It’s a cold night and you’re all alone.
You wake to the sound of a noise alien to your ears.
Why are footsteps rustling leaves in your bedroom?
You remember you’re not in your house after all. Below you is not the comfy bed calling you back to a slumber. Instead the ground is hard, the air cold on your face. The noise comes again and you realise you’re in a forest somewhere, the ache in your legs reminding you of the long journey from danger, your travel in a vague direction without a compass. The wind confirms the thin layer of canvass between you and whatever’s making those footfalls, whatever’s cracking those twigs.
You reach to your side, pulling your hand from out of your sleeping bag and into your pack. Your fingers twitch around the contents, search out the reassuring touch of what?
Your heart rate spikes, adrenaline courses as you try to remember what you packed in your bug out bag for just this scenario?
As part of my Bug Out Bag series, today I’m looking at another key item of kit in my bug out bag. Self defence.
Whilst preparing this post I put the question to my friends and I had some great suggestions, but in the end it descended into a list of harrowing weaponry, leaving me surprised when no one mentioned packing a tank!
As with everything in the bag, it needs to be light and portable and worth the space it takes up, so anything that’s multi-purpose has a significant advantage. Of course it needs to work well as a weapon. We’re talking self defence here and we need to know its ability to pierce skull!
I’m based in the UK, so I’ll say this right from the start. We can’t get guns legally. Can’t carry them. Can’t have them at home, so I’ve left them out of this review. However, if I lived in the US or somewhere where I could carry a gun in the kit, then of course it would be straight in there. With that covered, I’ll move on.
To start I’ve taken all the suggestions, added a few old favourites and a few of mine, some of the more reasonable suggestions from my friends and listed them below. Later we’ll look at some good examples in a bit more detail and see how they fair.
Domestic Items (Including Tools)
- Claw Hammer
- Crow bar
- Handheld Mattock
- Gas Powered Nail Gun
- Baseball Bat
- Wit / Charisma
- Pool Cue / Pool Balls in a sock
- Adjustable wrench
- Hunting knife
- Cross Bow
- Knuckle dusters
- Shurikan / throwing star
- Caltrops, made from nails
As with my previous posts on other items in the bug out bag, I’ve picked out key items, mainly those which are light and feasible to carry around, for discussion in a bit more detail below. Each item is scored from 0 to 5, with 5 being highest score. At the end we add the scores together to give us a total.
Here’s a reminder of the criteria we’ve decided to use:
- Weight – The lighter the better, I’m sure you’ll agreed.
- Lethality – For striking through the skulls of the undead.
- Threat Factor – For putting off fellow survivors who might want to take your stuff.
- Utility – What else could it be used for? The more uses the better.
- Maintenance – Does it need to be maintained or take any fuel to keep it working?
- Accessibility – How easy is it to get hold of for the bag?
It’s the current weapon in the bug out back and so is our reference, but can we do better?
- Weight – 850 grams – 3/5
- Lethality – A blunt weapon one end and a penetrating claw the other side – 4/5
- Threat Factor – You have to get close to use it, but it looks like it’s going to hurt – 4/5
- Utility – Bring nails and it expands the possibilities – 3/5
- Maintenance – Polish it if you want, but there’s nothing you need to do to make sure it can bring the pain – 5/5
- Accessibility – You should already have one, unless you always get a man in! – 5/5
Score = 24 / 30
Whilst researching axes and hatchets to review I came across this bad boy. It’s an axe, it’s a hammer, nail puller and a pry bar! The reviews indicates the axe arrives dull, but it’s very easy to sharpen, which is great on one hand, but shows it wouldn’t be as good as a fully fledged axe.
- Weight – 1kg grams – 2/5
- Lethality – Even a blunt axe will do a lot of damage – 4/5
- Threat Factor – Not as striking as some of the other weapons, but like the hammer it looks like it’s going to hurt – 4/5
- Utility – It’s a four in one tool, each role being a compromise over the dedicated tool, but for a third of the weight – 5/5
- Maintenance – It’s going to need regular sharpening, which means you’re going to need something to regularly sharpen it with – 4/5
- Accessibility – Very inexpensive from the online store – 5/5
Score = 24 / 30
The micro mattock in my shed is cutter mattock, but I’ve also find the pick version pictured which seems more appropriate.
- Weight – 700 grams – 4/5
- Lethality – Easier to swing and with a sharp point on the end, it’s going to hurt – 5/5
- Threat Factor – It’s sharp and pointy – 4/5
- Utility – Dig stuff up. Knock stuff down – 4/5
- Maintenance – Nothing needed other than cleaning off the muck – 5/5
- Accessibility – If you haven’t already got one (I have) then you soon could have – 4/5
Score = 26 / 30
Gas Powered Nail Gun
- Weight – At nearly 5 kilos (11 lbs), it’s going to have to be worth it! – 1/5
- Lethality – With a little modification it’ll fire the nails before your assailant gets in reach, but I doubt it would stop anything which didn’t have feelings – 2/5
- Threat Factor – It’ll be painful and it looks like it’ll be painful – 4/5
- Utility – Great for building a shelter and quick! – 5/5
- Maintenance – You’re going to need a supply of nails and gas canisters – 1/5
- Accessibility – Easy to buy, but it’s gonna cost you – 2/5
Score = 15 / 30
Wit / Charisma
- Weight – You’ve either got it or you haven’t and it you have it has no weight – 5/5
- Lethality – You’re not going to charm the undead, but you just might convince fellow survivors you’re not a threat or worth bothering with – 1/5
- Threat Factor – It’s the opposite. With the gift of the gab, you might get away with it – 2/5
- Utility – If you’re any good then maybe you can convince them to give you stuff you need – 3/5
- Maintenance – Keep it fed and watered and it might keep you safe for a while – 4/5
- Accessiblity – You either have it or you don’t, and most don’t! – 2/5
Score = 17 / 30
- Weight – It’s heavy and cumbersome, you’ll either have to carry it or strap it to your pack – 2/5
- Lethality – It’s blunt so unless you’re super strong, you’re just going to have to swing again and again – 3/5
- Threat Factor – I wouldn’t want it swinging in my direction – 4/5
- Utility – You could always get a ball? – 2/5
- Maintenance – None required – 5/5
- Accessibility – Any sports shop will do, and there’s always the internet – 5/5
Score = 21 / 30
- Weight – We’ve got it in the kit already, so there’s no added weight – 5/5
- Lethality – Get close enough and jab it in the right place and it’s going to do the job – 4/5
- Threat Factor – No one wants holes where they weren’t before – 4/5
- Utility – It’s already in the pack for so many reasons. Top score – 5/5
- Maintenance – Keep it sharp and it should serve you well – 4/5
- Accessibility – Although illegal to carry in the street, they’re easy to get hold of from the internet – 5/5
Score = 27 / 30
- Weight – Heavy at 2 kgs or 6 lbs and it won’t fit in your pack – 1/5
- Lethality – A single shot can take them down and without getting close – 5/5
- Threat Factor – I’m scared already and it’s only a picture – 5/5
- Utility – Great for hunting, but not much else – 2/5
- Maintenance – With moving parts and with a need for a supply bolts, it’s a low score – 1/5
- Accessibility – Expensive, but easy to buy online – 2/5
Score = 16 / 30
- Weight – With negligable weight it’s a good score – 5/5
- Lethality – You’re going to have to get up close and hit hard over and over – 2/5
- Threat Factor – Difficult to see, you could easily pass this by – 1/5
- Utility – Um? – 1/5
- Maintenance – Nothing needed to keep it going – 5/5
- Accessibility – Illegal in the UK, but can be bought online – 3/5
Score = 17 / 30
And the winner is?
I wanted the crossbow to come out well, but its cost, weight and the maintenance required has dragged the score right down. The outright winner is the hunting knife, which is already in the pack so it scored well on weight alone, but I don’t like the close contact its use would require. I’ll be adding the handheld mattock / pick to the bag. With a big swing it’ll deal with most ‘things’ that’ll come out you out in the wilderness, plus we’ve shaved a bit of weight over the hammer!
Whilst discussing the ideas with my friends there were a few mentions about what we could look out for and scavenge as weapons if it all went to pot. Some of the more memorable are mentioned below:
- Spray Can & Lighter – Both items are common in most homes and will give you a low power flame thrower! Light this baby up and you’ve got a ranged weapon I certainly would think twice about coming near. Just hope it doesn’t explode in your hand.
- Wooden Spears – Use the knife to sharpen long straight lengths of wood. Collect a few and work on them in your rest time and you’ve got yourself a ranged weapon. With some practice you might be quite formidable.
If there’s anything else you want me to add to the comparison, then just mention it in the comments and I’ll take a look.
In the End…Why not read about what happens to a group of friends whose world collapses around them, forcing them to make difficult decisions just to stay alive. It’s not going to be comfortable, or an easy ride. Find out if they’ve got what it takes to survive when they’re no longer at the top of the food chain…