A different type of stab-safe spear / modular heads

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Over the past-few years we’ve seen the introduction of stab-safe spears into the NZ larp community. These have been built according to UK specifications, with a collapsible, open-cell foam head which dissipates the impact, along with leather to prevent the core punching through. We’ve had a bunch of these imported via Saxon Violence, and Michael B-T has been making them for Saga.

I learned of another type over facebook today, from Germany, which simply has a flexible head, with a core that stops a lot further back (and, as best I can tell, the usual protections to stop punch-through). There’s a short video here (in German):

Interestingly, you can also get these as part of a modular polearm set, which allows you to switch heads and turn your spear into a halbard or glaive. It works by having a metal screw and socket arrangement halfway down the shaft, which looks to be well-protected by foam when assembled. There’s a picture here.

It looks like an interesting design, and I’d love to hear if anyone has encountered them (@Reanna?)


Just a correction- I made a couple of prototypes based on the UK specs, but these haven’t shown up at Saga, the ones that did were Ben Burrows builds. One day I might finish the one I have in the workshop. :slight_smile:

I like the idea of the breakdownable pole, but I do wonder how strong the joins will end up being after prolonged use, especially the swinging forces as opposed to the thrusting ones.


Apologies - I’d only seen the prototypes and heard they were being made for Saga.

I’m also wondering about the join and whether parrying with a modular weapon will damage it in the long-term. Given the cost, it would be an expensive problem to discover. But if these are in the German market, we’ll eventually get some anecdata about whether it holds up to regular use I guess.


Since I was asked directly… I haven’t seen any of these up close, actually. Spears are rare in general because some games still ban them outright for stabbing and those that are accepted to be safe in all circumstances tend to have fairly floppy heads. So they’re not as cool as they could be…

Most people using polearms have either a staff or something like a glaive or a halberd. In other words, blunt or cutting weapons on a stick.

I don’t know if I’d be comfortable with stab-safe spears either, to be honest. If there was ever an opportunity for somebody to lose an eye, this’d be it, I think.


The best way to get comfortable is to play around with one. There’s a couple in Wellington (and a few more non-stabby spears), and they often show up at games or fight-club.

The heads of the UK models are both large (as in “bigger than an eye-socket”) and very soft. They still tend to be used in a way that keeps them low and away from the face and throat. I still wouldn’t want to take one in the face though. The German flexi ones have a narrower profile and might pose more risk to eyes, though it’d depend on what they’re made of.


Related: Larp Experience has reposted the Odyssey stab-safe guidelines, which had disappeared from the internet;

Good to have them available for future reference.


This design of stab safe spear is pretty squishy at the tip and the heads are pretty big. I’ve been hit in the face with them before and they’re a little annoying but generally no more than that. The design includes a layer of fabric and another of leather on each side of the core to prevent it from being able to break out the side.

For cores, I’ve been using 16mm x 2m rods from Polynet in Christchurch. They’re only $10 per shaft and $13 for shipping.

The biggest challenge making them has been getting a nice finish on the open celled foam part of the weapon. I’m thinking of putting a 1mm layer of closed cell foam almost up to the tip to create a smooth surface and avoid the open cell foam soaking up too much latex. I’ll need a couple of vent holes near the base to keep it safe but I suspect it will end up with a better finished product


How do you do the haft? Wrap it, or sandwich?


I did the first one by wrapping with a single layer of 10mm foam.

The rest were done with pipe lagging. I found a product in Mitre 10 and Placemakers which was 15x13mm medium density foam with adhesive strips in the split. It’s a little fatter than I’d like but works well enough and it fitted over the 16mm cores really well.

I glued the pipe lagging to the head and shaft at the top of the spear then worked my way back down spraying ados into the gap holding it open with my fingers then pulled the backing strips off the adhesive and let it all dry off. Obviously you’ll need disposable gloves for this - nitriles worked well.

I had some issues with latex sticking to the pipe lagging but it was very inconsistent so I’m not sure if it was because of something else that I did. I’ve stripped them down and sanded the top layer off which has also improved the shaft thickness. I’m going to try re-coating them in the next week or so.

Something else I found was that the latex reacted badly with my tap water - apparently this is a problem when your water source is particularly hard.