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Basic Information

In modern usage virtually a synonym for pistol, but more generally a weapon carried as a backup to a fighter's main weapon such as the sword-bayonets issued to infantrymen in the late nineteenth century and often used in their own right as much as as an accessory for the rifle.

Not to be confused with or opposed to small arms.

A medieval knight's arming sword might also be considered a sidearm, as would a Samurai's katana (or arguably the entire diasho).


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Where the provision of equipment is only semi-professional, the sidearm might well be the user's personal property whilst other kit is issued to them. For example a levy of local freemen too poor to be expected to arm themselves might specify that they turn up and bring a backup weapon, their landlord providing the remainder of their kit, so whilst they all get issued helmet, spear and shield their sidearms compose a motley collection of hand axes, bludgeons, seaxes and other dubious things.
  • Likewise, until the late C20 it was quite normal for US soldiers to furnish themselves with a privately acquired pistol as a sidearm, and whilst the US is probably the only nation where an enlisted man could be reasonably expected to have or acquire a pistol, in the early part of the same century, many nations' officers were permitted to choose their own pistol, with the proviso that only one or two selected types of ammunition would be provided and that anyone whose weapon didn't fire it would also need to provide their own supplies at their own expense (although some nations provided an allowance against that cost as well).
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