Q&A: Hand Size And Choosing Your Weapons

Hey, this is going to sound like a weird question and I apologize, but would hand size affect a character’s ability effectively to wield weapons such as swords, bows and spears?

Generally speaking, no. If your hands are relatively normal sized, then you shouldn’t have an issue with most of the weapons you listed.

If you’re talking about someone with an extreme difference in size, either extremely large or small, then you might start to see problems. This is something that occasionally comes up in fantasy settings, where diminutive races like gnomes or goblins will prefer to to produce their own weapons, with similar considerations for unusually large races, such as giants and trolls.

There is a related issue with bows, where someone could potentially be strong enough to tear one apart while trying to draw it. This isn’t a realistic concern, but if you have a character who is superhumanly strong, and significantly larger than the individuals the bow was intended for, and tries to overdraw the bow, they could potentially snap the limbs. Realistically, the only time you’d encounter this is if an adult tried to fully draw a toy bow intended for children.

The only time that hand size is likely to cause issues with a bow are on ones with ergonomic grips. These are fairly recent and the grip is designed to be comfortable for the archer, though, if your hand doesn’t conform to the expected and shape, it can be uncomfortable.

Hand size can be a consideration with firearms. This will rarely make a firearm unusable, but it can make a gun less comfortable to operate. For small hands, full frame service pistols can be unpleasant. For someone with large hands, some subcompact pistols can be uncomfortable. As with bows, there are firearms with ergonomic grips, and you can modify a firearm’s grip to be a better fit your hand. This is usually by adding additional padding to the grip, so scaling a pistol up for a larger hand is fairly easy. Cutting one down for a smaller hand is not always possible due to the mechanical design.

So, unless there’s some kind of extreme difference in size, you should be able to pick up a sword or spear and be fine, unless the weapon really is too large for you.

Now, if your character was disarmed, and the only weapon they can quickly grab is a minotaur’s great axe, that could be a problem.

-Starke

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