away from the arrow but if you got hit by an arrow like that in medieval times it would really be horrible to have to endure someone attempting to remove it. What's more is you'd probably just die of infection from the removal attempt a little bit later. One of the broadhead arrows hit the wooden post and we needed to use pliers to pull the arrowhead out of the wood.
I had a really amazing day and I'm still digesting the information.
I'm beginning to think that Mosin Nagant could be a good home defense tools if you load it up with JSPs. People can potentially get in legal trouble for shooting someone from too far away where they theoretically weren't posing an immediate physical threat, whereas on the other hand theoretically if someone approaches you after repeated commands to stop that gives you more legal grounds to claim that the person was intending to cause you great physical harm. So if you were holed up in your bedroom you could cover the doorway with Mosin. If the person comes through the door and has a firearm you can shoot him, and what with close indoor distances you could close to bayonet range very quickly after your initial shot if you needed to. However, if someone doesn't have a firearm but still approaches you, you can choose not to shoot him and instead bayonet him when and if he gets very close to you. Then there's no way some attorney could claim that you used deadly force when the person was too far away to be a threat. And while a knife may trump a handgun at close range, a knife versus a spear is very different story.