The Sap as a Weapon

The Sap Impact Weapon

I was just talking with my dad about saps the other day. A sap is a short, heavy weapon, no longer than a foot, often made of lead or filled with lead for added weight. My dad is a retired policeman, and in the 40′s and 50′s policemen carried saps in a special pocket at the back of the right thigh.

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Policemen were free to use any type of sap. Some were soft saps, filled with lead shot. Others were spring loaded. Still others were steel “shaped like an exclamation mark” in my dad’s words. But typically they were covered with leather so that they didn’t cut.

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My dad and his partners often used the sap in hand-to-hand encounters. With the advent of more “humane” policing and a legalistic, sue-happy society, the sap was phased out. In fact, one article points out how the Denver PD is the last police department in the country to use the “anachronistic weapon.” The Denver PD were sued after a cop sapped a teen who bit him.

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After seeing a Filipino martial artist with an extremely short stick (15 inches, maybe), I have wondered if the sap or similar short club might be a more effective weapon at close range. I also think the very heavy short stick or club, like the end of a baseball bat, is more effective in close than a stick, and has not been given the consideration it deserves by Filipino martial artists.

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One martial artist related the following bit on a forum:

“A buddy of mine used to carry a short length of hickory dowel hollowed out and filled with lead. He used it as an everyday tool when he was bouncing. He told a story once about hitting someone across the shin with it when the guy wouldn’t cool down. End of discussion.”

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My dad had a policeman friend who made him a similar weapon from a baseball bat cut down very short, hollowed out and filed with lead.

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One night he and a partner had a guy in a bar who was fighting them. The boisterous drunk hit my dad’s partner, who decided to break out the spring-loaded sap. The cop hit the guy in the side of the face, knocking out a tooth, which went flying, and his eye swelled up almost instantly.

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The fight was taken out of him, and he sat down quietly.

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An interesting variation of the sap is the “sap cap,” a baseball cap with a weight sewn into it so that it can be used a weapon by grabbing the bill and swinging it.

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