Obviously flint and similar stones are much more fragile than tool or weapon quality bronze and steel, but while writing I find I don't actually have any idea what this means in practice.

I use steel tools every days, so I have a decent intuitive understanding of how different steep alloys and designs can take different types of use, but I have absolutely no idea what the abilities of stone tools are.

Basically, I want to know how long a stone weapons can last, while being in regular use, if it is properly treated. Are they almost certainly one battle tools? Or is that only a possibility? Are they reliable weapons if there isn't metal armor? Or would a trained fighter still break his axe if he makes a slight mistake?

  • $\begingroup$ Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking. $\endgroup$
    – Community Bot
    Mar 4, 2023 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ I mean, it's all fragile eventually. But I'm more asking about flint axes knives and spears I guess. I kinda assume that blunt weapons would be made of more common stone. Iirc, the main advantage of flint is that it can be so sharp, not that it's so common. $\endgroup$
    – user102593
    Mar 4, 2023 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ You're asking far too many questions for a single post. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Mar 4, 2023 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ "Stone weapons" is a broad category - it can include sling bullets, spears (thrown and thrusting) with stone or flint heads, axes with flint heads, stone daggers, the Aztec macuahuitl, even big rocks thrown by siege engines. Possible targets include unarmoured humans, humans with hide shields, humans with bronze/iron/steel/kevlar armour, humans or aliens in power armour with/without associated forcefields... You need to pick a weapon (I would suggest spears) and pick an enemy/target specification. Otherwise it needs a book-length answer, which is outside this site's scope. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2023 at 12:36
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    $\begingroup$ Is this the information you're looking for: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/60123/… $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2023 at 0:28

2 Answers 2


Flint is sharp but brittle. It's slightly more durable than kitchen glasswear. A microlith projectile point will go through skin and tanned leather, but won't reliably penetrate any form of metal armor.

You can expect a flint arrowhead to shatter if it hits stone. You can't form flint into anything resembling a sword, although you can make a wooden sword with a flint edge. Flint on flint impacts will almost always destroy an edge.

Once a flint edge is damaged, it might be impossible to re-shape it into something useable. It takes a lot more skill to fix a damaged flint edge than it takes to re-sharpen a steel or bronze weapon.

In response to the "one-battle weapon" concept, a stone knife can do a lot of killing and skinning. With a stone arrowhead, it's always a gamble when you let it fly, but they were treasured and conserved. It's probably doomed if it hits rock, and even bones can make one snap. Stone axes were apparently tougher, but I wouldn't think it would last long against metal armor.

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    $\begingroup$ A flint axe will be absolutely destroyed by metal armor, after only a few hits its just a club. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Mar 5, 2023 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much. This is very helpful $\endgroup$
    – user102593
    Mar 5, 2023 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ Let's not forget the Macuahuitl, which worked around the "fragile stone" problem it's no big deal to replace a single stone in one. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Mar 5, 2023 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ Even iron or steel arrow tips might be "single-use" items during a battle, because there most probably isn't a smithy around for you the straighten out bent arrow tips. $\endgroup$
    – Dohn Joe
    May 4, 2023 at 15:44

Using stone tools mostly means being more careful with the tool and not using one tool for everything.

A lot depends on what you are doing with it. A stone knife can be used a lot, you just need to be more careful with it. The extreme sharpness actually helps reduce wear, but after a month or two of using it every day you will need a new blade. Or what often happens, that knife gets used more for things were sharpness is less important, and you make a new one for skinning or the like. It is hard to describe how much difference that sharpness makes in use, the first time I used one I almost cut my hand open because being used to a steel knife I expected way more resistance than it had.

A flint axe has a very different type of blade but will need care after cutting down any tree of size, but can be sharpened in a few minutes. A flint scraper could last for one use of years depending on what you are doing with it.

in war a single battle weapon is fine, flint bladed weapon either use flint that can be easily replaced (macuahuitl or spears) or are treated as single use (arrows) and any extra uses you get are just bonus. Also a dull or chipped flint blade still cuts really well as a weapon, a weapon does not need to be that sharp.

You can find a lot of videos of people using stone tools I suggest watching some of them.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I really appreciate the help $\endgroup$
    – user102593
    Mar 5, 2023 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ Primitive technology is a great YouTube channel for seeing tool development $\endgroup$
    – PipperChip
    Mar 5, 2023 at 21:09

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