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FAQ on Ring Mesh shirts as rapier armor

Greetings unto the rapier fighters of Northshield from your friendly neighborhood KRM!

There have continued to be questions about the Ring Mesh chain shirts a number of people use for rapier and C&T armor, so I thought I would address the most common queries all in one place.

Q: Does my Ring Mesh shirt have to be drop tested?
A: Yes. It is treated just like any other piece of puncture-resistant material that is not factory rated to resist 550N or higher. This means it needs to be tested before the first time you bring it out on the field, and then at least once every two years after that.

Q: Should we use a drop-tester to test the armor? Isn't that more likely to fail the mail due to the tester's design?
A: The drop-tester is the default armor tester in Northshield, so that is what you use. It's recommended that you place some fabric or other padding between the testing flange, the mail, and the clamp so as not to stress or bend the rings. As for the tester failing mail more often, that hasn't proved to be the case. After speaking with KRMs across the known world, it is more common for mail to pass the drop test than fail it. But as every piece of armor is different, we still have to test them all.

Q: If my mail fails, what can I do to make it pass?
A: First, fix the hole you just made. After that, we've found that even a single layer of fabric either over or under the mesh often solves the issue. Note that, per Society rules, Spandex, Lycra, Under Armor, and other similar stretchy materials *cannot* be used as one of the testing layers with *any* p-r rapier armor, mail included.

Q: Is there an approved way to fix my Ring Mesh shirt?
A: As with any other kind of p-r material, the manner of repair is up to you as long as it passes any subsequent test. Using jump rings, patching the area with another section of mesh, sewing another kind of p-r material over or under the hole/gap, are some examples of possible fixes.

Q: I heard somewhere that I shouldn't wear my mail as my top layer of armor. Is this true?
A: That's up to you. However, I will note that Darkwood Armory (who have been selling these shirts for a long time and know a bit about metal work) strongly recommend the people wear at least one layer over the mail (even if its a tabard) to prevent rings from being caught by weapon tips or the like, which can cause the welds to separate & thus weaken the mail. No one is going to make you cover up you shirt, but considering how much they can cost, it might not be a bad idea in general.

Q: What about the Ring Mesh hoods? Are they legal?
A: As long as they provide proper coverage and pass a drop test, yes.

Basically, the long and short of it is that Ring Mesh shirts, contrary to popular wisdom, don't automatically pass as puncture-resistant material based solely on their design and material. We still need to treat them like any other piece of rapier armor, and that means they need to be tested. If you haven't had your mail shirt tested prior to this, you need to do it before you next take the field.

I will be at Coronation with my drop-tester this weekend and will be happy to test anyone's armor who needs it. Otherwise, check with your local rapier marshal to see who can perform the test for you.

I remain, in service,

Simon Morcar, KRM

Other missives from the Kingdom Rapier Marshal
Posted by: Simon Morcar Kingdom Rapier Marshal on 9/8/2016

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