Banded mail - in the sense that it is commonly used - is something of a misnomer. For a start, it typically doesn't involve any mail at all. Generally this is the name some fRPGs use for segmented plate armour with the segments lying horizontally - as, for example in the lorica segmenta of the Roman legionaries from the Augustan era onwards. Historically this style was used by other nations as well - the Indo-Persians and the Haysadani also used a form of banded armour for arm protection that consisted of a sleeve of overlapping rings. To avoid the misnomer, using the term banded armour may be a better idea.
Almost certainly easier to mass produce than mail, although whether it provides the same protection is in doubt. Banded armour is also more tolerant of poor quality raw materials and may or may not be easier to wear and maintain. Despite the widespread use of lorica segmenta the Romans never entirely phased out other forms of armour, so that in itself may be an indication of something significant.
Hoplologists use the term banded mail to refer to actual mail that has been stiffened by weaving leather thongs through it for greater impact protection. This was apparently common in mail collars, how widespread it was elsewhere is open to some debate.
Game and Story Use
- However you use it, this armour will make people think of the Romans (if worn as a cuirass). Might as well give up and use it for that then. Very few people have heard of Haysadan.
- As noted, historical banded mail is something completely different and confusion may result in some contexts.