Home Survival When You Don’t Have a Gun: Alternative Weapons

When You Don’t Have a Gun: Alternative Weapons

by Paul-Martin Foss

Survival weaponry normally focuses on firearms. But if you don’t own a gun, or if you run out of ammunition, you may find yourself wondering how you’re going to defend yourself or harvest wild game to feed yourself. Thankfully there are plenty of alternatives available, many of which can be adapted from readily available tools.


Bows and arrows take some time to master, but given the popularity of bowhunting nowadays, many hunters may already have bows and arrows at hand. If you’re really adventurous, you could even experiment with making your own bow, or especially your own arrows so that you’ll be well supplied if they run out.

Axes and Hatchets

Not everyone has a battle axe, but a standard wood-cutting axe can still serve as a useful weapon. Battle axes normally had narrower blades to make it easier to cut through bone. A little bit of time on a grinder can easily turn an axe or hatchet into a useful defensive weapon. Americans are probably familiar with the tomahawk, a form of hatchet that can be easily used with a single hand. A sharpened hatchet can serve double duty both for hacking through dense brush and for use as a weapon.


Spears can be made in a variety of ways. The simplest would be to take a long piece of wood, like a broom handle, and whittle one end into a sharp point. You could also take a knife blade, or forge and hammer a piece of iron into a blade and attach it to the end of the handle. A spear could be a useful weapon to take game such as wild hogs in areas of heavy vegetation.

Swords and Daggers

These are a little more specialized and you’ll have to shop around to find a sword or dagger that fits your prospective uses. But there are plenty of online stores that cater to renaissance reenactors, theater troupes, or SCA participants, and sell swords of all different sizes and styles. You can even buy them with pre-sharpened blades so that they’re ready to cut things right out of the box.


You could use a specially-made billy club, or there’s the old standby baseball bat. You could try to weight the business end with lead or steel shot to make it heavier. Heavy dead blow hammers can also be used as clubs, as could a standard claw or ball peen hammer.

Other Alternatives

If you don’t have any of the above weapons, you can still fashion improvised weapons from gardening tools. Shovels and spades can be used to club or, if their edges are sharpened, used as cutting, slashing, or stabbing tools. Pitchforks, hoes, and rakes can also be weaponized if need be.

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