You should own guns with suppressors, a stockpile of ammo, a machete, a combat or hunting knife and pepper spray. Guns are always vastly superior, in any situation.

However most countries outlaw guns, which is why it makes sense to consider other options.


  • assault rifle (e.g. AR-15)
  • handgun (e.g. Glock-19)
  • silencer (search for: Napa 4003, solvent trap fuel filter)
  • hollow-point bullets for handgun
  • soft-point bullets for rifles

3D printed guns or DIY guns like the MAC-10 do not make any sense, because it is too difficult and time-consuming to make them operate somewhat reliably. If budget is tight, any handgun will do. Being able to conceal and hide your gun should be a main priority.

Hollow-point / soft-point bullets shred internal organs upon impact, and are therefore vastly superior in stopping power to FMJ ammunition.

bladed weapons

  • machete (Tramonina, 14 inch)
  • combat, hunting or comparable large kitchen knife

Machetes and swords should be modified with an angle grinder to make them shorter than 40cm, lightweight and suitable for thrust attacks, so that they are wieldable indoors.

A large folding knife might be handy to have as a backup, and if the economic situation has not yet truly escalated.

pepper spray

  • 3 or more cans of cheap pepper spray

Pepper spray only works at very close range, and there are huge quality differences between the brands in spraying distance and dispersal. Even cheap pepper sprays however are just as powerful to stop an opponent, given that you manage to hit the face/eyes. The catch here however is, that the spraying beam can be dodged with fair chance, and there is a period of 15-45 seconds or so where the assailant experiences pain from it, but can still fight through it and inflict serious harm on you before essentially going mostly or entirely blind (which is not guaranteed to happen). In lack of experience, attackers might also not be very intimidated by a tiny spraying can, and might just take their chances. The great danger therefore lies in a situation where pepper spray is your only weapon, your opponent is armed with a knife or gun, and the stakes are not just venting off some road-rage or stealing a purse, but bare survival. In this case using the spray will provoke them to continue their attack with more speed and aggression, and to inflict lethal wounds on you, before truly losing most of their vision. You should therefore not rely on pepper spray alone (or at all), if you are in a potential life-or-death situation. Wind can also make the pepper spray stream unpredictable. But even without wind there is always some minor degree of blowback, and it can cause intense coughing to everyone (or worse) if used indoors. Overall, no matter the situation, pepper spray is pretty effective, but its a giant risk if used alone against an armed opponent.

However, there are a lot of less dangerous situations, where one can imagine that pepper spray will be preferable. For example if you are in conflict with your neighbors or even friends who accuse you of hoarding and demand to enter your home. Also anyone unarmed who might pick a fight with you and has no strong motive to seriously injure you. This is where you really want an option like pepper spray, that can resolve the situation without any permanent harm.

arrowed weapons

Weapons that use arrows are very slow, bulky to use, inaccurate to shoot and vastly inferior to guns.

They also have questionable stopping power, because they cannot penetrate bones and they don’t shred internal organs. However two options exist that are somewhat viable at a medium distance:

Although it is possible to fit regular bows with 5 round magazines, or to hold 5 arrows in your shooting hand, it cannot be stressed enough that they are too bulky to use, too slow to reload and require too much skill to be a viable option. In absence of guns, pistol crossbows can work well at a max range of 15-30 meters and a “fast” reload time (below 1s). This could be advantageous if shooting outdoors or from a window. However at closer range indoors, a machete or large knife might be more versatile and devastating if the opponent is not vastly superior to you in physical strength. You have to expect, that the opponent might continue to charge at you even after 2-4 shots have been landed, even if he might die from them much later on.

Arrowed weapons are not certain to work immediately. Their main advantage is to intimidate the opponent, by being able to hurt them from a distance where they cannot harm you, or being able to hurt them when you would not stand a chance in melee combat.

Pulling crossbows and bows might be too difficult for women or weak people, particularly bows. Shooting bows accurately requires a lot of practice, but crossbows much less so.

Without a magazine, arrowed weapons are rather useless.

But even with a magazine, their performance is so much worse than guns, that you might not want to bother with them at all, or only in special circumstances.

Hunters usuallly wait anywhere from 1 - 16 hours for a deer to die that has been wounded by a single shot. A carefully placed shot to the lungs or heart might take 0.5-2 hours to kill, a gut shot might take 2-12 hours or more. In lucky instances, the deer might parish within minutes. In this time the deer remains vital enough to escape to great distances, thus disturbing it within this time is generally ill adivised.

other improvised weapons

  • polearms/spears built from kitchen knives and broom sticks
  • pry bars
  • pipes and dumbells
  • shovel sticks and garden tools
  • baseball bat

The main focus of improvised weapons should be to make them very lightweight and swingable or thrustable/throwable. A longer weapon tends to be superior to a shorter one. Prybars and pipes can be very painful on impact without a handle, which could be wrapped from duct tape and/or paracord. Epoxy glue and pipe clamps could be used to manufacture polearms.

Other garden tools, such as pitch forks, axes, or shovel sticks can also be used and provide a huge advantage against an opponent without any weapon or a short weapon. But as explained, better options exist.


While it might not make any sense to use poison in self defense, knowledge about poisons could be an advantage to deter theft:

  • rosary peas contain abarin, delayed onset, lethal after 48 hours
  • monkshood can induce hallucinations and even death upon skin contact - an old arrow poison
  • foxgloves can easily lead to death if swallowed

Stocked supplies such as packs of beans and rice could be labeled with a warning about the poison and a numeric code, giving the impression that it is not safe to eat without understanding the code.

It is plausible that soft drinks could be poisoned with digitalis to exert revenge on thieves.

Poisoning arrowheads with monkshood is dangerous and might be too slow to act to be effective.

further considerations

Killing or severely harming people is greatly discouraged, even if you acted in self-defense and are backed by the law. This has two reasons. When law enforcement capacity is overwhelmed, mobs, angry family and neighbors will have much more freedom to exert revenge and take the law into their own hands against you - by whatever flimsy interpretation. On the other hand the authorities will gravitate towards punishing anyone without due process or investigation, and much more severely so, even if those laws hardly make any sense anymore in a collapsed society. Gangs may or may not communicate about which homes they are targeting for food in advance. Law enforcement may or may not confiscate your weapons and equipment and put you into a prison camp, where you will likely starve to death or be killed. The main idea therefore in using weapons, is to deter attackers with superior attack power, and to somehow manage to still fly under the radar.