Martial Arts
Posted By Matthew

Pirate vs Knight

We’ve experienced some crazy matchups before on Deadliest Warrior, but this one offers a very unique spin. Pirate vs Knight – who will it be?

So far your brave host (me!) is 2/2 – two correct picks after two rounds. I selected the Samurai to victory two weeks ago, and the Spartan to come out on top last week. Can I do it again? Can YOU do it again?

Let’s have a look at the contestants.

In this episode, a medieval knight is pitted against a classical pirate. What that means is each fighter will get their most well known weapons put to the test, run through 1,000 simulation battles, and ranked one superior to the other.

You can never be sure which weapons the hosts will choose, but most of the time they cover what is generally considered most popular and most effective. That brings us to the one, big, giant issue that is going to be raised in this episode –


In a lot of people’s minds, including mine, the one pivotal factor is going to be the effectiveness of the pirate’s gun. At long range, the knight utilized a crossbow; deadly in it’s own right, but nothing compared to the range and impact of a gunpower fueled firearm.

In order to properly consider the impact of the pirate’s gun, we have to look at both the kind of gun used and the kind of armor the knight will be wearing.

In the picture above, we can see that the knight is given a fairly healthy array of armor. Full helmet, shield, chainmail, and plate seem to be in play. While cumbersome, this will be the only real saving grace the knight has against oncoming bullets.


To try and figure out if the armor will hold up, let’s consult some info from wikipedia:

“By the 16th century the handheld firearm became commonplace, replacing the crossbow and longbow in all advanced armies, and known as the arquebus. Most infantry were pikemen[7] Armour 2 mm thick required 2.9 times as much energy to defeat it as armour 1 mm thick.[8] The need to defeat armour gave rise to the musket proper referring to a heavier weapon, firing a heavier shot, which had to balance on a rest. The initial role of the musket was as a specialist armour piercing weapon; it therefore coexisted with the arquebus over the period c. 1550 – c. 1650. who normally wore some armour, especially the front ranks, and gave protection against cavalry to the arquebusiers. The rise of firearms led to thicker and heavier armour, from 15kgs in the 15th century to 25kgs in the late 16th century.”

Very clearly a musket would be able to penetrate armor; however, it is almost certain that the Deadliest Warrior pirate will not be using a musket. The musket needed to be balanced on a rest and used in a stationary fashion – the one-on-one duels inacted in the show are all done ‘on-the-fly’, without either warrior getting a chance to set up before the encounter.

If given an arquebus, the pirate could potentially run into trouble. If the knight is given heavier armor (like in the 16th century), he should be capable of withstanding arquebus gunfire.

That leaves the most likely and most controversial gun – the flintlock pistol.

Easily carried (and concealed), the flintlock pistol was a mainstay for pirates.The good thing about the flintlock is that it has good stopping power. Even as a pistol it has a fair chance at penetrating knight armor.

The bad news is that it’s not terribly accurate and you only get one shot before you have to go through the reloading process. The knight may not be the most agile creature in the world, but if the pirate happens to miss…


If the pirate is given a flintlock pistol and it hits most of the time in the simulation, the pirate has a great chance of winning. However, if the inaccuracy becomes a big factor and the pistol misses a lot, the knight has a real advantage.

After the pistol issue is bypassed for whatever reason, the knight is substantially better equipped and trained to fight hand to hand. The knight’s weapons are strong, durable, and effective. The pirate’s cutlass offers little against a shielded and armored knight.


What a difficult choice! So much is hinging on one factor; this decision is much different than in previous episodes. After all is said and done, I think the knight is going to pull it off. There is just too much emphasis on the pirate’s one shot for him to win the bulk of the 1,000 matchups.

What do you think?