From VintageNews: A history of the Stiletto

WWII  Stiletto from Ethan Becker’s “Reference Library”. Designer and Dagger fanatic Les George informs me that this is a 3rd Pattern Fairbairn-Sykes

The legendary Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife (and its cousin the V-42) are among our favorite historical knives to cover. However, the history stiletto is quite a bit older, dating back to medieval Italy. I came across this post from the site Vintage News, which documents the history of the style.

From Vintage News:

The long slender blade with an almost needle-like point first appeared in Italy, way back in the late 15th century. The stabbing weapon was considered an improvement of the rondel dagger and the misericorde. The rondel dagger was a needle-pointed weapon and had a narrow blade designed for thrusting. It was common and very popular around Europe during the late Middle Ages, used by many different people, from merchants to knights.

The misericorde was a type of longer, narrow knife, especially used to deliver a death stroke to a seriously wounded knight. The blade was made so thin that it could strike through the gaps between armor plates. Its name, derived from Latin “misericordia”, meant giving the “act of mercy”, one final death blow to end the pain and suffering of the wounded person.

The first stilettos usually had a one-piece cast metal grip and their blade was hammer-forged into a dense straight thin pole. The name “stiletto” came from Latin too, from the word “stilus” that connoted the thin pointed ancient Roman writing tool used for engraving letters into wax or clay tablets. Its original design was purposed solely for offense, and like its predecessor weapons, the stiletto was also destined to finish off the injured opponent in the so-called “mercy strike”. Eventually, the stiletto became the secondary weapon of most knights in medieval times.

I enjoy running history-related posts over the weekend, and this is no exception. Read the whole thing, if you are so inclined. If you have a bit more time and missed it, it is hard to top one of our greatest long-read shares “Ka-Bar and Fairbairn-Sykes: Two fighting children of different philosophies” – one of my favorite finds in my tenure as TTAK Managing Editor.

Of course this isn’t bad either.


  1. Les George says:

    I wouldnt say fanatic…. Some people might say that about me, but I never liked them anyway…. 🙂

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From VintageNews: A history of the Stiletto

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