Collection: Riveted

Riveted chain mail by Zeughaus


Riveted Chain Mail

Chain mail is rightly, as hardly any other armour component can claim, the symbol of knighthood of the Middle Ages. Accordingly, its status in LARP, show combat, and reenactment is high. For many enthusiasts, their chain mail is the first step in what is often a long journey back to the Middle Ages. Its striking appearance identifies its wearer as a fighter and can be combined both with simple textile garb or be part of an extensive equipment set, up to the plate armour.

Two Millennia of Experience

Chain shirts can be traced back to ancient times through archaeological findings. The basic technique has hardly changed in all these centuries. In hundreds of hours of manual labor, a weaponsmith formed iron into wire, which can then be bent into individual rings. Tens of thousands of these uniform rings finally formed chain mail.

European weaponsmiths of the Middle Ages preferred the production of the so-called 4-in-1 chain mesh. One ring each was bent up here and four more were hooked in. In each case, two of the resulting chain segments were in turn connected to another ring, which in turn linked four rings, two of the one and two of the other segment. Segments thus formed, each now consisting of 11 rings, were again linked in the same way, so that chain meshes of any size were gradually formed. With this method, however, only uniformly square basic shapes could be formed. However, by inserting so-called empty rings, at selected points, local widening or narrowing of the braid was possible. Such an empty ring, in turn, enclosed only three neighboring rings. Without creating a visually noticeable change in the structure, individual fits could be created using empty rings and other techniques, such as so-called holes and knots.

In total, the manufacture of a chain mail shirt required not only craftsmanship, patience, and perseverance, but above all experience to achieve satisfactory results that combined an optimal fit and protective effect. Little wonder that in the Middle Ages it was not a matter of mass-produced goods, but of expensive custom-made products, which were reserved for correspondingly wealthy customers.

Unriveted Chain Mail? Luxury for Beginners

The described construction method gives chain mail a great deal of resilience and stability while maintaining the high flexibility of the fabric. Chain mail reliably protects its wearer from sharp blades and lighter stabs. Of course, it is not indestructible. The rings, which give the chain mail its resistance, are at the same time its weak point. Individual rings succumb to high stress in battle or through wear. They can break, but above all, they can bend open at the production-related opening. A blade hitting a single ring can be just as responsible for this as strong traction, for example, by getting caught. Although the failure of individual rings, thanks to the elaborate basic design, inflicts only minor damage on the chain mail as a whole, in the long term, the stress is noticeable, damages its appearance, and impairs its protective effect.


Riveted Chain Mail? Effective Detail Work

The danger of individual rings bending open is the greatest weakness of unriveted chain mail. Even during the Middle Ages, therefore, armourers took extra effort to eliminate this weakness by closing the seam of a ring. The appropriate method for this was riveting. The open ends of each ring were plated for this purpose, placed one on top of the other, perforated, and closed with a wedge or round rivets.

To reduce the enormous amount of manual labor involved in this technique, not every single ring was riveted. To join five rings together, the 4-in-1 method requires only one open ring. Thus, it is possible to make chain mail from alternating rows of riveted and stamped rings without an opening.

Since stamping may have been just as costly with the technical capabilities of the Middle Ages, the only choice for completely historically authentic chain mail is probably between chain mail made entirely of riveted rings or at least half made with unriveted rings.

Authenticity, Quality, and Price

With Zeughaus you will find a wide selection of different chain mail in different fits and sizes. You have the choice between different materials and qualities. We carry both unriveted chain mail as well as fully riveted and those that combine riveted and unriveted stamped rings.

In the first place, the decision for a material and its processing is of course a question of budget. Whether the individual rings are made of stainless steel, aluminum, or even titanium not only affects their weight and resistance but also significantly affects the price. Although you no longer have to carry a noble title to be able to afford the luxury of riveted chain mail, it is still a luxury that you will greatly enjoy in the long run.

If you want to try your hand as a weaponsmith, you will also find all kinds of loose rings, round rings, flat rings,  unriveted, solid, closed, or even with the associated rivets.