Most preppers understand the importance of having a defensive weapon close at hand. Evil has always existed in the world and probably will always exist, and that means you must be prepared to confront it if you don’t want to be made a victim.
Thankfully, if you live in a free country you’ll have plenty of tools to choose from, knives and guns among them.
However, lacking our chosen weapons does not mean we are free from the responsibility of producing one when it is time to stand and deliver.
Your attacker, be it a hostile human being or just an unruly and enraged beast, will be entirely too willing to prosecute the attack when you are nearly defenseless. Aside from costing you serious cool points, you will pay for this lapse in blood, perhaps even your life.
Going forth armed is great, but it might be better still to know how to make a weapon out of any materials you have close at hand. That way, anywhere you go you’ll be armed so long as you have the ultimate weapon: your brain.
In this article we will be sharing with you 20 devastating weapons that you can craft yourself using a little bit of ingenuity.
In the Gravest Extreme
If you habitually carry a self-defense weapon, knife, pistol, pepper spray, collapsible baton or whatever, you might be thinking that you have no need of learning about improvised or DIY weapons.
After all, you aren’t going to be the one that gets caught out empty-handed when a serious fight is about to go down. Right? Right…
Except Mr. Murphy gets a vote in the situation. I’m referring to, of course, everybody’s most hated Uncle Murphy of Murphy’s Law infamy. Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will, and furthermore it will usually go wrong at the worst possible time.
That means that when you need a weapon the most, it would be your luck that you probably just won’t have it. Maybe you are in a sensitive environment, maybe it is the one and only time you chose not to carry it. It could be lost, broken, whatever.
The point is, you don’t have your usual EDC weapon or weapons, whatever they might be. So now what do you do?
If your answer is to shrug your shoulders or scratch your head, I have bad news for you. There are no rain checks for life and death encounters. What you’ll need to do instead is forgo the panicking and come up with an alternate force multiplier, and do it fast.
That’s where these DIY weapons can save the day. Whether you need a weapon right this second for an imminent threat or something a little more substantial capable of getting you through the long haul, you are bound to find several that will do the job on the list below.
20 DIY Weapons that May Save Your Life!
If the humble club was not the very first weapon that mankind devised then I don’t know what was.
You can make a club out of almost anything sturdy they can withstand impact, but they all do the same thing for you, providing you with reach and greater power as well as protecting your hand from impact compared to relying upon fisticuffs.
No matter where you go it is a virtual certainty you’ll be able to improvise a club out of something, be it in a corner of human civilization or deep in the wilderness.
A sturdy branch works wonders, especially one from hardwood like hickory or oak, but you could also make a handy one out of a table leg, armrest, old tool handle or the sturdy metal of a serving cart handle or a piece of discarded piping.
Once you have your club in hand, you know what to do. Aim for the head, and swing for the fences.
A club can make an excellent ambush weapon in any situation where you need to hide or shelter in place, and is easily capable of disabling an attacker’s limb holding a weapon or brain them outright if you get the drop on them.
A mace has much in common with a club, but whereas most clubs are more or less uniformly straight and symmetrical with perhaps some minor reinforcement on the impact end, a mace features a prominent, rugged protrusion perched on top, capable of dramatically amplifying impact forces.
Maces have been effective weapons in close combat for ages, and though they are seen as archaic weapons today the principles behind their operation are no less effective.
A mace is a DIY weapon you can fashion yourself as an improvement to the humble club if you have the right materials at hand and some time to work on it.
Starting with a sturdy club as a handle, fashioning an oversized, smashing head, particularly one made from metal, to the end and then securing it against repeated impacts will give you a SHTF survival weapon that can go the distance, or a truly devastating first strike implement.
A simple mace can be made from a hardwood baseball bat using nothing more than strips of riveted pig iron attached to the top. The additional weight and the protruding rivets will smash the daylights out of anything you strike.
The axe is another ancient tool, one that has seen an estimable use in the forest and on the battlefield.
A sharpened, splitting wedge perched atop a stout handle is capable of cleaving through the densest hardwood with a handful of whacks, and so can easily do the same thing to flesh and bone.
First things first, if you are without a weapon and are in any place that has a fire axe stashed as an emergency tool, don’t be afraid to grab that and get your Jack Torrance on.
But assuming you do not have a proper ax handy that you can repurpose as a weapon, you can make your own. Any beefy, sharpened wedge-shaped piece of metal that you can attach to a handle will do the job, at least in the short term.
You might not be playing proper lumberjack with it for very long, but I can promise you it will likely hold up long enough to put an attacker in a world of hurt.
In a wilderness survival situation, an ax can be made from a sharp, napped piece of rock or bone and then lashed securely to a notch in your handle in the same fashion that ancient, primitive axes and tomahawks were made.
Swords might get all the glory on the ancient battlefield but it is spears, and a whole lot of them, that have done the heavy lifting and much of the killing through the ages.
A spear is truly an ideal close combat weapon so long as you have the room to wield it. A spear affords you stand off capability, ease of use and deadly effect all for an entirely minimal investment of time and material.
Like most of our other primitive DIY weapons we have covered so far, a spear is usually born of a lengthy handle, one that is about as long as you are tall in this case, and a sharpened leaf or arrow-shaped point on the end.
Happily, there are all kinds of things you can use to fashion a spear.
Scrap metal, a carefully folded and sharpened steel can, a broken circuit board and even your trusty pocket knife can all be affixed to the haft using cordage or duct tape with the expectation that it will hold up for several strikes at the very least.
Spears are also versatile and make for powerful if short ranged thrown weapons. For self-defense against dangerous animals and humans alike they work quite well, but you shouldn’t underestimate their usefulness when hunting either.
5. Fist Load
A fist load is any object that can be gripped comfortably and tightly in a closed fist with the purpose of adding mass, and therefore power, to a thrown punch. Fist loads are notorious street fighter weapons and can be fashioned from any compact, dense cylindrical object.
Probably the most famous, or rather infamous, is a roll of nickels or quarters grasped and held in the hand for the purpose but a compact length of pipe or even a small sack of lead shot can be used too.
Now, a fist load does give your hand additional structure when punching but it does not obviate the need for good technique if you want to avoid self-injury when punching someone.
In fact, throwing a punch or connecting with poor technique when holding a fist load could very well result in more injury than normal so make sure you practice a little bit to get the feel of it if you plan on employing this technique.
For additional mayhem, a spiked fist load can be used which as the name suggests is any device held in the hand that allows spikes or prongs to protrude from between the fingers – sort of like Wolverine’s retractable claws.
One gruesome variation on this technique involves a roll of quarters loaded about six quarters short of full and then piercing the roll with common nails spaced to fit the user’s hand. Capable of producing a devastating blow that is difficult to see coming!
A properly sized, load rated and locking carabiner can function very much like brass knuckles in a pinch.
Whatever you might think about the legality or efficacy of brass knuckles, there is no denying that having a hardened alloy or steel loop around your fist can help you dole out some serious pain and, hopefully, protect your hand when striking at the same time.
This is a great option for sensitive environments because carabiners have become a common fixture pretty much everywhere as tool hangers or key rings.
This means that no one should give you a second look if you just so happen to have one among your possessions. set yourself up for success by making sure the gate on your carabiner locks securely closed with a threading collar so it doesn’t open and impale your hand on impact.
Also, take the time to try to find an oval one that will fit around your fingers as well as can be expected to further minimize the chances of injury.
A kubaton, sometimes known as a yawara stick, is an ultra-compact baton, sort of like a miniature club, used for striking sensitive parts of the body, increasing the effectiveness of various joint locks and for pressure point manipulation.
This is an undoubtedly effective weapon for a skilled martial arts practitioner who can make the best use of it, but for us mere mortals it can still dramatically focus the force of a blow and create some really screaming pain upon impact with an attacker.
Usually made from high impact plastic, wood or metal, you can get very much the same effect by using a short length of pipe, a hardwood dowel or even a metal pen.
You can probably look around the environment you are in right now and spot at least two things that could work as a kubaton in a pinch.
8. Shank / Shiv
An improvised, field expedient knife or spike, more often known by its slang term of shank or shiv, especially in convict parlance, is a perennial, ubiquitous weapon that can be found in any tightly controlled environment like a penitentiary or anywhere else that prisoners might be held.
Human ingenuity knows no bounds, and you can prove it by looking at the sheer variety and intricacy in the designs and materials used to craft shifts in prisons all over the world, even the most rigorously monitored maximum security joints.
Anything that can keep a point or produce an edge can be made into a shiv. You could take the plastic handle of a dish brush and whittle it into a stabbing point.
The tiny, delicately flexible blades of a disposable razor could be carefully removed and glued or set into the heated handle of a toothbrush to form a slashing weapon.
Scrap iron or metal of any kind could be ground on a concrete floor into a killing edge. A broken circuit board or carefully turned piece of thick wire could do much the same and on and on.
The only limitation on the efficacy and refinement of your shiv is how much time you can spend creating it.
Several hours or a half days worth of work could produce a crude knife that could arrival a production model. Quick thinking and a few seconds could see the barrel of a plastic, disposable pin snapped off turning it into an oversized hypodermic needle suitable for thrusting.
A flail is another medieval weapon, one equal parts renowned and reviled for its capricious effectiveness.
Consisting of a chain or rope with a weighted striking end mounted to a handle, sometimes with spikes, prongs or other embellishments, a flail relies on the momentum of the flexible head to inflict positively devastating wounds.
However, a missed strike leaves the wielder wide open or, even worse, may allow the striking part to double back on the user with disastrous results.
You can easily fashion your own flail quickly from a variety of materials. A common belt with a heavy buckle can inflict serious blunt and tearing injuries whereas the biker gang favorite of a length of heavy chain is ready to go all on its own, and can be made even more effective by simply clicking a padlock on to the end.
One prepper-centric variation is the monkey’s fist knot usually crafted from paracord and easily enhanced by inserting a heavy stone or ball bearing into the center of the knot.
This is another weapon that is devastating in its first strike capability.
10. “Loaded” Umbrella
Sometimes you need to go really low profile while remaining armed, but what are you supposed to do if you are in an environment where any overt weapon, or discovery that you have armed yourself, could mean serious consequences? In that case, it is time to get your secret agent on with a weaponized umbrella.
Sometimes employed by European gangsters in tightly policed environments, a loaded umbrella takes a little bit of setup to craft but is well worth the trouble.
All you need to do is open the umbrella and then zip tie or tape a variety of common crescent or box and wrenches along its length, and the longer the wrench the better since this will add much needed stability. Then, simply close the umbrella, secure the velcro or button wrap, and go on about your day.
Most umbrellas are seen as harmless considering they are so lightweight and flimsy, but swatting someone over the head with this one could easily stave in their skull.
11. “Millwall Brick”
The Millwall brick is an ingenious improvised weapon one with a decidedly dodgy and unsavory history.
Made of little more than a common newspaper, sometimes embellished with other gruesome implements as we will learn in a moment, this weapon was named for the Millwall F.C. soccer team, and made rightly infamous through its use by countless hooligans, spreading rapidly through Europe and remaining common to this very day in criminal sectors.
All you need to do to craft your own Millwall brick is a few sheets of newspaper, opened wide.
Fold one set of opposite corners together and then tightly roll up until it forms a dense bundle. Now fold it in half again using the other set of corners and you should have a small, lumpy club capable of breaking bones.
You can make your Millwall brick even better by soaking it in water and then allowing it to dry after creating it or by taping the open ends together to improve the handle.
Some hooligans even turn these weapons into a sort of garbage-craft tomahawk by driving a nail through the center before folding it together at the end, or embedding weighted stones or sharpened spines of metal into the fold.
12. Rolled-up Magazine
You read that right. A sort of cousin to the Millwall brick, a common, glossy stock magazine that is rolled up as tightly as you can manage and grasped firmly forms of the equivalent of a pulp nightstick. Blows from such a weapon can easily concuss someone.
Like the Millwall brick, this is one weapon that you’ll reliably be able to create no matter where you go and what environment you are in so long as it is a human settlement. Magazines, newspapers and their equivalents are so ubiquitous as to be found basically everywhere at any given time.
Also like the Millwall brick, the more time you can spend creating it the better it gets. Giving your roll up magazine a wrap in duct tape along its length will help prevent it from loosening, thus robbing it of effectiveness.
13. Glass Bottle
The nastiest weapon in any bar fight is the simple glass beer bottle. Smashing a glass bottle over someone’s head or across their face will produce a stunning impact and gruesome lacerations simultaneously.
Once the bottle has broken, you’re still left with the neck and its jagged end, a dreadful slashing weapon.
Glass bottles, mugs, steins and similar drinkware are found pretty much everywhere, meaning you will usually have ready access to a glass vessel ready to be turned immediately to use as a horrifying weapon.
Consider super sizing this acquisition by grabbing a wine bottle instead, a bottle that is famously difficult to break in comparison thanks to its thicker construction.
As always, this is one of those weapons that can be just as dangerous to the user as it is to the target and if you have time to don a glove or grab the neck with a thick napkin or towel you can provide yourself a modicum of protection against lacerating your own hand should the entirety of the bottle shatter.
14. Lamp Cord
Sometimes when the chips are down and you are being cornered or hunted you’ll need to pull out all the stops. As a surreptitious ambush weapon or unexpected coup de grace a strangling ligature can be made from any strong length of rope, cord or wire.
Common lamp wire, found everywhere attached to everything from printers to appliances and lamps, as expected, is surprisingly sturdy and easily repurposed as a strangling weapon.
But this is a weapon that you’ll need to employ with devious strategy, as it won’t do anything but sting and annoy if used in any other way.
No, for this improvised DIY weapon to do the job you’ll need to loop it over the attacker’s neck, preferably from behind, and then pull and pull and pull until the thrashing stops.
This is a niche weapon for highly specific defensive applications but if it is all you have close at hand it is time to get sneaky and do what needs to be done.
A rare improvised projectile weapon, the humble slingshot is much more than that implement of choice for childhood menaces.
At its simplest nothing more than a length of elastic cord or tubing with a pouch to hold a projectile and affixed to a forked branch, a properly made slingshot is capable of launching a projectile with impressive effect and equally impressive accuracy.
This is a weapon that will require a little bit of scavenging and your undivided attention to craft, so it is not something you’ll be able to whip out at the instant when an attack starts.
However, for survival situations in the wilderness or for potentially distracting or maiming a human adversary a slingshot is hard to beat when you need some distance for safety.
16. Windmill Boomerang
This is another ranged weapon, a throwing one, only it will not return to you despite the name unless you go pick it up yourself.
Sometimes referred to as a windmill star, this is nothing more than a pair of straight branches or other sturdy, symmetrical members that are lashed together in an equilateral cross shape with each member being equal in length.
In use, it is thrown overhand with force, and the design maximizes the chances that the target will be struck squarely for maximum damage.
Originally designed for hunting and implemented in various guises by various cultures across the globe throughout history it remains an easy to assemble and highly effective throwing weapon today.
If you are stuck in a wilderness setting, and have access to a little bit of sturdy cordage and a knife you already have everything you need to fashion this weapon once you can locate a couple of suitable branches.
17. Fire Extinguisher
A fire extinguisher is typically employed for preventing harm, not causing it, but in a pinch they make surprisingly capable weapons useful in various ways.
First, and most obviously, the dense, roiling cloud of chemicals produced by most fire extinguishers makes for an excellent smoke screen, and when directed into the face of an attacker will handily blind and begin to asphyxiate them, allowing you to make good your escape or launch a follow-up attack that is more decisive.
Additionally, fire extinguishers are pressure vessels, and that means they are usually made from extremely tough, high grade steel, the kind of steel that packs a major wallop when it is smashed into somebody’s head with enthusiasm.
We already have a couple instances on record of people trapped in buildings by terrorists or psychopaths who used a fire extinguisher to good effect so you know it will work for you when all other options are unavailable.
One quick note, make sure you aren’t using a fire extinguisher that is really just a pressurized water caster as squirting your attacker in the face with a stream of water might only give them a chuckle before they shoot you.
Well, we talked about a weapon usually employed for putting out fires, now it is time to start a couple of fires of our own.
If you had an adventurous childhood like I did, there probably came a point where you did the old homemade flamethrower trick using an aerosol can of flammable material and a match or lighter. Sound familiar? Then you already know how this works!
To employ this weapon, hopefully as a total surprise to your adversary, all you need to do is locate any pressurized can full of material that has a highly visible and obnoxious warning about the flammability of its contents.
With that done, grab your trusty Bic or Zippo- you do carry a lighter, don’t you?- ignite, and then spray the contents of the can through the flame from a couple of inches away.
The result is going to be a large and impressive fireball, and depending on the contents of the can the burning fuel might stick to the target.
At any rate, this can inflict hideous burns and will surely distract any attacker it is employed against. With a little luck, they will catch fire and have bigger problems to worry about besides killing little, old you.
As you might expect, you should use the greatest possible care under the circumstances to keep from setting yourself or the surrounding environment on fire.
19. Scalding Liquid
Sometimes the most effective weapons are the most innocuous. There isn’t a human being alive that isn’t extremely vulnerable to high temperature liquid, and it is a “shame” then that there is so much of it all around us at any given time if only you have the clarity of mind to make use of it when you need a weapon and are caught empty-handed.
Fresh, screaming-hot coffee, tea or soup can be slung into an attacker’s face to inflict terrible pain and blind them.
This might be your first line of defense if you are in a restaurant and have any clothes at hand, or in a convenience store or gas station that is currently being robbed as there is always hot coffee on or boiling water available for tea.
20. Crow’s Feet
Some weapons are best used to cover an escape or prevent the advance of an enemy. One such ancient weapon that remains in use all the way up to today around the world is the crow’s foot, or caltrop.
These jagged, jangly spiny contractions are comprised of a roughly pyramid shaped arrangement of four spikes originating from a central connecting point.
In use, no matter how they are thrown, dropped, launched or scattered there will always be a point sticking up with the other three resting on the ground.
Usually made from iron or steel, and more than capable of puncturing normal footwear to say nothing of bare feet, you can make your own if you are handy with welding or soldering or quickly fashion some from scrap metal or nails and strong two-part epoxy.
Seasoning these ahead of the likely route of advance of an attacker means they will have to slow down to pick their way through the field or make noise if they want to get through it in a hurry, hopefully alerting you to their presence.
But if they advance upon the field of crow’s feet and they aren’t aware of their presence, don’t worry, they will be sounding off mightily soon enough!
Being unarmed doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. Your first weapon is your brain, and using it, along with some tips and tricks in this guide, means you’ll always be able to produce or fashion on improvised weapon for any situation.
From medieval implements made with modern materials to weapons of opportunity or desperation and even repurposed common goods or junk many of the weapons on this list can be just as devastating as their purpose made counterparts.
Tom Marlowe grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, He has the experience in helping civilian shooters figure out what firearms work best for them.