The bardiche was classified as a polearm though it was often the shortest such weapon of its kind. The design was characterized by its large curved axe head atop a shaft that required use of two hands for maximum effect. Some nations preferred the bardiche over that of the similar competing halberd and its use may have begun in the late 14th century. It is believed that the bardiche itself was developed from the broadaxe type weapons utilized in Scandinavia. The bardiche survived long enough to see the advent of firearms on the battlefield and many existing bardiches were used to rest these new-fangled, cumbersome weapons on while firing.
Infantrymen generally respected the quick strike nature of their bardiches, a quality that was somewhat lacking in the longer halberd polearm. The bladed portion of the head could run as long as 2 feet, the shaft itself was never more than 5 feet. This balance made for improved wielding in confined spaces but, to some extent, the weapon lacked the basic function of a "true" polearm, particularly those designed to act as pikes against mounted cavalry charges.