The most effective melee weapons from WWI (and the bayonet is not one of them)

I couldn’t come up with anything that qualified as a “Sunday Funny”, so I am reaching into my bag of saved interest-pieces, once again tapping WarHistoryOnline. This list contains some items that were expected, and others not so much. I like the mix of purpose-made, like the kukri, entrenching shovels were modified and repurposed, while others such as trench-clubs were often completely improvised.

The one item with which I was completely unfamiliar is the French Nail.


drawing of a French Nail

From WarHistoryOnline:

While not the most effective weapons French Nails were some of the cheapest and easiest weapons to make during the war. Made from steel stakes or unwanted bayonets, they were the simplest of knives with crude, bent handles.

The bottom line was that they worked. They were reasonably durable and were small enough to use as a one-off weapon before switching to a gun or club. The U.S.’s official trench knife was good, but the brass knuckle guard was not liked by everyone.

Its blade was known to be brittle. Two to three French Nails could be produced from one bayonet, and their design was improved and standardized throughout the war.


reproduction French Nails (from BladeForums)


  1. Sam L. says:

    Ingenuity of soldiers!

  2. Amanofdragons says:

    I love beating people to death with my sharpened shovel in battlefield 1.

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The most effective melee weapons from WWI (and the bayonet is not one of them)

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