The Best Non-Firearm Self-Defense Weapons

Rich Murphy
One can shoot a bow rapidly and accurately
One can shoot a bow rapidly and accurately

Firearms have long been called “the great equalizer” and rightly so. A petite woman with a gun in her hands is the match for the biggest man, as long as she knows how to use that gun.

The extra physical strength and stamina the man has isn’t going to give him any advantage over that woman, unless he can get close enough to wrench it out of her hands.

But what if you don’t have a gun? What are the best alternate weapons to use, if for some reason guns aren’t practical? Guns are noisy, so you might not want to use one, giving away your location, in a post-disaster world. You might also find yourself short on ammo, needing to use something else.

So the question is, what other weapons are worth taking your time and money to acquire, learn and practice with, so that you have them available to you as alternatives, when and if the time comes when you can’t use a gun.

The Bow

Probably one of the greatest weapons ever invented is the bow. Its greatness is attested to by how long it has been in continuous use. There are still plenty of people today who use the bow for sport shooting and hunting. At relatively short ranges it can be as effective as a gun, while being a silent weapon.

Unlike swords, the bow and arrow is a Medieval weapon that still has much relevance in today’s world.
Unlike swords, the bow and arrow is a Medieval weapon that still has much relevance in today’s world.

This would be my weapon of choice in a post-disaster world, where I might not want to use a gun. With practice, one can shoot a bow rapidly and accurately, drawing and firing in one continuous motion; even shooting it instinctively, without taking time to aim.

Not only that, but it is possible to make your own arrows and even your own bow in a survival situation. They have enough range to be used for hunting and defense, yet can still be used in any place where there is enough room for you to stick your arm out to draw it.

The bow is probably the only weapon that stands a chance against a gun. If someone was good at moving silently and knew how to use camouflage and concealment to their advantage, they could defeat a gun armed enemy.

The Knife

The knife is probably the oldest weapon there is, after the rock and the stick. It has passed through many iterations through the years, as different people groups adapted the basic idea to meet their needs. While a difficult weapon to use effectively, there are times when the knife is the perfect weapon to use, especially in a crowded space.

The problem with using a knife is that you can’t use one without making yourself vulnerable at the same time. You have to be within reach of your adversary to stab or slash them, which means they could do the same to you.

The most effective way of using a knife against a knife armed assailant is to ignore their body and only fight their knife hand. A few cuts on that hand and forearm, which can be delivered with minimal risk to yourself, will severely limit their ability to even hold onto their knife, let alone use it effectively against you. Don’t bother going after their body, which makes you very vulnerable, just go after that hand.

The Sword

The sword is an extension of the knife. If you are fighting a knife-wielding foe, the sword will give you extended reach, meaning you will have a decided advantage over them. I actually had this happen once. I was in costume, as a Roman legionnaire and had left my wallet in the car.

When I went out to get it, some guy who had drunk a few too many decided he should jump the guy in the skirt; he just forgot one thing, I had a sword. One swat of the flat of the blade against his hand and he not only recognized the sword for what it was, but lost his switchblade in the process. He decided it was a good time to leave.

The sword was a great weapon in Medieval times. But today? Not so much…
The sword was a great weapon in Medieval times. But today? Not so much…

So against a knife, the sword is great. But I’m not sure I’d want to use it against anything else. I did enough sword fighting in my youth to understand that the sword is not an easy weapon to master, even though it is a very effective one. So, while I might use my sword cane at times when I can’t carry a gun, I wouldn’t want to make that sword my primary defensive weapon.

Melee Weapons

About the same time that swords were popular in Europe, there were also a whole host of other weapons that extended the reach. I’m talking, of course, about Medieval times. Wars were rather bloody back then, with people hacking at or beating on each other with a variety of weapons… or tools being used as weapons.

These weapons mostly had the same thing in common; they extended the reach of the person, just like the sword will. Technically, the sword can be considered a melee weapon, although it is usually considered to be in a category all its own. Common melee weapons included the mace, the morning star, axes, war hammers, spears and clubs.

How effective any of these would be depends a lot on the situation and how your enemy is armed and armored. I personally wouldn’t want to use any of them against someone who was armed with a gun; but I’d gladly select any of them over a knife. The extended reach these weapons give you improves your chance of defeating the other guy, without being hurt in the process.

The Spear

The spear is probably the most well-known melee weapon, although some would call it a pole arm. It is one of the simplest weapons to fabricate, essentially consisting of a double-bladed knife attached to a pole. The length of the pole changed throughout history and the style of fighting those armed with the spear were undertaking.

For us, the nice thing about a spear is its simplicity. I have a spear that I made in a couple of hours by simply grinding a piece of flat steel strap and mounting it in a slot in the handle. Should I be confronted by a knife-wielding thug breaking into my workshop, I’m sure I’d have the advantage.

The Axe

Of all the melee weapons, the axe is my favorite. What makes the axe a great weapon is that it is a berserker weapon. In other words, you just go crazy with it. Even if you hit the other guy with the side of the axe head, rather than the blade, you’re going to do some sort of damage.

But the real beauty of using an axe as a berserker weapon is when you’re using it against someone armed with a sword. I’ve seen video of battles like that, and the guys with the axes always had an advantage, even against trained swordsmen. The heavier weapon, wielded with abandon, just can’t be countered effectively by a sword.

Pepper Spray and Tasers

These are the classic modern “non-lethal” weapons. As such, they have limited utility. Both of these weapons are intended to do nothing more than temporarily incapacitate the bad guy. The idea is that it gives you the chance to flee. That’s okay, if you’re being assaulted in the park; but it’s not a good idea if they break into your home.

Would you want to be on the receiving end of this?
Would you want to be on the receiving end of this?

The other big problem with these weapons is that they are contact weapons. Like the knife, they can’t be used any farther than you can reach. To me, that means that there is just as much chance of the bad guy taking the weapon away from you and possibly using it on you, as there is of you successfully using it on him.

Wasp Spray

If you want to use something like pepper spray, than you might want to consider wasp spray instead. Not only is it perfectly legal to own wasp spray in all 50 states, but it can also shoot about 20 feet, giving you a chance to use it before your attacker is within arm’s reach.

Taser Gun

The taser gun is probably the best non-lethal self-defense gun there is. Invented for police use, but available for purchase, these single-shot guns are almost as expensive as buying a real gun.

But they shoot two darts, which imbed in the skin, allowing a strong electrical current to pass through the bad guy’s body and stun them. Effective out to about 20 or 25 feet, they take the taser to a whole new level, for those who can afford one.


rich-murphy is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival