A Knuckle Duster seems to be strictly worse1 than Powerful Fist, still it is a Monk weapon.

Why would a Monk use it?

I am insterested only in mechanical answers, as you can explain any mechanically bad decisions with role-play.

1 ) 1d4 vs 1d6 damage, no Finesse

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Dec 26, 2022 at 20:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am very surprised by the amount of attention this question receives. It is not relevant for most characters. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Dec 28, 2022 at 21:40

2 Answers 2


Access to [metal] Weaknesses/Resistance Bypass early

Monks get "cold iron/silver" unarmed attacks at level 9 and "adamantine" unarmed attacks at level 17. If you know you will be fighting a creature before those points (as early as level 2-ish for cold iron/silver and 11-ish for adamantine) that you would benefit greatly from having such an attack available, it may be worth having a set of knuckle dusters around to address that need. They appear, currently, to be the only reasonably metal-made bludgeoning Monk weapon (except possibly the pantograph gauntlet, from the descriptive text) and the only common metal-made Monk weapon.

For that matter, breaking stuff could be a valid reason to keep standard-grade adamantine knuckle dusters around from level 11-ish. It's unclear if the level 17 class feature includes the full benefits of adamantine including reducing target objects' Hardness (the text is "Your unarmed attacks are treated as adamantine.").

If you need to have a weapon (or two)

If you have selected non-monk features that require using weapons, knuckle dusters suit the need. For one example, Double Slice from the Dual-Weapon Warrior or Fighter archetypes, doesn't allow for use with one or more unarmed attacks ("Requirements You are wielding two melee weapons, each in a different hand."). This may be a stop-gap while you wait to take Monastic Weaponry and find the time to go shopping for more beneficial weaponry.

It can also be the target of some magical effects, such as magic weapon (which is more generally useful than magic fang and not restricted to Primal) and disrupting weapons, that don't allow for selecting unarmed attacks.

These points assume you did not invest in Monastic Weaponry because there are better Monk weapons with that Feat. Knuckle dusters have the benefit of being simple and common.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Any thoughts about knuckle dusters with a monk archetype, or just the same reasons as above? \$\endgroup\$
    – brandon
    Dec 25, 2022 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hard to say for all base classes, but I'd expect basically the same. The biggest problem I see answering that is actually that you would need both a reason to use a Monk weapon (which the archetype does not give you by default) and still have not taken Monastic Weaponry with Basic/Advanced Kata. Most classes are going to dip Monk either for things that don't care about using Unarmed/Monk weapons or for stance(s). Either you don't care about weapon proficiency or you are going to be using better weapons anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Dec 26, 2022 at 20:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Keep in mind that knuckle dusters, even by this answer's standards, are pretty niche and I would not expect them to be used on a huge number of characters. Access to a simple bludgeoning weapon isn't that special, adding metal makes it slightly more so, and the Monk trait is, as expected, useful only in very specific ways. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Dec 26, 2022 at 20:15

An unlikely but possible reason

Overall I think it is unlikely that you would prefer the knuckle dusters, but there may be edge cases where you would have a reason to do so.

One reason is that this being an actual weapon, and you might find a magical one that deals extra damage — a +2 knuckle duster for example would deal better damage if your monk is strength based.

Even if you can transfer runes from a weapon to the handwraps, early on you are not of high enough level to do so for a +2 rune, so if your circumstances were that you have such knuckle dusters, you could not transfer them and would be better off using them.

P.S. I originally answered before the tag was added. In that context, you might get some knuckle dusters with your name or another message spelled out on them as ridges in mirror image, so as to leave imprints of them on the victims of your attacks. There is historic precedent for this with maces, for example the Narmer macehead of ancient Egypt. While you might cause less damage, it could help you with getting known (and feared) among your enemies.

  • \$\begingroup\$ @András I did not remove the tag, I first thought to add it, then realized it is not marked by you as such, and considering how long you've been around, answered. I now see that Thomas had removed it, checking history. You of course can add it, it's your question. In that case, there is probably no strict reason to use it. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 25, 2022 at 9:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GroodytheHobgoblin See my comment on the question for why I removed the tag. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 25, 2022 at 9:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Listed as "worn gloves". "You can upgrade, add, and transfer runes to and from the handwraps just as you would for a weapon, and you can attach talismans to the handwraps. Treat the handwraps as melee weapons of the brawling group with light Bulk for these purposes." 2e.aonprd.com/Equipment.aspx?ID=441 \$\endgroup\$
    – Mazura
    Dec 26, 2022 at 7:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mazura Thank you - not sure how I missed that part, I updated the answer (does not change the outcome, but cleans it up). \$\endgroup\$ Dec 26, 2022 at 7:27

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