Notice their shape and the hook on the edge.

They're obviously not designed for sword fighting due to their odd shape and weight forward design. What was these weapon's base function?

  • 7
    I'm reasonably sure that all swords are supposed to be anti-armour.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:01
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    Not necessarly Richard, Swords are supposed to be anti-flesh. No sword cuts through decent armour. Against Armour (Plate) you have blunt/spiked weapons. In fact, historically against heavy armor sword weilders would either halfsword (Grab the point for precise strikes) or flat out using the sword as a club (by grabbing the blade).
    – Oak
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:04
  • 1
    Depends on its use. Swords can be for bludgeoning, cutting, or piercing. Piercing with this particular sword would require swinging it like an axe (very orc-like), and for cutting, holding it more like a machete.
    – Mikey T.K.
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:04
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    I'm sure this was just someone on the movie's crew idea of looking badass, its completely impractical. Any deep slash could likely hook the weapon which is the worse case scenario in a battle. Add to that the practical difficulty of forming this and sharpening it. Also the size wouldn't really allow much reach to get beyond maybe a rider's leg.
    – EricLeaf
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 22:17
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    @Richard It's rather the reverse. All armor was meant to be anti-sword. The anti-armor weapon was the battle-axe and pick. It's all about psi.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 19:46

2 Answers 2


Yes, the swords (Spike mainly) can be used to pierce armor, but the primary function of the "hook" was to counter the horseman of Rohan

The hook was used to disembowel horses as the riders rode past, and to pull riders off their horses. They were not used primarily as anti-armor swords. The Uruk Hai swords were mass produced in a short time, and would not have had the strength to repeatedly pierce armor. Much better against fleshy targets like horses, and for chopping once the rider is on the ground. If you want to pierce a soldier's armor, you really need a pointed sword or a spiked warhammer/axe to pierce through weaknesses in plates, and the suggestions @Oak puts forward. The purpose of the Uruk-Hai swords were to get riders off their horses and hack them to pieces on the ground.


Here you can see some comparisons of LOTR armor types. Rohirrim wear very little armor, usually sporting mail and boiled leather. The Uruk-Hai's cheap steel would be more than enough to hack through this type of armament.

  • 6
    That's nice and gross, thanks for that.
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 20:48
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    Please show even a single example of this weapon being used to disembowel a horse. Is there any historical reference to any combat weapon being built for that purpose?
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 13:23
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    @Morgan I would love to, but this isn't historical stack exchange. We are talking about a sword fashioned for a fantasy race of orcs. I have already posted a link citing that this sword was used to kill horses. If you could post a citation for your opinion based on LOTR sources, I would love to see it, and wish i could do the same. Change the wiki if you think it is incorrect. These swords are relatively short, and the primary foe of the Uruk-Hai was Rohan. Sorry, "Horse Lords" of Rohan. Who fought from horseback. Out of reach of armor piercing weapons until they were brought down. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 19:32
  • *excluding pikes, but we're not talking about that. Plus in the books, Tolkien just says "They were armed with short broad-bladed swords, not with the curved scimitars usual with Orcs". So you could make a case that the design is purely cosmetic for the movies and there is no right answer :P. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 19:36
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    @StoneHearts I hear you. I'll see if I can find anything but I wouldn't put out much hope. Hollywood fantasy blades are just that... product of costume designers with little real application beyond cool look. We both know the best way to dismount a horseman in combat is to trip/impale the horse and let the rider auger into the ground then poke him through an armor joint with a lighter blade before he can get up.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 20:34

Absolutely yes they were designed to defeat armor.<

The weapon was obviously meant for hacking, not stabbing. (No pointy tip) The reverse spike is reminiscent of the spiked tip on the reverse side of a mideaval battle axe or war hammer, a devistating anti-armor weapon. These were specifically designed to defeat/penetrate heavy armor plate and to penetrate and pull down shields. It's all about psi on impact.

Try it some time, it works perfectly. They were also used to 'hook' shields and pull them down to expose enemy combatants for further attack.

The main weapon by foot soldiers against cavalrymen was actually the pike or long spear. Just let the horse impale themselves as they charged into them.

The only way you could even >possibly< 'gut' a heavy cavalry horse in full charge is if you are under it... not a good place to be.

You can't deftly side-step as they go past and try it from the side because they actually have armor on their sides and they charge stirrup-to-stirrup, side by side from 100-500 horses wide. They were basically the main battle tanks of mideaval warfare.

Long polearms are the only chance for a footsoldier to defeat a heavy cavalry charge.

  • I would agree, however it appears that the reverse spike is more bladed than pointy? I'd imagine that would have a hard time penetrating plate more than an inch, seeing as how it becomes quite wide at the base. I like the idea of pulling riders off their horses tho ^^ Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 20:59
  • Also the Uruk Hai had pikes for the charges, these swords were for the melee that followed. Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 21:03
  • @StoneHearts I actually like the design, less the finger relief and no guard. A good hacking weapon and if you rotate it in your hand, a good piercing weapon for armor. The highly tapered and edge sharpened tip of the 'spike' would penetrate well and resist getting stuck in armor. Not as easy as it looks to make make a quality blade of this design though.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 1, 2016 at 23:33

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