The 5 WORST "D.I.Y. Improvised Survival Weapons" For SHTF

The 5 WORST “D.I.Y. Improvised Survival Weapons” For An SHTF World. . .

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this…

I was looking through survival tips in my social media groups, looking for things to add to my knowledge bank.

I’m not going to name names, but… I ran across this list of “The Best Do-It-Yourself Survival Weapons” that I’ve got to share with you.

NOT because I think these are great options…

But rather to spare you from suffering the same fate as other “fantasy preppers” who actually think these ARE the best survival weapons to grab in a pinch if you can’t, don’t, or won’t have a gun.

(You know me… I’m always ready to put the “doomsday” in Doomsday Prepper, even if it means ruining some people’s misconceptions.)

Ok, here we go…

Here Are The Top 5 Most-Common (Worst) Do-It-Yourself Survival Weapons

The Worst “DIY” Survival Weapons

Now first, let me tell you WHY you even need to consider building up your own survival weapons arsenal…

I mean, if you own a gun, you’re all set, right?

Not exactly…

Firearms have a way of being the worst option for protecting yourself during extreme circumstances like an extended grid-down scenario (it could literally take a YEAR to bring an electrical grid back online… and a former CIA Director said that the unrest from this type of scenario would literally wipe out 90% of our population!)

Should this type of a scenario take place, firearms can be stolen… break down… run out of ammo… or even be confiscated during martial law.

So yes… having a “back-up” weapon to defend yourself with is definitely a good thing… but this list of the “best survival weapons” mostly makes my “worst” list!

Ok, here we go…

1. Spiked Baseball Bat

spiked baseball bat
Spiked Baseball Bat

I can tell when someone’s been watching WAAAAAY too much television.

Whether it’s Stranger Things or The Walking Dead, this prop pops up to slay the living and the undead quite regularly

Pretty simple concept: drive a bunch of nails through a Louisville Slugger… wrap some spare barbed wire around it… and *PRESTO* – instant zombie-slayer!

And I’ve got to admit, it looks pretty badass.

But in a crisis situation, you have threats both near and far, and I’ll wager you have about two good swings before someone takes it from you and turns you into a human popsicle stick.

2. Flamethrower


Since ancient times, man has always found great joy in throwing fire at our enemies.

And since ancient times, we have been getting burned.

Even in more modern military situations, the “flamethrower guy” is running around the battlefield strapped with a highly-flammable backpack strapped on, praying that the flames only travel in one direction through the device and don’t turn him into a burning marshmallow on the battlefield!

Since these are DIY weapons, mind you, the chances of someone building anything that shoots out flames is most likely going to be something as simple as the common “aerosol can and a lighter” getup.

A faulty can… misplaced finger on the tiny knob… or even a slight puff of wind that blows out your lighter disqualifies this one.

Plus, there’s always that slight percentage chance it will just BLOW UP in your hand.

No thanks!

3. PVC Bow and Arrow

PVC survival bow
PVC Survival Bow

Actually, this one isn’t a “bad” idea.

We’ve worked with the designer of these bows in the past and you can make some pretty strong bows from nothing more than some PVC pipes littered throughout the wasteland.

So it IS a skill I’d encourage you to learn for hunting purposes – and even for defense.

However… anyone who had tried their hand at archery soon realizes that this skill DOES take practice – so if you’re going to rely on this as a weapon, you damn well better get up to speed on your accuracy and “reload” speed if you’re going to take on any bad guys!

Besides the fact that – unless you’re behind some barrier (like a castle wall?), you’re not likely to get more than 1 or 2 shots before you’re overwhelmed by the “enemy”.

Even if you had more shots, you’d quickly run out of ammo, as arrows are relatively large and you can carry only so many.

4. Spiked Booby Traps

Viet Cong Punji Sticks Booby Trap
Viet Cong Punji Sticks Booby Trap

For as long as I’ve been writing about prepping and survival, I’ve been seeing photocopied images from old military manuals about making booby traps.

The Viet Cong used traps (like spiked pits) extensively in the Vietnam War because they’re cheap, easy to make, and deadly.

The fact that they are so deadly is exactly why this “weapon” is a bad idea.

You could have these all over your property, and the first time you forget where one is, you’re gone.

Worse, a curious neighbor’s child could be the victim of one of these things.

Just no.

5. Homemade “Zip Gun”

homemade "zip gun"
Homemade “Zip Gun”

It’s true… firearms ARE the ultimate equalizer.

That’s why you’re better off building out your prepper gun arsenal now and stockpiling as much ammunition as you can “just in case” the world goes to Hell in a hand basket.

But, especially in a world without “rule of law” and harsh environments (wet, sludgy conditions; dust and debris, etc.), guns can be stolen, confiscated, malfunction, break, or simply run out of bullets since you won’t have access to the local guns & ammo store.

But if you DO find yourself with some access to ammunition, you may be tempted to craft something together to fire that ammo.

After all, guns aren’t all that complicated compared to the cartridges they fire.

I’ll tell you, though… in a crisis situation, I don’t want to be the guy relying on a single-shot pile of toilet parts that’s THIS close to becoming a handheld pipe bomb.

That makes this one a non-starter, too.

I can hear what you’re asking, now: “Okay, Jeff, that’s all fine… but if I don’t have access to a firearm in an emergency, what DO you think I should use?”

That’s a great question…

The Absolute BEST Improvised Survival Weapon You Can Use In A SHTF World…

In a scenario where guns aren’t an option, there’s one weapon above all that I’d do anything I could to find and “build” as quickly as possible.

In fact, throughout time, it’s been a primary weapon – and tool – in areas all around the world where resources are scarce and dangerous mobs (or armies) are a very real threat…

… a “long blade”!

Think about it – swords have dominated the battlefield long before there was gunpowder.

They’re deadly as hell… don’t “jam”… don’t run out of bullets… have far better range than a knife… and can be used against multiple attackers with ease.

The downside is, any sword you find (or make) is going to have to stand up to a LOT of abuse – and unless you’re gifted enough to forge a Hattori Hanzo samurai special, chances are you’re either wielding a “toy” sword designed for a wall trophy… or a poorly crafted blade that will break with one strike.

You’re way better off looking around for a machete – which is far more common and far more durable than any “sword” you’re going to have access to.

I even carried my military-issue machete with me on every single mission I went on in combat as my “backup weapon” in case my rifle went “click” when it should have gone “bang”.

And when I travel overseas – especially in areas where I can’t bring my handgun – one of the very first stops I make when I get in-country is to a local hardware store or landscaping nursery where I pick up machete to have with me in my vehicle and in my residence there.

In fact, here’s a quick video I shot while traveling to a remote Caribbean island a few years back where I showed just how accessible these “weapons” are…

However, while you “can” make your own machete, they DO break if they’re not crafted well.

So unless you can forge a Hattori Hanzo samurai sword from scratch, you’re going to fare much better if you build this weapon into your survival weapons arsenal now – the same way you’re most likely doing with your “survival guns”.

There are a lot of options out there to choose from but, just as with my own guns… if I’m going to have to bet my life (and my family’s lives) on something, it’s going to have to be the best.

Unfortunately, every machete I purchased – even the expensive name-brand ones – “looked” great, but couldn’t stand up to the abuse I put it through.

Eventually, having “some” experience with blacksmithing that I learned from a few guys in that business, I designed my own machete using 1095 “tool quality” steel that can literally cut through an entire steel truck hood without even damaging the blade.

If you’re only looking to chop up some sticks for a fire or to build a shelter, a cheap machete should do you just fine.

But if you’re as serious as I am about the gear you’re going to face a life-or-death scenario with, I recommend you skip the gimmicky “fantasy weapons” and invest in something you know is going to last forever.

  • Well, there’s the problem of bullets for firearms, and there’s also the problem of mixing your own gunpowder, which I would say is more difficult than molding your own bullets (especially seeing as how finicky firearms can be about just how explosive the powder is). I notice this article is completely lacking in any representatives of the guns-that-are-not-firearms category. And I would argue that using a blade for self defense requires more mental “upkeep” than using a bow.

    • Sword or knifes are a up close and personal weapon and takes a certain skill set for sure.

      • Avatar photo Jeff Anderson says:

        Good point Bailey… and definitely true to a certain extent. Fortunately, knives, swords, and machetes are pretty intuitive to use since they do use natural movements. However, just as with any weapon, it comes down to the person who’s wielding it, right? Anyone can pull the trigger on a gun… but that doesn’t mean they’re going to be accurate with it or be able to use it in close-quarters against a determined attacker. Practicing with these weapons – AS “weapons” – can only make you better.

  • In lieu of firearms, I’m liking knives, swords and slingshots. I believe these would give a slight advantage to hands and feet combat if not trained. However all these require training and the mindset (predetermination) to use them on another human should that time come. Acquire and train.

  • I’m not sure which countries abroad you are going to visit but pepper spray in Australia is illegal so is carrying a knife/multitool unless you use it for your employment.

    • Avatar photo Jeff Anderson says:

      Yup… as with any weapon… check local laws for what you can and can’t carry. I also suggest knowing how to improvise self-defense weapons – something I learned from cross-border law-enforcement who have seen the weapons that drug cartels can fashion in an instant.

  • Horace Busch says:

    Thanks for this great info. However, having only served as a military non-combatant, in support roles, I have this innate fear of guns and blades. Be my bad luck to have my weapon taken from and used on me. The only times I actually fired a rifle or handgun was at the range during boot camp. What do you recommend for guys like me…other than prayer?

    • Avatar photo Jeff Anderson says:

      Great insight to be able to take an honest look at your capabilities Horace. I commend you. “Fear” really comes from a lack of familiarity. A good example is those who carry a concealed handgun… For those who carry a semi-auto pistol, you should ALWAYS have a round in the chamber, ready to go, instead of having to rack the slide. But for gun-owners new to this method of carry, it “feels” like it’s going to go off on its own at any moment… until you realize it’s not (as long as you have a good holster, that is). So getting over any fear of guns at all, just comes down to “shooting more”. The same goes for blades actually, but it’s harder to get this kind of training in. Before the pandemic, we were running annual “Combat Machete Boot Camps” and guys (and girls) were coming out of this weekend event handling double machetes against multiple attackers! A total blast and great skill-development!

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