Improvised Weapons For Self Defense or A Long Emergency

Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: June 21, 2020
Improvised Weapons For Self Defense or A Long Emergency

There are many things around your home or that are easily obtainable that can be used as a weapon. In this post, we are going to talk about improvised weapons that can be made or found for little or nothing.

Please note that some of the things I am going to talk about in this article are very dangerous. The reason you need to know about improvised weapons is that you may find that at some point you are in the position of having to defend yourself or your family in a terrible situation. You are responsible for your own choices when in danger. I truly hope none of you ever find yourself in a situation where extreme force must be used.

Disclaimer: All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional help. Should you find yourself in an emergency situation contact your local law enforcement department. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Some of these weapons are for home or area defense rather than sudden defense against an attacker when in town or at work.

Some people say that you should just carry a gun everywhere and they do it too but a lot more people leave guns at home when shopping or at work or school because they do not want to get in trouble for carrying a concealed weapon in areas where they are not allowed or they don’t have a concealed carry permit at all.

The reason I am bringing this up is that if you don’t have a firearm on you, then you need to know what else you can do to defend yourself. People simply don’t carry guns everywhere and you don’t always want an extremely lethal weapon if you are just trying to get away from a bad situation.

Not to say that some of the improvised weapons on this list should not be considered potentially lethal. They absolutely should be.

Even the most prepared people sometimes forget to put that pocket knife in their purse or pepper spray in their bag. Knowing how to use everyday objects for self-defense could save your life and knowing how to improvise other things could increase your chances of survival in an emergency situation.

More detailed instructions and examples of what I am talking about are likely available on Youtube. I also encourage you to take the information in this post and use your imagination a little bit. Part of survival is being able to use and adapt to a situation quickly and be creative enough to use what you have on hand in ways you might previously never have imagined.

The Main Categories of Improvised Weapons

Blunt Force or “Bludgeons”

Consider all the available objects you have on hand that can be used to strike out with. I bet with a little imagination you could turn a lot more of the things around you into a weapon than you might think.


Anything that is sharp or pointy is something you need to be careful around but if you suddenly need something to defend yourself, a sharp object is a serious business.


These are a little trickier and should only be used in a true emergency or SHTF situation when you need to do something very drastic to defend yourself or your group. A lot of improvised weapons in this category have a very high risk of permanent harm or worse. Flaming arrows were used in the past.

Chemical Weapons

Bleach in a squirt gun or similar would not be pleasant to come in contact with.

Here is a link to the Backdoor Survival article “The Best Pepper Spray To Keep With You” for some options that are readily available.

Nail Ball Bat

For this project, you will need a solid wood bat, long nails, and a hammer. Screws and a drill/screwdriver could work too and might be easier on the hands. Drive nails or screw in screws in a pattern so that the sharp ends are pointed out. You can put a lot in or just a few depending on how you want your weapon to be.

The video below shows a bat made more formidable with screws.

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Box Cutter or Exacto Knife

If you have ever accidentally even slightly cut yourself with one of these then you will know why it could be such a formidable weapon. These are very easy to obtain and they cost very little.

Replacement Exacto Knife Blades

These blades can be added to the ends of pieces of wood to make arrows or even a makeshift knife if needed. A 10 pack could go a long way during an SHTF situation.


While there are tactical pens that are made for defense, even a basic pen can be used as a weapon if needed. Of course, those that are made tougher and have sharper points are better for this purpose.

Car keys

One of the basic things taught in a lot of women’s self-defense classes is that you can stick your keys through your fingers and use them to make your punches inflict a lot more pain, especially if you go for the eyes or other sensitive areas.

Tire Iron

If you keep the required tools to change out a tire then you can easily keep a tire iron in reach. These are quite a bludgeon and it doesn’t look weird if you get pulled over and have one floating around in your car.

Any heavy object

I often tell people in my civil unrest articles that it is important to remove any objects from your lawn or in front of your home if your area is experiencing trouble. Any heavy object you can find that is small enough for you to throw can come to your aid during a defensive situation.

A Thermos Or Large Coffee Mug

Steel is preferable. When I was in college and there was more than a bit of drinking going on, there was a fellow that was getting a little too grabby, especially with nearby females. He had just had too much and wouldn’t stop bothering people.

As a result, another drunk person took a large metal coffee mug and wacked him on the head with it. It caused a cartoonish looking knot to raise up where the impact was the worst on his temple. It was actually frightening. The hitter wasn’t even trying to hit the other person as hard as they could and it still caused that much damage

Remember that your Thermos or travel mug can be used for a lot more than coffee.

Change in a sock

You can beat the tar out of someone with a sock full of change. Rocks would work as well. Change may be better because rocks may have jagged edges that lead to the sock disintegrating after a bit.

Fire Extinguisher

Even a small fire extinguisher can be used as a weapon in multiple ways. You can, of course, spray attackers in the face. A big fire extinguisher can allow you to defend yourself against multiple people so if you are outnumbered, it is something to remember.

A fire extinguisher is a lot heavier when full but you can use them to as a bludgeon when empty because they still have quite a bit of heft to them.


You can strangle someone with a belt or hit them with it. This is one reason to consider wearing a big belt buckle. While a small buckle will no doubt hurt, a big one is going to be even more formidable. A leather belt or similar is best for a weapon.


A lot of flashlights are actually made with self-defense in mind, particularly those that are heavily marketed to security and police officers. One thing that has happened over the years is that flashlights have become a lot smaller and lighter. Some of you may still have one of the old D or C cell Mag-Lites kicking around. Those were basically a club with a light on the end! Rest assured that there are plenty of formidable flashlights out there that will serve the purpose.


It is harder for a younger person to get away with using a cane in daily life unless they are clearly disabled or injured. It is not exactly the height of fashion. In the old days in England, carrying a cane was fashionable but the motive was at least partially so that a guy could have something to defend himself with. Plenty of canes contained hidden swords. Before metal detectors and a lot of handguns being easy to acquire, a sword cane made sense to a lot of folks.


At times an umbrella is an option. If it rains fairly often where you live or if rains are expected then it is not as noticeable. A lot of people keep a cane in their office or car just in case, regardless of the weather forecast. Walking around with one during good weather does look a bit odd though.

A moderately heavy purse or bag

Too heavy of a bag is not easily thrown about but one of moderate weight that has a strong strap can be used to fend off an attack. This is one argument for having a very strong strap on your bag.

A super soaker filled with something unpleasant

Any unpleasant fluid can be put in a Super Soaker and squirted out of it. Use your imagination here. In fact, there are a lot of improvised weapons you could make using squirt guns. Plastic doesn’t hold up to some things as well as others so depending on what you use, the life span of the weapon may be more or less than you expected.


The good old fashioned rock is always worth considering. Sharper and more jagged ones cause more damage generally than a smoother rock. You could use a slingshot to increase your distance and force of impact.

Flower vases

There are some big flower vases out there and I wouldn’t want to be smacked with any of them.


I don’t even like to think about the potential for a soda or beer bottle. For starters just getting hit with one is bad enough but if you bust the top off, it can easily be a lethal weapon. Cuts from broken bottles are ragged and nasty. There really were bars back in the day that had chicken wire in front of the stage where bands played and a lot of that reason was the potential for damage from bottles.


There are a lot of fireworks that could be used as major weapons. Of course, some fireworks are not legal in some areas. In my experience that doesn’t stop people at all from going across state lines to buy them.

The large mortar style fireworks that come with a launch tube are ridiculously powerful and inexpensive. If you launched a firework in the direction of a threat to your home or family, it would make anything think twice. Bottle rockets and smaller fireworks that make a lot of noise are less damaging but enough to get the point across.


Any large stick can be used as a weapon. You can make a club out of pine limbs that have a big knot on the end of them as well. I have a pine branch club. It was sanded and treated with linseed oil many years ago and is still serviceable.

Sling or Slingshot

Slingshots are kind of fun but they can also be a good weapon if you need to defend yourself and have a sufficient distance to be effective. Giant slingshots can be made using

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Spears and Spear Throwers

A spear can be made from a knife lashed to a stick. Some stones can be sharpened into arrowheads and used to make spears. Arrowheads can also be made from old soup cans that have been pounded flat, cut into shape, and sharpened.

Below is a picture of a spear thrower. It allows a person to more effectively throw a dart or spear. For more info, I will refer you to the Wikipedia page. A spear thrower can double the distance of your throw.

Spear thrower in use.

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You can easily use a screwdriver as a stabbing weapon. Plenty of folks reading this have probably experienced the pain of a misplaced screwdriver head when doing a minor household repair. Now imagine what a screwdriver would do if you really were trying to cause damage with it.

Bow and Arrow

You can make a bow and arrows with readily available items. Check out this video of a primitive bow and arrow set made with very basic tools.

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Situational awareness is one of the most important everyday survival skills.

If you are more aware of your surroundings and can spot potential threats, you may be able to avoid a lot of situations. Good observation points at your property and home can help you keep a closer eye on what is around you. Security cameras can help if you have blind spots. Motion sensor lights will also help prevent threats from going undetected.

Even small dogs can alert you to threats around your home

Having some notice that a potential threat is approaching can save your life. You don’t need a guard dog breed either. Even a toy poodle can make a lot of racket and let you know you need to be on guard.

The Limitations Of Improvised Weapons

Improvised weapons are sometimes only good for one use so you need to use what you have wisely and get away from danger fast if at all possible.

Chances are that you will have never used a specific improvised weapon before so you are going to lack the experience to use it as effectively as possible.

Improvised weapons require you to think and act quickly in many cases. A lot of people are not naturally that quick on the draw.

How strong you are has a big influence on how well some improvised weapons will work. If you have strength issues, some styles of improvised weapons may be better options than others for you.

There are some places where there is just not much you can use. This is why you need to carry something on you that can be improved on. A spiky key chain and keys are far better than nothing at all.

Remember that despite all of this, using an improvised weapon may be such a surprise that even if you are not particularly skilled or strong, it is possible to gain enough time to get to safety or avoid serious injury by an attacker.

Do you have any everyday objects to add to this list? Have you ever been in a position where you had to use something weird to defend yourself?

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16 Responses to “Improvised Weapons For Self Defense or A Long Emergency”

  1. The atlatl is fun. We have an outdoor expo here annually that they bring some for everyone to try. It takes practice though.
    I’ve been making morning stars with a 2″ tow ball. I cut the ball in half with the upper and lower. The lower is welded into steel pipe and makes the pommel and the ball portion is welded to the top. I then weld in sharpened spikes ground from hardened bolts or when I can get them truck door hinge pins.

  2. I’ve gone way outside the box with some of my weapons, since I don’t own a gun.
    The lids from ANY can, either one that’s been taken off with a can opener or one that is a pull top is as sharp as any knife or XActo blade. I’ve saved quite a few for putting in the bottom of the windows where the window slides into the frame and for fixing to some sort of sturdy wood base for a wicked slicing weapon.
    I also have some heavy duty chains with several bolts secured with washers and nuts on each end. I have the bolts in each link for about 6 links on each end of the chain. Mine are about 5 foot long. I’ve thought about making some shorter to maybe wear as a bracelet, make it look like jewelry with some other “trinkets” to make it look good.

  3. You might want to include slap-type weapons as well . a bar of soap in a sock is just one example.

  4. a 1 oz fishing weight securely pinned in to the back of a hat on the inside is discrete and quickly available. grab the front of the bib and start hitting them on the top of their head, a lot! a 1 oz fishing weight will do a lot of damage if wielded right. stitches on the noggin will happen.

    • also, brass knuckles are in most states are considered a concealed weapons, but not master locks. be safe and always be aware of what’s going on around you

  5. Try a can of wasp spray. Aim at the eyes. The stream is effective to 20 feet and requires hospitalization to restore the attackers sight. Flushing with water won’t work. A blinded opponent is at a major disadvantage. Your other improvised weaponds are now even more effective.

    • Loved the arrow launching kit, we used to call them Dutch arrows; the mechanical advantage is tremendous and proven.
      As for the nailed (screwed) club I would pre-drill with a pilot hole and screw through from one side to the other of the baton (bat) and grind or file down the tip. This way each screw is secured through the entire bat.

    • Yep – one of my go to’s – wasp spray – put one can at least in every car and by the bed. Excellent. Also get a few of those long tube socks and fill with a orange sized ball of coins and knot just above the coins and at the end. Swing that baby. You could also put those old locks in the them, they would hurt even more. I would suggest staying away from the molotov cocktail – anything with gasoline is super sketchy because gasoline is like a bomb that can just as likely go off in your hand as anywhere else.

  6. The Molotov cocktail is really easy to make
    A little kitchen soap(dawn) and gasoline.
    I also throw in some lamp oil for fun.
    Pour it in a small glass jar or bottle secure the
    top and zip tie a rag or strip of cloth around
    the top . I prefer the small bottles of martinellies apple juice.

  7. An e tool, a military entrenching tool, has a long history of effective use in close combat. Get a good one, keep a sharp edge on it, you can use it to dig a cat hole when you poop in the woods, and you can swing it close in and cut a man in half with it. Legal everywhere.

  8. Dear Samantha

    Brilliant ideas as usual.
    Might I suggest when you wrap rope or any type of material around your arms, put fish hooks in them. That way if you get into a physical fist fight with anyone, you can inflict a lot of hurt on them and force them into an immediate retreat.

    Put serrated blades in the ground sharp ends and conceal them with grass, scatter them around the front property and the edges of the property. That way, any barefoot intruder will cut their foot badly and let you know if someone is coming.
    Any type of sharp object concealed in the ground will help in deterring intruders.
    If anyone finds some food in the shed they will hang around like a bad smell and attract more people, I suggest tampering with the decoy food supply to ensure that they won’t be coming around again.

    My mum just read your article on self defence and improvised weapons and told me to not do anything like that, just goes to show how dumb my mum is.
    I am ignoring her at this point and preparing to the best of my ability. She is deceiving herself and being deceived.


    Kieran Roberts

  9. A slight variation to the nails in a bat: Get a circular saw blade and measure it on the outside of a wooden bat and mark where the ‘hole’ is, being sure to leave about 3 inches so the top of the saw blade extends above the bat. Make sure to measure where the bottom of the saw blade is and mark it. Drill a hole of the appropriate size where you marked the hole all the way through. Then, cut down the center of the bat, using a circular saw or a band saw, and go about .25 to .50 inches past where you marked the bottom of the saw blade. Next take the saw blade you are going to mount, teeth angling downward, and work it ‘carefully’ into to the slot you cut until you can see daylight through the hole you drilled and then secure with a bolt that is the same size of the hole in the saw blade. Make sure you have a washer on both sides of the bolt and fix it in place with a nut. Remember, a new blade is exceptionally sharp, so wear heavy leather gloves. If the blade sticks, you can ‘baton’ it using another piece of wood. Tip…Cover the blade edge with duct tape, but leave an uncovered space that corresponds to the max width of the bat. Once finished you’ll have an improvised weapon that cuts and rips when used. Disclaimer–(This is for ‘my’ protection.) This info is for educational purposes only and the maker is responsible for any injuries sustained in making this as well as any injuries inflicted in it’s use. Note: I’ve made one and the intimidation factor with one of these is…great. Be careful, have plenty of band aids and have fun.

    • wow. I’m rarely surprised or finding something new on threads like this – but this one takes the cake. Seriously – this is like something out of Mad Max. Do you work for hollywood? I need to make one of these, just the looks of it will be awesome.

  10. Thanks Samantha. Another great article! Situational awareness is mentioned often in prep. What you said above about being aware and to spot potential threats is good. If I may develop this idea of SA, after being part of study groups in accident analysis. There are 3 parts which might be considered. First is PERCEIVE. You notice things, senses are heightened- feel, see, smell, taste, touch. Second you PROCESS. You are thinking about it or understanding it. Third is PROJECT. You anticipate or form a mental projection of what this ‘event’ looks like next, or in the future. In summary “I’ve collected info, I’ve made sense of it, now what do I do”. Look ahead as far as you can. Look for ‘things’ going on around you. From the PROJECT, you need to make a decision from generated options to give the best available solution and execute it. Maybe all in real time, so keep a clear, unaddled head.

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