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Metal armour – Care & Tips

Metal armour - Care & Tips

Metal armour has become an indispensable part of Fantasy-Larping. A real plate armor or a chain mail are not only impressive pieces of garment, they also protect efficiently against injuries both within the game, and in reality.
To keep your armour intact for a long time, there are of course some care instructions to follow. We want to deal with these here.
There are also a few safety instructions and „rules of conduct“ that regarding metal armor and should be considered if you want to wear metal armor during a Larp convention.

But enough of the introduction – Let’s take a closer look at the forms of metal armor.

Chainmail Armour

Chainmail armour

Chainmail represents a special form of metal armour. The first chain mail shirts date back to the 4th century b.C. and were found in Celtic tombs. Since then chain armour has started an extreme triumphal march through antiquity up to the late Middle Ages.
A chain mail shirt absorbs blows with swords excellently and reduces the risk of an arrow hit. It was very time-consuming and expensive to manufacture and was therefore mainly used to protect knights, higher soldiers and nobles.

A disadvantage of chain mail is that the weight lies very much on the shoulders. Therefore soldiers always wore a robust belt to redistribute a part of the weight to the hips. However, a chain armour was only able to stop a battleaxe, mace or a bolt shot to a limited extent. Therefore chain was often worn with a padded waistcoat, the so-called Gambeson.

Of course, chain mail shirts are also an integral part of Larp armour. A lot of Larp characters use this quite comfortable armor variant. Mercenaries, soldiers, warriors or Vikings will often be seen in chains.

But what do you have to consider when you get a new chain mail?

How do I oil down my chain armor?

Chain armour (except chain made of aluminium) normally arrives with a thick layer of oil and is therefore unwearable. It must be stored in such a way, so that it does not rust in the bearing. But of course it can’t stay that way, so here are some tips on how to get a chain mail or other chain armor parts oiled to a compatible “ wearable “ size.

  1. Take a lot of kitchen roll and rub the chain mail coarsely to absorb most of the oil grease beforehand. You can even wrap it in kitchen roll and let it „soak“ for a few days.
  2. If that’s not enough, get yourself a plastic or metal tub (not the bathtub if you want to use it ever again!) that can get dirty and fill it with hot water. A big bucket will probably work, too.
  3. Put the chain mail shirt inside and take plenty of gall soap or detergent and let it work for about 30 minutes.
  4. Roll the chain mail properly in the water (it is recommended to wear gloves.) Drain the dirty water and repeat the process until you feel the grease is almost gone.
  5. The chain mail shirt should be oiled down now so far that it is wearable. But it is still wet. Take an old towel and rub the shirt roughly dry. Then hang it up to dry and put some newspaper or towel under it because it will drip dirty.
  6. Then the chainmail is ready to wear. It should be oiled again quickly, preferably with WD-40 or Ballistol.

How do I store & maintain my chain armor?

A chain mail shirt that is worn regularly needs almost no care. The rings rub against each other when worn and almost rub off self-adhesive rust. However, if you want to store your chain, you should place it in a special fabric bag and spray it lightly with WD-40 or Ballistol. From time to time you can shake the bag a little and move it so that the grease is well distributed and the chain mail remains supple.
Chain armour that has been neglected for too long will almost inevitably rust. Galvanized or aluminum chain scaffolds have the advantage that they do not rust and are also not delivered in grease. They are ideal for „chain novices“, as aluminium is also much lighter.

Of course there are also ways and means to let your chain armour rust artificially. Especially some orcs might feel addressed here. Salt and vinegar cleaners work wonders with all too new chain mail shirts. Vinegar Essence is perfect for removing zinc from galvanized chain parts. Many a crazy orc should even throw its chain into the fire to get it properly rusty (including handburns when getting it out). Of course we can only advise against such barbaric practices.;-)

Plate armour

Plate armour

Anyone who thinks of metal armour will probably first see a plate armour in his mind’s eye. Protecting your body with a layer of formed metal in war is an ancient idea that dates back to the Bronze Age and the ancient Greeks. They were already so good at it that they could adapt the metal to the shape of the body.
The heavy Greek infantry, the so-called hoplites, used shaped muscle plates as armour. Throughout antiquity, including the ancient Romans, breastplates and plate armor parts were in use. The Lorica Segmentata is probably the type of armour most closely associated with the Roman legion, although chain mail shirts were more common among the majority of soldiers.

In the Middle Ages, mostly chain or scale armour was worn until an invention of the High Middle Ages made plate armour important again. In the 11th century the crossbow found larger spreading on the battlefield. Its bolts had an unmatched penetrating power that chain armor could not stop. The development of the long bow also meant that the protection of a chain in war was no longer trusted. And so the plate armor experienced its rebirth.
Gradually the techniques and mechanisms of the plate became more and more sophisticated and around the 14th century the first full armour was seen among nobles on the battlefield. But these were rather rarity, because only in Europe full plate was manufactured by so-called „plattners“ and even there only rich people could afford such pieces of armour. Even aristocrats and knights were often not able to afford it and continued to use the chain or individual plate parts as armour.

Of course, plate armour was also made in other cultures: Persians, Mongolians, Turks and Indians used braids of warp and plates, or lamellars, which were knotted together from individual small metal plates and also the Japanese Samurai armor was a form of the lamellar armour.

In Larp and especially in Fantasy Larp there is of course some stylistic mixing going on and you can see plate armor more often than it would have been the case historically. But also here a trend towards a certain „realistic“ track is gaining ground and many larpers spend a lot of time looking at their character’s archetype epoch and choosing his armour accordingly. Larp lives from the cliché and if you want to be recognized as a Viking or Roman, you should also walk around with the appropriate garment, weapons and armour. Nevertheless, there are no limits to your imagination when choosing your armour. It may also simply look good. We hope you enjoy explaining why your Viking wears a Lorica Segmentata.;-)

How do I remove the oiling from my new plate armor?

A plate armour arrives just like a chain mail oiled well. Most of the time it is much faster to get it clean, just rub it off with WD-40 or Ballistol and an old cloth.

What do I do with rust?

Of course, rust is annoying and not always a desired effect, even if orcs may now shake their heads without understanding. Generally, dull armour parts are more susceptible to rust than polished armour because they offer more surface in which rust can settle. Ultimately, the best way to destroy your armor is to expose it to moisture more often and not rub it dry afterwards. Especially wet grass works real rust wonders.

If you have rust where you don’t want it, you can use a rust remover, which is best suited for blank but not for polished armour. Olive oil also works wonders in rust control, but should be removed thoroughly and even Cola can work against rust due to the phosphoric acid it contains.

A very good and traditional care and rust protection agent is milking grease. It lays a good protective film over armour parts, does not stink and does not attack latex parts like WD-40 or Ballistol. Linseed oil is also suitable.

How do I store and maintain my armour?

Two golden rules apply here: Dry and lightly greased or oiled, it is best to store your plate. And if its rusty somewhere, you should remove it before storing the armour.

Special forms of plate armour


A brigantine is a special form of scale armour. Externally it looks like a riveted vest, which is mostly made of strong linen, wool or velvet, but from the inside it is reinforced with metal plates. In the 14th century, for example, this form of armour came up and became more and more popular among soldiers and warriors.


A lamellar consists of many individual plates which are laced together. This form of armor is typical for oriental armor or armor of the Far East. Rus warriors, Saracens, Mongols and Samurai resorted to this form of armor because of its simple manufacture and comfortable way of wearing.

Padding material for metal armour

Padding for plate armour & chainmail

Inseparably connected with metal armour is the necessary upholstery. We always recommend to wear appropriate padding under metal armour. This not only looks better and more authentic, it also protects the skin against pressure and abrasion. In addition, a metal armor can become very hot, especially in summer. If you don’t plan on cooking yourself, it’s a good idea to put a layer of padding between yourself and the metal.

A good Gambeson is actually obligatory for a chain mail, as well as a plate armour, without wearing metal armor quickly becomes a torture. And it also protects against hits in Larp.

Warnings and useful tips

A metal armour should never hang in the blazing sun. It doesn’t necessarily harm it, but you just can’t put it on properly once it’s heated up. Heat is actually a problem in summer when you wear metal armor. That’s why well-padded insulation material is important, as is drinking a lot.

Wearing metal armor brings a lot of responsibility for your fellow players with it. You have to be careful how you move in battle, because collision with an armed body can cause serious injuries. So you should be aware that you are covered with metal and not throw yourself wildly at other players. Even if they wear armour too, you should be careful.

A sharp-edged metal armor is a no-go. You don’t want to find spikes and tips made of metal in Larp. The risk of injury is simply too high. If you want sharp or pointed applications on your metal armor, these should best be made of upholstery foam or leather. There are also materials such as Worbla, which can be used to create a deceptively genuine metal armor, but are much lighter and safer. With such materials, chaos warriors and orcs can fullfill their dreams in armor design without paying too much attention to the danger potential.

With all these tips & and tricks nothing stands in the way of wearing metal armour on the battlefield anymore, we wish you happy combatting.

Your Team from Andracor

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