The Chainsword is 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. The weapon makes an angry buzzing sound as the teeth spin around, intensifying into a high pitched scream as they grind into armour. It is not unlike a modern chainsaw, but lighter and able to be wielded with one hand. It is often used in conjunction with a Laspistol. All forces of the Imperium make use of it as a standard close combat weapon. The weapon is designed to quickly slice through an opponent. These swords are very crucial in melee combat, allowing easy swipes to behead or rip an enemy in two. Although it is not the most powerful of close-combat weaponry, it gets the job done. The Chainsword is a weapon of choice for most Space Marines. The Orks, who call them "Chain-Choppas", also steal them for Mad Doks and Meks and it has been reported that Slugga Boyz also use them. Some Ork Warbosses have been known to attach them to their hands instead of Klaws. The Chainsword is also a popular weapon choice for Imperial Guard officers and Commissars, and all Imperial forces serving in boarding and assault parties -- such as Space Marine Assault Squads, Chaos Space Marines, especially the Chaos Space Marines' Raptor Assault Squads, and Eldar Striking Scorpions Aspect Warriors. The Chainsword has also been seen in common use amongst Imperial pirates and Rogue Trader captains.
- Astartes Chainsword - This massive weapon is utilised by Assault Marines. These weapons generally have a flat carapace containing the chain teeth with only the forward, curved section open where the spinning chain teeth can bite into flesh and bone.
- Eviscerator - Favoured by Ecclesiarchy zealots and Witch-Hunters, the Eviscerator is an obscenely large double-handed Chainsword fitted with a crude version of the disruption field generator more commonly found on Power Weapons. Although very unwieldy and tiring to use, the Eviscerator is fully capable of ripping an armoured man in half or tearing open the most blasphemously corrupted mutant in a single stroke.
- Frost Blade - Frost Blades are potent weapons unique to the Space Wolves Chapter that can carve through the heaviest armour with ease. Frost Blades usually take the forms of Chainswords or Chainaxes, though they can exist in the form of any type of Imperial melee weapon. Frost Blades are master works created by the Space Wolves' Iron Priests -- each is incredibly rare and prestigious. The teeth of these icy Chain Weapons are always cut from nigh-unbreakable substances such as Ice Kraken fangs or tempered diamond. The unique power fields enveloping Frost Blades have a distinctive blue cast. A Frost Blade combines the best qualities of a Chain Weapon and a Power Weapon. Some Frost Axes have blades of energised diamond rather than chainblades that give the weapons the appearance that they have been carved from a single, lethal shard of ice.
- Hecate Pattern Chainsword - This pattern of Chainsword weighs a full 6 kilograms but remains a well-balanced weapon useful in melee combat that is often used by Rogue Traders to intimidate foes and mutinous crew members alike.
- Mark XI Hell's Teeth Pattern Chainsword - This pattern of the weapon is the most current version of the Chainsword used by Imperial military forces. Obviously, the Mark XI pattern designed for use by an Astartes is much larger than one designed for use by a normal-sized human who is an Imperial Guard officer.
- Legion Chainsword - As the name suggests, Chainswords are roughly sword-like in shape with a large flat housing containing the chain. Chainsword variants often used by the servants of Chaos 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 Chaos Space Marine forces are longer and heavier, fit only to be carried by these mightiest of warriors.
- Ironfang Chainsword - Designed to allow mere humans to approximate the deadly blows of a Chaos Space Marine, the Ironfang features a thick, bladed area with chained teeth nearly twice as wide as other Chainswords. The power from the backpack-mounted supply provides greater tearing strength, and the weighted nose of the sword allows the user to strike with heavy slashing blows. The weight of the backpack power supply is included in the weapon's overall weight.
- Phobos Pattern Great Chainsword - This huge two-handed weapon can run almost two metres 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 flail 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.
- Biting Blade - A large Chainsword used by Striking Scorpion Exarchs.
- Scorpion Chainsword - A lightweight, one-handed Chainsword used by warriors of the Striking Scorpions Aspect Warriors. 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.
Notable Chainsword Wielders
- Captain Leonatos of the Blood Angels Chapter
- Commissar Ciaphas Cain
- Eldar Striking Scorpion Phoenix Lord Karandras
- Colonel-Commissar Ibram Gaunt of the Tanith First and Only ("Gaunt's Ghosts")
- Mad Chainsaw Johnson, Force Commander of the White Scars Chapter
- Jaw of Bloodchairn (Ultramarines) - The Jaw of Bloodcharn was the Chainsword wielded by Tactical Squad Sergeant Kuriel during the war for a vital Agri-World in the Ango Sub-sector. Sudden attacks by dark-armoured Chaos Space Marines brought death to Kuriel’s captain and the sergeant stepped into his place to take command of the Ultramarines strike force. As the conflict escalated, Kuriel coordinated his efforts with allies from the Red Wolves and Sons of Orar Chapters, showing outstanding leadership ability. He was subsequently elevated to the Ultramarines' 1st Company and his promotion to the rank of Captain was only prevented when he volunteered to join the Deathwatch. His weapon is the mark of a great commander and is often given to up-and-coming Ultramarines slated for eventual officer status.
- Memor Nihilis (Flesh Tearers) - This massive Eviscerator Chainsword is intricately worked, with each tooth of the roaring blade inscribed to a level of detail few artisans could manage. This ornate work was done by the hand of a Sanguinary Priest, to commemorate the loss of the Chapter’s warriors claimed by the Black Rage. Barely visible script details the history and heraldry of dozens of warriors along the length of the blade, ever reminding its wielder of the peril of losing control of himself.
- Scipio's Regret (Angels Vermillion) - As with many other Blood Angels Successor Chapters, it is the practice of the Angels Vermillion to master many crafts and trades over the course of a Battle-Brother’s long life. The ornate and intricate ornamentation worked into the Chainsword now called Scipio's Regret could not have been achieved without such a life span to perfect the craft. It might have been better for its wielder had he not made his work so well, for Scipio was mobbed by desperate underhivers after defeating the beasts that plagued them, with the ungrateful wretches seeking to steal his marvellous blade. A Deathwatch Kill-team on the world was diverted to avenge the noble warrior and recover his weapon.
- Witchbane (Black Templars) - Black Templars Brother-Sergeant Navrell bore the Chainsword Witchbane into battle against Eldar pirates on the world of Scoth in the Ixaniad Sector. What started as a small skirmish escalated when a Webway portal opened on a ridge above the fighting. Through it stepped a black-robed Farseer, and behind him, a stream of Eldar reinforcements. Navrell led three squads to eliminate the new threat. Crackling balefire and slicing Eldar shurikens decimated his men, but Navrell fought through to cut down the Farseer. The portal snapped shut, and Navrell's Chainsword slew many more Eldar that day. It was this deed that led to Navrell’s secondment to the Deathwatch, bringing his weapon, now named Witchbane, with him.
- Black Crusade: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 162
- Black Crusade: The Tome of Blood (RPG), pg. 37
- Codex: Blood Angels (5th Edition) pg. 59
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (4th Edition), pp. 34, 84
- Codex: Chaos Space Marines (3rd Edition, 1st Codex), pg. 20
- 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
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pp. 115, 129
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (6th Edition), pg. 203
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 156
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 7
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine (Video Game)
- Dawn of War II (PC Game)