Can Fingernails Be Used As Weapons?

While one does not need to have nails to survive, they can certainly help with many tasks. Recently, I began to consider the possibility of using my nails as weapons in combat. So, can fingernails be used as weapons?

No, fingernails cannot be used as weapons. They cannot give fatal and life-threatening injuries. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. I personally don’t think it’d be a very good weapon. The length required to really do any damage would be easy to break the nail and further complicate the problem.

On top of that, you’d have to get very close to the opponent, which is opening you up to injury. This becomes almost impossible against an opponent with a sword and shield. In this article, we’ll be weighing the pros and cons of using fingernails as weapons in combat.

How Strong Are Human Nails?

Human nails are as strong as a horse’s hoof. And it is this structural strength that allows us to grip, scratch, and even make those horrible nail-on-a-chalkboard screeches, without damaging our nails.

For examples:

You can use your thumbnail to puncture a hole into an unopened beer/soda can. You can dig your nails into the stem of an apple and twist it until you cut through it. You can use it to tighten and loosen tiny screws.

Is Using Nails in a Fight Effective?

No, using nails in a fight is not effective. There are two sides to this question and we’ll be looking at both. To start with, human fingernails are very much unlike that of other animals. They aren’t that great for defence unless you really have no other alternatives.

And I’m including biting in those alternatives. Human nails just aren’t very strong and don’t hold a point very well. They also come off easily (which hurts like blazes, by the way). If you absolutely have to fight back and you don’t have training, tools, or range to do so otherwise, I’d suggest finding somewhere sensitive and biting down.

Anything that can buy you a moment in combat is useful

At most, nails can only cause surface scratches. It’s almost impossible to disable someone with scratches you can inflict with nails unless you get really lucky.

Additionally, if your nails are long enough to slash at someone, there’s a good chance they’ll break or crack. Human fingernails are made of keratin, which is fairly ductile, but will still crack or break under enough force.

If you fight with sharp nails, you may be hurt worse than your opponent

But like anything that can be used in combat, fingernails can be useful in combination with other things. What you use fingernails for is a distraction. Fingernail scratches, especially across the eyes, can startle or put your opponent on the defensive look enough for you to escape or to bring to bear another, more effective weapon.

Do not use your nails to fight

However, if that is all you have, you can use it to neutralize your enemy and take the enemy’s weapon. Remember, there is no such thing as a deadly weapon, only deadly individuals.

How to Sharpen Your Nails Into Claws

Claws are a symbol of strength; they signify that the owner of those claws is a creature to be feared. So why not give your nails the same fierce look?

A claw manicure is very easy to achieve, and it looks awesome. All you need is a set of nail clippers for trimming your own nails, a nail file for shaping, and some black nail polish.

We’re going to assume you already have regular-shaped nails (if not, use the clippers on them too), but if you want more of a claw-like shape, then you’re in luck. Just take your nail file and put it at an angle against the edge of your fingernail, so that it’s pointing toward the tip.

Gently run it along the side of your nail so that the point continues getting sharper until it reaches its apex right before the finger starts curving inward again. Voila! You now have pointy fingernails that look like they could cause some damage.

Once you’ve made these modifications to all 10 fingers, apply one coat of black polish to all nails.

Can Human Nails Cut Skin?

Yes, it is very possible for human nails to cut skin. Having long fingernails and toenails can injure your fighting partner. And if you sharpen them, they can be sharp enough to cut through lots of stuff.

Can Fingernails Be Used in Martial Arts?

No, fingernails cannot be used in martial arts. Because martial arts require close personal contact, long or serrated nails can lead to accidental scratches.  Respect your classmates by keeping your nails short and smooth. In addition, people who wear acrylic nails when taking martial arts classes are at great risk of having a painful breakage.

Ever Wondered Why We Have Nails?

According to a professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, fingernails are present in all primates, including humans, apes, and monkeys, to support our fingertips.

When considering proportions, our fingertips are on average wider than that of other primates. Fingernails play several important roles in the body. This includes:

1. Reinforcement

The hard, outer covering on the tips of the nails makes the fingertips one of the strongest parts of the hand.  This makes it less risky to do everyday tasks, including grabbing.  Fingernails have small blood vessels that can supply them and can maintain their blood flow even when you hold something tight.

2. Protection

Having nails can prevent viruses and bacteria from entering the body.  If a person’s nail bed is disrupted, they may be more prone to nail infections.

3. Enhancing motor movements

The fingernails enhance your ability to scratch and separate, such as pages in a book or hairs on your head. A person can also use their fingernails to pick up items.

4. Feeling

While you may not think nails are as sensitive as your fingertips, there is a complex neural network under your nails.


Except for the lack of better alternatives, do not use your nails as the primary object of attack in combat as you’re prone to having them tear off (which can be very painful).

The nails were designed to assist us with our day-to-day activities and can have little to no impact when used as weapons in a fight.