Alternative and Improvised Weapons – Part 4, by J.M.

(Continued from Part 3.)

Tasers and stun guns are another type of disruptive weapon, but regulations regarding possessing them tend to vary widely. Tasers are generally gun-like devices that shoot barbs on wires to deliver a high voltage to the target’s body, while stun guns require direct physical contact to deliver the voltage. I’m not crazy about any weapon that requires you to get close enough to an attacker to touch them, but it might be useful in some scenarios or as a last ditch option. A useful type of stun gun is the Stun Pen ($17), which doesn’t look like a traditional stun gun so it might mislead an attacker for several seconds. One potentially useful feature of stun guns is that if you push the button to activate them they make a very loud snapping/popping sound, which might deter a less-determined attacker. However, once you’ve done that you’ve given away the fact you’re carrying a stun gun, so a more determined attacker might just take action to disarm you.

Sound can also be used to disrupt an attack, but it’s generally only effective in limited circumstances, and it’s just as likely to impact you as it is an attacker unless you’re wearing hearing protection. Those small pull-pin personal alarms from companies like BASU, Resqume and others can put out 120db+ of sound, which is more than enough to temporarily disorient an attacker in a confined area and cause them to cover their ears. However, it won’t work as well in more open spaces, and even if you’re expecting it the sound can still cause you some discomfort.

Since I’m right-handed I prefer to carry any type of type of distractive/disruptive weapons on my left side and deploy them with my left hand, allowing me to more quickly take advantage of any momentary distraction by using my stronger right hand to deploy whatever heavier weapons I may be carrying without having to switch hands or drop something and grab another weapon.

Extended Blunt Force Weapons

As I mentioned earlier, one of our most basic caveman instincts when attacked is to pick up something like a club to fight back with. The additional reach provided by a club can allow us to deliver damage to the attacker while staying out of their reach, either by hitting or striking it into one of the sensitive areas mentioned earlier. Carrying around an actual club can get you into trouble, but there are a lot of alternatives you can readily carry as well as options you can improvise in an emergency. Here are some possible fixed clubs:

  • Expandable baton – Another thing that may be legal to carry in some areas but not others. The most effective type is the one that uses heavy metal springs instead of a solid body, such as the one by Self Defense Products ($23).
  • Flashlight – A 3 D-cell flashlight like the Maglite ML300L ($50) makes a solid club without looking too much like one.
  • Steering wheel lock – Something you might carry in your car, such as The Club ($50). Some even have handles on the bottom for a better grip.
  • Tire iron – Something else you may have or find in a car, but probably would be perceived as a weapon (or burglary tool) if you’re carrying it around.
  • Length of wood or pipe – This would probably be perceived as a weapon, but in an emergency scenario you can easily make one from a branch, chair leg, closet rod, sink drain pipe, etc. using one of the saws in the tool kit.
  • Golf club – Remove the grip, cut it down to a more manageable length, then put the grip back on. The heavy head on an iron can do real damage, since it tends to concentrate the force into a small area.
  • Musical instrument – Instruments such as clarinets, flutes, piccolos and even guitars can be modified to make them into effective clubs.
  • Cane/walking stick – A heavy cane makes a great club, and some models are actually designed to be used as weapons. Note that a good quality walking cane can cost upwards of $150. If you’re carrying one around and not using it you may get some questions as to why you have it.
  • Glass bottle – Champagne, wine and liquor bottles are designed to be strong, not to break over someones head from a light tap like you see in the movies; however, hit something with it hard enough and it will break in your hand.
  • Fire extinguisher – A smaller fire extinguisher is basically a metal tube, but holding on to swing it may be a challenge.

You can increase the effectiveness of a fixed club by adding weight or protrusions to the part that contacts the attacker; additional weight will increase the applied force, and protrusions will focus the force in a small area, increasing the impact psi. One obvious way is to split the end of a wooden club and tie a flat rock or piece of shaped metal into the slot – your club is now a war axe. You can also make a type of mace by wrapping the end of a club with barbed wire (like on the Walking Dead) or driving nails through it.

An alternative to fixed clubs are flexible ones (aka flail, defense whip, slungshot, sap, etc.), where a weight is attached to something you hold in your hand that moves or flexes. Flexible clubs provide many more options for alternative weapons you can easily carry on a daily basis as well as improvise in an emergency. Some flexible club options:

  • A weighted purse, briefcase or backpack – Larger ones can be awkward to swing.
  • Water bottle with carabiner – This is one I carry with me almost everywhere I go – it’s a 24oz Hydroflask stainless steel water bottle with a stronger lid and a large titanium carabiner attached for a grip. When filled with a liquid the bottle weighs almost 3lbs., which will hit pretty hard when swung.
  • Belt – A belt with a weighted buckle can make a very effective ‘flail’ that gives you a decent amount of range for dealing with an attacker. Siege Belts (a SurvivalBlog advertiser) makes an array of options with weighted buckles that are specifically designed to be used as a weapon (I actually wear their Fury model pretty much every day).
  • Defense whip – This is a semi-rigid length of heavy flexible spring wire that can be used to deliver an incredible amount of force into a very small area. Some of the available options are First Strike and Stinger. They both look like obvious weapons out of the box, but I took the wire for the First Strike wire out of its handle, attached a hollowed-out BNC-SMA radio antenna connector to the bottom and stuck it inside a plastic antenna bag – now it looks just like a spare antenna for my scanner radio that I always carry. It’s too thin to hold and swing by itself without the plastic grip, but in an emergency scenario I can zip tie or Gorilla tape it to the large carabiner from my water bottle or a section of stick or dowel as a replacement grip. Here’s a picture of on in my hand, an one of the whip attached to the carabiner:



  • Chain – Cut a length of medium chain using the Shomer-Tec metal saw and use it as a flail.
  • Security cable & lock – When I have my backpack with me I always carry a 3’ long 3mm coated steel security cable with a padlock on the end to lock my bag to something in case I need to step away. I can easily wrap the center of the cable around my wrist so it’s doubled up and swing the heavy lock.
  • Hose – While it may seem like a trope from a 1960’s gangster movie, a length of heavy flexible hose can make a great flexible club. You can also cut a length of standard garden hose, fill it with sand, pebbles or other small heavy items, then fold the ends over and zip tie them shut.
  • Nunchaku (“Nunchucks”) – These are basically two sticks or lengths of heavy tubing connected with a short cord – you hold one and swing the other. Note that I’m not talking about pulling off a Bruce Lee nunchuck exhibition – just swinging it as hard as you can at an attacker’s weak points. Take note that these are explicitly illegal in many locales.
  • Weighted cord/pouch – This can be any weight attached to a length of flexible material. You can tie a padlock, a pouch filled with sand, coins or nuts/screws/bolts, some large nuts, etc. to a length of paracord, and I’ve made these using a bandana with sand knotted in the middle, a sleeve from a long-sleeved shirt knotted up with coins inside, etc. Note that if you use a bag or pouch, use the strongest material available – I’ve played around with various options and most of the lightweight ones broke after one or two hits. I now carry a small leather coin pouch with various odds and ends in it that I can quickly repurpose for use as a weapon.

While the idea of swinging something to hit an attacker may seem pretty simple and straightforward, there are ramifications that can still surprise if you’ve never done it before. The jolt of contacting something when swinging a club or the unpredictability of a weight swinging on the end of a cord can cause you flinch or even hurt yourself if you’ve never done it before, so find a dead tree, heavy boxing bag, or something similar and spend some time practicing with whatever alternative or improvised weapons you plan on utilizing before your life depends on it.

(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 5.)