Chainmail and plate were the most renowned armor sets through the center Ages. However, a many of people don’t recognize the key differences between these armaments.

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When comparing this two types only security is considered, yet there are a lot an ext aspects that we should take a look at at.

This article will clear up the myths bordering plate and also chainmail once and also for all.

Chainmail can not be pierced through swords and also axes. Key armor meanwhile protects versus all usual medieval weapon varieties except the arquebus. Yet maille to be used an ext commonly since it to be cheaper and quicker to produce. The weight and the flexibility these armor types offer is identical. The selection boils down to wealth and also the level of defense required.

Table that Contents

Chainmail VS key Details

Plate and also Mail Armor Comparison

This table highlights every the differences and similarities between mail and plate armor.

This table only takes right into account the best kind of every armor. The is riveted mail and custom-made bowl armor forged from hardened steel.

A in-depth discussion the every solitary property is appended thereafter.

Mail ArmorPlate Armor
TypesRiveted (best) Welded ButtedHardened stole (best) Soft Steel
ImperviousnessImpervious versus swords, axes and also some polearmsImpervious versus all medieval weapons except arquebus.
Shock AbsorptionNoneImpact distributed throughout plate
Effect arming swordTraumaSlight Trauma
Effect longswordSevere traumaTrauma
Effect acute taper swordPiercesSlight trauma
Effect spear thrustPiercesTrauma
Effect polearm/axePierces or severe traumaSevere trauma
Effect bowPiercesSevere trauma
Weight15-25 kg (33–55 lbs) for complete mail15-30 kg (33–66 lbs) for full plate
ComfortBad. Uneven weight distributionGood. Load equally distributed
ManufacturingEasy however tedious.100 daysDifficult yet fast.14 days
Price60 days’ salaries of artisan60 days’ wages of artisan
Durability and MaintenanceHigh durability and easy repairHigh trust but daunting repair
Other benefitsCan be concealedGood come march inBetter ventilation

Chainmail VS key Details

So now that we have a great overview, let’s take it a deeper look at the miscellaneous differences in between plate and chainmail.



There space three types of letter armor. That is riveted, butted and welded mail. The chosen linkage type makes a tremendous difference in protection.

Butted and also welded mail can be penetrated by practically all weapons. On the other hand, riveted mail is the way higher quality and offers good protection versus sword cuts, axe strikes and also even some polearms.

Because the other two mail varieties are for this reason inferior, us will only talk about riveted mail from currently on.

In regards to plate armor types, ns am not referring to the countless designs, but rather to the steel used.

For simplicity, we will categorize key armor right into soft steel and hardened steel.

Soft steel describes metal with a low carbon content that wasn’t tempered. Top top the other hand, hardened steel has actually a greater carbon content and was tempered, thus has actually a way higher hardness.

Munitions-grade (mass-produced) plate is far worse 보다 its tailor-made counterpart (the distinction is even greater than v the mail linkage types).

As the differences between plate armor are rather big, I desire to clarification that ns am referring to custom-made hardened stole plate armor in this post.


Mail is highly resistant against swords, axes and some polearms. Other types of weapons prefer spears and bows deserve to penetrate maille.

Plate armor provides optimal protection versus every typical medieval weapon form except gunpowder arms.

Swords, spears and bows aren’t able to pierce it. However, matchlock firearms can penetrate plate.

But also if mail and also plate can not be pierce through some tools that doesn’t mean that they reason no damage!

Next, we will certainly talk around the shock-absorbing ability of plate and mail, complied with by the effect of selected tools on these armors.

Shock Absorption

In terms of shock absorption, bowl armor is far better than letter armor. The rings of chainmail no able to appropriately distribute the impact energy the a weapon.

For this reason, a longsword strike may already be enough to incapacitate a mail wearer, together the attack causes severe trauma and bone fractures.

On the other hand, plate armor excels in ~ distributing assault energy across the entire steel plate, for this reason strongly reducing impact force and also mitigating pain.

But also if plate armor is impervious and also offers an excellent shock-resistance the enormous power developed by polearms or bows is tho able to cause fractures and damage inner organs.

Moreover, the form of key armor facilitates the deflection that incoming assaults to more reduce the impact.

This isn’t the case with chainmail, due to the fact that it adjusts come the body perfectly, thus producing flat and even surfaces.

Effects of certain weapons


Before we take a look in ~ the security level of these armor types I have to mention that the best means to defeat a mail or key clad adversary is striking at areas that aren’t spanned with armor (e.g. Head or joints).

In the regard, swords are quite efficient by employing approaches such as half-swording or mordhau.

An often-underestimated weapon is the dagger. Even though it transaction no damages to either armor the accuracy and agility make it effective at stabbing unarmored body parts.

But currently let united state compare the results of the following six middle ages weapons top top plate and mail armor.

Arming Sword

Cuts indigenous this weapon don’t deal any kind of substantial damage come targets put on plate or letter armor. Together discussed above plate is better at distributing the shock.


Longswords room big, heavy and also used v both hands. Therefore, the strike build up more force.

An enemy soldier wearing only mail armor will experience a many pain. However, a longsword slash isn’t able to pierce maille.

A knight extended in plate will certainly feel much less pain as it is mitigated by the shock resistance the armor kind offers. Obviously, a longsword can’t permeate plate.

Sword through acute taper

Swords with an acute taper are able to pierce maille. The estoc is a sword through a an extremely acute taper and also was specifically designed to pierce letter armor. Its point is so thin the it gets in-between the mail rings and splits them indigenous the inside.

Plate armor can’t be pierced by the estoc. The thrust will reason a slight trauma, nonetheless.


A spear thrust pierces chainmail, however only bruises a plate wearer. The point of most spears fits within the ring of the chainmail, because of this it have the right to shatter them. A soldier wearing bowl armor will endure trauma and get part bruises through the spear thrust.


A soldier put on chainmail will suffer a serious shock after a Dane axe strike.

Stronger tools such as the glaive or pollaxe have a opportunity to break the rings that riveted mail through sheer force (even if it no pierce the defender will certainly feel a the majority of pain due to the force of the punch alone).

Plate armor can’t be penetrated by polearms and also axes, however the strikes carry out lots of damages regardless. A way more an effective strike is forced to incapacitate a plate wearer 보다 a target clad in mail.


While these weapons certainly pack a punch and also can puncture letter armor, a many more pressure is needed to pierce plate.

A bodkin arrow requires 120 J of power to pierce mail armor. A longbow with a attract weight that 140 lbs had the ability to generate around the required 120 J. So, there is no doubt mail deserve to be penetrated by a solid bow.

Of course, a crossbow is even better. According to steps from Payne-Gallweya a siege crossbow with a draw weight the 1200 lbs deserve to generate approximately 200 J.

On the other hand, penetrating plate armor with a bodkin arrow requires 260 J of pressure (16th century Nürnberg infantry armor, keeled, 2.5 mm thick, shot at 45° angle).

Even though the crossbow bolt doesn’t pass through plate armor its impact definitely reasons internal damages (but isn’t lethal together would probably be the instance with mail).

Sidenote: A cartridge would require 1250 J to pierce plate. That is easily achievable v a regular arquebuse.

As this component of the post about projectile damages is fairly controversial/unknown here is the source. (The Knight and also the Blast heater byAlan Williams, pages 919, 943, 946-947)

Now we extended one more aspect that this topic and are closer to comment the plate vs chainmail question. Let’s relocate on.



Chainmail armor is heavy. A full set of letter weighs approximately 15 to 25 kg (33–55 lbs). A letter coat is referred to as hauberk and weighs around 10 kg (22 lbs).

Mail leggings (chausses) have a massive of 5 kg (11 lbs). The coif (headpiece) adds another 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs). A pair that mittens or gauntlets weighs around 1 kg (2.2 lbs).

It is reasonable to intend a full collection of chainmail to sweet 19 kg (41.9 lbs) top top average.


A full set of bowl armor weighs in between 15 and 30 kg (33–66 lbs). The massive of bowl armor suits different strongly from collection to set. Some armors were incredibly light and others rather heavy.

The breastplate and backplate weigh around 3.5 kg (7.7 lbs) each. The helmet (e.g. Burgonet) weighs 3 kg (6.6 lbs).

The tassets (upper-thigh cover) have actually a mass the 1 kg (2.2 lbs). Both cuisses and also knee armorweigh 3 kg (6.6 lbs). To the comes the massive of the two greaves and sabatons that 3 kg (6.6 lbs).

The security of arms and hands is another 5 kg (11 lbs). The gorget (throat protection) weighs roughly 1 kg (2.2 lbs).


The wear lull of letter armor is fairly low. This is due to the fact that its weight is unequally distributed.

When wearing mail armor most of the mass rests on the shoulders. This reasons pain and fatigue if worn for a lengthy amount that time.

This effect is mitigated by the use of stomach belts. Lock transfer component of the weight to the waist hence increasing comfort, yet still not completely solving the problem.

Custom-made bowl armor is very comfortable since the weight is equally distributed across the body.

Munitions-grade bowl armor meanwhile doesn’t to the right the wearer perfectly and therefore has poor comfort.


The wearer of letter armor is completely flexible. No motions are hindered. Another benefit of mail is that it can cover all body parts, because of its tiny ring size.

Plate armor doesn’t decrease the range of movement. The wearer is still totally agile and no combat abilities room restricted.

An archer attract a full set of plate would absolutely have a difficult time shooting his bow due to the fact that of the gauntlets and pauldrons. (but this is just a theoretical limitation as archers largely wore irradiate armor)

Hence, mail and plate armor are on same footing in regards to flexibility.



A middle ages craftsman required in between 600 and 1000 hrs to complete a letter hauberk. That method it bring away him approximately 100 job to finish the product.

If we think about that such a knee-length mail shirt consists of 25,000 come 50,000 individual links this timeframe provides a bit an ext sense.

The key manufacturing services of mail are that it can be created easily and doesn’t require a expert smith. So, mail shirts have the right to be forged by apprentice armorers.


When forging plate armor accuracy is that utmost importance. Therefore, a skilled smith had to create such armaments. Yet the production time was typically very short. In the middle periods it took about 14 days to build a full set of bowl armor.

Proper smithing and also high-quality steel were critical when forging bowl armor. Otherwise, weak spots would be created, due to locations with thinner metal or regions with a greater slag proportion.

Furthermore, setup up a smithy for plate armor requires a lot of resources as big furnaces space needed.



Throughout the Middle eras chainmail to be cheaper than plate armor. only at the end the this duration the balance started to shift in donate of plate.

This change was caused by the rise of better manufacturing methods speeding up the procedure to forge plate armor.

It is really an overwhelming to to compare prices of this armor types, because there are very few sources and also their quality was topic to large fluctuations.


The Ghent archives state the the price of a short mail tunic in the 14th century (1304) was around £ 15 Flemish (in the city Bruges).

At the time, a soldier earned on average three shillings a day. So, to buy a mail hauberk the would need to set aside 100 days’ wages.

That is a lot given that the functioning year had approximately 240 days. (The art of warfare by Verbruggen, web page 171)


The English soldier Sir john Cressy payment £ 6 because that a finish Milanese bowl armor which he purchased for his squires in 1441.

My main resource assumes a daily wage the 1 s, because of this it amounts to 120 days’ wages. However my research concluded that the day-to-day wage the a grasp artisan or soldier was approximately 0.5 s (6 d).

That would typical that a human being needs to set aside 240 days’ wages in order to afford a high-quality complete plate armor. (Wages and also prices in England in the later on Middle ages by Schreiner, page 63 – The Knight and the Blast heater by Williams, pages 904, 907).

The prices of plate and also maille in Iserlohn (Westphalia) offer a fully different perspective. In 1437 one fit of plate armor to be 4.3 Rheinische Gulden each.

50 years earlier the price that mail shirts was 4.6 Gulden per item in the same city. Throughout that time the wage of an artisan was around 18 d.

Therefore, 57 and 61 days’ earnings were required to pay for the respective armor. (The Knight and the Blast heating system byAlan Williams, page 910 – Löhne und Preise von 1300 bis 2000 by Pies, page 18)

Here is a website that likewise contains price of various other goods

This website helps you convert Middle period currencies

Durability and also Maintenance

Chainmail has actually a very long lifetime contrasted to every other historical armor types. Furthermore, the was very easy to maintain and clean.

Another advantage is the broken rings can be replaced easily. It to be even possible to do this in the ar if you had some currently punched rings, rivets, and a hammer through you. No heater is forced to connect them together.

The trust of key armor is very good. Cleaning it is straight forward. However, repairing the armament is tedious and requires expertise. To repair a pierced plate armor a heating system is needed too (penetration might happen early to malfunction or production error).

Other benefits

With chainmail a human being can additionally opt come conceal the armor simply by wearing an additional piece of clothes on peak of it.

Mail armor likewise has the benefit that that is better to march in than plate. This no necessary because of weight, flexibility or comfort, yet rather as result of the truth that chainmail offers exceptional ventilation.

Walking about in full plate armor during hot weather will gain intolerable rather quickly. Maille is better suited in that regard (but is still far from perfect).


There room a lot of of elements where either mail or plate fares better. In the end, the choice of a soldier comes under to the specific situation, choice (and wealth).

A lot of world assume that the main advantage of letter is the it offers higher flexibility and is an ext comfortable. I hope this short article showed the this certainly is not the case.

The benefits of mail include a lot of of tiny advantages that most people don’t stroked nerves thinking about like ventilation and also price.

Furthermore, the feudal system’s affect on the soldiers’ equipment shouldn’t be neglected. Logically, a noble that is compelled to provide an army wants to save money and also therefore goes through the cheapest an option possible.

Yet I need to admit that plate armor provides way far better protection versus attacks than mail (and this is the main duty of armor).

However, underestimating the protective capabilities the chainmail would be stupid.

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Mail can not be penetrated through swords and also was incredibly popular throughout history, so it definitely is one of the finest (pre-modern) armor species even despite it is inferior to plate.