Today the word spear probably first brings to mind images of primitive tribesmen carrying crude weapons. That impression is more a legacy of old Tarzan movies than an accurate reflection of history. Spears and tridents do go back to our beginnings as hunter-gatherers, but their use was anything but primitive. The spear in its advanced form was the primary force on the ancient battlefield until the advent of efficient firearms.
Hunting and fishing spears are uncommon today, but a few good choices are still around. Replica spears are more easily found, with some clearly made only for display, and others of functional quality. Most are not made for throwing — throwing spears were light and flexible as well as expendable. Spears made for close combat are a stiffer and heavier design. The pike, one of Europe’s most feared versions, reached lengths of 22 feet and was tipped with iron or steel. Modern spearheads could match the quality of the old versions, but finding a 22 foot shaft of straight grained ash would be a real challenge. Today the wood is harder to find than the steel.
Spears evolved in many different ways in different cultures. In Europe, spearheads combined spear tips and light ax blades; in Japan the naginata blended spear and sword. China’s artisans developed many specialized pole weapons — like the Kwandao or horse cutter and the combat trident called the tiger fork. A top quality modern version of any of these old weapons, built with real combat level materials and craftsmanship, is a rare find.
The Viking Throwing Spear is a beautiful historically accurate piece, and light enough to be practical for modern people.
Tribal warriors use their spears as knives, and so can you. Our choice for best spear is the SOG Fusion Spirit.
If you’re looking for a practical hunting spear, try the Cold Steel Assegai, Cold Steel’s version of a classic Zulu design.