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Pugio (dagger)

Original "Leeuwen" Dagger

Like other items of legionary equipment, the pugio was undergoing some changes in the 1st Cen. AD. Generally, it had a large, leaf-shaped blade 7" to 10" long and 2" or more in width. A raised midrib ran the length of each side, either simply standing out from the face, or defined by grooves on either side. The tang was wide and flat initially, and the grip was riveted through it, as well as through the shoulders of the blade.


1uidbrian_stobbs4About 50 AD, a rod tang was introduced, and the hilt was no longer riveted through the shoulders of the blade. This in itself caused no great change in the appearance of the pugio, but some ot these later blades were narrower (under 1¾" wide), and/or had little or no waisting, and/or had reduced or vestigial midribs.

Construction Techniques

Throughout the period, the outline of the hilt remained basically the same. It was made with 2 layers of horn or wood sandwiching the tang, each overlaid with a thin metal plate. The hilt plates were almost always iron, often thin sheet but sometimes solid. There is apparently no evidence that the hilt plates were ever cast out of brass or bronze, as on many reproductions. Occasionally the hilt was decorated with engraving or inlay. Note that the hilt is 4" to 5" long overall and that the grip is quite narrow — it will always seem to be too small, and even the solid iron ones will not be very heavy. Also note the distinctive "hour-glass" shape of the center swell — it is the natural result of the slightly domed or conical swell being intersected by "gabled" grip. A similar effect is seen at the pommel and guard.

Good Repros

For good pugiones (pl.) "right out of the box," Deepeeka's model AH3264A, Leeuwen Pugio Dagger is a great copy of the real Leeuwen model (not perfect, but close) pugio to get you going and is inspired by the real "Leeuwen Dagger." Also good, with very little work, is the Roman Pugio - AH3264P...

*Note: In our construction Codex, we will have some directions to both "accurize" the Deepeeka models, along with some notes on building better scabbards.

Some examples of original pugione

Check out this site with really GREAT shots of original pugio scabbards:

Legio IX Hispana


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