Fencing kit

A few people have asked about buying kit (especially around Christmas time.) It can be complex to know what to get with lots of jargon. Essentially for most purposes, you won’t need FIE (international standard) Kit until you start fighting in Open standard competitions. You are likely to be fencing more electric and very little non-electric (steam) fencing so the kit you need may not be the kit you have been using so far. Just ask anyone who has been fencing a few years!

You will see some ratings such as 350N, 800N and 1600N next to items of equipment, these refer to the penetrating force in Newtons that the equipment must be able to resist.

We’ve put this together with a few example links to help you understand what each bit of kit is for and what to look for when buying. If you’re unsure about any potential purpose please talk to any of the coaches, Mike our armourer or any of the more experienced fencers in the club.


The big two suppliers of fencing kit at the highest level are Allstar/Uhlmann and Leon Paul. Fencers will generally have a preference for one or the other but, in reality, both supply good equipment. At the next tier down there are some other suppliers of kit such as Excalibur Sports, PBT and TheFencingShop

Many of the suppliers offer a starter kit or at least a discount if you buy multiple items.

What should I buy first?

Most beginners really want to buy their own weapon first but it may be sensible to look at what pieces of kit are scarce at the club in your size. Often a glove is a good first choice as having one that fits well makes bladework easier.


You should buy a glove that can be used with the body wire that connects the weapon to the scoring equipment, this is achieved by having the cuff of the glove secured with velcro. Foilists and Epeeists can use the same glove but Sabreurs need a special glove or an additional cuff that can be added to a Foil/Epee glove. Prices range from £15 to £60 depending on supplier.


You would be perfectly good with the 350N jackets initially, but do get one with a side zip, jackets that zip up in the back are for club use as they be used by left or right handers. Fencing jackets zip on the side to reduce the chance of the point catching in the zip and causing a breakage.

You can expect to pay anywhere from £74 to £250 for a jacket but a good one will last many years. Senior fencers in the club are wearing jackets that have had over a decade of wear and are still usable.


The plastron covers your sword arm and goes under your jacket. The plastron should have its seams in a different place to the jacket, this is to help prevent a broken blade going through both sets of seams (which are the weak point of any covering). We’d recommend 800N or (FIE), Leon Paul do a very nice lightweight one. Prices range from £30 to £110.


Mask, the club has lots, but its really nice to have your own! Foil Masks have a lame (conductive bit) on the bib as it is part of the target. Epee doesn’t need this but it wont hurt. Sabre masks are different.

Some masks have a bib or padding you can change which can be useful if you swap between Epee and Foil but isn’t essential.
You can get coloured or painted masks. (don’t do it yourself)


You will need these if you are fencing more electric as it will protect your legs (and clothes) better than tracksuit bottoms. British Fencing don’t recommend wearing other forms of trousers as they may have zips or pockets that could trap a blade point and cause a breakage. For this reason breeches are also sold left and right handed so that the flap covering the zip faces the correct way.


The shiny conductive metal jacket on top of your protective jacket if you fight foil or sabre. They do wear out so avoid second-hand ones. Make sure you have a side zip (not back zip) so you can get into it on your own.

Body wire

Connects sword and lame to the scoring box. There are 2 types for foil and sabre: bayonet and two pin, the FIE have mandated the use of two pin types at the higher levels and so it may be worth going that route if you’re buying new. A number of older fencers prefer the bayonet fitting but the poor quality of some cheaper plugs have, regrettably, caused FIE to make this change. Epeeists use a three pin body wire that is different from Foil and Sabre.

Not a lot else to say other than the FIE have mandated transparent plugs for body wire for their competitions so if you think you’re going far then look for these.


Its really nice to have your own Foil that you get to know. Don’t buy non a non-electric foil. The vast majority or people use a pistol grip when they get their own.
Foils are “set” (bent) to be for a left-hander or a right-hander this can be done by the shop or afterwards.
Generally, stiff foils like maraging foils are better and last longer but can be very expensive. I’d recommend a cheap one and you can change the blade for a better one when it eventually snaps (they all do eventually).

Your name on the back?

For both jackets and lames you may be offered the chance to have your name and country printed on the back. This is not a status thing where you have to have been selected for your country. It is there so that in competitions the referee can easily identify fencers so don’t be shy about adding it to your order if you think you’ll be out there competing.