Anatomy of a rapier
A rapier consists of two parts, the blade and the hilt. The hilt can be separated in multiple parts.
The blade of a rapier is very long and thin, increasingly becoming thinner along the length of the blade. It ends in a sharp and flexible tip, which is the most important part of the blade. The point of the blade is ideal for piercing armour and is very maneuverable. The part of the blade closest to the hilt is the thickest and provides the strength of the sword.
The edges of the blade aren’t very sharp, as this type of sword was mainly used for stabbing, not cutting or slashing.
The blade has a narrow extension, which is called the tang. The tang is used to fit the blade to the handle.
The ricasso is an unsharpened part of the blade in between the blade and the tang.
Between the blade and the handle is the crossguard. The crossguard sticks out on both sides of the blade. One side is the fore guard arm and the other side is the rear guard arm. When your opponent’s blade slides down your blade it’ll get blocked by the crossguard and thus will prevent injury to your hand.
The hilt of a rapier is one of the most recognisable features. Most rapiers either have a cup hilt or a swept hilt.
Both types of hilts cover the hand like a cup. The difference is that a cup hilt is a rounded piece of steel without any holes, while the swept hilt consists of multiple curved bars with open space between them. A cup hilt is said to protect better against thrusts, while the swept hilt gives better protection against cuts.
Although the swept hilt definitely has a practical purpose, it simultaneously functions as decoration.
From underneath the cup hilt or swept hilt comes a curved piece of steel which extends down in front of the hand. This is the knuckle guard. The knuckle guard’s main purpose is to protect the sword hand, but it also shows which side of the blade goes up and which side goes down.
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