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A Dagger is a small bladed weapon less than 30 centimeters long. For sake of simplicity, this will also cover various knives which serve the same role, though strictly speaking, a dagger is a knife designed primarily for thrusting.

Daggers in Warfare

Most daggers are effectively (Suppose to be) scaled down swords, sacrificing reach for light weight and ease of carry and storage. As such, while they can slash, they are mostly used for stabbing. Like swords, both straight and curved as well as double edged and single edged daggers existed.

For the most part, the main use of daggers was as a fallback weapon for soldiers in case they lost their heavier sword, maces, spears or whatever and as a concealed weapon for defensive (if you are fearing a mugging or an assassin) or offensive (you are a mugger or an assassin) purposes. In late medieval a dagger was also the go-to weapon for finishing heavily-armored opponents once you incapacitated them with some other weapon, as a thin and short blade was ideal for shoving through a visor or other gap in the armor. As a nice bonus, they were also small enough to be used as a regular knife for when you have to cut some potatoes for dinner and other such things.

However: That is what a dagger is suppose to be, the exact legal definitions of a dagger are often different and in Europe the difference between dagger and sword was often in the hilt construction. This produced some odd examples of weapons that while they look like 'swords' are 'legally' daggers. The most blatant example being the holder for the guinness world record for longest dagger, which is 91.50 centimeters long, and yet is still considered a dagger. Some non-European examples of this exist as well, such as the Kodachi, which was just short enough to avoid being a sword.

Types of Daggers

  • Stone Daggers: Unlike swords, you could make a serviceable dagger out of stones which could take an edge like flint, which could be chipped away into that shape. These are commonly found in neolithic burial sites.
    • Obsidian Dagger: Made of volcanic glass, these daggers were extra sharp but extra brittle as well. Fun fact- some of them had monomolecular edges, as confirmed by observing the blades under electron microscopes.
  • Pugio: A leaf shaped dagger used by Roman Legionaries.
  • Stiletto: Much like the shoe that got its name from it, the stiletto has a needle-esque blade designed for stabbing with as little resistance as possible. The blade is typically thin yet hard, which allows it to puncture flesh with ease while slipping through gaps in bone. Its small size and killing power made it a popular choice for assassins back then and today. Its drawback, however, is that it is designed exclusively for stabbing. The blade's design did not allow it to effectively cut opponents with slashes, restricting the user to stabs, and the blade's thin and hard characteristic made it very likely to shatter when struck with a hard object.
  • Bayonet: A bayonet is a type of knife meant to be mounted onto the muzzle of a firearm, typically a rifle or carbine, so that a soldier can use their firearm as a makeshift spear in close combat. Bayonets themselves evolved over time alongside firearms:
  • Plug Bayonet: One of the earliest bayonets simply plugged into the muzzle of a musket, making it impossible to fire and stab at the same time, basically rendering the weapon useless outside of melee range. This was quickly superseded by...
  • Socket Bayonet: This came with a ring to fit around the muzzle, allowing it to be attached without blocking the muzzle.
  • Sword Bayonet: Like the name suggests, this was a short sword that attached to the end of a rifle. Besides being more useful on its own in melee, a sword bayonet extended a rifle's striking range and was useful during WWI when soldiers began wearing thick coats and gear, allowing soldiers to penetrate all those extra layers. At least, when they didn't have to worry about manuevering in cramped trenches, in which case that extra length became a liability. That lead to...
  • Multipurpose Bayonet: With melee weapons eventually growing obsolete, the only regularly issued bladed weapon to soldiers is what is essentially a utility knife that can be attached to your rifle. Bayonet charges may be a thing of the past, but these knives are still quite handy, whether in a close quarters fight or for general survival and tool use. And while melee is a crapshoot with automatic weapons and shotguns being a thing, it is better to have at least something to use there.
  • Bayonets on Pistols: An uncommon exception to the aforementioned bayonets being mounted to "typically a rifle or carbine", attaching a knife to your sidearm was a rare enough occurrence to be worth specifically mentioning. Seriously, these things existed. WWI trench fights were some crazy business. Also some examples among so called "Chinese mystery pistols", guns built by interwar era Chinese smiths who didn't understand how guns worked.
  • Bayonets on Machine Guns: Another uncommon exception by the Japanese in WW2 was putting bayonets on their light machine guns, which was mostly just noteworthy for being as much retarded fail as it sounds like given that light machine guns are already more or less the upper limit of cumbersome a single person can be expected easily handle in combat, let alone trying to swing the front of the thing into people's guts.
  • Bayonets on Tanks: You think you're funny but the Staff Sergeant didn't laugh because you're the tenth chucklefuck to play with the tig welder this FY and it wasn't even very clever the first time.
  • Machete: A large, cleaver-like knife around 30-40cm. It was first employed by the Spaniards, who used it for cutting undergrowth and heathen swine during their expeditions into jungles. It is still used for these purposes in Latin America and parts of Africa, and has also been repurposed as a weapon by various militias and guerrilla forces.
  • Kukri: A kukri knife is a Nepalese large knife, similar to the machete in size and use. The difference, however, is that it possesses a heavy, curved blade that removes the need to angle one's wrist when performing a chopping motion. Contrarily to popular belief, it's primary use is as every-day carry knife/tool for both home and field usage (it can function as knife, axe and even spade in a pinch) by average Indian/Nepalese Joe. Of course, this very versatility resulted in the kukhri quickly finding its way into a soldier's kit as well, where it remains to this day.
  • Misericorde: A long, thin dagger built specifically for use against plate armored soldiers, its name comes from the Latin word misericordia, meaning an act of mercy, and that's what it was used for. In the Medieval age if you suffered a mortal wound you were likely gonna take a while to die, a knight with this weapon would jam this blade through openings in the plate, such as the armpit or visor, or groin to finish them off. Of course you could also use it on a still "kicking" knight and use it to encourage them to yield or beg for mercy.
  • Bollock Dagger: One of the most common daggers in England, Scandinavia, Scotland and the Low Countries, this was a standard dagger blade, single or double edged, with a hilt that (you guessed it) looked like a pair of balls. Called Kidney Daggers by Victorians because they were prudes. These were used from the 13th century right into the Enlightenment across all social classes, and varied from extremely fancy to very basic.
  • Baselard: A long dagger or short sword with a distinctive L or H shaped hilt, popular in Western Europe from the 14th century to the Renaissance. Often used by criminals, meaning it had negative connotations.
  • Katar: An unusual form of dagger from India with an H-shaped hilt that cause the blade to sit above the user's knuckles, allowing its user to put his whole weight into the thrust (or punch, as the motion for a thrust with this weapon is identical to punching). Its light weight and small size made it easy to wield in pairs, but it can't block very well, forcing the wielder to rely on their agility to avoid being struck in the first place. Closely related to it is the push dagger, which is smaller and posses a T-shaped hilt so the blade protrudes from between the user's fingers when correctly grasped.
    • For those looking to add some dakka to their stabby, there's also the gun-katar. The gun-katar was similar to the regular katar, except the two supports holding the dagger in place were replaced by a pair of flintlock pistols that could be fired by internal lever. The main surviving example was a showpiece for the British Raj, but this is arguably the most ergonomic option for those desiring a gunblade. Of course, it's still an incredibly impractical weapon that isn't as effective as just using either katars or a pair of pistols.
    • Despite being a knife, katars can be quite large. Versions used to hunt tigers can be three feet (one meter) long.
  • Parrying dagger: This type of dagger (also known as the main gauche) was meant to be used alongside a rapier or other dueling sword, and as such had wider guards to protect the user's hand while allowing him to parry strikes with his off-hand more effectively. Some variations known as "sword breakers" had slots along their sides that allowed them to catch a rival's sword or even break it in some cases, while the so-called "trident daggers" had spring-loaded mechanisms that would split the blade into three parts when activated to catch an opponent's blade between them.
    • Sai/Jitte: Asiatic versions of the above. The Sai is a small trident, formed of a central blade (or baton) with two prongs to catch and deflect other weapons. The Jitte is a similar Japanese weapon with only a single prong, that served as mark of office for police officers in feudal Japan.
  • Dirk: A long thrusting dagger commonly used by naval officers in hand-to-hand combat during the Age of Sail, the name "dirk" is also used to refer to the Sgian-dubh, a single-edged knife that was formerly used by the Scots in the 17th and 18th centuries and continues to be part of traditional highland dress today.
  • Kris: A dagger with a distinctive wavy shape used through much of Southeast Asia, and is particularly prominent in Indonesia. They are often made to be spiritual objects and works of art as well as weapons, and as a result the crafting of the kris was designated a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. In layman's terms, this means that the kris' importance to Indonesian culture is equivalent to that of the Viennese coffee houses to Austria or the flamenco to Spain.
    • The Filipino Kris, on the other hand, while made in a similar shape to its Indonesian contemporary, is actually a full-fledged combat sword. It is larger and heavier, as well as forged with durability for extended use in mind.
  • Tanto: A style that originated in Japan with a unique tip shape that makes it really effective for snap cut. Enjoyed a revival current millennium and, for some bizarre reason, was adopted as the primary knife of the German army defense force. The JSDF however sticks with copies of American designs.
  • Puuko: A general purpose knife from Finland and effectively a national symbol of Finland. So widespread Fins outside of their home country are assumed to have a knife on them. Killed more than a few Soviets during the Winter War.
  • Kunai: A weapon popularized by those damned filthy weebs, often associated with ninja because of how easily concealed it is. It's known for having multiple uses, being used as both throwing weapons and melee weapons.
  • Kerambit: A curved dagger that's been popularized by doomsday preppers for its portability. Its construction includes a finger-hole that allows for an easy grip and makes it difficult to disarm.
Medieval Weaponry
Battleaxe - Dagger - Lance - Mace - Club
Pole-arm - Spear - Sword - Warhammer
Blowgun - Bows and Arrows - Cannon
Crossbow - Firearm - Rocket - Shuriken - Sling
Armor: Armor - Fantasy Armor - Helmet - Pauldron - Shield