In a question I asked, the gauntlets were said to be considered an armor/shield type of equipment instead of being a weapon (in the comments of this answer), despite their listing in the weapons page. This was due to them being part of 2/3 of all armors.

If gauntlets are in fact armor, does that mean that spiked gauntlets are actually armor with armor spikes?

My reason for asking is are both parts able to be enhanced on their own, much like armor and armor spikes can be? So the gauntlets could be enchanted to provide an ... armor(?) bonus and their spikes enchanted to increase their offensive attack?

Which would mean that when you enchant just gauntlets they should be providing an AC bonus instead of an attack bonus?


3 Answers 3


No, it doesn’t mean that at all.

Gauntlets are weapons. They are listed in the weapons table, and described in the weapons chapter. They are explicitly described as having “weapon features.” You use them to attack and deal damage. They are weapons in literally every way anything could possibly be a weapon, and there is absolutely no indication anywhere that they should be anything else.

For that matter, being armor doesn’t make something automatically not a weapon; after all, shields are quite explicitly both. You can enhance a shield as a weapon or as armor, or both, and those enhancements are entirely separate. So even if we buy that gauntlets are also armor items, that wouldn’t stop them from being weapons or gaining weapon enhancements.

But we should not buy that, because it’s clearly untrue. Gauntlets come for free with most suits of armor, but the armor item is the entire suit. You could not wear just a pair of gauntlets, and expect any AC bonus. You could not enhance those gauntlets and expect that to produce any AC bonus, either. At best, you could make gauntlets of armor like the bracers of armor, but then you’re crafting them as a wondrous item, not as real armor.

Pathfinder has a lot of weird, counter-intuitive, or hidden rules, but it doesn’t have things that are consistently called one thing in half a dozen places, but are secretly not that thing but actually a different thing altogether, despite never getting called that thing. That would be madness well above and beyond even the twistiest RAW lawyering.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Technically, a +1 defending gauntlet could provide an AC bonus... but it's still not armor. Anyway +1 for the well-written answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeQ
    May 8, 2018 at 4:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kryan I would actually disagree with your last paragraph...thanks to a whole bunch of mechanics that 'act like x' or 'are treated like y', there ARE a bunch of things that are called different things in different places. Monk unarmed attacks, for instance - they are unarmed attacks, AND weapons. So, different parts of the rules refer specifically to one or the other, without referring to Monk unarmed attacks. \$\endgroup\$
    – YogoZuno
    May 8, 2018 at 21:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is counterintuitive. IRL, I've never heard of gauntlets being considered unilaterally weapons and only provisionally armor. I wore leather gauntlets when I used to fence, but they are not offensive in the slightest. Is this a Pathfinder thing? \$\endgroup\$ May 9, 2018 at 0:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @keithcurtis Yes, it is. The Pathfinder definition of gauntlets is found in the weapons section of the book, where they are detailed as weapons that cannot be disarmed, and that are like an unarmed strike excepting that they deal lethal damage instead of non-lethal damage. The armor section mentions them as something that comes with many suits of armor, but since Pathfinder armor is a monolithic thing—barring an optional variant, Pathfinder does not deal in vambraces or gorgets or greaves or whatever else, just the entire suit as one item—gauntlets are not statted as separate armor items. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 9, 2018 at 0:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Thanks. I don't usually comment (or even follow) Q&A on systems I don't play, but this one intrigued me. \$\endgroup\$ May 9, 2018 at 0:30

Q1: Are spiked gauntlets just armor with armor spikes?

No. The description of armor spikes cites grappling as the cause for extra damage, not punching. So the armor spikes are arranged around the suit of armor in such a way that they don't hinder its protective function or harm the wearer but can be brought to bear on a grappled opponent. Spiked gauntlets are lists as a single item.

Q2: Are both parts able to be enhanced on their own?

Both parts being what? Spiked gauntlets are one item. You can enchant them either way, or both although that is only explicitly mentioned for a shield. "A shield could be built that also acted as a magic weapon, but the cost of the enhancement bonus on attack rolls would need to be added into the cost of the shield and its enhancement bonus to AC."

Q3: Gauntlets enchanted with armor bonus and spikes enchanted with attack bonus?

If they were separate items yes, but they're not. If you extrapolate the information about shields being able to be enchanted both ways to include all items which could fulfil both protective and offensive categories then also yes but as a single item carrying all enchantments.

Q4: Gauntlets should only provide an AC bonus instead of an attack bonus?

No, it means you get to choose how you want to enchant them, as armor or as a weapon, or both. Everything can be a weapon, that is why there are the Catch Off Guard, and Throw Anything feats. Whether a broom, bucket, barstool, spoon, jug, gauntlet, or shield anything can be used as a weapon. It may not be the original intention, but that doesn't matter in the thick of combat... or a particularly vicious breakfast sitting. Gauntlets are armor (as stated by Yogozuno, sorry KRyan but we should buy that, as it is their original intended purpose, they've expanded their role since then I admit), they protect the hand and wrist. Shields and gauntlets are pieces of armor that have been used as weapons so much they have earned their own entry in weapon tables. They are listed in 8 of the 21 "Armor Piece Descriptions - Arms". According to PathFinder RAW gauntlets don't warrant an individual AC bonus for being worn. However, for Piecemeal Arm Armor of Chain upwards (in weight) where the arm armor counts for +1 of the entire suit, if you don't wear the gauntlets you shouldn't get the +1 AC the arm armor would provide as you are not wearing everything that is required. As per the following description for Chain "sleeves of loose-fitting chain fitted to the shoulder, or separate lengths of chain attached to pauldrons and couters, and ending in a pair of gauntlets at the hands", if you didn't have the gauntlets on you don't have the arm armour ALL on. PathFinder allows enchanting in both Armor and Weapon varieties on the same item as others have already stated here.
RAW allows the wearing of arm armour alone. For Chain you get the +1AC, +2Max Dex, -3ArmorCheckPenalty, and 30%Spell Failure. Masterwork and magic can then be applied as normal. So you can wear a pair of gauntlets (or just one) but they are deemed too insignificant a piece of the overall armour to grant a +1 AC bonus, but you can still punch with them for more damage that your bare fist. They're just not being used for the originally intended purpose.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @YogoZuno I was only referring to your comment on that post which is why I linked off your name here. Gauntlets are a part of heavier armor, they are not additional equipment on top of the armor. As listed in the Piecemeal Armor PathFinder pages, gauntlets are a part of the arm armor of heavier armors. \$\endgroup\$
    – niekell
    May 9, 2018 at 3:39

It seems to me you are misinterpreting what was written. The answer you linked to doesn't say that gauntlets ARE armour. It actually just says

For HP my estimate would be 10, based on the 10 HP that a light steel shield or a pair of manacles has

So, the answerer used a shield and a piece of equipment to estimate the HP.

One of the comments (mine) says they are provided with armour. That's STILL not the same thing as saying they ARE armour.


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