10 Best SHTF Weapons that are Not Guns


rogue preparedness compound bow non gun weaponrogue preparedness compound bow non gun weapon
Morgan from Rogue Preparedness with her compound bow, one of our 10 best SHTF weapon choices.

It’s finally happened. The crap hit the fan and it scattered everywhere. Maybe you live in a country that restricts guns, maybe you did not have any guns to begin with, or maybe it is so far into the collapse that firearms and ammunition are impossible to find. As such, you’re stuck with having to resort to more primitive weapons of combat.

by Aden Tate, contributing writer and author of The Faithful Prepper

Even in modern life there are a number of situations where you may not have access to a firearm but still have need to defend yourself. Whether that be a wilderness survival situation, living in an area where firearms are illegal, or when you are stuck in a situation where you no longer have ammo, it is good to have alternative weapon ideas at hand. This concept flows directly into the “two is one and one is none” prepper motto. Look for weapon redundancy and diversity.

As an added bonus, non-firearm weapons are significantly less expensive than buying firearms! So, let’s take a look at 10 best SHTF weapons that are not firearms. In most cases, history will be our guide on what you can add to your existing supply of survival gear.

#1 – Time-Tested Spear

Spears are as old as stone tools, and if you look throughout medieval combat, it was hard to beat somebody with a good spear. Everything else being equal, you pitch somebody with a spear against somebody with a sword, and odds are in the spear holder’s favor.

knife spear tipknife spear tip
Some knives, like this “Renegade Chuckerfor under $20 dollars through Knife Country are designed to be used spear tips in survival situations.

One of the fantastic things about firearms is they give you the ability to engage your enemy at a distance; distance from the enemy being one of the keys to keeping yourself from harm. When it comes to hand-to-hand combat, a spear gives similar advantages. You are able to fight off an opponent with a much shorter weapon without increasing your own risk of injury. Not only can it be thrust toward your foe, it can be thrown as well, further increasing the range with which one can attack an opponent.

Spears are also incredibly cheap and easy to make as well. While ideally a spear will have a metal tip, tribes and armies throughout history have used spears with a wooden or bone tip as well, meaning you can make a deadly weapon with minimal equipment. Because of the minimal amount of metal involved, a spear is easier to smith than a sword. You do not need hour upon hour of blacksmithing practice to make an effective weapon. You can even buy various spearheads ready to mount for ease of construction.

It was because of these reasons, including the particular effectiveness of the spear when used with a mass of other spear-wielding men, that the spear was actually the primary weapon of the Vikings (though not the one they were most well-known for – that honor belongs to the axe).

How to make your own spear:

#2 – Tactical Tomahawk

Aside from being a traditional Indian weapon, tomahawks have been carried by US soldiers into combat since the Vietnam War (source). Depending upon the size, a tomahawk has the potential to be concealed as well. Aside from its ability to be thrown, a tomahawk can chop, cut, be thrusted with the leading point, and you can use the pommel to crush. This gives the tomahawk a very wide berth of fighting moves.

A knife is an excellent addition to the man fighting with a tomahawk as well, since these weapons seem to complement each other rather nicely.

Read Why the Tomahawk?

If you’re looking at buying your own tomahawk, I’ve explored the industry for years, and from what I can tell, the best tomahawks come from Cold Steel, SOG, and CRKT.

Cold Steel hawks seem to occasionally need a little sharpening when they show up to your house, and have a more traditional look to them, while SOG and CRKT seem to take a more modern approach to the tomahawk, focusing on more “tactical” varieties.

Want to learn more about fighting with a tomahawk? Check out this video:

#3 – A Big Ol’ Knife

While ideally a secondary weapon for close quarters fighting, one cannot negate the value in having a big ol’ knife when it comes to self-defense. Knives are easily concealable, readily available, and relatively inexpensive, meaning there is no reason not to have a knife in order to protect yourself in the event of an attack.  

Knives are both effective and intimidating, in addition to being incredibly versatile. A knife is a perfect EDC tool, as they can easily be used on a daily basis. So, not only is a knife an effective weapon, but it is a daily-use tool as well. It’s because of these two factors that a knife is something you’re likely to have on you at all times.

crocodile dundee knifecrocodile dundee knife
Crocodile Dundee’s knife is perhaps the most well-known big ol’ knife from any movie short of the Rambo series.

Read additional SHTFblog knife articles.

As a result, it’s likely to be one of the first weapons that you’ll have access to when you need it. This isn’t to say that it will be the perfect weapon for the situation that you find yourself in, but there’s a very good chance that it’ll be the weapon available for the situation that you are in.

Quality survival knives to buy.

It’s interesting to note the statistics on rape here as well. As I note in my book The Faithful Prepper, during an attempted rape, the rapist has a 90% chance of succeeding if the victim does nothing, a 50% chance of succeeding if the victim screams for help, and a 1% chance of succeeding if the victim fights back with a knife or a gun. As you can see, having ready access to a knife can make a world of a difference.

#4 – Menacing Mace

One of the great things about a mace is that it takes minimal training to use. Pretty much everybody understands the concept of swinging a stick with a heavy end as hard as they can. Because of the physics of the weighted end, a mace can actually be swung with much more force than a sword as well, causing serious damage to an opponent’s armor in medieval times. Footmen in particular cherished this weapon when dealing with plate armor clad opponents (source).

Maces differ from hammers in that the rounded end of a mace allows an equally effective blow to be given regardless of the angle of impact, making this weapon even easier to use.

You can buy a cheaper Pakistani-made mace or a higher-end mace like Cold Steel’s carbon steel mace.

Make your own mace:

#5 – Hammer Time

During Medieval times, war hammers were able to cause concussions to enemies even when they were wearing helmets. And though it may be strange and difficult to find an actual war hammer to use for combat, a regular claw hammer can still be a very effective weapon. According to data from 2018, people used hammers to kill more often than they did actual firearms.

That’s not to say that you necessarily want to copy the techniques of a murderer, but it (as well as Medieval history) points to the fact that a hammer can be a very deadly weapon. They take minimal skill to use (you swing them), and the amount of force that they can generate is incredible.

Pretty much everybody has access to them, you can keep one in your car without arousing suspicion (or even close by if you’re involved in some sort of trade as your occupation), and they don’t take up a lot of space either.

#6 – Machetes

Machetes are another one of those weapons that are both cheap and relatively available. They are a functional weapon that you can typically keep within reach in your vehicle without generating any suspicion (at least in rural environments). They do not take up a lot of space, and a machete can do a lot of damage fast.

Throughout many developing parts of the world, a machete is a commonplace tool that you will see people carry with them throughout their day. In a long-term grid down situation, where the developed world is quickly thrown back into being a developing country, you may quickly see machetes become a common weapon.

If you shop for a new machete you will be surprised at the many different styles, qualities, and prices. Machetes have come a long way from their early days!

Either way, it’s worthwhile to know how to defend yourself against a machete attack, and for that, I highly recommend checking out these videos:

#7 – Morning Star

In essence, the morning star is a mace with spikes. While the traditional morning star is a weighted ball with spikes sticking out of it at the end of a stick, the concept can still be applied to easier to make weapons today. Any club such as a baseball bat could have nails or screws driven through it in a post-apocalyptic environment and instantly turn into a rather formidable weapon in a melee.

negan lucille baseball batnegan lucille baseball bat
Negan from The Walking Dead used a mace-like baseball bat name Lucille.

Like any mace, minimal skill is required to cause quite a bit of damage, making this a great post-SHTF, non-firearm weapon for those who have minimal experience in fighting in hand to hand combat.

#8 – Not-So Primitive Compound Bow

A compound bow can be an incredibly dangerous weapon in the hands of somebody that knows what they’re doing. Comparatively, crossbows have a lower rate of fire, while recurve bows are gigantic, hard to aim, and hard to pull. In the meantime, a compound bow is an easy to manage size, tends to be easier to draw than a recurve bow, and allows a relatively quick rate of fire.

Any type of bow has the advantage of being silent as well, meaning that you won’t broadcast your location to everybody within a one-mile radius like you might with just about any form of firearm. You can hunt with these as well, meaning that not only can these serve as weapons, but they can be used to harvest meat out in the field too, making a good compound bow an excellent survival tool.

#9 – Katana

I came to the belief that the katana is probably the best sword design of all time after a lot of research several years ago (yes, I know it is a controversial opinion). As Mike Loades – a military historian – says, one of the great things about a sword is that it allows skill to triumph over brute force. This means that the small and weaker man may actually be able to stand a chance against the behemoth of an individual with some other form of weapon.

In a sense, the possession of a sword in the hands of a skilled user, is a potent force multiplier when being used against a larger opponent with some other form of melee weapon.

That being said, if you’re planning on relying upon a katana (or any sword for that matter), you need to have some form of training attached to it. I believe that the martial art kendo is very effective for that matter, and would serve one well if they seek to become proficient in the katana.

If you’re looking at buying a katana, I highly recommend checking out Cold Steel dragonfly katanas. They are not cheap, but they are so beautiful you will want to mount them on your wall as the art that they are.

#10 – Taser

While most certainly not a medieval weapon, the taser is still a rather intimidating weapon, and grants quite the force multiplier when it comes to armed combat. While you would most likely rather have a sword, tomahawk, or mace in hand to hand combat, the truth of the matter is that you’re unlikely to have any of those when you need them. A taser on the other hand, easily fits in a purse or a pocket, is often legal to carry, and doesn’t draw lots of suspicion when accidentally spotted.

Really, I would rather have a more deadly weapon if it came down to it, but I’d also much rather have a taser than have nothing. That is their upside, I suppose – being less deadly. They will disable someone without killing them, and stun guns of this type can be easily purchased online for little money. A much higher-end “Taser” brand weapon that shoots is considerably more.

Best Non-Gun SHTF Weapon Final Thoughts

Hopefully, when it all collapses you will have a firearm nearby. But if not, the above weapons could most certainly be used to enable you to better defend yourself. They would most certainly be better than having to resort to your bare fists.

Oh, and for further research into non-firearm weapons, I highly recommend checking out these two very entertaining videos:

What would you choose as the best non-gun SHTF weapon?

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