From War History Online: 5 Tiny but effective pre-gunpowder weapons

One of my favorite sites to visit is As an amateur history buff, I find most of their content interesting. It has also been a content gold-mine, especially for our Blade-Wielding Badass from History posts.

They recently published Small but mighty: 5 tiny but effective pre-gunpowder weapons, that I thought was share-worthy. I think I first learned of caltrops in one of Bernard Cornwell’s Richard Sharpe novels, but they originated centuries earlier. An atl-atl was a gimme putt for someone with an anthropology background, but I learned a few things from some of the others. And I don’t think a kukri qualifies as  a “tiny weapon” despite making the list.




I have seen Kakute on tables at the Blade Show as well as on various Instagram feeds, but I didn’t really know anything about them.

Today I learned (from W.H.O.):

One of the smallest weapons on this list, or ever, the Kakute was a ring knife used quite counterintuitively. Rather than facing the point(s) outward for punching, the ring’s point faced inward, hidden by the palm. They were used primarily to grab and control an opponent, the points digging in, giving a good grip and causing pain-compliant control over your opponent.

A variety of Kakute were used, from one to four points. The single points were better for slashing palm strikes and penetrating wounds during choking. Four pointed Kakute were more effective against opponents with clothing and for climbing. Some Kakute even had a tie loop to attach a rope. This rope could give the wielder a stronger hold on opponents or for more help climbing.


Even though I was quite familiar with the atl-atl, I still found this video impressive.

Check out the rest if you have a minute to kill.



  1. Sam L. says:

    I wonder how much “elastic energy” could be stored in a length of wood–unless the wood is from a rubber tree. (It’s early; my silly is high this morning.)

    Some of us remember the chakram hidden in the derby hat from the 007 movie, otherwise, I suspect, from Xena The Warrior Princess.

    Re: Knife Rights. I got lucky last year and won a knife. Doubled my donation this year, and am getting two prizes.

    1. I agree. Most atl-atls are fairly rigid. The power comes from increased leverage, not elasticity of the wood.

  2. Nail nick says:

    Are there professional history buffs ?

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From War History Online: 5 Tiny but effective pre-gunpowder weapons

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