Tag Archives: Starke answers

regarding spring-loaded weapons… I was really blown away (haha!) by the spring-launched… derringer that king schultz carried in django unchained. i know you say spring-loaded weapons are laughable but is such a device as used by that character feasible in any way shape or form, barring unrealistic things like magic or ‘sci-fi’ stuff coming into play?

Yeah, those spring loaded wrist holsters were actually real things. They just never worked right. Deploying the pistol had a bad habit of causing it to go off. Because they had to fit up a coat sleeve, they were restricted to very small caliber revolvers and Derringers. Additionally, I think I remember that the mechanism was prone to jamming, catching on clothes, or something else.

The British revived it as a spy tool during World War II, and used custom 9mm and .32 Silenced pistols. I suspect those were related to glove guns, but, my book on spy gear is still missing from the move, so I’m having to run on memory.


I have a character who works as a hitman, and he keeps a knife of the “stomp and it pops out” variety in the toe of his shoe for emergencies. I’ve seen this used by a lot of inventive, wildcard characters (the Joker, mostly) but I wanted to ask how useful it would really be. It seems like it’d be handy for surprising a combatant but a potential hazard if deployed incorrectly.

If you’re trying to do a serious setting, the Joker is not your friend. He tends to warp the DCU’s already flexible concept of “realistic” into Loony Toons territory.

If you’re going for a comic book style setting, or a cheesy gadget filled superspy setting, knock yourself out. But, if you’re wanting to go for a more serious setting, then the laser watches, and knife boots are out.

There have been some attempts to make spring loaded surprise weapons, but none of them ever really worked. I’d take Assassin’s Creed’s hidden wrist blade over mounting one in your boot, that’s just goofy. Those aren’t particularly realistic either, but they’re just this side of plausible, and fans have rigged up a few working ones.


here’s a scenario for you a fifteen year old girl around 5″4 is being attacked from behind by a grown man do you think she can shift the grown man’s center of gravity and lift him over her shoulders and throw him against the floor?

Yes. I’ve actually been thrown by a girl, about that size, in training. When it comes to throws: momentum, inertia, and leverage are a lot more important than size. Also, her strength isn’t even a factor; when properly executed most throws require surprisingly little force.

She’s slightly more likely to throw him over her hip than her shoulder, but, yes. If she’s been trained in throws, she can throw him.

For someone who hasn’t received training: throws are difficult, and can be pretty dangerous for both combatants. There are a lot of ways you can mess up your back if you botch an attempt.


Hey, hey! I’m not sure how well you can answer this though in your experience have any punches you’ve been dealt, left cuts? I’m assuming they have, I just am not sure where/how punches can possibly leave cuts. They’re not like nails, so I’m guessing they don’t scratch you open. Any advice would be awesome!

Yes. I’ve actually got a small scar from getting nailed in the face when I was training. Usually, abrasions occur in hand to hand in places where the bones are close to the skin. The head is a prime example. This isn’t incredibly common in training, you need to be hit with a substantial amount of force, but in actual fights, it’s a lot more common.

There’s actually an abstract level where bruising is, effectively, the same thing. Bruises are just sub-dermal hemorrhaging, so, somewhere down there, your tissue tore, and now it’s bleeding.

As far as I know, it’s extremely rare for the blood loss to be significant, but it’s still small cuts and scrapes.

On top of that, there are a lot of ways the skin can be torn in a fight. Forensics splits this between lacerations, abrasions and contusions. Contusions are your normal bruises, though, there can be tearing of the skin at a surface level. Abrasions are where the skin’s been torn at a surface level, either by a direct impact, or by being scrapped across something, this can result in bleeding, but it doesn’t always, if you’ve ever scratched yourself raw, that’s a, mild, abrasion. Finally, lacerations, are where the skin is sheared against something, tearing it. Lacerations always result in bleeding.

(If you’re wondering why I know this, it’s because I keep a forensics primer next to me, whenever I’m working.)


Awesome blog! I have a couple of questions considering a fantasy story I’m writing. a) What is the best weapon, when fighting a humanoid opponent that is much bigger than you (about three meters tall)? b) When fighting with a bow, what is the best place to aim for if you want the hit to be non-lethal?

Three meters isn’t a large enough size difference to really invalidate full sized weapons, like swords, axes, or polearms, though it will alter the tempo of a fight. As it gets larger, you’ll lose options though, by four or five meters, you’ll probably be restricted to polearms.

What’s the most non-lethal bow shot? One that doesn’t connect with your target. Arrow hits to the limbs can easily sever arteries, shots to the torso can rupture internal organs. Both of those are quick ways to bleed to death. If you could actually hit the hand or foot, that’s safe-ish. But, that kind of accuracy takes a kind of mastery that just doesn’t happen on the battlefield. Maybe if your character is a six-hundred year old elf/immortal/vampire/whatever, who’s been training for multiple human lifetimes… but not for a human character. In a non-combat situation, archers do exist who can make shots like that, even today. But, a bow is an incredibly lethal weapon, and as with guns, “shoot to wound” just isn’t a real thing.


What kinds of wounds would a spear/metal rod (the weapon my character has is a bit interchangeable between the two) realistically be able to inflict on opponents? What would it most likely inflict? It’s easy to find references for sword-fighting, but as it turns out, spears aren’t too common in literature…

Spears can be used to inflict fairly deep cuts, but the primary, and lethal, injury is going to be deep penetrating strikes. If you want more detail, your best bet would be looking into industrial accidents involving impalement. Though, as we mentioned earlier; penetration is very lethal on a battlefield.

Beyond that, there were a lot of other polearms. Bladed ones like the halberd, voulge, bardiche, or glaive could carve up someone pretty badly, while keeping them at range.


Hello! I’m writing a story where some of the characters have had training with weapons such as swords, spears and so on. The problem is, is that I don’t know how long it would take to go from being a novice to an expert. How many months or years would it take?

Traditional, European, knight training would last fourteen years. Starting when the prospective knight turned seven, and lasting until they were twenty-one. They’d spend seven years serving as a page before becoming a squire at fourteen. Obviously, that encompassed a bit more than just training on a sword, but it’s a good starting point. In a modern context, you can probably train to an expert level with a sword in five or six years.

For a spear, I’m inclined to say six months for combat proficiency. From what I know, polearms are a lot easier to train on. To actually become an expert? You’re probably still looking at years of training, but, and I could be wrong, in conventional combat, spears have a much lower skill ceiling than swords. So, I’m inclined to say the extra time and effort would be wasted.


I think the knives anon was trying to ask if a soldier who was not worried about being laden down would benefit from carrying multiple knives specialised for use in different grip positions.

Yeah, you might be right about that, the whole “icepick grip” thing threw me off.

If they’re asking about a curved grip and a straight one, then it’s possible a soldier would carry both, but not especially likely. The curved grip is a specialized design, though off hand I can’t remember what it’s used for.

Also, Argetnyx is right about trench warfare. That’s one of those times where anything at hand can be turned into a weapon. There’s a couple reasons for that; but most of it comes back to the whole “not enough time to switch to your weapon” area.

Not sure about the sawback bayonet, but I know the entrenching tool was considered a weapon for a few decades.


When fighting with knives, are fencing and icepick grips (don’t know if there are more technical terms) different enough in terms of effectiveness that it would be practical for a soldier not worried about being over-armed to multiple specialized blades in different arrangements around their body?

As a general rule, a soldier’s not going to want to mix their tools and their weapons. You use your tools for what they’re supposed to be used for, you use your weapons on people. Using either, incorrectly, runs a real risk of damaging it, something a soldier is going to avoid.

This goes to the extent that a soldier in a jungle environment is probably going to carry both a machete and a combat knife. But, the machete is a tool, the knife is a weapon.

It’s the same thing with a climbing axe, or ice axe. A soldier is not going to use that on someone, unless that’s their only option. (Either because they don’t have a weapon, or because taking the second or two, to get their knife, will put them in serious jeopardy.)