I'm doing some research into the weapons of Dungeons and Dragons, and one of them is a 'light' hammer that you can throw. The description says it weighs 2lbs, if that helps narrow it down. I don't think throwing is the primary intended use, but it is very much supported by the rules.

I know about Meteor Hammers, and throwing sticks like the Rungu or Iwisa, but I'm not interested in those because they are outside of medieval Europe. I couldn't find any instances of warhammers or similar being thrown on Wikipedia, or from googling and I don't know where else to look.

Was anything like this ever done in real life medieval Europe, at least commonly enough to have been recorded?

  • 5
    IMHO this question is on-topic here. However, if you don't get a good answer, you might consider asking on the martialarts.se site. In my experience they take their history seriously over there, and they do care about traditional European martial arts.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 10, 2021 at 14:13
  • 2
    The most famous thrown weapon during the Middle Ages was the francisca, an axe. And it seems it was used just before engaging the enemy hand-to-hand, to break the shields. I don't think a hammer would be able to do that, so the cost (losing your hand weapon) would be greater than the benefits (a concussion or a broken facial bone with an extraordinary lucky hit?). Sep 10, 2021 at 14:55
  • 2
    The problem that often crops up in these sorts of discussions is the matter of intended use vs. improvised use. Given how common hammers would be, in all areas, during the middle-ages, it would be very surprising if they didn't crop up on a battlefield. Likewise, it would difficult to imagine that in all the battles that were fought that was never an occasion when someone threw a hammer at an opponent. How often that had to happen for someone to craft a weapon intended as a "throwing hammer" rather than a hammer that just happened to be throwable would be an interesting question in itself.
    – Steve Bird
    Sep 10, 2021 at 15:45
  • 1
    @CarlosMartin - Worse, it looks like every reference has a completely different definition.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 10, 2021 at 15:58
  • 1
    Though I'd think that if it were used as a thrown weapon, one wouldn't want it to then possibly be just picked up by the enemy and then used against the attacker. Most weapons, I'd think, would probably want to be designed to not be able to be more than single use implements, just to prevent the enemy from getting free weapons after initial use.
    – Milwrdfan
    Sep 10, 2021 at 20:36

2 Answers 2


No. Why throw a blunt object, if you can just as easily throw something far more deadly, like a throwing axe, a dart or even a knife? The Francisca throwing axe was a signature weapon of the Franks.

If you really want to throw something blunt, better use a rock. Just as effective and much cheaper.

Warhammers had a very different purpose. You need to wield (not throw!) them, to inflict serious damage. They worked very well against armour. A warhammer was a close combat weapon. Throwing one was pretty much useless.

Don't forget, hammers (usually) have metal heads. Metal was expensive until at least halfway during the Middle Ages.

And lastly, warhammers were mainly used by cavalry, almost always as a secondary or backup weapon. They would charge with a lance or sword, then switch to a warhammer when in close combat. (A lance wouldn't work in close combat.) It was not used by infantry, they had different weapons to work with.

A warhammer was a weapon that needed specialized training. Most infantry didn't have a lot of training. D&D is a fantasy game. A real warhammer was a relatively light weight slender weapon, definitely not a huge weapon as often depicted in D&D.

preposterous unwieldy large hammer

A real warhammer was very much like a modern claw hammer, with a longer handle, and one sharp end. In fact, a modern claw hammer would make a very good warhammer.

enter image description here

  • 2
    What you say makes absolute logical sense, but I'm reluctant to accept without some notion that we've tried to prove the negative, even if just by lack of evidence? Sep 11, 2021 at 10:14
  • 5
    soldiers also typically carried only 1 war hammer after you throw it then what?
    – ed.hank
    Sep 11, 2021 at 13:54
  • 4
    @ed.hank: The other side throws it back of course: and one gets to practice "hammer catching". Sep 12, 2021 at 5:21
  • 2
    @jwenting Actually, if you add a loop through the hole of the hammer, it will be considered as a weapon in The Netherlands. You are allowed to have such a hammer in a toolbox, but if you happened to have one in your car, it is an illegal weapon.
    – Jos
    Sep 13, 2021 at 10:11
  • 1
    @Jos thank you for your service. I wanted to join the air force but was rejected during my conscription medical 35 or so years ago on health reasons.
    – jwenting
    Sep 14, 2021 at 7:10

If you really want to throw something blunt, better use a rock. Just as effective and much cheaper.

I'd like to do an extended comment on this bit from Jos's answer. It's on the right track, but we can take it further. There are much more efficient ways to hurl a blunt object than a warhammer.

A hammer is, effectively, a rock attached to a handle. The handle on a hammer provides leverage to give more torque to the "rock" on the end and hit things harder. Same with a throwing hammer, the handle lets you throw the "rock" harder and further.

But as Jos points out, this is rather expensive, and rather heavy to haul around. What if we could take the general concept of a handle to throw a rock and make it cheaper?

You get the sling. A piece of rope acts as the "handle" to throw a rock. Cheap, deadly, universal.

enter image description here

Going back further there was the spear-thrower, which can just as easily throw stones.

enter image description here

It doesn't say that people never used throwing hammers in combat, but it does explain why they're not prevalent. Why throw the whole weapon when you can just throw the rock?

  • 3
    This is interesting side-knowledge, but not really relevant to the question? Sep 13, 2021 at 16:14
  • 5
    @Pureferret This is a reason why they weren't common. The answer to "why didn't they use cool looking weapon X" is often because boring old Y was more efficient, and warfare is about efficiency. Like I said, an extended comment.
    – Schwern
    Sep 13, 2021 at 16:16
  • Another reason you forgot was that a hammer isn't exactly a well balanced piece of kit when it comes to weight distribution, making it have a rather unpredictable trajectory when thrown.
    – jwenting
    Sep 14, 2021 at 6:44
  • @Schwern, I thought about that, and didn't add it. Why? Because the question is specifically about HAMMER throwing. Not about throwing missiles in general. I fully agree with your answer, though in this case it's a bit off-topic.
    – Jos
    Sep 14, 2021 at 7:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.