Brass knuckles

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Brass knuckles

Brass knuckles (variously referred to as knuckles, knucks, brass knucks, knucklebusters, knuckledusters, knuckle daggers, English punch, iron fist, paperweight, or a classic) are "fist-load weapons" used in hand-to-hand combat. Brass knuckles are pieces of metal shaped to fit around the knuckles. Despite their name, they are often made from other metals, plastics or carbon fibers.

Designed to preserve and concentrate a punch's force by directing it toward a harder and smaller contact area, they result in increased tissue disruption, including an increased likelihood of fracturing the intended target's bones on impact. The extended and rounded palm grip also spreads the counter-force across the attacker's palm, which would otherwise have been absorbed primarily by the attacker's fingers. This reduces the likelihood of damage to the attacker's fingers. It also allows its user to break glass windows without injuring their hands, thus are widely utilized in vehicle theft to break car windows.[citation needed]

History and variations[edit]

An Apache revolver, a weapon that combines brass knuckles with a firearm and a dagger – Curtius Museum, Liège, 2011
Mark I brass knuckles Trench Knife
Homemade brass knuckles used in a lumber camp in Pine County, Minnesota. c. 1890

Metal ring and knuckle style weapons date back to ancient times and have been used all over the world for many hundreds of years. Vajra mushti has been practiced in India since at least the 12th century and mentioned in Manasollasa. The Nihang Sikhs used an early variant called Sher Panja in the 18th century. Cast iron, brass, lead, and wood knuckles were made in the United States during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Soldiers would often buy cast iron or brass knuckles. If they could not buy them, they would carve their own from wood, or cast them at camp by melting lead bullets and using a mold in the dirt.

Some brass knuckles have rounded rings, which increase the impact of blows from moderate to severe damage. Other instruments (not generally considered to be "brass knuckles" or "metal knuckles" per se) may have spikes, sharp points and cutting edges. These devices come in many variations and are called by a variety of names, including "knuckle knives."

By the late 19th century, knuckledusters were incorporated into various kinds of pistols such as the Apache revolver used by criminals in France in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.[1][page needed] During World War I the US Army issued two different knuckle knives, the US model 1917 and US model 1918 Mark I trench knives. Knuckles and knuckle knives were also being made in England at the time and purchased privately by British soldiers.

By World War II, knuckles and knuckle knives were quite popular with both American and British soldiers. The Model 1918 trench knives were reissued to American paratroopers. British Commandos even had their very own "Death's Head" knuckle knife, featuring a skull-shaped brass knuckle handle.[citation needed] A notable knuckle knife still in use is the Cuchillo de Paracaidista, issued to Argentinian paratroopers. Current-issue models have an emergency blade in the crossguard.

Legality and distribution[edit]

Brass knuckles are illegal in Hong Kong, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Bosnia, Croatia,[2] Cyprus, Finland, Germany,[3] Greece, Hungary, Israel, Ireland,[4] Malaysia,[5][6] the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain,[7] Turkey,[8] Sweden, Singapore,[9] Taiwan,[10] and the United Kingdom.[11]

Import of brass knuckles into Australia is illegal unless a government permit is obtained; permits are available for only limited purposes, such as police and government use, or use in film productions.[12] They are prohibited weapons in the state of New South Wales.[13]

In Brazil, brass knuckles are legal and freely sold. They are called soco inglês, which means 'English punch', or soqueira, which means 'puncher'.

In Canada, brass knuckles, or any similar devices made of metal, are listed as prohibited weapons;[14] possession of such weapon is a criminal offence under the Criminal Code.[15] Plastic knuckles have been determined to be legal in Canada.[16] Similar legislation has been instituted in Russia and Australia.[citation needed]

In France, brass knuckles are illegal. They can be bought as a "collectable" (provided one is over 18), but it is forbidden to carry or use one, whatever the circumstance, self-defense included.[17] The French term is poing américain, which literally means 'American fist'.[18]

In Germany, brass knuckles are by law "illegal weapons" (Verbotene Waffen) and are forbidden for carry or possession in any known variant.[citation needed] The German term is Schlagring, which literally means 'punch ring'.

In Italy and Mexico, brass knuckles are legal and freely sold to people of legal age (over 18 years old), but carrying them is forbidden.[citation needed]

In Russia, brass knuckles were illegal to purchase or own during times of Russian Empire and are still forbidden according to Article 6 of 1996 Federal Law On Weapons.[19] They are called кастет (from French casse-tête, literally 'head breaker').

In Sweden, brass knuckles are legal to purchase and own (for people 21 years of age) but are not legal to sell in stores or carry in public. The carrying of brass knuckles carries the same penalty as carrying a knife and falls under the same law.[citation needed] They are called knogjärn, literally "knuckle iron".

In Serbia,[20] brass knuckles are legal to purchase and own (for people over 16 years old) but are not legal to carry in public. They are called боксер, literally 'boxer'.

In Taiwan, according to the Law of the Republic of China, possession and sales of brass knuckles are illegal. Under the regulation, brass knuckles are considered weapons. Without the permission of the central regulatory agency, it is against the law to manufacture, sell, transport, transfer, rent, or have them in a collection or on display.[10]

In the United States, brass knuckles are not significantly regulated at the federal level, but various state, county and city laws prohibit their purchase and/or possession. Some state laws require purchasers to be 18 or older. Most states have statutes regulating the carrying of weapons, and many specifically prohibit brass knuckles or "metal knuckles". Where they are legal, brass knuckles can normally be purchased online or at flea markets, swap meets, gun shows, and at some sword and weapon shops. Some companies manufacture belt buckles or novelty paper weights that function as brass knuckles and are sold "for entertainment purposes only".[21] Brass knuckles made of hardened plastic, rather than metal, have been marketed as "undetectable by airport metal detectors".[22] Several states that ban brass knuckles also ban plastic knuckles. New York's criminal law statutes list both "metal knuckles" and "plastic knuckles" as prohibited weapons but do not define either.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frost, H. Gordon (1972). Blades And Barrels, Six Centuries Of Combination Weapons. Foreword by Leon C. "Red" Jackson (1st ed.). El Paso, Texas, USA: Walloon Press. OCLC 1106930.
  2. ^ Mihelić, Marija (18 February 2012). "Zabranjeno oružje - idealan dar: kupite bokser za samo 350 kuna" [Prohibited weapons - an ideal gift: buy a boxer for only 350 kuna]. Novi list (in Croatian). Rijeka, Croatia. ISSN 1334-1545. Archived from the original on 13 June 2013. Retrieved 11 February 2013.
  3. ^ "Anlage 2 (zu § 2 Abs. 2 bis 4) Waffenliste" [Appendix 2 (to Section 2, Paragraphs 2 to 4) list of weapons]. Waffengesetz (in German). Berlin, Germany: Bundesministerium der Justiz. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014. Abschnitt 1: [...] Verbotene Waffen [...] Der Umgang mit folgenden Waffen und Munition ist verboten: [...] 1.3.2 [...] Schlagringe
  4. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Dublin, Ireland: Department of Justice and Equality. Archived from the original on 23 March 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Act 1958 (Revised 1988)". Putrajaya, Malaysia. Archived from the original on 17 April 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2022 – via Commonwealth Legal Information Institute.
  6. ^ "Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons (Amendment) Act 2014". Archived from the original on 4 August 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Real Decreto 137/1993, de 29 de enero, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento de Armas" [Royal Decree 137/1993, of January 29, which approves the Weapons Regulation] (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain: Archived from the original on 18 September 2022. Retrieved 20 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Yasak Ateşsiz Silahlar" [Prohibited Non-Firearm Weapons] (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 17 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  9. ^ "Controlled and Prohibited Items Under Police Licensing and Regulatory Department" (PDF). Singapore. p. 11. Retrieved 18 Jan 2018.
  10. ^ a b 槍砲彈藥刀械管制條例 [Firearms, Ammunition and Knives Control Ordinance] (in Chinese). Taipei, Taiwan. Archived from the original on 9 August 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Knives, offensive weapons and the law". London, United Kingdom. 11 November 2015. Archived from the original on 25 March 2022. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Knuckle dusters". Archived from the original on 23 October 2017. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
  13. ^ "NSW Police Force - Firearms Registry Schedule 1 - Prohibited Weapons Prescribed Safe Storage - Reference Clause 35A of the Weapons Prohibition Regulation 2009" (PDF). Sidney, New South Wales, Australia: New South Wales Police Force. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 February 2017. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
  14. ^ Department of Justice Canada (16 September 1998). "Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (SOR/98-462)". Part 3: Prohibited Weapons, §15. Former Prohibited Weapons Order, No. 8. Archived from the original on 16 September 2022. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  15. ^ Department of Justice Canada (1985). "Part 3. Section 91.". Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c. C-46 ). Retrieved 29 May 2007.[dead link]
  16. ^ Canada Border Services Agency (19 January 2022) [17 July 2002]. "D19-13-2 Importing and Exporting Firearms, Weapons and Devices". Ottawa, Canada. §43: Brass knuckles. ISSN 2369-2391. Archived from the original on 1 September 2022. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  17. ^ "Décret n°95-589 du 6 mai 1995 relatif à l'application du décret du 18 avril 1939 fixant le régime des matériels de guerre, armes et munitions" [Decree No. 95-589 of May 6, 1995 relating to the application of the decree of April 18, 1939 establishing the regime for war materials, weapons and ammunition] (in French). Paris, France: Légifrance. §B, 4th category, paragraph 1. Archived from the original on 10 February 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2022. Tous objets susceptibles de constituer une arme dangereuse pour la sécurité publique, et notamment les ... coups de poing américains...
  18. ^ Pocket Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2005. ISBN 978-0-19-861071-7.
  19. ^ Федеральный закон от 13.12.1996 N 150-ФЗ (ред. от 14.07.2022) "Об оружии" [Federal Law No. 150-FZ of December 13, 1996 (as amended on July 14, 2022) "On Weapons"] (in Russian). Moscow, Russia. 13 December 1996. Article 6. Restrictions on the circulation of civilian and service weapons, §1, paragraph 4. Archived from the original on 6 September 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2022 – via Консультант Плюс [Consultant Plus].
  20. ^ "Zakon o oružju i municiji" [The Law on Weapons and Ammunition]. (in Croatian). Archived from the original on 22 March 2022. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  21. ^ "14,000 Brass Knuckles Found Disguised As Belt Buckles". Local 6 News. WKMG-TV. 11 April 2006 [10 April 2006]. Archived from the original on September 27, 2008. Retrieved 8 November 2008.
  22. ^ Wei, Ben (6 July 2007). "New Undetectable Weapon Could Slip By Security At Airports This Summer". New York, NY, USA: ABC News. Archived from the original on 8 May 2017. Retrieved 18 September 2022.
  23. ^ "Consolidated Laws of New York Ch. 40: Penal Law, Part 3, Title P, Firearms and Other Dangerous Weapons, Article 265.01". New York, NY, US: New York State Legislature. Paragraph 1. Archived from the original on 15 August 2022. Retrieved 18 September 2022.