The Mongol warriors were masters of a very small selection of weapons, and they focused inparticular on becoming supremely adept with mostly two primary weapons, one ranged weapon and one close quarter weapon.
At range the weapon of choice was synonymous with the Mongol warriors, the composite bow and arrow. With this weapon the Mongols were able to keep the attack steady from distance, pick off enemies from mid to close range and all while riding the stocky Mongol horses that afforded them speed and manoeuvrability while firing off arrows.
Up close the Mongol warrior would draw the weapon they made famous, the curved sabre. With this one handed sword the Mongols were able to slice while on horseback or on foot. The curved blade made slicing actions much easier and was much more effective and faster than a traditional thrusting action.
Of course, the Mongol warriors didnt limit themselves to just these two weapons, but these were their go-to choices. We will cover these and much more when we explore all the options of the Mongol armoury.
Considered the primary weapon of the Mongol warrior the composite bow was as essential tool for every troop. The bow was so popular with the Mongol warriors that a horse rider would carry two or three bows in case one was dropped while riding, allowing the warrior to continue firing arrows.
The construction of the bow itself was rather complicated, and it’s important to note that the name of the bow, composite actually means the bow was produced from a variety of materials. The Mongols used local materials like animal horn, from a yak or a bull, a lightweight but strong wood, and animal sinew all glued together to create a strong and flexible bow. This composite bow that was capable of storing large amounts of power, more in fact than much larger traditionally made longbows.
The ammunition for the Mongol composite bow, the Mongol warriors were of course fastidious about the creation of their arrows. For warriors so dependant on their projectile arrow attacks. Arrow length was typically up to 100cm or 40 inches, and the arrows would be tailed with bird feathers to ensure good flight.
The Mongols created multiple types of arrows also, suitable for different foes and for different occasions. The standard arrow was built for general use, perfect for un-armoured or lightly armoured foes. The more time consuming to build but more deadly was the armour piercing arrow. This arrow would be constructed like the standard arrow but the metal would be tempered allowing it to pass through light metal armour or make light work of heavy fabric or leather armour. The final types of arrows were the specialist ones, flaming arrows and signalling arrows.
The Mongol warriors sword of choice was the sabre, a one handed curved blade thought to have been assigned to all Mongol warriors. The Mongol sabre was lightweight and agile and much easier to wield than a standard straight sword. The biggest advantage for the Mongol warriors was how the sabre was highly suitable for land and horseback use. Being a one handed weapon the warriors would have been able to keep control of their steeds while making swings at their foes.
The Mongol sword was fashioned from iron forged into steel, the handle often incorporating a guard, protecting the wielders fingers in the event of a clash or strike while in combat. The sabre itself is thought to have been created by the Mongols and the other inhabitants of central Asia. Later the curved shape would be copied numerous times by many civilisations and empires, testament to the use of the sabre in many situations.
For newly recognized Mongol warriors, the spear and lance were your friend. Much cheaper and easier to produce than a sabre, the spear was the default weapon for new entries to the Mongol army. In combat the spear could be used as a ranged weapon, but more likely was kept to arms, used to spear and pierce foes while on horseback or on foot.
Despite being considered nomadic people, the Mongols had a long history of metal working and forgery. The birth name of the mighty Genghis Khan is actually taken from the Mongol word for iron, either an allusion to his future will, or in reality an indication that the Mongols were a civilisation of iron smiths. This allowed the Mongols to fabricate their swords, arrowheads and spears, providing them with a ready supply of weaponry, but not every warrior would get a sabre right away. New entries to the Mongol warrior family would start off with a spear as a primary side arm, giving them close range attacks and projectile with one weapon.
The jewel of the Mongol warriors armoury was of course the composite bow and arrow. The Mongol warrior would be expected to become not only proficient but an expert with this weapon. Firing arrows from horseback or foot, while stationary or while in travel the Mongol warrior would wield this weapon with grace, poise and deadly force.