No Real Men would be caught wearing hose and frilly, lacey shirts and wearing, Real Men wear armor that weighs 60 pounds, and are smelly and sweaty, and don't hanker to lace. Of course, anyone with a rapier and some training could stick a knight in full plate armor full of holes before he could recover from the first swing of his sword, but that's beside the point.

I think you are missing the how rapiers and other light weapons (small sword, epee, ect) were brought into fashion. Big ass armor became obsolete when gun powder became prevalent. If a hand gun will punch straight through 60 pound armor, then wearing that all that crap becomes useless. Then comes the importance of light and fast weapons.

Rapiers and such would be nearly useless against a heavily armored opponent. They would be hard pressed to parry a heavier sword, and if the armored fellow knew what he was doing (didn't give flat shots to the rapier guy) it would be near impossible to poke a hole in him. Angle of deflection and all that.

Put the smart money on a light weapons fighter with a pistol of course, but don't count out the heavy armor in a stand up fight.

Medieval swords, contrary to popular belief were not the massive beams of steel that many think they were, and Rapiers were not as light as many assume.

On average a long-sword and a rapier both weighed about 3.5 pounds, with the main difference between them being the distribution of weight. Rapiers had lots of hiltwork and long-swords had broader blades but it was the way in which they were handled that made a difference. The rapier had the skinnied-out blade, a development of the real battlefield sword having to put more force into thrusts, and, as such, it was a stabbing weapon*. The long-sword was used for slashing attacks against its contemporary adversaries, who could be promptly diced with little armor for protection.

By the time gunpowder was starting to play a major role in warfare (ca. 1630 C.E.) many extra-thick breastplates were made for protection. If you ever see a small indentation in a museum piece, that was the test shot at the armorer's shop.

*In fact, some rapiers were not sharpened at all along their sides.

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