What You Need to Fence Rapier

If you’re considering fencing rapier, you’re probably asking yourself what you need. At Second Intent Fencing, all equipment is provided for the Introduction to and Intermediate Rapier classes, except for gloves. (You’ll understand why when you see how sweaty your hands get.) However, once you’ve completed the classes, you’ll want to purchase your own equipment so it’s nice to know what you’re getting into ahead of time. Here’s what you’ll (eventually) need:

Mask: Perhaps the single most important piece of equipment since it protects all those seeing and thinking bits. Pretty much any good quality fencing mask will do. I recommend one with a removable bib liner for washing. Prices vary but you can get a good one for $60.

Jacket: Jackets vary greatly in style and price. You can get a thick tunic-style fencing jacket for around $50, a padded gambeson for $100-$135, or a heavier padded jacket for $220-260. The biggest benefit of splurging on a heavier jacket is that when you progress to heavier weapons like longsword, you’ll save money and bruises.

Chest Protection: While chest protection is important for men, it is especially important for women. You’ll need to purchase something that can go underneath your jacket and protect your chest. I use a modified football rib protector but there are a number of other options for under $40. Remember, the more of your chest that is covered, the better.

Gorget: Some people try to skip a gorget, but if you really want to be safe you need one for rapier. They aren’t that expensive (I like this one, for $55) and I can tell you from experience, one solid thrust to the larynx and you’ll realize how important they are.

Light Fencing Gloves: For rapier, you don’t need heavy gauntlets, but you do need something to protect your hands. Get a pair of light fencing gloves for $25-$50. I prefer leather gloves with padding on the back of the hand and forearm.

Rapier: While club weapons are available for use, there’s nothing quite like a rapier that’s made for you. Rapiers can vary greatly in options, price, and quality, so when you’re ready to purchase a rapier, you should talk to your instructor or someone who has purchased them in the past with some solid research. While it is largely a matter of preference (guard style), and body type (blade length), if you’re going to invest anywhere from $160 to $500 in a rapier, you want to be sure you get what you want.

Purchasing equipment can be overwhelming. While some dive in head first and buy everything they need, most people will acquire the most important items first and the rest over time. There’s nothing wrong with this method and, in fact, I would recommend it. Buying items this way allows you to gain some experience so that when you do make a purchase, you get the right item and save money by avoiding unnecessary or inferior equipment. SIF club members have access to all club equipment on a first-come-first-served basis so you’ll never fight unprotected… you just might have to wait your turn.

For links to suppliers we have worked with and had a positive experience with in the past, visit our Equipment Resources page. For more information on the Introduction to Rapier class, visit our class page.

"Furthermore, please note that every motion of the sword is a guard to the knowledgeable fencer, and all guards are useful to the experienced man; conversely, no motion is a guard to the ignorant, and no guard is effective for someone who does not know how to use it."
Nicoletto Giganti