I understand that Harry and his friends were morally opposed to using evil spells that would kill their enemies, but what baffles my mind is why didn't he snap his enemies' wands when he had the chance?

Specifically I'm talking about in Order of the Phoenix

when Harry and friends are battling the Death Eaters in the department of mysteries (chapter 35). Harry keeps stunning his enemies, making it an especially opportune time to take their wands and break them. I've ruled out the idea that the wand is hard to break since it happens to Neville in that very scene.

  • 3
    Google "fog of war". If DA weren't trained to break the enemy wands (which can be attributable to lack of intellectual rigor on Potter's part), they wouldn't likely be able to figure it out in the heat of battle. Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 17:08
  • Should this be tagged with 'magical theory'?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 18:36
  • 3
    At the very least they could have grabbed the wands and held on to them. Heck, the wands might have even been friendly towards the members of DA since they had been won from their owners.
    – Xantec
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 18:40

3 Answers 3


I think there are several reasons why focusing on breaking wands in the heat of battle is impractical as a Defence strategy.

  • Wands are replaceable
  • It would be generally difficult to get close enough to the other person in a duelling situation to actually grab hold of the wand and take it without getting cursed or hexed to smithereens.
  • This quote is a little ambiguous: ‘A person can still use a wand that hasn’t chosen them, though?’ asked Harry. [Ollivander] ‘Oh yes, if you are any wizard at all you will be able to channel your magic through almost any instrument.' Does 'instrument' mean a wand specifically, or is it a general statement? If wands are not the only items a witch or wizard can use to channel magic, breaking someone's wand in the heat of combat might not be a panacea against harm.

FWIW, I kind of err on the side of 'instrument' meaning wand. So you may wish to disregard my last point.

  • 3
    If "instrument" doesn't mean specifically wand, instead of Ron having to use a Spellotaped wand, he could have used a pencil, stick - or almost any other object lying around. The fact that he didn't seems to point to "instrument" meaning wand. Which is a bit of a shame - I like the idea of different items being used in spell casting. A ladle for cooking spells. A hammer for building spells. A sword for a defence spell - oh wait, I guess you could just use the sword. Never mind.
    – NiceOrc
    Commented Jan 13, 2012 at 2:46
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    It's probably a matter of style - it's difficult to look menacing while threatening your enemies with the Elder Ladle.
    – NiceOrc
    Commented Jan 14, 2012 at 5:26
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    I would make the assumption that a magical person could use any instrument, but with less magical, or less suitable "instruments" it is harder or much weaker and less effective
    – Hugoagogo
    Commented Nov 2, 2012 at 10:32
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    Ron WAS still training. A wand is supposed to be an amplifier for a wizard's spells. While a properly skilled wizard can do magic using a spoon, a student who's already struggling might not manage at all. So far as that even a broken wand is preferable. Commented Jun 12, 2014 at 11:05
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    @VincentVancalbergh - Hey :) I'm guessing you're interpreting Ollivander's statement that magic can be channeled through any "instrument"? I don't interpret that literally, although initially I did. But I realized canon doesn't reflect using a fishing pole, a potted geranium, or a "manky old boot" to cast magic. Magic requires a wand. But, yes, certainly, a broken but semi-repaired wand is infinitely superior to no instrument at all. Hagrid managed all those years with a broken wand, too. :) Commented Jun 14, 2014 at 1:51

While in the 8th film Harry is able to easily break the Elder Wand and toss it over the bridge most wands are damaged as a result of a great amount of force.

  • Hagrid's wand was broken by the Ministry of Magic.
  • Ron's original wand was broken as a result of colliding with the Whomping Willow.
  • Harry Potter's wand is damaged by Hermione's spell while trying to escape Nagini.

Given the magical nature of wands I suspect most of them are imbued with some protection spells to prevent them from being easily snapped. If wands were as fragile as the Elder Wand appeared in the 8th film I would think they would be broken all the time. You could theorize that because Harry was the master of the Elder Wand, it was easy for him to break, but wouldn't be for someone else.

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    Neville's wand was broken just by a kick in the Ministry.
    – user13267
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 9:43
  • And also since the DA disarmed the Death Eaters, they may have become the master of those wands, so this doesn't really stand up (although I believe it states in the book that the wand MAY change allegiance, rather than WILL)
    – Jon Story
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 14:47

The bond a wizard has with his wand is likely a form of protection that requires of form of dispelling before it can be physically snapped. Harry could easily snap the Elder Wand because it was his wand.

Magical creatures have been shown to have the ability to break through magical protection explaining the Willow.

  • " Harry could easily snap the Elder Wand because it was his wand." citation needed... badly. see scifi.stackexchange.com/a/134670/54827 :)
    – RedCaio
    Commented Aug 13, 2016 at 21:36
  • @RedCaio -- Especially since Harry didn't actually snap the Elder Wand. That's an invention of the movie maker. Harry actually chooses to place the Elder Wand back in Dumbledore's grave, where its curious power will naturally dissipate upon Harry's (natural) death.
    – elemtilas
    Commented Aug 20, 2020 at 4:45

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