Chain Weapons are any of a class of weapons that possess motorised biting teeth that saw and slash through the enemy, in a similar fashion to ancient chainsaws. The teeth themselves are fashioned to be incredibly sharp, in some cases carrying a monomolecular edge, and are capable of slicing through steel bulkheads.
The most common form of chain weapon is the Chainsword, frequently carried by close assault troops and low-ranking officers of the Astra Militarum and Space Marines (including the Traitor Legions); but it is sometimes seen amongst other intelligent species, notably the Striking Scorpions Exarchs of the Craftworld Aeldari and elite Orks.
Another common variant is the Chainaxe, which is usually carried by Chaos Space Marines (normally of the World Eaters Legion) known as Khornate Berserkers, as the Chainaxe was once a standard-issue close combat weapon for Assault Marines during the time of the Great Crusade. Such is the skill of these Berzerkers and the weight of their massive Chainaxes that the axes are nearly as powerful as the much-feared Power Weapon.
A larger, extended version of the Chainsword, known as the Eviscerator, is usually seen in the hands of Imperial religious fanatics such as penitent Sisters of Battle or the zealous and fiery Redemptionists. Eviscerators, being large, two-handed weapons, are generally powerful enough to have similar effects to the Chainfists frequently carried by Terminators.
Other variations of Chain Weapons are used all over the galaxy. Space Marine Terminators often replace their standard Power Fist with the Chainfist for use against enemy armoured vehicles. The Titans of the Adeptus Mechanicus may also be equipped with an enormous version of the Chainfist, for use against buildings and other Titans.
The Space Wolves Chapter of the Space Marines use a Chainsword or Chainaxe that has been fitted with the teeth of a Kraken, a native beast of their homeworld of Fenris. This weapon is known as a Frostblade and is more potent even than a Power Weapon. This weapon is limited to warriors of the Chapter who have proven themselves worthy of such an honour.
Chain Weapons are not just limited to being incorporated into swords and axes. There also exist chain glaives and chain bayonets as well as a multitude of other melee weapons that have had their standard blades removed and replaced with chain blades.
Like many examples of human invention, the many variants of Chain Weapons seem to have their roots in the shrouded heresies of the Dark Age of Technology. Accordingly, many of these various weapons saw consistent use in the armoured fists of techno-barbarians during the Age of Strife, and among the Emperor's own armies during His Thunder Warriors' brutal conquest of Terra during the Unification Wars.
But some Chain Weapons, such as the ubiquitous Chainsword, have been wielded by inhuman hands for aeons. Several xenos races have borne such blades into battle even in the ages where Mankind could only look up to the stars with spears in their filthy hands.
Imperial Chain Weapons
- Chain Axe - Chainaxes are brutal hand-to-hand Chain Weapons crafted in the form of a great one or two-handed axe which incorporates a powered chainsaw edge. The biting action of the whirling row of monomolecular teeth means these weapons can easily hack through both flesh and armour with ease. The Chainaxe is the favorite weapon of the Khornate Berserkers found in the ranks of the Chaos Space Marines and of worshipers of the Blood God in general.
- Chainblade - A Chainblade is a smaller Chain bayonet that is attached to a Bolter and utilised as a close-combat weapon during assaults.
- Chainsword - Chainswords are the preferred close combat melee weapon of the military forces of the Imperium of Man. The Chainsword is essentially a sword with powered teeth that run along a single-edged blade like that of a chainsaw. Most versions of the weapon make use of monomolecular-edged or otherwise razor sharp teeth. Chainswords are not subtle weapons. Wielding one is a statement in its own right: they are horrific tools of war, designed to bite, tear and eviscerate where more primitive blades merely cut and slice. The weapon makes an angry buzzing sound as the teeth spin around, intensifying into a high pitched scream as they grind into armour.
- Chainfist - A Chainfist is a standard pattern Power Fist that has beenfitted with a Chainsword attachment that is intented to allow its wielder to carve his way through armoured bulkheads. Originally designed for penetrating the armoured hulls of voidships during spaceborne boarding actions, the whirring adamantium blades of a Chainfist have long since proven their worth when engaging armoured targets of all kinds. Both Loyalist Terminators and Chaos Terminators often replace their armour's standard Power Fist with a Chainfist for use against enemy armoured vehicles and static defences in close combat.
- Chainflail - Combining the indiscriminate lethality of the Chainsword with the savagery of the flail, a Chainflail is truly a weapon for one whose faith in the Emperor is unbreakable and unquestioning. A solid grip with a trigger attached by various adamantine cables to a whirring head lined by four parallel rows of voracious teeth, the Chainflail reminds all who see it that its wielder's faith is untainted by the fear of death.
- Chain Glaive - Wielded by some members of certain Imperial Guard Rough Rider formations, Chain Glaives are vicious weapons that combine the reach of a pole weapon with the gnashing fury of a Chain Weapon. These weapons come in a startling variety based on the sundry Forge Worlds and eras in which they were manufactured, but all are extremely deadly. This is a two-handed melee weapon.
- Chain Knife - The smallest Chain Weapon available, at the size of a heavy Combat Knife, the Chain Knife's slight profile belies its lethality. With chain teeth moving at high speed, a mere glancing blow from a chain knife can easily rip a man's flesh open. A single stabbing wound from a chain knife inflicts massive tissue damage, accomplishing in one blow what would require scores from a traditional dagger, allowing a wielder to literally disembowel a foe with but a single well-placed thrust. This is a one-handed melee weapon.
- Eviscerator - Favoured by Ecclesiarchy zealots and witch-hunters, the eviscerator is a grotesquely large double-handed chainsword. Although unwieldy and difficult to use, the eviscerator is capable of cutting an armoured man in half or ripping through the hide of the most hideously corrupted mutant with a single bloody stroke. A fair number of eviscerators can be found in the lawless frontier of the Koronus Expanse, brought through the Maw by missionaries and fanatics whose zeal exceeded their martial skill. An eviscerator is a two-handed weapon.
Chaos Chain Weapons
- Chainaxe (Legion & Human Variants) - Combining the heft and fury of an axe with the terrible rending teeth of a chain weapon, the chainaxe is a favourite implement of many warriors. Heavy and brutal, they are the perfect messenger to inflict their user's righteous hate on their foes. The Roth-pattern Chainsword is one of the more common variants seen in the sector, used by both loyalists and heretics alike. The ancient Deimos-pattern Mark II Legion Chainaxe is much more powerful, drawing on the additional support from the wearer's Power Armour to drive the heavier chains at greater speeds.
- Chain Dagger - Small in size, these miniature weapons can easily be brought into play from hidden holsters. Their increased deadliness can literally give an edge in knife fights. This is a one-handed melee weapon.
- Chain Halberd - A rare variation more widely seen in underhive forces within the Calixis Sector, Chain Halberds feature a long staff with a double-sided Chainblade operating only towards the end of the weapon. They can be used as either a slashing or thrusting weapon, with the lighter weight from the smaller Chainblade allowing for more flexible defensive manoeuvres, the thrusting attacks preferred in the crowded and claustrophobic underhive passages. This is a two-handed melee weapon.
- Chain Hammer - Few but massive brutes can lift this weapon, let along use it in combat. It combines the heavy striking power of a great hammer with the terrible ripping action of a Chain Weapon, using multiple rows of spinning metal teeth projecting from the club-like head to tear apart flesh pulped in the smashing impact. This is a two-handed melee weapon.
- Chain Spear - Chain Spears combine reach with lethality. The end of each has a length of whirring serrated teeth, sometimes actually made from the sharpened teeth of the user's past victims, which are enough to cause even the slightest hit to become a spray of blood and torn flesh. This is a two-handed melee weapon.
- Chainsword (Legion & Human Variants) - As the name suggests, Chainswords are roughly sword-like in shape with a large flat housing containing the chain. Chainsword variants often used by Chaos followers often have the entire blade chassis opened to expose the chained teeth. This makes the weapon more dangerous to both user and victim, but for a truly dedicated warrior this is of little concern. Like all their weapons, the Chainswords used by Traitor Legion forces are longer and heavier, fit only to be carried by these mightiest of warriors.
- Phobos-Pattern Chain Greatsword - This huge two-handed weapon can run almost two meters in length, with a long grip and weighted pommel to allow for some semblance of balance in use. The chained teeth are exposed along the entire length, so that the user can swing it in both directions in combat more like a fl ail than a real sword. Originally used in Forge Polix as a tool for ripping apart large bulkheads and armour during construction, the tool was repurposed by warriors of Khorne who found it brutally effective on the battlefield. This is a two-handed melee weapon.
- Legion Chainfist - Perhaps the most devastating melee weapon commonly used by a Traitor Legion, a Chainfist combines the disruptive energies of a Power Fist with the rending strength of a chainblade. The huge gauntlet resembles a Power Fist with a short reinforced double chainblade extending from the glove. Too heavy even for Chaos Space Marines in Power Armour, only those wearing Terminator suits can operate such a weapon properly. Chainfists were originally designed for use in boarding actions, where they would be used to tear open voidcraft bulkheads or breach even the redoubtable of barricades. They have since been repurposed by Chaos Terminators, who use them to great effect against even the most heavily armoured adversaries. Each gauntlet is as bulky as a Power Fist and cannot be used for any but the most basic manipulative tasks (for example, one could not use a weapon or pick up a quill, but may be able to manipulate a heavy iron girder).
- Xerxes Arm-Mounted Chainblade - This ancient weapon design uses a Chainblade affixed to an integrated forearm covering an armoured gauntlet and power supply. Heavy and solid, it can tear open bunker doors or armoured chestplates while keeping the hand free to use a ranged weapon. This bulkier assembly bears resemblance to a crude Chainfist, scrapped together by Heretek denizens within the Screaming Vortex (one of two massive Warp Storms which separate the Calixis Sector of the Imperium from the Koronus Expanse). This is a one-handed melee weapon. Note: this weapon can be used while gripping another weapon in the same hand, however the wielder must choose the weapon with which he is attacking on a given turn.
- Impaler Chainglaive - An Impaler Chainglaive is a Chain Weapon that is the preferred close combat weapon wielded by a Chaos Space Marine Lord Discordant. It is essentially a long, Chainsword-like blade attached to the end of a spear shaft so that the user may have a farther reach when fighting from the back of the Daemon Engine known as a Helstalker.
Xenos Chain Weapons
- Biting Blade - Utilised exclusively by the Striking Scorpions Exarchs, these large swords are reminiscent of the massive Eviscerators used by zealots within the Imperium, Biting Blades are long-bladed, two-handed chainswords. However, where Eviscerators are heavy, noisy machines, Biting Blades are slender and quiet, but no less deadly for their relatively light weight. Wielded properly, the razorsharp teeth can tear through flesh and bone with horrific speed, and a skilled warrior can cleave a man in two without difficulty.
- Eldar Chainsword - A seldom-seen weapon, Eldar Chainswords bear only a superficial resemblance to the roaring, heavy blades of humans or Orks. Almost silent, they produce little more than a sibilant whisper as they tear through flesh and bone. Swiftly-cycling rows of mono-edged teeth cause considerable damage to any creature in their path.
- Scorpion Chainsword - A lightweight Chainsword used by warriors of the Striking Scorpions Aspect Warriors, they are a deadly one-handed melee weapons whose vicious blade is comprised of diamond-toothed edges that mangle and tear flesh. Its advanced design augments the user's strength, making it an incredibly deadly weapon to use in close combat against infantry and lightly armoured targets.
- Choppa - Orks use a bewildering variety of bladed, spiked, serrated, jagged, barbed and notched hand weapons ranging from the proverbial blunt instrument to whirring Ork-tooth chainsaws. An Ork Chain Choppa is the Greenskin equivalent of a Chainsword, a large blunt instrument of death with large whirring jagged metal teeth that rip and tear an enemy apart in a hail of gore.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 162-163
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pg. 37
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition) pg. 59
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (6th Edition), pg. 64
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 22, 34, 48, 84
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 2nd Codex), pg. 49
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 20
- Codex: Chaos (2nd Edition), pg. 75
- Codex: Dark Angels (4th Edition), pg. 48
- Codex: Eldar (4th Edition), pp. 33, 156
- Codex: Orks (4th Edition), pg. 89
- Codex: Space Marines (5th Edition), pp. 60, 97
- Codex: Space Wolves (5th Edition), pg. 57
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 140
- Dark Heresy: Blood of Martyrs (RPG), pg. 116
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 153
- Deathwatch: Honour the Chapter (RPG), pp. 130, 132
- Deathwatch: Rites of Battle (RPG), pg. 156, 158
- Games Workshop: Specialist Games Catalogue, pg. 105
- Imperial Armour Volume Nine - The Badab War - Part One, pp. 72, 78, 117
- Imperial Armour Volume Ten - The Badab War - Part Two, pg. 80
- Imperial Armour Volume Eleven - The Doom of Mymeara, pg. 114
- Index Astartes I, "Blood Frenzy - The Flesh Tearers Space Marine Chapter," by Matthew Sprange and Gav Thorpe, pg. 49
- Index Astartes III, "Chosen of Khorne - The World Eaters Space Marine Legion," by Graham McNeill, pg. 37
- Only War: Hammer of the Emperor (RPG), pg. 116
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 115, 129
- Rogue Trader: Faith and Coin (RPG), pg. 88
- Rogue Trader: Hostile Acquisitions (RPG), pg. 55
- The Horus Heresy Betrayal - Book One (Imperial Armour), pg. 89
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 203
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pp. 156, 228
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 7
- Warhammer 40,000: Munitorum - Chainsword (Digital Edition)
- Battle for the Abyss (Novel) by Ben Counter, pg. 266
- Butcher's Nails (Audio Drama) by Aaron Dembski-Bowden
- The Weakness of Others (Novella) by Laurie Goulding
- Chosen of Khorne (Audio Drama) by Anthony Reynolds
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Video Game)
- Dawn of War II (PC Game)