Pirates’ Combat Skills

Pirates' Combat Skills

During the Golden Age of Piracy, it was essential for every pirate to have great combat skills due to the nature of their business. While seizing a ship was occasionally a simple task, it often required pirates to get creative in their hand to hand combat in order to gain control of the enemy. Thankfully, there were several weapons available in those days that made fighting a much easier and more comfortable affair. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular weapons that helped improve the combat skills of pirates:


One of the weapons most synonymous with pirates was the sword, and the cutlass was a particularly useful type of sword. The cutlass features a curved shape that is perfect for slashing through just about anything, from canvas and heavy ropes to the wood that constructed a ship. The cutlass is also light and short, which made it a top choice for pirates who often found themselves engaging in combat in tight spaces on small ships. It was perhaps the most essential weapon in a pirate’s arsenal as it required no reloading and would never run out of ammunition the way a gun eventually would; the sight alone of a pirate wielding a sword was often enough to intimidate their targets into surrender.


No pirate ship was complete without some cannons on board. Although they required at least four men to load, aim, fire and reposition, these deadly weapons were definitely terrifying for anyone within their range. A cannon could launch an iron ball between 700 and 1,000 yards until it blasted into its target, tearing down masts or turning wooden ship pieces into lethal splinter missiles.


This compact, multipurpose knife was as useful at the dinner table as it was during a massacre. Easy to maneuver, a dagger was designed to inflict major damage, with a crossbar that protected the hand from the blade and also doubled as a shield from an opponent’s sword blade. When battling against a cutlass, the user could block the strike of a blade while diverting the cutlass away, giving them a chance to wield their dagger with an effective blow.


When all else failed, a pirate could always depend on the built-in weapons that were with him at all times: his fists. While it wasn’t ideal when going head to head with an armed opponent, a clever fighter could outwit his enemy, armed with a weapon or not.

Without a doubt, pirates earned their fearsome reputation with their formidable combat skills!