Weighted-knuckle glove

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Weighted-knuckle glove for the left hand

Weighted-knuckle gloves, also called sap gloves, are a type of weapon used in hand to hand combat. They consist of a pair of ordinary looking gloves usually made of leather or a synthetic material, with powdered lead or steel sewn into a special pouch covering the knuckles, and often the backs of the fingers and the back of the hand. In some designs, this distinctive feature is obvious, while in others it is almost completely indistinguishable from an ordinary glove, allowing the gloves to be worn in plain sight without suspicion.

They are primarily used by security guards and by bouncers and other security professionals where physical combat is expected. In some jurisdictions, weighted-knuckle gloves are prohibited or restricted as dangerous weapons.


The purpose of these gloves in combat is both offensive and defensive. Offensively, the weight of the metal powder adds mass and, by doing so, also adds kinetic energy to punches, back-hands, and other hand strikes. The weighting also distributes the impact in a manner similar to a blackjack, transferring concussive force in the case of a head-strike to cause a knockout. Compared to the use of brass knuckles (which are designed to concentrate the force of a blow in a smaller area to cause more tissue damage), weighted-knuckle gloves are not designed to do so.

However, the primary aim of the gloves is to protect the user from injury. Normally, punches with an unprotected hand to an opponent's head/face will painfully injure the hand in the process, and strikes to the mouth can often result in severe lacerations and possible infection from the opponent's teeth. The layer of powdered metal serves to protect the hand against these injuries while being flexible enough to bend with the glove. With a properly executed strike, a person wearing weighted knuckle gloves can even break glass or concrete without pain or injury.[1]

The gloves also protect the hand from blows inflicted by the opponent, allowing the user to block strikes from blunt weapons such as sticks, bats, or batons. This is especially important in maintaining one's grip on the opponent should they try to dislodge the grip using strikes to the back of the hand. Some designs include a Kevlar lining to add further protection against cuts.


Unlike brass knuckles, weighted knuckle gloves are legal in most areas, as they are generally considered “less-lethal weapons" due to their defensive nature. In some jurisdictions, they may be restricted under more general "dangerous weapons" laws; for instance, in New South Wales they are specifically classified as a "prohibited weapon".[2]

In the United States, weighted knuckle gloves are illegal in the states of Massachusetts[citation needed]. In New York, sap gloves are not specifically denominated as unlawful weapons by state law.[3][4] However, they may be unlawful to possess with intent to use them unlawfully against another.[5]

In the United Kingdom, weighted knuckle gloves are legal to buy, sell and own. Possession in a public place would depend on a number of factors. Section 1 Prevention of Crime Act 1953 creates the offence of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place without "lawful authority or reasonable excuse".[6] An offensive weapon is defined in this section as "any article made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person, or intended by the person having it with him for such use by him or by some other person". Weighted-gloves are not an offensive item per se. Therefore, it would depend on whether the possessor is carrying the item with the intention of using it as an offensive weapon (against a person - intention for use against an animal is not an offence). Consideration would also be given to whether the gloves are sold and marketed as a self-defence tool, or whether they are simply designed as something more rigid than normal gloves to protect the hands. The defence to this section is made on the balance of probabilities (civil burden of proof) that the possessor had "lawful authority or reasonable excuse".[7] The CPS website states: "The courts have been reluctant to find many weapons as falling within the first limb of the definition and reliance should usually be placed upon the second. On that basis, it must be shown that the defendant intended to use the article for causing injury".[7]

See also - offensive weapon law - England/Wales

In the Republic of Ireland, weighted-knuckle (sap) gloves are classified as offensive weapons and are illegal to manufacture, import, sell, rent or loan.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "YouTube - Brick Breaking With Sap Glove".
  2. ^ "Schedule 1 of the NSW Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 - List of Prohibited Weapons - Clause 2(20) - NSW Police Website - Accessed 2014-10-11" (PDF).
  3. ^ "Legislative Information - LBDC". public.leginfo.state.ny.us.
  4. ^ "People v. David, 223 A.D.2d 551, 553, 636 N.Y.S.2d 374, 377 (2d Dept. 1996)".
  5. ^ "Legislative Information - LBDC". public.leginfo.state.ny.us.
  6. ^ http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/1-2/14/section/1 This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  7. ^ a b https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/offensive-weapons-knives-bladed-and-pointed-articles This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  8. ^ Equality, The Department of Justice and. "Frequently Asked Questions". The Department of Justice and Equality.
  9. ^ Book (eISB), electronic Irish Statute. "electronic Irish Statute Book (eISB)". www.irishstatutebook.ie.