Brass knuckles were first popularized by soldiers during the American civil war (1861-1865) where they made a mould in the sand and casted them from lead bullets. The process was simple, but you needed a few things to make it work. A pair of brass knuckles was needed to make a mould in the sand, water was used to pack the sand down tight so that it wouldn’t deform once the brass knuckles were removed.
Side Note: A lot of our friends south of the border (where metal knuckles are legal) have been using Monkey Knuckles to make moulds from which they can cast brass knuckles, lead knuckles, silver knuckles or whatever metal they feel like using! They could use any knuckles to make the mould, but they said that the design, fit and finish of our knuckledusters is unmatched!
Back to the soldiers casting their knuckles. Lead bullets, were melted in a pot above a fire until they liquefied. The lead was then poured into the mould and was left until it was cool and solidified. The knuckles were then removed from the mould, the removal process usually destroyed the mould as it was a one-time use thing. So, if any other soldiers wanted to make some brass knuckles, they’d have to restart the process.
The knuckles then had water poured on them or were submerged in water to ensure the cooling process was complete. The final product was generally rough as the lead knuckles were cast in sand, so the soldiers either did some finishing touches with a file, rock, or whatever was available at the time. On the other hand, they could leave them looking rough and tough and use them like that.
As the years progressed and brass knuckles became more common, they began to issue trench knives, a brass knuckle and knife combo to soldiers in the US army and many other armies around the world, namely the British and German troops. Check out our blog post on brass knuckle combo weapons for more cool knuckle combo weapons. Even to this day the Argentinian military issues paratroopers a knuckle knife called the Cuchillo de Paracaidista. US Model 1917 and 1918 Mark 1 were first issued to the U.S military in World War 1 with over 140,000 knuckles being put into soldier’s hands.
These brass knuckle/knife combos were contracted out by several companies across the world so manufacturing varied by region. The most popular one being Henry Disston and Sons of Philadelphia. These knuckles were also cast similar to how the soldiers made them in the field but with a more industrialized process and much better moulds/finishing.
As technology progressed and worldwide trade increased, much like everything else brass knuckles began to be manufactured in countries where labour is cheaper and on an industrial scale. China, India and Pakistan just to name a few are some of the worlds leading manufacturers of brass knuckles. Many of these knuckles are imported into countries such as the U.S where they will sell at higher prices. The manufacturing methods vary greatly, makers in India and Pakistan are known to still use the brass knuckle mould and pouring in a metal of choice technique where areas the Chinese are known to take advantage of industrial machines while generally having a poorer quality product (Wish.com knuckles).
That’s not to say that there aren’t quality knuckle makers out there, if your Canadian check out our Monkey Knuckles that are Made in Canada. If you’re a hot dog and apple pie eating American check out our friends to the south Knuckle Sammy’s (pictured above) for some quality American made knuckles!
Let us know your favourite brass knuckle maker down in the comments!