|“||Therefore Thingol took thought for arms, which before his people had not needed, and these at first the Naugrim smithied for him; for they were greatly skilled in such work...||”|
Throughout their existence, the so-called Naugrim, or Dwarves, have been experts at making and using various weaponry. This skill comes from the Vala Aulë the Smith, who crafted the Dwarves at the beginning of Arda. The list of common Dwarven weaponry goes on and on, and from their very origin each type, including bows and crossbows, has retained a unique Dwarven identity and respect among other cultures.
The Dwarven axe is the standard weapon for any Dwarf soldier. The axe can be a combination of various types, either large or small, curved, doubled headed, smooth or a throwing type. Used extensively throughout the wars fought by Dwarves, the axe probably came into use by the time Khazad-dûm was founded, somewhere in the Ages of Stars. The idea of the use of the axe is to drive forward while attacking; therefore, it is not good in defense. Being a weapon that is hard to control, the axe takes great skill to master, which shows the skill the Dwarves have in warfare. Indeed, the axe was probably the first real weapon used by the Dwarves, most likely being first made out of stone and then iron. As time went on, Dwarves were constantly changing the way they made weapons. With the new use of steel, Dwarves made hardier and overall better axes, but the newfound metal Mithril changed everything for them. With Mithril, Dwarves were able to reach their peak in making weapons. Suddenly, axes began taking on almost magical qualities, being able to slice through almost any metal. The metal Mithril may have completely changed the way Dwarves made and used their axes, but the magical metal was hard to find and even harder to harvest. Thus, most Dwarven axes continued to be made of other metals like steel.
The Dwarven sword is almost as amazing as the axe. Such famous Dwarven figures like Thorin Oakenshield have wielded this weapon to great effect. As with the Elves, the Dwarves craft their swords expertly and the weapon has evolved as the use of materials to make it has changed. With the use of iron, the Dwarven sword was not unlike others, being either a longsword or a pointed shortsword. With the use of steel, the sword took on a more advanced look, being more broadlike, heavier and sharper. As with the axe, the Dwarven sword reached its peak when the use of Mithril came about, but also like the axe, it still was primarily made out of steel. It is easier to handle than the axe, which leads younger Dwarven warriors preferring it over the axe, or as a side weapon.
Certainly, Dwarves make use of other weapons than the sword or the axe. The mace, spear, flail, crossbow, mattock and many others have their place in Dwarven armies, however the use of the bow, as stated, is not common among Dwarves. There is not much record stating if any famous Dwarves wielded these weapons, but it is known that they were issued to many warriors who used them to deadly effect. Thorin and co. used bows given to them by Beorn in Mirkwood, and Thorin was the only dwarf of the company to hit the stag they saw implying skill with a bow.
Perhaps the Dwarves are best known for their armour above all other things battle-related. As with their weapons, Dwarven armour has evolved as the ages have progressed. The earliest metal armour was probably bronze, but that is not recorded. A better example of early Dwarf armour would be iron or steel chainmail, which was invented and used by the Dwarves to great effect by the time of the Wars of Beleriand. Of course, iron or steel helms and shields would accompany this chainmail, possibly along with plate armour. Dwarven helmets are recorded to have covered the face, with the use of a forged mask. This mask was particularly helpful when fighting Dragons, as the face would be shielded from the flames, thanks to the expert craft of the Dwarves.
Dwarven shields came in many different types and as all Dwarven works they were highly decorated. Indeed, Dwarven armour is a subject of such perplexity that it would be near impossible to cover all types of this amazing work, thus the reader must forgive the short text. Lastly, with the use of Mithril, their armour changed more dramatically than any other of their works did. Having such properties as to make arrows bounce off, Mithril became an invaluable substance to the Dwarves, so much, so that a single mail shirt could be "worth more than the value of the Shire and everything in it". However, the use of Mithril in arms and armour became very limited after Orcs of the Misty Mountains and the newly awakened Balrog of Morgoth overran the Dwarf mines of Khazad-dûm. Still, Dwarven steel armour became highly prized and continued to be used throughout the Dwarven kingdoms. After Moria was recaptured Mithril again was easy to smith and find.