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Made in gb
Ridin' on a Snotling Pump Wagon






How do!

Directly spinning off from the Shuriken thread? Let’s talk chainswords.

If you’ll allow me? Let me frame the conversation. And if you won’t? My thread, my post, nowt you can do about it!

Right. First and foremost. We need to accept that whilst they share some similarities, we can’t really compare real world chainsaws to Chainswords.

For a start, a chainsaw is a tool which, unless you’re mental or very very very angry, aren’t well suited to combat. Yes they’ll mess someone up, but they absolutely are not intended for actual fisticuffs.

Chainswords however? Doesn’t matter which species makes them? They’re intended for combat. And like any dedicated “entire reason for its existence”? We can entirely reasonably infer that they’re suitably balanced. Which, assuming we may have folk unfamiliar, means the hilt is weighty enough that when wielded in one hand, the weight of the bladey danger end is compensated for at the base of the grip.

So far, so good, yeah?

But…..even when designed and balanced for combat, those spinning teeth are quite the issue. At least I think they are. If we delve back into the real world? With a Chainsaw, you let the chain bit do the work. Too much pressure and…well…accidents.

As advanced as warfare dedicated chain weapons might be? That’s still a fundamental issue for the wielded to overcome. And I strongly suspect it’s a martial art unto itself. I mean, it’s a heavy old blade, because moving parts and engine/drive. Not to mention the spinning of the teeth creating physics issues I’m not smart enough to describe.

Now. From my ignorant idiot perspective? I suspect that when actively fighting with a Chainsword (and not just victimising non-combatants, because 40K), the combat may actually be really quite elegant.

See, it’s likely a hefty weapon, even when at least vaguely balanced, But the business end is still well risky. Hit your target too hard and too fast? The teeth may not gain purchase, which could easily cause your blade to bounce off randomly and unpredictability. And so caution and discipline are needed, especially against armoured targets. By slowing yourself down, and being deliberate in your strikes? You let the weight of the weapon do most of the work, and let those teeth find their purchase, before messing up the point of impact.

That….may not sound ideal. We might normally expect a fight to end with the quickest fighter emerging victorious, yeah? Well whilst not universally so, I totes agree with myself here.

Yet…..Chainswords are Chainswords. They’re bloody tricky to parry or block without at least a comparative weapon. As such, and not being even remotely competent in any kind of fisticuffs (if you are, feel free to wail on this post!), you probably can afford to take your time, relatively speaking. Because if it’s a Chainsword vs a Sword? I know which blade is gonna break the other!

Right. Discuss!

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Made in gb
Longtime Dakkanaut





Wishing I was back at the South Atlantic, closer to ice than the sun

The chainsword or a chainaxe is a stupid weapon well suited to 40K lore, but let's look at the problems.

Firstly the chain. The chain has be able to freely rotate and remain fixed to the underlying support. This means the chain has to be tight and freely moving. That means any sideways motion upon the chain will cause it to flex and then skip off the drive sprockets. A loose chain means a useless weapon. The chain also has to be flexible to allow it to fold back upon itself which creates weak points all along the length, in practice that means its weaker in tensile strength than any similar material made into a solid bar. So a sword hitting a parrying chainsword at right angles is going to result in a split chain. (This is why activists spike trees with steel pins, if a chainsaw hits a pin, it snaps the chain. Usually with horrifying injuries to unprepared individuals)

Gyroscopic action. Even with counterweights the high rotation of the chain is going to create severe gyroscopic action which is going to make it very unwieldy, even to the strongest person and very slow to intercept with.

Rotation of teeth. So do you have the teeth cutting toward you or away? I would have thought that a moving target in the direction of the teeth would take less damage due to less resistance.

From the depiction of chain weapons it looks like there are thick supporting slabs either side of the chain itself, so its never going to cut deeply because of the blunt sides.

Just my tuppence worth.

Merry Xmas

Andrew

I don't care what the flag says, I'm SCOTTISH!!!

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Made in gb
Never Forget Isstvan!






Depends on a lot of factors really.
Speed - Doesn't matter how fast you are if the thing attacking you with said chainsword is an Astartes. The blunt force trauma alone would be enough to incapacitate or kill a lot of opponents, especially the more fragile ones like Humans or Aeldari. Unless you are also inhumanly fast that Chainweapon is ending you.
Strength - For the most part the people that are effective with Chainswords have the strength to use them properly i.e. Astartes or Aspect Warriors. It could also be possible that the materials are specially made for each model of Chainsword making them less effective or long lasting.
Ability - I don't think anybody is expecting a Guardsman Sergeant to parry a hell of a lot, even the martial cultures or aristocrats aren't getting near someone with serious skill or enhancements. Warriors like Sisters or Astartes maybe but not a soldier who's main goal is to hold the line for someone better to come along.
   
Made in ca
Grovelin' Grot





Edmonton, Alberta

Unless I’m misremembering, but i remember reading in a codex (or wiki page) that chainswords are acknowledged in-world to be inefficient weapons that break often. The only reason the imperium uses them is purely for the sake of brutality and zeal. I could be wrong but i also remember reading that serfs/servitors clean up chainsword teeth after battles (as relics)? IIRC?


Automatically Appended Next Post:
 StewMan Group wrote:
Replacement teeth-tracks are found in vast crates alongside Lasgun power packs in every Astra Militarum drop zone, as well as being similarly stored aboard every Space Marine Thunderhawk gunship. The first concern is that even the most well-forged chainsword will blunt quickly against heavy armour, especially the dense, ablative layers bolted onto an Orkish warlord, or the tainted ceramite of a Traitor Marine
ah yes, here. It also says they burn through fuel like crazy

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/12/25 01:55:04


 
   
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Longtime Dakkanaut





Do chainswords constantly spin? I thought they had a throttle that made them spin when you needed them to so you could party with them and only engage the motor when attempting to deliver a killer blow. And I image a chain sword that isn’t running will still do a lot of damage if swung with enough force
   
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Never Forget Isstvan!






If Space Marine is anything to go by then Chainweapons only spin when you pull the "trigger" and until then they just idle.
   
Made in pl
Longtime Dakkanaut





 AndrewC wrote:
Firstly the chain. The chain has be able to freely rotate and remain fixed to the underlying support. This means the chain has to be tight and freely moving. That means any sideways motion upon the chain will cause it to flex and then skip off the drive sprockets. A loose chain means a useless weapon. The chain also has to be flexible to allow it to fold back upon itself which creates weak points all along the length, in practice that means its weaker in tensile strength than any similar material made into a solid bar. So a sword hitting a parrying chainsword at right angles is going to result in a split chain. (This is why activists spike trees with steel pins, if a chainsaw hits a pin, it snaps the chain. Usually with horrifying injuries to unprepared individuals)

Gyroscopic action. Even with counterweights the high rotation of the chain is going to create severe gyroscopic action which is going to make it very unwieldy, even to the strongest person and very slow to intercept with.

Rotation of teeth. So do you have the teeth cutting toward you or away? I would have thought that a moving target in the direction of the teeth would take less damage due to less resistance.

You could technically kinda-sorta skip these issues if it had two chains running in opposite directions. Of course, that will make the weapon thicker, more complicated, and adds the issue of prevention of the chains jamming each other, but it's an option.

 StewMan Group wrote:
Unless I’m misremembering, but i remember reading in a codex (or wiki page) that chainswords are acknowledged in-world to be inefficient weapons that break often. The only reason the imperium uses them is purely for the sake of brutality and zeal.

You'd have a point if not for the fact eldar also use them. Even though grav swords (to borrow from other thread) would make vastly more sense and be much more efficient. Go figure.

Really, I wish primaris range dropped them in favour of monomolecular knives/swords, and it seemed to be doing it for a while, both in fluff and model range, but then GW listened to tiny minority screeching about muh kainzwurdz and released pointless assault intercessors (hello, reivers were already supposed to be doing that combat role, remember?) then the incompetent rules writer sabotaging primaris range for the last 5 years "forgot" to give primaris weapons the same (dumb) buff chainswords were given
   
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As someone who uses chainsaws professionally and can go 4/5 hours with out having to tighten or replace chains.
I would imagine they had some sort of auto tensioning system as the chain stretches.

I can only get a hour with fuel and oil, down to 45 mins flat out. Id be maxing it more than a combat user, who revs by slash.
Only takes 800ml of each to do that. Now its the future, but is the Imperium, so who knows how optimal their promethium is.

Now the chain, Id liken them more to motorbike chains with teef.
They could make the guide twice as big which would help with any sideways motion.

I dont imagine to tips to be like a chainsaw, Theyd be more wavy like a monomolecular kris. Hit once, get 1000 cuts. Go for soft spots and because they arent hooked like a chainsaw, soft fibrous armour isnt going to gum up the works and if your hitting armour. Well youve just hit the same spot 500 times in a second.

A stihl ms 660, which would be way overpowered for combat, weighs about 8kg, than slap a 90cm blade, so 10ish kg. Is more of a evisicerator. Now it is the future, its so prolly lighter.

If all breaks down youve still got a giant lump of metal to brain someone i guess.







   
Made in gb
Leader of the Sept







I have spent some time doing historical European martial arts (but not for a while, so happy for any more recent practitioners to pull me up).

When a sword is the basis of your attack and defence, as per hand and a half/longsword styles, you need to be able to manoeuvre the thing rapidly to go from attack to defence and back into attack. So balance and manoeuvrability are really important.

The most effective parts of the sword are the point for piercing attacks, and the area of the blade about 1/3rd back from the tip for strikes. The whole blade can then be used for draw cuts, which are kind of a sawing motion but just relying on the sharpness alone to cause damage. Different sword styles lead to different combat styles emphasising slashing, draw cuts, strikes or point work, e.g rapiers, katanas, sabres, kopesh, etc.

Point work and strikes are relatively effective against armour, either penetrating/cutting the armour or by transferring blunt trauma or buckling armour plates. Draw cuts are only good against bare flesh, or possibly lightly armoured joints.

So the point of traditional sword play is to get rapid strikes in to cause damage and allow the blade to be withdrawn to enable defence. Some sword manual moves also then lead to grappling or throws, where your blade is used to tie up the opposing blade to stop them hurting you while you do whatever it is.

By comparison, chainswords would seem to be heavier blades due to all the extra gubbins. Due to the weight they would be good for simple clubbing attacks, so likely best aiming to use the top third of the blade as per normal sword strikes. Point work would be interesting as the moving blade would help with armour penetration, but only if you can keep on target without the blade skiting away.

Otherwise, to make best use of the chain effect you want to maximise contact of the blade with the target and let the chain do its thing.

It was mentioned somewhere either here or in The other thread a potential negative to chainswords in terms of penetration. In the chainswords typically included In GW models, the blade housing is much wider than the chainblade. Traditional blades and indeed chainsaws are designed to enable cutting into the target relatively easily, but the big chunky chain Housing of chainswords would seem to prevent that. However I’m willing to suspend disbelief as this just makes them easier to make In 28mm scale.

Rambling on, I think that chainswords would be more effective for use by heavily armoured Troops. This is because they don’t need to rely on the sword for defence as much and therefore can keep it in the target for longer letting the chain do the work. I think for lighter troops such as guard and commissars for instance, I would imagine that traditional strikes using it more like a big club would be the norm, as this would allow the blade to be used In Defence more effectively. the chain effect could be used for enhanced draw cuts against unarmoured bits, but it seems like a lot of extra weight for a situational benefit.

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2021/12/26 13:47:16


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On the housing?

The teeth seem to stand proud by what, in real world scale, looks to be a couple of inches or so.

I speculate that a good strike, where the spinning teeth find purchase, they’re going to keep the weapon engaged with relatively minimal pressure from the wielder. And so I further speculate you’ve got very literal wiggle room. Rock the blade on its vertical access, widening the initial point of impact enough that the housing no longer becomes a problem?

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Leader of the Sept







Imperial chain sword designs have the housing to be 3 or 4 times the worth of the blade though. So you’ll Definately get the 3-4cm penetration of the exposed teeth but then it will stop. You could wiggle it to get a wider wound, but that’s a wrist movement that has little power and it would take even longer. Ideally you would want to use your arm to get the initial contact, and then have the chainblade excavate itself through the rest of the limb, say. Similarly with point work you would be there for ages twisting and turning the thing to try for more penetration, when something without housing that thick would drill its own way into the target. But then I really do hope that would have something else to fend yourself with, because I think getting a chai sword back out with f a stabbed target is likely to be hard,”. Probably better to pet the blade gnaw it’s way sideways out of the target rather than trying to pull it out directly, and then you’re back to the problem of blade width compared to housing width.

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Made in gb
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U.k

Anyway yiu look at it, with real world physics and knowledge, chainswords are a dumb idea that would never work. It would take huge leaps in material science to produce anything like that that would be an effective weapon. Leaps 40K claims mostly not to have taken.

But…..it’s 40K. Brutal dumb stuff is ace and you just have to accept that it works. Close combat itself being the way it is in 40K is totally ridiculous, in warfare that modern with the advanced weapons they have range would be king, but it isn’t because space knights with massive chainsaws is cool.

Anyone claiming that they could work and be remotely effective for more than one or two swings is being equally silly, but I wouldn’t change them and was really pleased when they reappeared in the primaris line up. They are as iconic as the bolter, another ludicrous idea. But I don’t want to derail another thread.
   
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I think you've got to give the chainsword depicted on the models the same amount of design inaccuracy leeway you give all of the non-bored bolter barrels.

On the subject of the armored sword techniques where you're using the sword to tie up the opponent, that seems like it'd be the best time to have powered cutting device. I mean, you've got the sword wedged in against the opponent's body, let 'er rip.

Although I keep thinking about the live katana demonstrations that I've seen, where it was emphasized that what you have to do is think of the sword as a several foot long razor blade--the blade gets pulled along as you strike so you slice; if you tried to hack like an axe, you're going to blunt your edge and waste your effort. If the model depictions of the "chain" part of the chainsword is basically wrong, and what it actually is is multiple parallel chains with blades at angles, that would at least be plausible. And for that sort of multiple chain system, if it was at rest or all the chains had fallen into sync, then it would probably look like the big chunky blades that the models show.

Disclaimer: What I keep thinking about as I type this are concrete saws, and those hand held Dremel metal cutting saws.
   
Made in gb
Leader of the Sept







If you're locked up and let go with the powered chain, the its certainly going to do something, but again, I'd personally prefer to be quite heavily armoured before giving it a shot

Hacking like an axe isn't wasted effort, so long as the blade can take it. My understanding is that historic steel production in Japan was pretty hit and miss, and therefore katana sword forms may have evolved to avoid big smashy moves to reduce likelihood of blade breakage, and also metal armour was also much rarer, so slashy moves let to reliable damage.

European forms against opponents in full plate armour leads to big smashy moves being needed to do any real damage at all with the edge. This leads to the diamond-section swords used for stabbing through plates and joints, and sharpened quillions and reversed sword use to provide a makeshift war hammer for use against fully armoured foes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mordhau_(weaponry)).

If you are fighting fully armoured opponents, then the sharpness of the blade is not that important until you've managed to knock a few plates off.

In humans at least, you can't do much with a broken collar bone, so you don't need to penetrate armour to do damage. Using a chainsword against fully armoured opponents, you might be better off just having the chain static and using it as a big heavy pointy stick to get some concussion damage in there.

This leads to some other thoughts about internal mechanics of a chainsword. The big external frame depicted on the models would affect cut-in ability, but gives a nice solid frame for blocking. To remove the external bulk to enable better penetration, then an internal frame would be needed. This could have a solid support just behind the teeth to enable some solid contact and punching ability for the teeth. It would need to have some decently tough mechanisms though to deal with whatever bits of armour or biology that the blade needs to cut through.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/12/26 22:37:45


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UK

Having used real chainsaws the biggest issue for me is the risk of bounce-back.

Ignoring all the issues of chains and teeth and such, one of the biggest risks to yourself when using a chainsaw is the chainsaw itself (and by association what you are cutting into).


Chainsaws can "bounce" and when they bounce all that energy and momentum that is pushing the chain around gets transformed into a force that pushes back on the bar; which pushes it up in the air with your arms being as close to a fulcrum as you can get.

Used correctly you are ideally cutting so that the saw blade is to your side so that if/when it flies up it is thrown to you side rather than into your face (which is why you never stand right behind someone using a chainsaw).
The very tip of the saw also has a lethal area which has a very high chance of doing the same thing, translating all that forward energy into vertical energy.



So those would be my concerns. Things like throwing teeth and getting jammed make the weapon less efficient, but the bounce-back risk makes it a direct risk to the wielder.





Another thought is that when you cut into something the chainsaw pulls in the direction of the teeth; the underside will pull the saw forward; the topside will push the saw away. Come down on something to hack through it and its going to pull you in close to the hilt (optional part on real saws are "dog-teeth" that are a few tines that stick out from the underside to "catch" a trunk to help work with this effect)




They are freaking cool weapons, but as much if not more a danger to their operator than the enemy. At least unless your a space elf or ork or marine with super-human strength and power armour that helps you counter bounceback forces .

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Now everyone, factor in the sharpness of monomolecular edge teeth. That sci-fantasy handwave helps a LOT.

 Stormonu wrote:
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 JohnnyHell wrote:
Now everyone, factor in the sharpness of monomolecular edge teeth. That sci-fantasy handwave helps a LOT.


Oh indeed! It likely helps get past things like cloth and fabric from being used to choke chainswords up and stop them working (which is how chainsaw clothing works in reality - and its enough to stop a cut turning into a slice; but not enough to stop a chainsaw moving with speed from slicing*). It also helps explain how they can cut through so many different materials like a hot knife through butter



*though saying that I wonder if they'll ever perfect the same tech that they've used with circular saws to work with chainsaws. Ergo those bed circular saws that can stop the entire blade (by collapsing it into an under housing and destroying the blade) cutting your hand.

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My headcanon for chainswords is basically the following,

Chain weapons almost always have multiple belts that run opposite directions. Most likely either 2 or 3 belts and rotate opposite to their adjacent belts. The belts are very narrow, possibly only a centimeter or two.

The chainsword teeth are individually attached to the belts, and are designed to break off in the event of the tooth getting snagged, a feature that prevents damage to the weapon as a whole. Teeth are replaced routinely after battle and are maybe 5-6 centimeters in length. They are meant to cause relatively shallow, but wide and nasty, lacerations.

The chainsword, because it is relatively thick and wide, is used mostly in sweeping motions with the goal of placing the blade against the target for relatively long periods of time compared to a sword swing and then holding it against it. The back and sides of the chainsword are what is used to parry enemy attacks as the thick sidewalls of the weapon are designed for this.

The opposing belts would help with potential clogs as the belts would shred debris that builds up on the teeth. The user would have the ability to reverse direction on the blades to assist with declogging it, maybe advanced models might have automatic reversal if it detects a potential jam.

Bounce back is not an issue as the backside of the vast majority of chainswords are single edged, if it does bounce back you'll just get hit by the back of the cowling. Plus, its not like personal safety is a big concern to the Imperium. If a few guardsmen get bapped by their own chainswords nobody cares.

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There’s a definite truth to Chainswords being intended to create lethal wounds.

After all, if you slash someone with a sharp blade (no. Do not do that in real life. It tends to be more than a teensy bit illegal. And cruel), you end up with a wound which is pretty straight forward to stitch up. So provided it’s a relatively shallow cut, you should survive with even basic medical care.

But a Chainsword’s wounds? To get stereotypical Scotsman? Stitch that! It creates ragged, shredded wounds. This not only accelerates blood loss, but make the wound far harder to treat. Which is kind of what The Imperium and Space Marines need to be doing. Hit hard, create a god awful mess. Your target may not die instantly, but they’re certainly going to end up incapacitated and bleeding out, allowing you to move on to the next target.

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Going back to the monomolecular teeth thing, would it create a ragged wound? A chainsaw would as it does a combination of cutting and tearing. A spinning edge of infinite sharpness won’t be tearing anything, it will just help penetrate the next layer making it easier to cut through whatever you hit.


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I’m genuinely not sure.

My first question is how does an edge that keen stay that keen? If you’re trying to chop up anything in plated or powered armour, I’d imagine they’d be comparatively blunted fairly quickly. I mean they’d still be sharp, but not monomolecular sharp?

If you’re just chopping up Guardsmen or Cultsits? It’d probably stay super keen a good deal longer.

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Well, it is noted consistently that Chainswords can jam or bounce off serious armour. Usually, the only thing that keeps the weapon doing damage is that it's a Space Marine that's doing the swinging. That's why Power Weapons are preferred for things like Astartes and other heavily armoured foes, they either possess the cutting power or stopping force to negate the protection.
   
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 Flinty wrote:
Going back to the monomolecular teeth thing, would it create a ragged wound? A chainsaw would as it does a combination of cutting and tearing. A spinning edge of infinite sharpness won’t be tearing anything, it will just help penetrate the next layer making it easier to cut through whatever you hit.



An individual tooth, no. It would make a single razor thin wound.

Dozens upon dozens of teeth moving in opposite directions are going to turn the surface they drag across into hamburger. Just imagine someone with hundreds of small slashes from a switch blade, all running roughly parallel, but often crisscrossing and gouging into each other. Each individual cut might be razor thin, but these cuts are going to be crossing each other, running into each others wound channels, making wounds deeper, etc... The aggregate of the whole thing would be nightmarish and impossible to treat.


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We can assume the main target for a Chainsword would be soft-tissue and it's effects on said medium are readily apparent.

Where it gets tricky is armour. Now we can give a little bit of space/techno-magic to its capabilities versus defensive countermeasures, but when it comes down to brass tacks, if the "chain" has an appropriately robust set of teeth it doesn't take much to satisfy "physics".
   
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Also, on how they work? Ciaphas Cain’s novels mention powercells, and him actively revving it up to combat speed, at which point the blades characteristic whine is audible.

Now being a Commissar, we must keep in mind that his may be a superior and fancier model than most.

But that it’s described as making a whine tells us something of the speed the chains rotate at, as it strikes me as being bloody fast.

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Its why Chainswords have hazard stripes.
   
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Well we can infer that Chainswords are mostly ineffective vs armor. They have very poor AP/no AP in the table top game depending on the edition. In the FFG RPGs a chainsword has a Pen of 2, for reference a Power Sword has 6, so it ignores 2 points of armor. Guardsmen Flak Armor gives 4. Much better than a knife or club, but armor is definitely a weakness. FWIW, the chainswords real strength in the FFG RPGs is that it has Tearing(roll twice and pick highest for damage)

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Ive hacked into a metal water tank with a 660. Just to see if i could. You need a very good grip and it gets blunt fast but keeps cutting.

Hit a waratah (steel picket) and taken 15mm out of them. The chain stayed on, and was blunt as ef. Didnt really cut wood after but flesh is softer than wood. Not gonna test that though.
Kick back, you only worry about if you hit the rear side of the blade.
Thats with the hooked teeth of a chainsaw.

Seeing as SM were pretty much created to stop da ork, and stomp other humies. Neither of which were particularly armoured.

Now if the teeth were mono mom wavy. It would be like repeatedly slicing the same spot 500 times in a second. Wouldnt get tangled up in fibrous chaps or armour. Now that could be why most depictions of using a chainsword, they seem to grind a bit before biting.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2021/12/29 10:57:21


 
   
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Decrepit Dakkanaut




UK

Visually I think the grinding also drives home the brutality and carnage of the chainsword as a weapon. It's a rough, crude, brutal butchers weapon.

Contrast to the more elegant sweeping scything motion of a powersword which slices clean and fast.

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Shas'ui with Bonding Knife






I always thought chainswords have some sort of energy field around the chain as well. Do I misremember things or has this been retconned in the lore?
   
 
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