A Quick Primer on Silent Weapons and Why You Need Them

Crosman Benjamin Trail NP .22 Caliber Nitro Piston Air Rifle

My Benjamin Trail NP .22 Caliber Nitro Piston Air Rifle from Pyramydair.com

Silent Weapons – well maybe not completely silent but silent enough to not draw attention to yourself… The value of silence under certain survival conditions could literally mean the difference between life and death for the survivor.

Taking game silently could be essential in keeping your location secret and avoiding potential threats, or frightening away every other animal in the area.

Never fall into the trap of being totally dependent on one food source. Too many things can happen to quickly deplete,  or even completely destroy your supply. Remember Morphy’s law will be in full effect and in top form after any disaster.

Please have a plan to supplement your food storage with wild game, eatable plants, fresh garden produce, domestic animals etc., evaluate your location and personal situation and plane for at least three independent sources to supply or at least supplement your survival food needs.

The area backing up my homestead / retreat is covered by thousands of acres of forest –  with an ample supply of deer, wild turkey, black bear, pheasant, rabbit and squirrel.

I would be foolish to not make preps to use those abundant resources to supplement my food storage. By far the best foraging tool is a firearm, but under most survival conditions silence would be desirable or even essential. Because of this reality,  I have several tools that will allow me effectively take game without arousing suspicion or attracting unwanted attention including…

.22 caliber CB caps

While not completely silent the .22 caliber CB caps caps are much quieter than standard loading with this round. The sound is more of a thud compared to the crack of standard rounds. Small game can be taken out to twenty-five yards with careful shot placement.


A blow-gun is the epitome of simplicity. It is basically a tube through which a dart is blown. Blow-guns offer silence not found with other weapons and the dart can reach a muzzle velocity of 250 fps or more. I bought mine years ago from a mail order supplier but they can be made at home for nearly nothing.


The sling-shot is generally seen as a child’s toy but can be very effective on small game and birds out to about twenty yards. The key is to practice enough to become efficient in its use. I’ve a folding slingshot to great effect to take a lot of small game – the animals are usually stunned and not killed and must be finished off by other means. I always keep a folding slingshot in my bug out bag.

Bow and Arrow

Modern compound bows are great for taking larger game, but are expensive with most models costing more than a comparable firearm. Primitive bows are easy enough to make from materials found in nature, for me the hardest part has always been the arrows. I have several handmade bows, but for the most part I prefer to use commercial arrows and broad heads.

Air Guns

In my opinion, the spring piston models are the best design choice of the models now available. They are cocked by a single stroke and the force driving the pellet out of the barrel is consistent meaning better accuracy. Look for a gun with a fully rifled barrel, adjustable sights and grooved for scope mounting. Also look for a rated muzzle velocity of at least 1,000 fps. Pyramid Air  has a huge inventory of great air-rifles at competitive prices and fast shipping… What types of “silent weapons do you have in your foraging arsenal?

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. I use .22 CB Longs in my Crickett, mainly to keep the rat population down where I live, and I’ve got an old wrist-rocket in my stash of supplies. Note with surgical-tube slingshots to treat the rubber with Armor-All or similar to keep them from drying out and crumbling. Dollar store marbles are cheap and consistent ammo to use, and I’ve got a bag full of .36 round balls for ‘big game’ 😉
    In two of my caches, I have blowguns with those hunting darts, and while they’re not ideal (.40 vs. .625), they work on squirrel and rabbit if you use the diamond-shaped plastic points. Ammo was super cheap for those: some music wire, and plastic cones from the crafts store along with the purpose-built hunting points.
    When I’m cash ahead, I’m eyeballing that Crosman .22 carbine based on their pump pistol frame. No CO2 cartridges needed and it just looks cool. Either that or just one of the pistols it was made from would round out my needs nicely.

    • TPSnodgrass says:

      Thanks for tip on applying Armor-All to the surgical tubing to keep it from drying out, hadn’t even THOUGHT of doing that.

  2. riverrider says:

    don’t forget suppressors. they can be had for 200 bucks and another 200 for the atf. yeah, makes you on another list but over 250,000 were sold just last year so they’ll have a hard time rounding us up. look up bore cleaning trap. a simple adapter that screws to 1/2×28 threads and an oil filter on the other end. its to trap any oil leakage while cleaning your weapon, but if you happen to forget to take it off and pop a few rounds you’ll be amazed, lol……

    • concerned citizen says:

      if you want a suppressor by next summer buy it NOW, then do the paperwork, and then wait for like 9 months until you get the suppressor, under the current admin in the WH the wait time went from 2 months to 9.

  3. I keep the normal quite tools on hand – blow gun , sling shot , bow , & air rifle – but I also keep the old wooden rat traps as well to catch tree rats in a shtf case.

    • riverrider says:

      dang, i keep forgetting the rat traps!

      • TPSnodgrass says:

        Peanut butter as bait for the rat traps works exceptionally well, at least on OUR rats. Hear the snap of the trap within about 10-15 minutes of baiting and setting the traps. It’s a GOOD sound!

        • riverrider says:

          lol, roger that! i just saw a guy on youtube that puts them around his tent camping in the backcountry. catches mice and the toes of anybody snooping.

    • concerned citizen says:

      nailing a rat trap to the side of a tree, and a dab of peanut butter, squirrel stew

  4. MaterielGeneral says:

    Great article, I recently bought a sling shot, it took some practice but I’m getting it zeroed in.

  5. Ah, some of my toys of choice as a kid — bows & arrows, beanshooters, slings, slingshots (illegal in some states), spears. And I thought I’d invented the spearthrower device, but some cave guy beat me to it. Now if I can just get at least one rotator cuff fixed . . . In all seriousness, quiet stuff can be very handy.

  6. Curley Bull says:

    I bought the air rifle 20 years ago to teach my grandkids gun safety, but am looking at getting a new one. The “Sling Shot” I’ve had for decades (illegal in some countries as “Stealth Weapon”). Used to bow hunt. Blah, blah, blah . ..

    What I want is the type air rifle Lewis and Clark had (illegal today). The stock was hollow cast iron (today stainless would be much lighter) and they used something similar to a bicycle pump to fill it. The magazine held 40 rnds of 46 caliber balls and it fired the 40th with as much power as the 1st. It can penetrate a 2×4 at 100yrds consistently. That’s why they had no trouble with the natives. Give a demonstration at first meeting and make them believe every man in group has one. No sound, no smoke . . .

    • tommy2rs says:

      Lots of pre-charged pneumatics out there theses days, all the way up to .50 caliber. They cost about the same as a standard rifle and don’t forget the pump to recharge it.

  7. tommy2rs says:

    I’ve found that my 22 rifle with subsonic ammo is quieter than my Gamo spring piston air rifle. The Gamo has a loud crack as the pellet breaks the sound barrier.

    And everyone should have a Tipton Patch Catcher or three. A little duck tape and you have the modern version of the redneck plastic soda bottle attachment.

  8. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    All good points. Also include that vermin control will become VERY CRUCIAL and using non powder burning weapons will be much more cost effective. The bow / crossbow I think will become easier to acquire fish rather than pole / bait.

  9. nemoseto says:

    good points, i would add crossbow to bow and arrow, they are far more forgiving in accuracy when completly homemade. a homemade wooden arrow must be straight and long, a difficult task under most conditions (only 1 in 10 shafts are accurate for hunting historically) but a crossbow can fire a bolt only 8 inches long, much easier to make, with 2 feather fletching and a flat steel head. i have made many crossbows and can shoot such bolt 100 feet and hit a rabbit size critter with it. they are also more forgiving for inexperienced archers or those who can’t draw much weight, they can also be left armed and are faster for the first shot.

  10. Encourager says:

    I know nothing about air guns. Which one is mostly silent? What should I know before I buy? I went to the site mentioned and I was surprised at the prices.

    How about an article on what to look for in buying an air rifle, air pistol, airsoft rifles/pistols and the difference between them???

    • Encourager says:

      I should say my sons were into airsoft games, so I know that they shoot plastic pellets. Can these be used for shooting game?
      They hurt like heck, and I have seen some whopper bruises from them on the sons. But as a defense weapon???

      Help, wolfies!

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        NO Air-soft guns are not deadly. But theu could be useful for chasing the neighbor’s cat out of your yard without killing the cat.

        To kill game, you should have a spring-piston or pneumatic spring gun.

        Most people that hunt with air rifles go for 22 cal guns, but I chose .177 cal as pellets are much easier to find and through my past experience I knew the .177 cal was deadly if the speed was 1,000 fps or more.

  11. poorman says:

    Suprized you didn’t mention traps MD ( unless I missed it ) as I’ve seen traps and snares in some of the pics you have posted. I have these,a gammo pellet rifle in .177 and plan on a .22 cal next. Sling shot and a couple of hundred rounds of sub sonic 22’s. Actually going out today to pick up some large rat traps that I think will work for squirrel and birds to add to my collection.

  12. I have a slingshot. Boy, is there a learning curve for that! Im getting better though. Yesterday, I hit the broad side of a barn.

    • Bluegrass Bandit says:

      My Grandfather used to tell me that I couldn’t hit a flock of flying barns.

  13. Recently picked up a Cold Steel 1917 Cutlass (sword) at half price on Amazon. Normally they’re about $300, but found it for $150. I’ve wanted one for years, but didn’t want to spend $300. Good silent self defense weapon that doesn’t need reloading…

    • tommy2rs says:

      I like the looks of that cutlass, may have to sneak one in somehow. I’ve got an 1896 vintage saber that I work out with. I like it’s possibilities but it’s a PITA to carry around.

  14. recoveringidiot says:

    As a few posters above said, traps are the bargain basement in cost and effort to get small animals quietly. I have no experience with snares but the small conibear type traps are cheap and fairly easy to set. The two draw backs are they don’t discriminate between domestic animals and fur/food animals(might not matter if you are hungry enough) and theft of the trap and maybe the catch as well.

    • In a shtf meat is meat , in some places cat is well you know , food.

      • axelsteve says:

        We have stray cats in my neighborhood now that the local chineese place closed down a few months ago.I have a crossbow that I need to get back to working order.

  15. I also have a dozen or so throwing knifes and another dozen throwing stars… Silent offense…

  16. Chuck Findlay says:

    I have a Gamo 1,000 fps 177 cal air rifle. I have done a good amount of testing on animals and it’s deadly to 40-yards. It was only $150.00, and I have a large reserve of pellets (like 40,000) for it.

    Unlike most air rifles the Gamo’s are made in Europe, not China. Winchester-1000, Ruger Air-Hawk and several of the Beeman line are China-made. Gamo’s are made in Spain.

    • L.A. Mike says:

      Crossman/Remington had a Nitro Piston air rifle that had some pretty awesome reviews, and was USA made. Others can be found, but the prices get pretty high.

  17. William Fagan says:

    Hi everyone…don’t overlook the Slingbow..it’s very powerful and extremely accurate and deadly for larger game too. Take a slingshot and place a key ring about 3/4 in diameter and paracord threads or wire and tie that keyring so its right in the middle of the slingshow “Y”. Tie it tight so it stays it the middle. Get yourself some arrows and have a ball. There are a couple of different rubber straps with different power pulls and you can use those broadhead arrow points for the bigger game.It’s quiet, deadly and accurate if you practice…Fun too.

    • I’ve been using slingshots for about 50 years, and we figured out how to adapt them for arrows when we were kids. A very useful tool. I have several different models now, and they’re so inexpensive that I keep them all over the place and usually just use rocks as ammo, always a rock handy. Takes a lot of practice to use effectively, but is really quite simple.

  18. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    I agree that spring piston air firearms are more appropriate for hunting small game animals, but think that ‘pumps’ like the Benjamin / Sheridans also have a place at the table.

    Due to the heavier materials and need for strong construction. many spring pistons are HEAVY guns – as heavy or more than many centerfires. Also add that cocking the action (breaking barrel or lever) requires some strength that many young or older people find very difficult or next to impossible. These springs that power the action can take a set if left cocked too long and power is reduced considerably.

    The pneumatic pump is much lighter and because they require several pumps, their power is variable. I’ve used a single pump to kill mice indoors, with little danger of ricochet or other damage to nearby materials for example. If you keep your range inside 30 yards, these pumps ARE game getters. Their light weight allows you the option of taking them along in a backpack with your standard powder burner – it just adds versatility.

    Mounting a scopes on pneumatics is easier Spring piston firearms have a unique recoil that give them the reputation of ‘scope killers’, even high quality manufacture. If you plan on mounting a scope on a springer, ask the manufacturer if their product is air rifle rated.

  19. MonsterTruck says:

    If anyone has trouble with the sling shot, look at the ammo… odd sized rocks and stones give unpredictable flight paths… Try those little glass balls florists use in clear vases. You can find them in sacks of 100 at craft stores. They are sort of like marbles but not as expensive and the are pretty uniform in size and weight… Of course you’re going to run out sometimes, but the price makes them pretty easy to stockpile…

  20. Santa Walt says:

    Don’t forget the crossbow. Its biggest drawback is the reloading time. Even with a cocking device it is slow compared to the others. Even with that, it is probably more effective for the one shot situation.

  21. Instead of rat traps, live animal traps are effective in sorting out what you want for a food source.

    Atl atl were and still are used in hunting primitive.

    Snare traps along game trails are efficient for small animals.

    Fishing with hook, bait and line is a quiet way of catching meat but it’s usually the human that makes all the noise when they have a big one hooked.

    I used to catch wild field rabbits by hand when I was a kid. I snuck up upon them, saw the direction they were going to sprint, and projected myself ahead of them when they bolted by throwing myself on them. Mom and dad started to get mad at me when I brought the critters home alive. They wanted nothing to do with eating them, and neither did the neighbors, so I had to let them go.

  22. hvaczach says:

    Cross-man pellet rifle, a compound bow, and the peice-de-la-resistance- an atlatl. Truth be told my atlatl is kind of a 1.0 version that I need to improve upon but the first experiment actually gave me alot of idea’s. If you are unsure of the effectiveness of this device it’s probly the reason there arn’t any elephant’s in North America. Historians believe group hunting with this device is a big reason the Mastadon was killed off. Not simple to use but the power and distance you get from a dart is really incredible.

  23. I have all of those listed; but, would include a few more. Along with the .22 CB caps, some standard .22 LR Subsonic work well, are as quiet as the CB cap, and a little more powerful. A normal .22 LR has a muzzle velocity around 1200 fps, and anything faster than 1080 fps (nominal) will produce the crack of a sonic boom. The subsonic bullets normally travel at about 960 fps so no crack, only the sound of popcorn popping. These cycle fine BTW in my black rifle with the .22 conversion installed.

    If you have the Wrist Rocket, you can add a few inexpensive components to be able to shoot short arrows. Search for Sling Bow and there’s a ton of information and videos.

    Throwing Axe, Hatchet, or Tomahawk. I have a couple and like anything they do take some practice; however, they are very reusable.

    Shuriken or shaken (throwing star), although you need to check your local laws.

    The Atlatl which has been mentioned can be very effective; but, like the others, requires practice.

    Finally, if you plan to use any tool with moving or wearable parts (air rifle, traditional slingshot (vs. sling), make sure you have spare rubber tubing, gaskets, springs, etc.

  24. We have all heard of Murphy’s law. I used to be a big time believer in it but here lately I am sorry I just can’t buy into Murphy’s law anymore. I believe in a new law called SCHWARTZ’s law.we all know Murphy said whatever can go wrong will go wrong at the most in opportune time. Well schwartz’s law can be summed up very eloquently by what Schwartz had to say. Plain and simple is MURPHY WAS AN OPTIMIST.

  25. Ebola. Hmmm Atlanta ,,,,,,,hmmmm. Walking dead. ,,,,series!,,,, mighty coincidental

  26. concerned citizen says:

    Getting some have a hart “catch them alive” box traps work great, the bigger the size the bigger the catch
    for squirrel, chipmonk, ground hog, You put a bigger one near a ground hog hole with some fresh veggies in it, and you have meat for a big stew. Add taters, carrots, onions.

  27. concerned citizen says:

    people need to realize, one food source they will sooner or later learn how to eat
    wild dogs.

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