Guns & Weapons

Survival Weapons: Preparing for Self Defense

Survival Weapons

An unfortunate but essential part of any bug out bag, emergency kit, or prepper household is a good stock of weapons. In a catastrophic emergency scenario, people react instinctively, and the instinct to survive can override common courtesy and ethical behavior. As we’ve seen in natural disasters and situations where society breaks down, as people fend for themselves, they turn on their neighbors and do things they normally wouldn’t in an effort to survive.

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In this unfortunate side effect of disaster, it’s important to have the confidence and tools to protect yourself. Generally speaking, those that are better prepared (hopefully, like you) tend to become targets for break ins and theft by those that either aren’t prepared for the emergency, or are simply taking advantage of the chaos to loot.

In these situations, it’s so important to realize that we cannot count on law enforcement to be there to help us. On a regular day, police arrive after a crime has occurred about 80% of the time. In an emergency scenario, where they’re receiving hundreds of calls and things are incredibly chaotic, you’ll be lucky to have anyone respond at all, let alone in time to help protect you and your belongings.

Take your personal safety into your own hands and prepare for the possibility of having to defend yourself. Though it’s not a pretty thought, having the tools to defend yourself will put you back in the driver’s seat, and allow you not just to protect your food stores and family, but to help others with any excess you may have.

Excessive and unnecessary force is never anything to be proud of, and though you have every right to defend your family and your personal property, using these weapons responsibly and ethically is just as important as having them in the first place. Make sure that with these survival weapons you get yourself the proper training, and respect the responsibility of what they represent.

Inconspicuous types of weapons

The important thing to remember, particularly when you’re out in public, is that many people may feel uncomfortable or threatened by seeing someone who is openly armed. You can choose to let this bother you or not, but either way, local laws may stand in the way of you openly carrying any weapons.

Bat with nails

This is where it pays to learn how to use everyday objects as survival weapons. By keeping things that appear innocent enough close at hand, you can not only avoid scrutiny, but also gain the element of surprise on a potential threat. If your weapon of choice is a flashlight, rolled up newspaper, or ballpoint pen, you’re much more likely to succeed in disabling an attacker. You can also think about a concealed carry holster if you own a gun and you want it close. If you’re interested, take a look at our reviews on the best carry holsters that are easy to conceal.

Here are just a few ideas of everyday objects, and how with a little technique and muscle, they can become formidable survival weapons.


This is a dual purpose tool, as it’s always nice to have a good quality flashlight on hand. However, try not to focus so much on the lumens, but rather the size and weight of it. The idea here it to use your flashlight like a club if need be.


Look for something with a handle that has some texture to it to make your grip more secure, plenty of weigh to it, and of course made of metal.

You should take a look at our reviews on the best survival flashlight as these are both sturdy and durable.

Ballpoint pens

This is one that’ll make you cringe, but as any woman who’s ever held her car keys like a shank in a dark parking lot before will tell you, it’s a very realistic weapon. Keeping a nice metal fountain pen in your cup holder or purse could protect you from a robbery or assault in a pinch. By inflicting wounds to the soft, fleshy parts of a person’s anatomy, you can quickly disable them and make your escape.

Survival Pen

The self defense tactical pen from True Swords has been marketed to just this purpose, with a sturdy aluminum body that can handle the impact of impaling someone. It’s shaped like a rifle bullet, and looks pretty cool and inconspicuous sticking out of an oxford pocket.

There is even a market for tactical pens and it may baffle you to know that they are extremely effective in close combat situations. Take a look at our in-depth reviews on the best tactical pens on the market and let us know what you think.

Baseball bats

This one is a very common home defense weapon, particularly for those who many not be fond of firearms. Though it won’t do you much good if your attacker is equipped with a loaded gun, in close quarters and with enough upper body strength, you can do some serious damage to a home invader.

Baseball Bat

Plus, there aren’t a whole lot of criminals that won’t at least retreat a little at the sight of a grown man coming at them with a baseball bat-the image alone is enough to conjure a headache.

Using firearms as survival weapons

It goes without saying that owning and knowing how to use a gun is an excellent way to protect yourself, your family, and your property. Often times, even just having a gun as a visual deterrent is enough to keep troublemakers at bay. However, there are some guns that are designed for long distance shooting and hunting, and may not necessarily be suited for self defense.

To select a gun that is going to do you any good as a survival weapon, it helps for it to be multi-faceted. Look for something that will function in close quarters, but also have enough power to take down either an attacker or a deer. While protecting yourself from home invaders is certainly a priority, you may need your weapon for hunting as well, so it may as well be suited to both purposes.

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Handguns are a great for self-defense, and fit well into purses (just be sure to look into your state’s gun laws and get a conceal carry permit). Look for something that is simple to fire, but safe to keep in your purse or nightstand. Take it to a range to see how accurate it is. Many revolvers and pistols can be difficult to shoot accurately, so look for something with a wide spread and minimal recoil for the best accuracy. We have a great article on the best handguns for home defense that may help you choose the right one.

If you’re looking for something to mount above your back door, shot guns are an excellent option. Not only do they have a very wide spread, making them excellent for defenders with poor aim, but they create massive damage by spraying shot as they’re fired at the target.  They’re reputation for creating catastrophic bodily damage and being easy to fire will deter anyone from trying to cross you.  Not only this, but their power and range make them suitable for both home defense and hunting. Of course, we also have reviews on the best shotguns to use in a survival situation so don’t forget to check them out.

If you decide to purchase a gun for your survival weapon of choice, make sure to stock up on plenty of ammo. Lots of websites sell it in bulk quantities, so you can stock up without spending an arm and a leg. Make sure to account for enough ammo to allow you to take your firearms to the range and practice too.

Affordable DIY options

That’s right, you can even make some pretty great survival weapons. Though this is a more time consuming route to go, and takes a little practice and ingenuity, you can save a ton of money. There are a lot of simple (and plenty intimidating) weapon ideas out there that will give you the upper hand in the event of societal collapse. Be sure to do plenty of reading and get a comprehensive understanding of the plans for them before attempting to construct these weapons though-an error in construction can be an explosive mistake to make. Literally.

Sure, these DIY projects aren’t likely to make any boards on Pinterest, but they’re a practical and affordable way to keep some creative weapons laying around, without breaking the bank or local firearms regulations.

Option #1 – the potato gun

This is a classic homemade weapon that adolescent boys and tactical operations alike have been producing for decades. The fun begins by building a cannon-often out of PVC pipe-that uses the power of compressed air, or even ignition of flammable gases, to create enough pressure to fire a potato at extremely high velocities.

Many of these projectiles will travel over 100 yards, when fired out of a well constructed cannon. Be sure to give yourself plenty of space for testing, and read the directions carefully-the last thing you want is the plastic cannon housing exploding in your arms.

Potato Gun

There are lots of tutorials and videos online. Study several of them and compare the designs, making sure to follow only the advice of people that have actually successfully constructed them. Once you succeed in making your potato gun though, prepare to be feared. This simple weapon can do some serious damage to internal organs, and at the very least leave one hell of a bruise.

One major advantage of creating a weapon like this is its versatility-you don’t exactly have to worry about running out of ammo. If you don’t have any potatoes handy, and you’re looking to do some serious damage, everything from rocks to bean bags can be substituted in their wake, so long as they’re a similar size and weight.

Option #2 – the paper brick

This a homemade weapon originally crafted by creative soccer fans trying to sneak weapons into the stadiums. The concept is simple enough; just get a newspaper, and fold it over and over again in on itself, until you have a brick roughly two inches wide.

The paper brick

You can add coins to the folded end if you want to add extra weight. From there, just secure it with twine or duct tape, and use it as a blunt force weapon.

Option #3 – the stone club

We’re going Cro-Magnon with this one. In a survival scenario, you may not always be within convenient travelling distance of a Cabela’s. For the wilderness survivalist, the stone club is one of the oldest survival weapons, and one of the simplest to make.

First, find yourself a suitable stone: something relatively flat, but heavy, and either with a sharp edge or a heavy blunt side, depending on the effect you want the weapon to have. Find a very strong branch, still green so that it’s flexible. Form a split down the branch, starting from the top, going about one and a half times the length of the stone down.

Stone Club

Laying the branch on the ground, wedge your stone in the middle of the split, finding the most stable position to secure it in. Then, using whatever kind of rope or twine you have handy, tightly bind the top of the branch to seal the split. If the cut you made in the branch is a little on the long side, and you have some open space below the stone, go ahead and bind that end of the split as well. Lastly, form an x-shaped bind around the stick and stone, crisscrossing the rope tightly, then finishing in a hitch and tying a secure knot to keep it all in place.

It’s a crude weapon, to be sure, and you’re not likely to be taking down an elk with one anytime soon; but should one of those two-legged varmints try to steal your supplies, you now have a formidable weapon to defend yourself with.

Option #4 – bow and arrow

My favorite weapon, and another that has withstood the test of time, the traditional bow and arrow is a dual purpose weapon, excellent for hunting and self defense. However, this survival weapon will take lots of practice to be effective, so whether you decide to make your own long bow or buy one, be sure to go out every day and shoot a few straw bales.

Also keep I mind that this is a weapon primarily designed for long range defense, not close quarters combat. With that limitation in mind, always be sure to keep something for close combat (like that awesome club you just made) nearby, so you’re not caught unarmed, or forced to try and shoot a rapidly advancing target.

Though bow making is a highly skilled profession with many technical facets, in a survival scenario it’s perfectly feasible to construct your own in the wilderness. Just make sure you have a sharp knife, and something very strong for the string (such as partially unwoven paracord).

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Begin by selecting the piece of wood you’ll carve your bow from. It should be completely dead, but have no cracks, knots, or sharp angles. Ideally, you want something that is thicker in the middle, and tapered on at least one end. Once you’ve found a suitable candidate, figure out which way the branch bows by placing it on the ground and pressing into it with the palm of your hand. As the branch rolls up toward you, you’ve found its natural curve.

Bow And Arrow

From there, it’s as simple as forming the riser and the limbs (for those unfamiliar with the terminology, the riser is the handhold, and the limbs are the top and bottom parts of the bow where the string attaches). When carving the riser, you’ll want to select the strongest, most unyielding part of the branch. Carve a place to grip with your hand, and a little ledge for the arrow to rest on.

From this point, you’ll need to carve the notches for the string to attach to. Being careful not to carve in too deep and weaken the limbs, make small indentations at the very ends of the limbs. Once you’re done, attach your bowstring, pulling the limbs toward you slightly as you do so. You’ll want to test your bow’s draw length, so make yourself some arrows and determine if your string is tight enough.

Once complete, a bow and arrow is an excellent survival weapon for stealthy hunting and shelter defense. As a long range weapon, it will give you the added benefit of being able to attack your prey from a distance, forcing them to come to you to engage in combat.

If the instructions here weren’t enough, we have a great tutorial on how to make your own bow and arrows out of things you have around.

Do you really need a weapon?

It’s not something any of us like to think about. Sure, plenty of hobbyists love collecting and practicing with weapons, but the thought of actively keeping and practicing with a weapon in the event of societal collapse or personal assault is not a pleasant one. Even when our own safety and livelihood is threatened, most of us would much rather leave this unpleasant task up to the military and police forces.

However, if history, and in general this lifestyle, has taught us anything, it’s that in the end, the only person you can count on to take care of you, is you. This isn’t just about cool weapons and feeling tough, it’s about preparing yourself for the possibility that one day you may not be able to make it to a phone, and the police may not get there in time.

Take your personal safety into your own hands, and get familiar with these and similar survival weapons, so that you have the tools, abilities, and confidence to protect yourself, your family, and your home.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Also, as an Amazon Affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If the information in this post has been helpful, please consider purchasing through one of the links in this article. Thank you.

About the author

David Dawson

David Dawson is a retired security specialist with over 20 years of experience. He worked for a secret manufacturing facilities and hospitals in Illinois. David's responsibility was to protect people in case of any disaster or cataclysm that might occur. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and survive flood, earthquake or even war.


  • My hands are my best weapon; I can take down any man with my bare hands. Safety boots can be useful too when used to kick someone is the groins. Another good home defense “innocent” weapon is the hockey stick!

  • Judith,

    Yes, self-defense a big part in survival but in SHTF scenarios, the opponent can have a weapon that can deliver a fatal blow. I like the idea of using a hockey stick but it is too obvious in my opinion. One item I can suggest is a retractable tanto or a trekking pole. These are not conspicuous, especially if they can be retracted to about a foot. They can fool anyone into thinking that they are harmless but one twist and it becomes longer and transforms into a weapon. Wielding these effectively will require some background with the martial arts but even if you don’t have any aiming at the sensitive spots is enough to halter them.


  • I like the idea of concealed weapons. This way, even if per se the person who wanted to hurt you in your home knows your house, as long you do not mention the newspaper brick, they will not know what will hit them. However, I can’t seem to notice that these may be too heavy for some women; that instead of whacking the intruder, our wives and daughters might be disadvantaged. What other home self-defense weapons may be more suitable for them?

  • What about the baseball bat with the nails in it I want to know more about it. What is its name? What did you do to make it? Which bat to use? What type of nails?

  • You can actually use any wooden bat in your possession and 3-inch nails. You need a hammer to stick the nails into position.

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