Being prepared to defend oneself and one’s holdings is a big part of prepping. As it turns out, we won’t all just be able to get along.
Weapons are an important part of these plans and preps, as they will afford you the power, effectiveness and sometimes the range needed to fend off desperate looters, crazed marauders or warbands of power-hungry malcontents who are organizing to create their own petty bandit kingdoms.
You would be wise to stock up on firearms, ammo and so forth, but what happens when the guns fall silent, break down or go missing? What if doomsday does not have the common good manners to wait for you to get home to your massive arsenal before it kicks off?
What if, one way or another, you are deprived of access to your weaponry? In that case, you had better have a back-up plan and it had better be a good one.
That is where improvised, DIY weaponry comes in. DIY weapons include ordinary items that can be wielded as a weapon and purpose-made weapons that are fashioned from raw materials, scrap or otherwise less harmful or even seemingly harmless supplies.
These weapons have an advantage over their professionally-made counterparts in that they are often difficult to see coming and can be made almost anywhere the raw materials are found. Review this list, and you’ll be sure to find a few favorites for spur-of-the-moment mayhem!
1. Magazine Truncheon
I am not talking about bashing somebody with a magazine out of your AK-47 or AR-15, though that could probably do okay in a pinch!
No, a magazine truncheon is probably exactly what you are otherwise imagining: it is a standard size glossy magazine that is rolled-up as tightly as possible and held in a clenched fist.
Doing only that you will produce an impact weapon with nearly ideal rigidity, density and impact characteristics and can dole out a considerable amount of pain.
It is essential that you roll up the magazine as tightly as possible, and keep it tight when wielding it, and this means that a good grip is absolutely paramount for success.
If time and resources permit, the magazine truncheon can be improved by taping it closed in the rolled position or by loading a thin, heavy object into the hollow center, something like a common box wrench or length of narrow pipe.
2. “Millwall Brick”
The millwall brick is an infamous weapon that is emblematic of English soccer hooliganism, specifically the fans and roadies of the Millwall F.C. team, which lent its name to the eponymous improvised weapon.
The millwall brick is constructed from little more than rolled newspaper although additional embellishments and damage-inflicting options can be added according to the user’s preference.
Similar in impact to the magazine truncheon above, the millwall brick is made by rolling a standard size newspaper into a tight and shockingly dense tube, after first laying it out flat and then folding one set of opposite corners together.
As soon as the roll is made as tight as possible, the two ends are then folded together, producing a stout, dense and short bundle that is wielded like a short club.
The millwall brick also benefits from loading weighted objects into it, and certain enterprising hooligans even inserted stones or lengths of sheet metal between the folds to produce a weapon like a short tomahawk.
This is a weapon that is potentially endemic to any settled place on Earth as newspapers are universally available anywhere that civilization has found.
If time permits, the newspaper can be soaked in water after being folded then allowed to dry before taping it closed to improve durability or increase grip.
You can learn a lot by being in prison, and one of the lessons you will learn is that human ingenuity and will to survive has absolutely no limits, even in such a brutal place as the slam.
A shiv is a colloquial term of prison slang that has jumped the gap into popular parlance, and is a label for any improvised knife, spike or other stabbing weapon.
The gruesome beauty of a shiv is that they can be fashioned from nearly anything: A suitably sturdy piece of scrap metal could be folded and sharpened before fitting a primitive grip made from a wrapped piece of cloth.
A plastic toothbrush handle could be shortened and remorselessly shaped and filed using friction on a concrete floor to create a spike, as could the transparent barrel of a ballpoint pen.
Any found parts or debris, even flame-hardened wood, can be fashioned into a shiv with enough time, refinement and ingenuity. Even a sizable shard of broken glass could be knapped into a more usable shape.
If idle hands are the devil’s workshop, the shiv is one of the devil’s most common products.
4. Weighted Chain / Rope
The flail is a medieval weapon consisting of a weighted striking component of various types attached to the end of an articulated chain or sometimes even a rope or other cord.
Flails were risky to use enjoyed many inherent benefits, not the least of which was the crushing power that they could deliver and also the fact they could strike around a shield or block thanks to their flexible construction.
Flails are no longer popular military weapons, but they are still popular and useful weapons for guerillas, gang members, and people who are desperate to arm themselves at any cost.
Commonly made from logging chain, bike locks or even common hardware store rope of some type a DIY flail will be crowned with a dense, weighted object of some kind, oftentimes an equally common padlock but this could take the form of anything from a large ball bearing or even a stone.
One variation of a primitive flail to be made with common and completely innocent materials is little more than a lead fishing weight placed inside a rolled-up bandana which is then swung for effect.
Even a weapon such as this can easily fracture a human skull, and larger examples will inflict dreadful injuries.
5. Fist Load, Fist Load w/ Spikes
It has long been a trick known to old street fighters and dirty boxers that palming a short section of weighted pipe or even (the old standby) a roll of coins into the fist when punching adds a considerable amount of impact and can also help to protect the fingers from being painfully mashed into the palm upon collision with the target.
This works well enough on its own with a little practice, and you can hardly be punished or detained for carrying something as innocent as a tiny section of pipe or a fresh roll of coins around with you.
But there is one ingenious and borderline sinister modification that can be made to this classic improvised weapon that will truly put it over the top.
Starting with a roll of coins and three common, short, sturdy nails, you can create a positively devastating spiked fist load weapon that will inflict hideous injuries to your attacker.
The modification is executed by removing just a few coins out of the roll (that roughly equals the combined diameters of the nails).
Then the nails are carefully inserted through the now-vacant spaces where they will protrude between the fingers before reinforcing the entire contraption with tape. Now, when a punch is delivered, the recipient will also incur nasty puncture wounds to boot.
The spear is one of mankind’s earliest and simplest weapons, and one that persisted for many long millennia of warfare. The spear is just as effective today as it was back then, and it has an advantage for preppers in that it can be fashioned in many ways using many varieties of material.
A spear can just as easily be made from a sturdy branch and piece of flint or obsidian lashed together as it can be from a metal broom handle or piece of pipe with a knife duct taped to the far end.
Spears are comparatively easy to fashion compared to many other weapons, and are just as well suited for defense in the hands of a wilderness survivor as an urban denizen.
The components for both the haft and the spearhead can be crafted or repurposed from all kinds of things and that should make it one of your go-to melee weapons in a variety of situations.
With a little practice you’ll soon have a feeling for spear construction and can optimize it for either thrusting or throwing depending upon your purposes.
The common “beat stick”, a club is perhaps the most primitive weapon on this list, and one that must never be underestimated even in the face of fancier and more advanced weaponry.
Clubs can be found in nature as nothing more than sturdy branches, or they can be fashioned from all sorts of man-made materials, including table legs, fence posts, lengths of pipe, and more.
Clubs can be made long or short, but the longer the club is, the more potential force it generates on impact. In the case of an especially weighty or dense club this can deliver truly bone-crushing wounds.
If you plan on going the distance with your club, you might improve it by wrapping athletic tape around the handle section, adding a small wrist lanyard or reinforcing the head section with a wrap of sheet metal, small protruding rivets, nails, or even adding a weight such as a stone or appropriately shaped chunk of metal.
This makes the club more like a medieval war mace than anything else!
Do take care that you do not compromise the structural integrity of the club when adding your modifications, and keep them simple; elaborate or sinister designs are more likely to just get snagged in the target or caught on terrain.
The kubaton is a short club designed to target soft parts of the body, and pressure points for non-lethal strikes. It is an effective martial arts tool that originates in Asia and has remained popular as a self-defense tool for decades.
A kubaton simply has 2 domed or rounded-off pointy protrusions sticking out of one or both ends of the hand when clenched in the fist. It is an easy thing for a prepper to fashion a similar weapon from any sturdy piece of dowel or high-impact plastic.
Kubatons work best when a user has practiced integrating them into a martial arts system, but even an untrained person can get some good mileage out of them by delivering overhand hammering blows with them. It also has the added bonus of protecting the hand from impact.
The blunt nature of a kubaton is far less likely to deliver severe blunt force or lacerating injuries, making it an appropriate less-lethal tool compared to many of the others on this list but one less likely to actually stop an assailant.
Another ancient weapon, axes have been used for felling and processing timber for ages, and Evan used nearly as long on battlefields as brutal close-quarters weapons that require far less training to use effectively than a sword. Even an improperly aligned or glancing blow from an axe will still inflict terrible injury.
Obviously, you can grab any garden-variety hardware store axe, and repurpose it as a weapon in an SHTF situation, but if you lack even such a common tool as that, you can still make your own.
You can craft an axe using any suitably sturdy handle or club as a base that you will then imbed at the far end with an equally sturdy chunk of sharpened metal.
If you have additional tools and time, you can use an old leaf spring off of a car or truck, or even something like a circular saw blade, filing and shaping it to make a surprisingly efficient chopping weapon.
Note that axes of this type are more than capable of hewing down a human being, but they do not make ideal tools for chopping trees owing to their typical thin profile.
10. Glass Bottle
The glass bottle is a barroom brawler’s weapon of choice and needs no introduction. When intact, it can deliver a powerful impact and cut somebody to ribbons all in one fell swoop. After it has been broken it is still a nasty thrusting and slashing weapon.
Glass bottles can be found all over the globe in all kinds of settings, so you’ll never want for one if you look hard enough, though they are endemic in and around bars.
That being said, these things won’t last no matter how careful you are in using them, so consider employing them to open or close a conflict and buy yourself an opportunity to escape.
11. Blinding Powder
Blinding powder is a catch-all term for mixtures of granulated chemicals, agents and materials that can severely impair the sight of or even blind a person should it be projected into their eyes.
This is the kind of stuff that gave rise to assassins and ninjas of antiquity disappearing in a cloud of smoke; what they most likely did is hit their pursuers with a strong dose of artisanal-crafted blinding powder.
What kind of ingredients go into blinding powder? There are two basic schools of thought. The first is organic components that are painful and will temporarily degrade sight, things like dried and crushed chilies, black pepper, mustard seed, mentholated plants and so forth.
The other is an absolutely nasty combination of any and everything that you definitely would not want to get in your eyes, including ground glass, metal shavings and filaments, powdered chemical cleansers, abrasives and so forth.
No matter what route you go, the resulting mixture is then stored in a reasonably durable but crushable container or a capsule that can be quickly opened.
When it is time to disappear in a puff of blinding smoke, the powder is poured into your hand before being thrown into an opponent’s eyes, or is simply lofted at their face directly out of the container.
You should not need me to tell you that you must pay strict attention to wind direction and speed before using this improvised weapon, and also to take the greatest possible care that you do not get it in your own eyes.
A hefty wrench is more of a “found” weapon than a crafted one, but it fits the spirit of this list and so it is included.
The largest varieties of wrench, particularly the pipe wrench or monkey wrench are among the most devastating repurposed clubs that a prepper could use as their sheer mass and preponderance of hard edges delivers crushing blows.
This is another item that can be found all over the world, and is generally innocent if kept in the right context. The wrench also has the added benefit of being a genuinely useful tool when it is not being used to split skulls.
The only modification most wrenches need is a wrap of tape or leather on the handle to improve grip.
A “paperweight” is not really a paperweight, if you catch my drift. Referring to a purpose-made weapon, a paperweight is any rock, piece of metal or other hard, unyielding material that has a pyramid, cone or faceted gem type of shape that tapers to a point on one side and will rest comfortably in the palm on the other.
These sneaky weapons are employed in a jabbing or slapping motion, concentrating incredible force on a single, tiny point. Aside from being indescribably painful, this is a penetrating weapon that can easily fracture bone and lacerate skin.
The beauty of this type of weapon is that it serves as a sort of shield for the small and delicate bones of the hand upon impact. One need only spend some time looking for a rock with just the right shape, and you can be assured of finding one.
If you take the time to rummage around knick-knack or office supply shops, you might very well find an actual modern art-styled paperweight that will serve the purpose. Left sitting passively on a desk it will attract virtually no attention until it is too late.
14. Homebrew Pepper Spray
Pepper spray is one of the single best defensive weapons available to anybody, combining an extremely high rate of effectiveness with enough range to keep you out of the grip of your assailant.
Even if pepper spray does not provide enough of an incentive for them to give up their evil ways, having your eyes screwed shut by ferocious burning and hacking fits of coughing goes a long way to degrading fighting ability. This gives the defender a major advantage.
Modern pepper spray is produced on an industrial scale, and in a long- or indefinite-term survival situation, gaining access to more is going to be anything but certain. This means you’ll need to make your own.
Luckily, the majority of commercial pepper sprays are nothing more than highly concentrated natural extractives dissolved in an alcohol-based carrier fluid.
You can make your own reasonably effective analogue by using a variety of recipes found on the internet, and then carefully storing the solution in some type of dispenser, be it a common spray bottle or even a larger backpack-mounted vessel used for dispensing herbicides.
15. Belt w/ Buckle
One weapon you’re likely to always have on you no matter where you go and what you are doing is your belt, and assuming your belt has a substantial metal buckle, it can easily be removed in a flash and deployed in an ass-kicking contest.
Very much like the purpose made but much heavier flail mentioned above, even a weight of only a few ounces that, attached to the end of a flexible cord, is swung with speed will generate shocking amounts of force.
Buckles that rely on a hook and loop arrangement can also inflict lacerating damage if the hook catches the assailant just right.
Though not the most devastating weapon, it will afford you reach and, aimed at the head, can inflict a knockout. If your belt has a large and ostentatious cowboy-style buckle, it can break bones.
Carabiners are ubiquitous pieces of equipment used for climbing and belaying, and in recent decades have become popular for general-purpose storage, attachment of keys or lanyards and other EDC-related tasks.
A sturdy steel or aluminum carabiner also has another hidden purpose, as one that is sized appropriately for gripping in a closed fist can function as an impromptu set of knuckle dusters, adding considerable force to a punch and also protecting the hand.
There are some caveats when using a carabiner in such a fashion, however. One should only use a carabiner that has a locking gate in order to ensure that the gate does not open on impact and impale the hand regardless of how it is held.
Second, only genuine carabiners rated for typical climbing loads should be used, not their non-functional “fashion” variants that are commonly available everywhere, as they will buckle when striking.
Lastly, employed in this way the carabiner works best when using hammering or underhanded blows due to the shape.
17. Fire Extinguisher
A fire extinguisher is one piece of personal safety equipment everybody needs in their home, and is found virtually everywhere and in every building throughout the modern world.
A fire extinguisher also makes an excellent improvised weapon, and not just for its considerable heft and sturdy steel canister!
A fire extinguisher can project a completely blinding, choking and disorienting cloud of chemicals for a considerable distance, potentially earning you an opportunity to escape from your assailant or just allowing you to seize the initiative and turn the tables on them.
It does not take much in the way of training or skill to employ a fire extinguisher in this way, since once the pin is pulled, all you need to do is aim the nozzle and squeeze the trigger, just like a garden hose.
I will give you this warning though: you should make sure you are indeed working with a chemical-based fire extinguisher and not a simple canister of pressurized water, since the initial surprise of the water will not do much to stop or slow down an assailant!
18. Aerosol Flamethrower
A common object of fixation for pyromaniacs and pre-teen miscreants alike, many aerosol cans can be turned into short-range, impromptu flamethrowers with nothing more than an ignition source.
Paints, lacquers, air fresheners and more all contain flammable propellant or payloads that can be employed in this way.
While not likely to do much actual damage in a very short period of time, it might nonetheless set someone on fire giving them much bigger problems to worry about than doing whatever it is they were going to do to you.
All that is needed is a match or lighter held a few inches in front of the nozzle, before dispensing the product through the flame. This will result in a large and scary fireball extending for a couple of feet before dissipating.
Similar to a fire extinguisher this might be enough to scare off an assailant or distract them long enough for you to get out of Dodge or turn the tables on them.
Caltrops are entirely defensive weapons consisting of a cluster of four spikes arranged in a roughly triangular or pyramidal shape, ensuring that no matter how it lands when thrown or dropped, one spike will always be pointing straight up, ready to puncture the tires, feet or hooves of anything that passes over it.
These ancient and tricky weapons are not difficult to procure online, and they’re also easy enough to fashion yourself with a little bit of patience and raw materials.
You could easily fashion your own caltrops from nails and epoxy or small-diameter steel, or iron stock and silver solder.
Remember that more are definitely better when it comes to protecting an approach with these things, and you might also take the time to reduce the shine and glare on them if you want to maximize the chances that the baddies will run over them unawares.
Make sure you remember where you put them in case you have to make a hasty getaway!
20. Windmill Star
A windmill star looks vaguely like a giant shuriken, or throwing star, hence the name, but it actually has more in common with thrown hunting clubs that are found in many cultures throughout the world.
A windmill star is simply two branches or short poles fashioned together with a lashing or joint in the middle forming them into a plus or cross shape with each arm equal in length. The ends of each arm might be sharpened to a point or affixed with small weights to increase impact.
In use, the windmill star is thrown overhand similar to a boomerang, and so long as the arms are comprised of materials that are equal in length and weight it will fly through the air with surprising accuracy and range allowing you to potentially inflict a serious wound from a distance.
This has an advantage over other thrown weapons due to its range and also its ease of manufacture.
If you are getting ready for a home invasion, and are currently lacking a weapon to take to the battle, you would be well-served to brush up on how you might fashion your own effective weapons from found materials or repurposed items.
With a little imagination and equal parts ingenuity, you can quickly produce frighteningly effective weapons seemingly out of nothing. Take the time to commit some of the most useful designs to your memory and ensure that you will never be disarmed for long in a survival situation.