Guide to Fencing Plastrons

A plastron is a piece of fencing clothing that is sometimes overlooked because it is not visible on a fencer. It is nonetheless an important piece of fencing attire - read our guide below for more information on fencing plastrons.

What is a Plastron?

Fencing plastron

A plastron is an underarm protector worn by fencers to provide additional protection while fencing. It is worn underneath a fencing jacket and covers the sword-side upper arm and chest of the fencer.

It covers the sword-side to provide additional protection to the side of the body which is most exposed to the attacks of the opposing fencer. This in essence provides the fencer with twice the protection than the other side of the body.

Different Types of Plastrons

There are several different types of plastrons you can buy, and there are fewer variables and options when choosing a plastron compared to other fencing clothing and equipment.

FIE Plastrons

FIE plastrons are plastrons that meet the requirements of the FIE (Fédération Internationale d'Escrime), the international governing body of Olympic fencing. 

As such, these plastrons will have a higher puncture resistance (e.g. 800N). FIE plastrons are usually more expensive due to the higher quality standard they need to meet.

Within FIE plastrons, some suppliers will have different options, such as lightweight or economy options for those on a budget.

Non-FIE Plastrons

Conversely, Non-FIE plastrons do not meet the quality and protection standard set by the FIE. As such, these are likely to be cheaper, thinner and offer less protection than FIE plastrons. 

However, providing they bear a safety mark of some kind (such as CE) they can still meet general safety requirements to be sold. 

Non-FIE plastrons can be an option for those on a budget, or if you are just starting out and have elevated from using club kit, but you aren’t quite ready to splash out on an FIE plastron.

Take a look at our beginner fencing tips guide for more fencing advice for new fencers.


What Side Plastron to Buy?

If you fence right handed, you will need to buy a right-sided plastron, and left-sided if you fence left-handed. This is so your sword arm/side is given greater protection, as it is more likely to receive touches from your opponent.

The likelihood does differ according to each sword due to the varying target areas. See our fencing swords guide for more information.

How Do You Wear a Plastron?

A plastron is worn underneath your jacket and over your breech braces (if you have braces). 

You simply put your head through the head hole and your sword arm through the sleeve. You then tighten the side strap until it’s a comfortable fit.

It doesn’t matter if you have a dangling plastron strap after tightening your plastron as this will be covered by your jacket.

How Much Do Plastrons Cost?

Plastrons generally cost between £40 and £90 for an adult plastron. However, you may be able to get a secondhand plastron for cheaper as long as it is in good condition for fencing.

Do You Need to Wear a Plastron?

Yes, a plastron is a standard piece of fencing clothing and should be worn whether you are fencing non-electric (dry) or electric (wired). It offers you additional protection for little effort and you should feel more comfortable knowing you have that added protection while you fence.

If you want to learn more terms like "dry" and "steam" take a look at our fencing terminology guide.

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