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Iron Hands
Legion Number X
Primarch Ferrus Manus
Homeworld Medusa
Fortress-Monastery None, Substituted by Ten Mobile Fortresses[17]
Chapter Master Kardan Stronos, elected by the Iron Council[53e]
Colours Black and Silver[25]
Specialty Bionics, Armored Assault[63a]
Strength Estimated > 1000 marines
Battle Cry The Flesh Is Weak!

The Iron Hands were the X Legion of the twenty original Space Marine Legions, sometimes referred to as the "Iron Tenth". Their Primarch is Ferrus Manus. Like the other loyalist Legions, much of the Iron Hands forces would later, according to the dictates of the Codex Astartes, be re-organized into smaller Chapters. The Iron Hands are notable for their heavy use of bionics and their reverence for all things mechanical, and thus their close ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus.


Great Crusade-era Iron Hand[21d]

Medusa is located near the Eye of Terror. Its landscape is harsh and generally unstable, with massive tectonic shifts occurring on a regular basis. Medusa is not united by any single government, but instead is populated by disparate clans of miners living out of great tracked vehicles travelling in caravans. There are only two notable locations on Medusa: a volcano known as Karaashi, which was the location of the arrival of Ferrus Manus on the planet, and the Land of Shadows. The Land of Shadows is populated only by ghostly relics of ages past and is said to be haunted by the spirits of Medusans long dead; those who go there only go in order to become supplicants to the Iron Hands' recruitment process.[Needs Citation]



Originally known as the Storm Walkers[31] or Stormwalkers,[22a] the legion was created during the latter days of the Unification Wars on Terra. Recruitment bases at this time were spread widely all across the planet, but the warlike cultures of Albia in particular provided effective initiates for the Legion. The Legion's first instance of recorded combat was in the Sol system against a Mutant warband known as Scythers. Shortly thereafter they exterminated the Xenos Lyasx on the world of Oberath. While the Legion was victorious in both actions, they did not yet seem to specialize in any area of warfare. It was only during the invasion of the Ork-held Planet 02-34 (designated 'Rust') that the Legion's effectiveness in utilizing slow-moving mass firepower became apparent.[21a]

Ferrus Manus

The Primarch of what would later officially become the Iron Hands, Ferrus Manus (also known as "The Gorgon"), was among the first of the Emperor's sons to be rediscovered.[21a] The early history of Ferrus Manus is chronicled in the folklore of Medusa. The most popular of these tales is the "Canticle of Travels", which details the trials of Ferrus Manus and his ordeal with the Great Silver Wyrm known as Asirnoth. The Canticle is the only tale that even attempts to explain the mystery of how Ferrus Manus came by his living metal hands. Ferrus Manus never united the people of his homeworld in the way most of the other Primarchs had, on the basis that competition grew greater strength. When the Emperor eventually came to Medusa, Ferrus Manus tested himself against him as well in a cataclysmic battle that is said to have lain waste to entire mountains. Finally having found someone his equal, Ferrus accepted the Emperor as his master and took command of the X Legion of Space Marines, which was renamed the Iron Hands in his honor.[21a]

With the Gorgon at their head, the Iron Hands quickly became renowned for their ability to confront enemies of the Great Crusade head-on, gaining a reputation as ruthless and calculating fighters. They excelled at high-intensity warfare against both technologically advanced foes and brutal xenos such as Orks whose sheer power and vast numbers constituted a grave threat to the success of the Crusade. Soon enough, the Iron Hands became known as the Iron Tenth and were deliberately deployed to battlefronts where set-piece engagements against massed armies were likely. As their battle style required advanced war engines, the Iron Hands began to establish their notoriously close ties with the Adeptus Mechanicus, whose culture was astonishingly similar to their own.[21a] One of the most notable campaigns waged by the Iron Hands during the Great Crusade was that against the Diasporex. During the Astranii Campaign, the Iron Hands had a severe dispute with the Imperial Fists over what should become of the Astranii Machine Empire. Ferrus wished for the civilizations destruction as Hereteks, while Rogal Dorn wanted them assimilated into the larger Imperium. Ultimately, it fell to Horus Lupercal and an honor duel to settle the dispute.[61]

The Horus Heresy

At the outset of the Heresy, Fulgrim — the Primarch of the Emperor's Children — tried to turn Ferrus Manus to join the side of the traitors. When Ferrus refused, Fulgrim had his fleet launch a crippling attack on the Iron Hands vessels, although he could not bring himself to kill his brother. In the wake of this betrayal, Ferrus took as many of his veterans as he could onboard one of the few undamaged vessels to participate in the loyalist attack on Isstvan V. This proved to be a disaster when four of the supposedly loyal Legions turned on their allies, resulting in the Drop Site Massacre and horrendous casualties amongst the Raven Guard and Salamanders Legions and the death of Ferrus Manus and his entire retinue.[3] Rumors persist that Ferrus Manus's corpse was taken to Mars but the Iron Hands deny any such claims.[10] The events at Isstvan V proved to be deeply traumatic to the Iron Hands, and they struggled to explain their crippling defeat. The survivors drew sharply different conclusions:[41a][21b] Many developed a grudge against all the participants of the Heresy: the traitors, for being weak enough to become corrupted, but also against the other loyalists, for not being strong enough to protect the Emperor and their Primarch.[10][21b] Others became convinced that the Iron Hands and Ferrus Manus himself had been defeated because they had proven to be too weak, and devoted themselves to self-hatred. Some drew far darker conclusions, and went completely renegade. Large numbers of Iron Hands could not cope with the disaster at all; they went simply insane.[21b] Either way, the majority of the Iron Hands consequently launched "campaigns of redemption" to both atone for their own perceived weaknesses as well as to take revenge on the traitors.[41a]

As a result of the defeat at Isstvan V as well as their internal disagreements, the Iron Hands factually broke as a Legion.[21b][64b] One of the largest Iron Hand factions organized under Shadrak Meduson and waged a guerrilla war,[41a] nearly assassinating Horus, Fulgrim and Mortarion during the Battle of Dwell. Meduson attempted to reforge the Iron Hands and their Raven Guard and Salamanders allies into a new Legion to battle Horus directly, but was undermined by the crazed Cult of the Gorgon which claimed that it had resurrected Ferrus Manus.[35b] Ultimately Meduson, driven by vengeance, was slain at the Battle of the Aragna Chain.[35c] Meanwhile, another large Iron Hands force rallied under Autek Mor and devoted itself to the complete and merciless destruction of any Traitors; Mor's most notable success was the complete destruction of Bodt, a world used by the World Eaters to train its new troops.[41a][41d] Other Iron Hands organized as part of smaller Shattered Legion groups, joining warbands which included Space Marines of several different legions; one such contingent was part of the loyalist army which took part in the Siege of Baal.[41a][41c] Another important Shattered Legion force was led by the Iron Hands Ulrach Branthan, and later Cadmus Tyro, who campaigned against the traitors aboard the Sisypheum.[18]

"Ignominy is preferable to the shackles of cowards too weak to walk by their sire's side."
- Description of the Medusan Council, given by an unknown Iron Hand survivor of the Dropsite Massacre[64b]

A large section of the Iron Hands retreated to Medusa, where they formed the Medusan Council and mass recruited new Space Marines. These Iron Hands would only reenter the Horus Heresy during its later stages, launching counter-attacks against the Traitors,[41a][64b] most notably the "Bitter War" against the Word Bearers.[64b] The Medusan Council was largely recruited from individuals who had avoided the Dropsite Massacre due to having been exiled by Ferrus Manus. Accordingly, this faction commanded little respect among other Iron Hands loyalists.[64b] The Medusa-based faction and other Iron Hands would later be accused of having turned to forbidden technology after Ferrus Manus' death, particularily the Keys of Hel.[41a] Finally, there were some Iron Hands who were so disillusioned after Isstvan V that they took even more extreme steps. Some decided to strike out on their own, rejecting all masters and pursuing their own agendas ignoring the wider Horus Heresy. Others turned their back on the Legion entirely, becoming Blackshields.[21b] There was even a force of Iron Hands who turned completely traitor, joining the armies of Horus and adding the livery of the Sons of Horus to their old Iron Hands heraldry.[59]


The Iron Hands battle the Death Guard[53d]

Following the Horus Heresy, the Iron Hands were in a state of disarray and still reeling fron their near-destruction.[53a] The remnants of the Legion were split up into smaller Chapters, with known descendants of the Iron Hands at this time being the Red Talons and the Brazen Claws.[11] Those who were not split off were reorganized into the Iron Hands Chapter. While many Imperial factions bayed for blood and rushed to vent their fury upon their betrayers, the Iron Hands Chapter gathered its strength on Medusa for a conclave known as "the Tempering". There, it was decided that no single individual would command the Iron Hands again. Instead, the Iron Council would oversee the Chapter.[22a][53a]

The "Tempering" conclave further determined the Human race itself – in all contemptible emotion – was to blame for the Heresy, and must be purged of flaws. So it was that the Iron Hands determined their guiding mission. They would exact payment for the wrongs done to them, but with a measured ruthlessness. In their every thought and deed, they would seek out weakness and destroy it, replacing it with machine-like fortitude. Thus began a bloody campaign that continues to this day, fought by the Iron Hands and those amongst their successors shaped by these teachings.[53a] Meanwhile, the Mechanicum devised a scheme to edit a pre-Imperial document in order to better manipulate the Iron Hands to their will. This document became known as the Canticle of Travels.[37b][37c]

Known campaigns



Beliefs and Reputation

Iron Hands Battling Dark Eldar[22]
An Iron Hands Techmarine leads their forces in battle[40a]

The Iron Hands have a reputation for being relatively straightforward and incredibly harsh. In the Battle of Thranx for example the resources of several depleted Clan Companies were pooled for a full-frontal assault using five Land Raiders against a facility bristling with anti-tank defenses that had made a mockery of previous attempts with whole armoured companies; in the retaking of the Contqual Subsector, one-third of the population was summarily executed after a successful campaign simply to demonstrate the price of weakness. [10] They are also known to be on poor terms with the Raven Guard and after the liberation of the Kelldar System from an Ork Waaagh! in 810.M41 refused to sit at the same feasting table as their Raven Guard allies.[19b]


The Iron Hands are infamous for their extensive use of bionics, which has helped bring them into a close relationship with the Adeptus Mechanicus.[9a] After the Horus Heresy, when the Legions were reorganized into Chapters, the Iron Hands became recluses, attempting to find ways to make themselves even stronger so that they would be fit for serving under Ferrus Manus again at the end of times. Many within the Chapter consider flesh to be a sign of weakness, and seek to expunge it from themselves through mechanical enhancement.[63b] To this end, they have made it a practice to make extensive use of bionic modifications, going so far that there are rumours of some battle brothers being wholly mechanical. Iron Hands consider the greatest honour they can receive is to be interred in Dreadnought armour.[9a] It is in the so-called Blessing of Iron ritual that the Iron Hands replace parts of their bodies with Bionics.[Needs Citation]

The Iron Hands also eschew the traditional office of Chaplain in favor of their Iron Fathers, specially trained Techmarines who serve to protect the faith of their brethren; some outsiders view this, as well as the Iron Hands' ties to the Adeptus Mechanicus, as an unhealthy relationship.[10]


While many Iron Hands use skull-studs to denote long service in the same manner as other Chapters, in recent years some have begun using a strange augmetic known as the Forgechain. The Forgechain is a series of augmetic vertebrae. Each new vertebrae shows acceptance into a another Clan. Each company makes its own links so all links in the chain are different. Clan Dorrvok for example uses plain steel to form the first vertebrae for each of their new Scouts. Clan Sorrgol's is formed from a finely tooled galvanite alloy. Clan Raukaan is black Sigilanium veined with Theldrite circuitry. The chain serves as a reminder to the wearer of the bonds that bind the chapter together. Some believe it is to echo the chains that Ferrus bound around the Iron Hands' hearts. [22]

Possible Tech-Heresy

Adeptus Mechanicus Mech-wright Calymn Auros reported possible Iron Hands tech-heresy that he had found in the Jericho Reach. Calymn Auros wrote he had witnessed "terrifying biomechanical behemoths fusing man and machine into living weapons" that fought alongside the Iron Hands against the Stigmartus hordes in the Acheros Salient and sported their heraldry on their hulls. He claimed to have examined the burnt-out wreckage of another of these weapon-studded behemoths and he was convinced it was "animated by the essence of an Iron Hands Battle-Brother who had entirely shed every cell of his biological heritage, little more than pure hate and rage remaining to drive him ever onwards". Auros also claimed to have shared his findings with Inquisitor Calistair. Archmagos Zynth received the report but his reaction consisted only in ordering to send out mono-task servitors and a Secutor to the Cellebos Warzone and retrieve Calymn for adjustment as he believed him corrupted.[13]

Strategy and Tactics

Between battles or on their warships while in the Warp, Iron Hands often spend time uploaded to cryo-pods, inloading tactical schematics and information. This aids the over-arching strategic hexamathic formulae that they deploy while on campaign known as the Calculus of Battle. This system seeks to breakdown wars to raw data and numbers, where enemy actions, logistics, casualties, and environmental elements can be predicted and balanced like an equation. Once a conclusion has been reached, the Iron Hands nihilistic brutality translates well to war. When they attack, they do so without hesitation or mercy and will show little regard to the well-being of allies, as the Calculus of Battle has no factorial representation for civilian.[63c]

This ruthlessness extends even their own Battle-Brothers, who will be coldly sacrificed to achieve an objective should it be necessary to achieve a victory of worth greater than the cost expended. This does not deter warriors of the Iron Hands however. Iron Hands fear no death and view injury in battle as something that should be sought after instead of shunned.[63c]

The Iron Hands rarely commit to a campaign unless overwhelming victory is all but guaranteed. To that end, they employ Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-Priests known as the Magi Calculi whose job it is to analyze data and ascribe to it strategic worth and likelihood of victory. However the Iron Council can overrule the decisions of the Magi Calculi, as seen when Kardan Stronos disregarded their conclusions and joined Roboute Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade anyway.[63c]


The Iron Hands exhibit no physical flaws that can be traced back to their gene-seed, but it is possible that their extreme contempt for weakness in themselves and others may actually be due to an unidentified psychological flaw carried by their gene-seed. Being Space Marines, the Iron Hands already have superior physiology, and the bionics which they embrace do little to improve on it. Thus, the Iron Hands may suffer from body dysmorphia.[56]

The ritual of taking in the Gene-Seed of the Iron Hands is known as the Taking of the Soulsteel. During the ritual, Neophytes purge themselves of fear, pain, and anger and repress mortal weakness with mantras of cold logic.[53e]


Organization of a typical Iron Hands Clan[12]

The Iron Hands are organised in a similar fashion to a Codex Chapter but with several distinct differences: The Chapter consists of ten "Clan Companies" based on the Clans of Medusa[40a] which are composed in a fashion comparable to that of a Codex Battle Company. Each Clan Company is an independent entity, responsible for its own recruitment and equipment aquisition. Each Clan also possesses a colossal mobile fortress, a Land Behemoth.[17]

The Great Clan Council

Each Clan Company chooses a member to serve in the ruling body of the Chapter, the Great Clan Council (also called the Iron Council.[19a]) The organizational structure of the Iron Hands changed after the Horus Heresy and the death of Ferrus Manus; it was decided that no single warrior should be the leader of the Iron Hands. Instead, the Clan Captains and most revered warriors of the Legion formed the Iron Council. Those who sit on the Council are known as Iron Fathers, and the body has guided the Iron Hands ever since.[19a] Due to the reverence for the mechanical amongst Iron Hands, the council members are often Venerable Dreadnoughts.[10] Precisely forty-one Iron Fathers sit on the Iron Council.[22a]

The Iron Council elects the Chapter Master of the Iron Hands, as unlike in most other Chapters the holder does not bear the title for life.[53e]

Clan Companies

The bulk of the Chapter is divided into ten Clan Companies. The Clan Companies are based off of the historic Clans of Medusa, which are in a state of constant war with one another as well as the harsh elements of their world. Though Ferrus Manus long ago united Medusa under his rule, the Iron Hands make no effort to end the fighting between the clans. They view the constant warfare as weeding out the weak and shaping strong recruits for the Chapter. Each of the ten current Clan Companies continues to utilize the symbols and traditions associated with their corresponding Clan on Medusa.[40a] As should be of little surprise, the Iron Hands have a reputation for aloofness among the people of Medusa. Indeed, they wish to forget the fragile, contemptible flesh that once they were. This has never been more true than with the energies of the Great Rift blazing down. Deliberate contact between the Chapter and the clans who supply its recruits are few and fleeting outside of tithing season. Even when Dark Eldar raiders make planetfall in search of slaves, the Chapter seldom intervenes, reasoning that the attacks will serve to temper the Medusans to greatness.[53c]

Each Clan is a self-contained unit not dissimilar to a Codex Astartes Battle Company; however, each Clan is responsible for its own recruiting and maintenance of its motorpool. Each Clan, in addition, possesses a mobile Land Behemoth fortress monastery on Medusa which they consider their base of operations. Some materials is traded between the Clans, but still they are often in open competition with one another.[10] They are known to compete politically and even sometimes come to blows. The Clan system developed as a reaction to the Drop Site Massacre during the Horus Heresy when large numbers of Iron Hands Captains were slain, creating confusion among the collective Iron Hands ranks.[37b][37c] The Chapter's fleet disposition is unknown.

Clans in the Iron Hands are more than simple companies, they are each distinct not only culturally but also in how they wage war and view their service to the Emperor: Clan Garrsak for instance values collective unity while Clan Vurgaan hordes captured enemy weaponry.[37b][37c]

While Clan Companies are fixed, their place within the Codex Astartes and Iron Hands organization is not. For instance, had it not been for the efforts of Iron Father Feirros on the Iron Council Clan Raukaan would have lost its status as the 3rd Company and may have instead been "demoted" to a Reserve Company.[53c]

Chapter Disposition (post-Great Rift)

Chapter Command

Kardan Stronos, Master of the Iron Council

Apothecarion Librarius Chaplaincy

Anaar Telech,
Chief Apothecary

Chief Librarian

Ranek Varth,
Father of Iron

Clan Companies[53b]
Veteran Company Battle Companies
1st Company 2nd Company 3rd Company 4th Company 5th Company

Clan Avernii

"The Forge-Born"


Clan Garrsak

"The Tempered Wardens"


Clan Raukaan

"The Firehearts"


Clan Kaargul

"The Watchers of Karaashi"


Clan Haarmek

"The Relic Guard"

Caanok Var,
Iron Captain

Eutuun Hes,
Iron Captain

Klaarc Kalag,
Iron Captain

Iron Captain

Hastiim Haarmek,
Iron Captain

Reserve Companies Scout Company
6th Company 7th Company 8th Company 9th Company 10th Company

Clan Sorrgol

"The Watchkeepers"


Clan Borrgos

"The Will of the Omnissiah"


Clan Morlaag

"The Fist of Manus"


Clan Vurgaan

"The Brothers of Iburaani"


Clan Dorrvok

"The Crucible"

Kaldabane Vhor,
Iron Captain

Dourr Raan,
Iron Captain

Doroor Hesh,
Iron Captain

Agaar Verrox,
Iron Captain

Taahg Telavech,
Iron Captain

Heresy-Era Clans

Iron Fathers

A Terminator Armour equipped Iron Hands Marine.[9b]

The traditional Chaplains' role of other Chapters is fulfilled by Iron Fathers, specially trained Techmarines who serve to protect the faith of their brethren.[10] Iron Fathers also sit on the Iron Council of the Chapter.[19a]

Terminators and Veteran Sergeants

After the events of the Battle of Isstvan V the Iron Hands lost most of their veteran forces. Therefore, suits of Terminator armour are even more rare than normally is the case. Due to this the deployment of full Terminator Squads is also rare. However, sergeants are often equipped with suits of Terminator armour as the inspirational value they provide to their squads is invaluable.[10]


Each of the Clan Companies of the Iron Hands is responsible for their own recruitment. These new recruits are taken from the nomadic Clans of Medusa. Only those of great physical and mental strength are recruited and during the recruitment candidates have their weaknesses purged from them.[9a] Regardless of origin, those that survive the initial selection process spend their first decade in Clan Dorrvok and train in the desolated proving grounds of Ooranus on Medusa. Even fewer survive this grueling process, and recruits are treated with extreme disregard. Infighting amongst the Aspirants and Initiates is common and even encouraged, with Iron Hands sergeants often stopping training exercises just to turn brothers on each other or enflame rivalries. Even when elevated to full Battle-Brother a Marines chance of survival improves little. Believing themselves to be weeding out the weak and unworthy, raw recruits are often given near-suicidal assignments that would usually be given to veterans in other Chapters.[63b]

Due to their harsh training regimen and stubbornness in both attack and defense, only the strongest in the Chapter survive. Thus the Iron Hands are a top-heavy chapter with many veterans but less Scouts and Initiates. To maintain their strength, recruits are constantly sought after by Clan Iron Fathers within the Wastes of Medusa. Librarians are often recruited from Black Ships passing near Medusa.[63b]


Noted Elements of the Iron Hands

Iron Hands battling Eldar[22]
An Iron Hand battling Orks[22]




Most notable Members

Heresy Era

Post Heresy

Unique Troops

The Iron Hands possess a number of unique ranks and troop types:


Notes on Hierarchy

The exact commander of the Iron Hands has been fairly convoluted throughout publication history.

  • Later, Codex: Space Marines (6th Edition) describes the Chapter as being overseen by the Chapter Council and lacking a formal Chapter Master. However, Kardan Stronos is the first among peers on the council due to his reputation and instead serves as a de facto leader.[19a]

See also