View Full Version : Can you snap a spear being held by someone else?

02-09-2015, 11:11 PM
I need slight physics help here. A huge man swings an iron-headed club with both hands. Can he snap the shaft of a spear being held by an enemy, or would the impact just knock it out of the enemy's grasp? It isn't braced against anything, after all.

02-09-2015, 11:19 PM
Generally, spears are made of very dense wood--because you don't need the damn thing snapping in two on you when you need it most. But, yes, you might be able to bust one depending on how hard the wood is and how strong your character is. Conan...could, I guess--but then he does the kind of thing, right?

'Course, why wouldn't a blow like that just knock the spear out of the guy's hand?

02-09-2015, 11:55 PM
If the wood isn't too hard. Also, the speed of the swing affects it, as well as how much 'give' there is by the holder of the spear, which would shift the amount of energy dissipated. So if the guy is holding the spear strongly and he swings it fast, and it is stopped/blocked at the moment of maximum kinetic force, in the right place (not too far from the end of the spear and not too close to the hands) and perhaps applying opposite force in a snapping manner when blocking/stopping with something hard (bone?) then yes.

I remember my father telling me about his karate teacher (7th dan black belt) who had fought a long time ago against some thugs who had weapons (no guns though) and he could do 'hard blocks' and 'soft blocks'. Basically, he would mitigate the force of an attacker in the soft block when teaching students, but in a fight, there would be no give, and it would be like hitting an unyielding pole, which sometimes did break things. He had hard hands and arms. You know all that stuff you see in the movies where people hit rocks and stuff to get their bodies strong? He did that sort of thing.

02-10-2015, 12:40 AM
Spear shafts are built to be tough.

If the spear doesn't catch against something, I'd expect it to not break.

But if it's hit solid by the club coming down, it could definitely hit the ground and that would provide a solid enough base to snap the shaft.

02-10-2015, 04:44 AM
I've read a great deal about weaponry of the Hellenistic Period, and I assure you spears broke all the time. In fact, the xyston was one of the technological advances that allowed Alexander to conquer so much of the world because it was a massively more effective long spear than anything else out there. You didn't need to be on a horse to break a spear, though. Look up the concept of the "othismos" (though there's debate about this).

Basically, think about your tech level and the type of wood to which they have access, as well as how strong the soldier holding the spear is. From my own experience stick fighting, you don't see sticks snap (as opposed to gradually shredding) unless it's two fairly strong guys fighting. If one guy is too weak, his arms will give rather than the stick.

02-11-2015, 04:14 PM
It would depend a bit on the guy holding the spear. Is he braced and ready for a fight? Is he tense? How well trained is he? Is it a quality weapon or an issued one?

A trained warrior would be ready for their weapon to be hit, and would allow some give, or try to evade and counter attack. If it hit, it'd just likely move unless it hit the ground.

If he was a conscript he could hold it too tightly, not move it or brace it against the ground, letting it snap.

If it's a weapon made to equip a conscript, they might not be too discerning with their wood, allowing it to be weak.

02-12-2015, 04:50 PM
Every weapon can be broken, including spears. A strong warrior with a club would be able to snap a spear, assuming the opposing warrior had a firm grip on it.

02-12-2015, 09:04 PM
I've read a great deal about weaponry of the Hellenistic Period, and I assure you spears broke all the time.

Which is why spears typically had a another piercing blade on the back end of the spear. If the main-blade was damaged/broken off the soldier could flip the spear over and keep fighting.

Wikipedia article for more info (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dory_%28spear%29)

Mr. Mask
02-13-2015, 11:43 AM
Snapping it mightn't be so easy, but it could be splintered--such that it is still intact, but the next time you stab someone with it it'd going to come apart (and it won't be a very effective thrust). If the spear was splintered badly, you might just drop it as useless.