Brass Knuckles

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Brass knuckles have always fascinated me.  There’s just something about the odd shape and dubious thought process behind seeking to own them that always awakens my interest.  They are technically classified as a deadly weapon, but if the carrier’s intention is indeed the death of his opponent, why not carry a knife or a taser?  Clearly those weapons are viewed as “too much”, or, “too likely to cause serious injury.”  Brass knuckles are a kinder, gentler deadly weapon.

They almost look like they’re smiling

The second thing that’s always intrigued me is the material these things are made out of: brass.  Why on earth would they decide to make them out of brass?  Don’t “Steel Knuckles” sound more exciting?  What about “Ultra Titanium Knuckles.”  Surely any of these lend a more lasting mystique to the urban defense experience.  Why, then, go with such an outdated metal?

The sad answer is that they’re not really made with brass at all.  They are “brass knuckles” in name alone, and are more often made out of steel or some other generic hard metal.  “So if they’re not made out of brass, where did the name from from,” you ask?  I have several theories.

  1. In ancient times they were actually made out of brass and we still refer to them by this name today purely out of a sense of tradition.  This seemed reasonable at first, but then I remembered that there was never any great “Brass Age” in human development.  If they were called “bronze knuckles” this might be easier for me to believe.
  2. They were invented by a man named “Mr. Brass” and the term “Brass knuckles” is really just his namesake.  I’ve been told this is the story behind the “camel hair brush”, but I’m not sure if what I was told is true or not. You shouldn’t believe everything you read on the Internet.
  3. They were originally called something like “fast knuckles” or “task knuckles” and human laziness and slurring of speech eventually led to their name morphing into the ridiculous form we enjoy today. 

Whatever the history behind these things, I can’t help being interested in them.  You may see no difference in whether dark alley denizens choose to carry switchblades or brass knuckles as they roam the dirty streets at night, but for some reason I do.  Brass knuckles are classier, somehow, and the perfect accessory to any seasonal evening attire.

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