What are Brass Knuckles?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: L. S. Wynn
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2019
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Brass Knuckles are illegal fighting tools designed to improve the punching power of the wearer's fist. In a typical fight, participants form a fist by drawing the fingers across the palm and pressing the thumb against the forefinger. The flat portion between the knuckles and the first finger joints form a fairly solid weapon for striking an opponent.

The problem is that the fingers are often jammed into the fleshy part of the palm upon impact and the puncher loses most of the power behind the blow. Brute strength may still win the fight, but there's usually some serious damage to the puncher's hand.

Enter brass knuckles. A typical set of brass knuckles is formed from one solid piece of metal- either aluminum, brass or another alloy. One end is formed into four open loops which fit loosely around the fingers. The other end forms a curve which fits squarely into the closed palm. When a fighter puts his fingers through the loops and allows the curved end to nestle into his palm, the result is a much tighter fist. The fingers cannot be driven into the palm, and the metal grip provides additional weight. This is a distinct advantage against an unarmed opponent.

Throwing a punch while wearing brass knuckles requires a different style than the standard forward strike. Fingers could be broken if the punch connects directly. Fighters using Brass Knuckles often use a rolling punch with a glancing blow. This protects the fingers and causes more damage to the opponent. Contrary to popular belief, the brass knuckles themselves only cause secondary damage. The idea is to increase punching power to the fist, not be a weapon in and of itself.

Brass knuckles were actually developed as the handles for military knives. Spies and other special forces carried knives which had finger holes in the grip. This feature gave added strength to a thrusting motion with the blade. If hand-to-hand combat became necessary, the handle doubled as a form of brass knuckles. This self-defense technique eventually worked its way into the civilian world, but the results were so bloody that the weapons were almost universally outlawed. Possession of a pair of brass knuckles or similar punch-enhancing tools is considered a felony in most countries.

Discuss this Article

Post 7

I always carry a large knife around in the case of a fight and it is legal.

Post 6

My son just last night was sucker jumped by a kid who put brass knuckles to the back of his head and one at eye and one at the temple. They are cowards' helpers for winning against someone you might otherwise lose to. They do serious damage and can be deadly! --Saddened mom

Post 5

Growing up, brass knuckles were turned into a completely cool and awesome idea for the kids in my area through different movies. And believe it or not, there are actually idiots in the universe who will sell something like this to a kid.

I know, because one of friends bought some. We were really not violent kids at all. He just thought it was super cool. And I did, too, until I saw the damage that could be done with the things.

Bad stuff, and something that should really be kept out of people’s hands entirely, but especially out of the hands of kids who have no idea what they can actually do.

I know they are illegal, but they are still fairly easy to get ahold of if you know where to look. Scary stuff.

Post 4

I had the unlucky occasion to actually run up on a fight where brass knuckles were used. They don’t just take a person down, they plain flat tear that person up. It leaves a mark like you wouldn’t believe.

There is a reason that these things are illegal, and that is because they can turn a fist fight deadly. Even in our supposedly civilized world, we still have tons of folks who come to blows.

You put a set of brass knuckles on some of them and it is just about as bad as handing them a gun and saying shoot.

And, people don’t just use them to punch people in the face either. Imagine getting hit in the gut with one of those things. It makes a completely unfair and radically dangerous fight.

Post 3

@Monika - That does sound handy but check the laws in your area first. I know there are some places where stun guns are illegal and some places where they aren't. You wouldn't want to get in trouble with the law just for trying to defend yourself!

I actually did not know that brass knuckles increased the force of the punch. I thought, along with everyone else, that the brass knuckles were actually the weapon. Interesting.

Post 2

This idea has also been incorporated into self defense products in a stun gun! I saw this thing called "Blast Knuckles" online the other day and I really want a set.

The product uses the shape and design of brass knuckles, but instead of being brass it's a stun gun. This solves a few problems with stun guns, mainly that it makes it hard for the attacker to take it from you. I like to go jogging and I think this would be a great self defense tool for when I jog in the evening.

Post 1

Interestingly, the picture on this post shows a boxer. Manny Pacquiao a known pound per pound boxer was rumored to be using brass knuckles in his fights. Of course I don't believe it.

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