National Weapon

"Did you see those warriors from Hammerfell? They've got curved swords. Curved. Swords."

Just as cultures might have an iconic Battle Cry attached to them, often they will have a weapon that has a similar status. Sometimes it will have a religious or magical significance; it might for instance be a copy of a blade that was Forged by the Gods. Perhaps it typically has a Badass Creed engraved on it. Or maybe it is simply hard to imagine them fighting without it, and even if it becomes obsolete it is impossible to imagine this group parading without it because it has a symbolic status that goes beyond its functionality. As Tropes Are Flexible, this does not have to be a whole culture's weapon; it can be the weapon of any group: say, an order of Warrior Monks, or a Caste or a Secret Circle of Secrets, or a gender. The point is that the weapon is so much connected with a group that it serves as a logo as well as a weapon.

Likely to be wielded by a Proud Warrior Race. If the weapon in question is a physical part of an alien race's anatomy then see Natural Weapon.


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  • Discworld
    • Based (as always) on Tolkien, the dwarfs consider their battleaxes cultural artifacts, and will not part with them even when circumstances require them to bequeath all other weapons (at a diplomatic function, for instance; in The Fifth Elephant Vimes reminds himself that a dwarf with an axe slung across his back is "politely dressed" rather than "heavily armed"). In Thud! we are introduced to a more liberal sect of dwarfs who do not carry these, believing that the axe is "a state of mind". It helps that they've invented kung fu ("It's like using an axe, without the axe").
    • The dwarfs also have their iconic bread.
    • Trolls also have clubs, to a lesser degree (a ceremonial club was a minor plot point in Thud!).
    • In Jingo, 71-Hour Achmed, a Klatchian, is allowed to attend a diplomatic function with a scimitar almost as large as he is because it's cultural.
  • In Dune, crysknives (made from the tooth of a Sand Worm) are sacred to Fremen.
  • On Gor a few Fantasy Counterpart Cultures have trademark weapons.
    • The Wagon Peoples of Southern Gor have the quiva, a set of throwing knives. They also use the bola and lance from kaiilaback.
    • Torvaldslanders (Vikings) have the battleaxe
    • Tribes in Darkest Gor use the "stabbing spear."
    • The Alar (kinda-sorta Roma) have the francisca, an ax different than the Torvaldslanders.
    • Tribesmen in the Tahari desert (Arabs) have the scimitar.
    • Red Savages (Native Americans) have the tomahawk, as well as the war lance they use from aiilaback (a different species of kaiila than the Wagon Peoples use).
    • The caste of Peasants, the lowest caste on Gor, have the quarterstaff and longbow, which are looked down upon by the caste of Warriors but can be quite effective.
  • Dwarves use axes in Lord of the Rings.
    • Also based on Tolkien is the association of Elves with bows, which is less supported by the original mythos (Tolkien's Elves are good with bows, but for the most part they prefer swords).
    • Orcs use scimitars.
  • The Aiel in Wheel of Time use knives and bows, but prefer the short-spears, and will not touch a sword under any circumstances. This is revealed as a plot point in the backstory, as there is a specific reason for this reluctance. Also, Two Rivers folk are known for their very effective use of the longbow.
  • In The Elenium, soldiers of Lamarkand are known for using crossbows. Although the technology is widespread, it's use is monopolised by them to the point that whenever someone is assassinated by a crossbow bolt, everyone assumes a Lamark was responsible.
  • There are exceptions, but in Redwall, otters traditionally carry slings and javelins, while squirrels are usually archers. Some one-time enemy groups have trademark weapons, such as the rats in Mattimeo which are invariably armed with short spears. Hares are all armed with lances in one book, with pikes in another.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the warriors of the nomadic Dothraki have the arakh, a curved form of sword, as their favorite weapon.

     Live Action TV  

  • The Minbari Denn'bok in Babylon 5.
  • Star Trek:
    • The iconic Bat'leth functions as this for the Klingons.
      • The Mek'leth short sword too for Klingons though it is not quite as iconic.
      • Ditto for the d'k tahg daggers.
    • Interestingly Vulcans, though no longer a Proud Warrior Race still use Lirpas—short polearms with fan-blades at one end and bludgeons at the other, similar to the Chinese monk's spade—in ceremonies.
  • The High Guard force lance in Andromeda.
  • The Goa'uld have their troops wield staff weapons in Stargate. The System Lords themselves use Ribbon Devices that can project force fields and melt people's brains. They also have zat guns that can stun/kill enemies and pain sticks for torturing prisoners.
    • The warriors of the Ori use weapons remarkably similar to the Jaffa staff weapons.
  • In Farscape, Luxans have Qualta blades, which are mainly used as swords. However, they can quickly be opened into fully-functional pulse rifles. D'argo once has to prove his identity with his ancestral Qualta blade... except he has just thrown it away in a fit of rage.

     Tabletop Games  

  • Dungeons & Dragons has several weapons associated with non-human races, such as the orc double-axe and gnome hooked hammer. Characters from those races treat their exotic weapons as martial for weapon proficiencies. Deities grant proficiency with their preferred weapons to their clerics and are the manifestation of their spiritual weapon spell. Clerics without a patron deity manifest a spiritual weapon based on their alignment.
    • In the Eberron setting there are several. Elves favour double-bladed swords, the Qualitar have long knives and triple-bladed boomerangs, Dakhaani hobgoblins have unusual heavy single-edged swords, and Talenta halflings have more traditional boomerangs.
  • Aslan in Traveller actually use claws in duels, both real and sporting. A human who is Going Native with them, or just wants to be polite uses a pair of artificial claws called Ayloi.
    • While not a national weapon as such, the Imperial Marine cutlass is a symbol of the Imperial marines.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Each faction has one.
    • Imperial Guard: Lasguns and Leman Russ tanks.
    • Orks: Choppas and sluggas.
    • Space Marines: Bolters and chainswords.
      • Their Chaos Evil Counterparts instead use chainaxes.
      • The Emperor's Children favor sonic blasters.
      • The Death Guard have plague swords.
    • Eldar: Shuriken catapults.
    • Tau: Pulse rifles.
    • Necrons: Gauss rifles.
  • In BattleTech, all of the main factions have their own "signature" Humongous Mecha, though the Scavenger World nature of the setting means that other factions will use those assets if they manage to steal or salvage one.

     Video Games  

  • In Fallout: New Vegas, The tribes in the Honest Hearts DLC each have a signature weapon: The Whitelegs use .45 Submachine Guns, the Dead Horses use War Clubs, the Sorrows use Yao Guai Gauntlets, and the New Canaanites use .45 pistols.
    • In the same vein, every legionnaire has a machete and a few throwing spears, every NCR trooper carries his semi-auto rifle, and the NCR veteran rangers all carry their own Ranger Sequoia.
  • In Command and Conquer: Red Alert, there are two each for the Allies and Soviets: Tanya and the Chronosphere for the former, Apocalypse Tanks and the Iron Curtain for the latter.
  • Command & Conquer: GDI and Nod have theirs as well: for GDI, its the Mammoth tank, Orca, and the ion cannon. Nod have their stealth units, flamethrowers, and nuclear missile.
  • In WildStar Both Orders of the Swordmaidens, the Cassus and the Torine, wield swords that are never replaced, and are reforged only upon the death of the owner.
  • World of Warcraft had "Weapon specialization" racials for certain races, as a result of this. Humans had Sword, Hammer, and Mace specialization, Orcs had Axe and Fist weapons, Dwarves had Guns, Hammers, and Maces, Trolls had throwing weapons, and Gnomes had Daggers and Shortswords.
  • The source of the trope's page quote, scimitars are typically only found on Redguard from Hammerfell in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Although it certainly provides the operator considerable protection from most conventional attacks (including small-arms and single-shot rifle fire, as seen in one CGI cutscene), the Magitek Armor (and its variants) bears a considerable array of offensive abilities in Final Fantasy VI, serving as the iconic weapons of the Gesthalian Empire.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the individual city-states of the Eorzean Alliance clearly favor certain weapons over others and are associated such almost exclusively: bows and spears for Gridania and their Wood Wailers; muskets and battleaxes for Limsa Lominsa and their naval marines; scimitar-like swords for Ul'dah and their Brass Blades.
    • Magitek and gunblade-style weapons appropriated from other entries in the series are iconic to the Garlean Empire, as well.
  • The chainsaw-bayonet affixed to a Gear's rifle in Gears of War almost certainly bore national associations for the COG - until, of course, all of the COG's member nations were annihilated by the Locust Horde.
  • In Halo, the Elites have their energy swords, while the Brutes have gravity hammers.
  • The early Suikoden games showcase the Holy Harmonian Army, who almost exclusively make use of crescent-bladed halberds in battle.

     Real life 

  • Boomerangs for Australian Aborigines.
  • Claymores and dirks for Bonnie Scotland.
  • Japan
    • Katanas Are Just Better for samurai. This association is actually Newer Than They Think: traditionally, samurai were equally associated with bows and spears, with the katana serving as a backup weapon. The association with swords was played up through romanticized tales of wandering ronin challenging each other to duels during the Edo period.
    • The naginata started as a samurai weapon, but when they were obsolete, they were kept as home defense weapons and became associated with samurais' wives.
    • Shuriken for ninjas.
  • Kukris for Nepal, famously with the Gurkha soldiers.
  • Longbows were once this for the English and the Welsh (they even continued to use them while other nations adopted early firearms), to the point that the longbow design which all of Europe used is known as the English or Welsh Longbow (despite it not being the native bow of either nation). One not known quite as much today was the bill, a polearm, derived from the billhook (an agricultural tool) with a broad, hooked chopping head and usually a spike on top; the combination of longbow fire and billmen was positively devastating. The English used the combination to greatest effect in the 1513 Battle of Flodden Field (often considered the last great battle in the British Isles fought primarily with medieval weapons),note  where 26,000 English armed with bills and longbows under Catherine of Aragon (yes!) defeated 30-34,000 Scots armed with supposedly more modern pikes under James IV (who became the last English or Scottish monarch to die in battle).
  • Bow and arrows for Koreans. Preferring long-distance attacks over hand-to-hand battles, Koreans were famed for their archery from the ancient to modern times (even today, South Korea always excels in Olympic archery).
  • Composite bows for Mongol horse archers.
  • Ancient Dacians used the sica (literally "sickle") which the Romans named falx as their sword of choice. It had been originally an agricultural tool like the Kukri and therefore most adult Dacians were familiar with it and most Dacian household were expected to have at least one on hand. The shape made for swinging also allowed devastating cutting blows on the unarmored limbs of the opponent.
  • The Greek hoplite shield was not primarily offensive, so was possibly "armor" rather than a weapon.note  However, hoplites regarded their spears as expendable but treasured their shields; in fact, the word "hoplite" comes from the Greek hoplon, which means "shield." Proverbially, a soldier was expected to come back with his shield or else on top of it (i.e. how his comrades would carry his body home). The key point was that, when standing in the battle line, the shield on your left arm protected your comrade, not you personally, so dropping it and running away was directly endangering the lives of your fellow soldiers and citizens.
  • Short spear (Assegai) and leaf-shaped oxhide shield for Zulus.
  • The Sikh Kirpan dagger, which Sikh men are mandated to carry as a symbol of their obligation to defend one another.
  • The Kris of Indonesia and Malaysia.
  • The rapier and left-hand dagger for Spain, though the flip knife is a later example.
  • The bolo of the Philippines.
  • The Irish shillelagh.
  • The Finns have their puukko knives - quite unremarkable 4- to 6-inch, plain, single-edged, usually wooden-handled utility knives. These knives have proven to be the ultimate appliance for everything from crafting and cooking to eating and solving disputes with irritating neighbors for the past 500 years or so. And running.
  • The flag of Mozambique sports an AK-47 with bayonet attached.
  • The pike and, to a lesser extent, the halberd for the Swiss.
  • The Franks used the francisca throwing axe at the beginning of each battle, a weapon so ubiquitous to them that there's speculation if the weapon was named after them, or vice versa.
  • The Saxons may have been named for their signature weapon, the seax knife or sword. Three of them still appear in the coat of arms of Essex (land of the East Saxons) in England.
  • Sweden has a couple:
    • During the Middle Ages there was the swordstaff. A crude polearm made by simply attaching a sword to a spearshaft or a long stick. Closely associated with miner and peasant uprising, particularly those instigated by the Dalecarlians.
    • During the time of the Swedish Empire there was the "kommendervärja" (commander's rapier). An exceptionally long and heavy rapier forged by the swordsmiths in Vira village and used by officers in the Carolean Army.
  • The United States has a few national weapons, but it's safe to say that the handgun is currently the foremost among them. A lot of this has to do with two things: the first being that the United States is virtually the only country in the world with no specific restrictions on the ownership of handguns and its status as a celebrated icon in American cinema.
    • The Pennsylvania Long Rifle was this for Appalachian frontiersmen and Revolutionary irregulars.
    • The revolver (six-shooters) and/or Winchester rifle for American Cowboys.
    • The M1911 .45 automatic pistol designed by Mormon gunsmith John M. Browning of Ogden, Utah is the official firearm of the state of Utah.
    • The M1 Garand rifle was a weapon the US Marines didn't want, due to a plethora of false rumors that sprang up during its acceptance tests. Then they got to try a few of them out on Guadalcanal. The M1 was the first semiautomatic rifle adopted for general issue by any nation, and was accurate, powerful, reliable, well-balanced, just as suited to bayonet fighting as shooting, and is generally considered superior to the contemporary Russian SVT and German Gewehr-43. The Marines loved it so much that ever since 1954, every enlisted Marine above the rank of PFC wears a silhouette of two crossed Garands on his rank insignia. The Silent Drill Team also uses beautifully chrome-finished Garands as their ceremonial weapon.
      • Millions of surplus Garand rifles have been sold on the American civilian market through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. They are extremely popular among civilian shooters and collectors, rivaled only by the AR-15 and possibly the Winchester lever-action family of rifles as the iconic American rifle.
    • The distinctive black polymer furniture on the AR family of rifles (M16/M4/AR-15) has labeled the United States "The Black Rifle Nation."
    • The Bowie knife of the American frontiersman.
    • The baseball bat. Then again, the United States is one of the few places where someone might own one just to play baseball.
    • The tomahawk and the gunstock war club among Native American/First Nations peoples of the Northeast and the Great Plains. Due to their occasional use by colonial militia and Continental Army soldiers, tomahawks were seen as the first quintessentially American weapon. Since then, American troops—especially those of Native American descent, but also ones of pretty much every background under the sun—have occasionally brought tomahawks with them in pretty much every war Americans have fought in.
    • Also, drones!
  • The AK family of rifles used by the Eastern Bloc, to the extent that there are still debates over which is the better gun. To sum up, the M16 is more accurate and has a longer range, but the AK is much more durable and reliable, being designed to be simple to produce and to fire under any conditions.
  • The Brown Bess musket and later the Lee-Enfield rifle were once almost as much emblems of the British army as the red coat.
  • The jezail used to be a favorite among Pashtuns. It is an unusually long musket once used for sniping. It went out of style when local tribes first took to the Lee-Enfield and later to the AK-47 and modern sniper rifles.
  • More like National Armor than weapon, the unofficial emblem of the Romanian Army since 1938 has been the Dutch Helmet, based on the Dutch M28 and M34 steel helmets. It was adopted back in the late 1930s for some reason, and due to local production and German shipments of captured Dutch equipment during World War II, became ubiquitous enough to remain in production during the Communist years and saw regular use until the mid-1990s.
  • Several Arab nations have sabers and other curved swords on their flags and various political symbols. The most notable is Saudi Arabia, which features a slightly curved sword on its flag and two crossed slightly curved swords under a palm tree as its national symbol.
  • There's a damned good reason that Sicarii means "dagger-men".
  • The ancient Chinese had their own unique weapon, the ge or "dagger-axe", that looks somewhat like a halberd but is quite different in origin.
  • Daneaxe, as you might suspect, have been associated with Danish vikings.
  • The Romans had the pilum javelin. Starting as an Etruscan weapon, the Romans adopted and perfected its design and use, making it something truly devastating and their trademark weapon.
    • Even more than the pilum was the gladius shortsword. The sword that conquered the world in Roman hands, it was the weapon of the legions, a gladius and shield combination, discipline, and good old fashioned numbers are the 3 key factors of the Romans being the massive military power that they were.