The 5 Best Improvised Weapons in the World

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Improvised Weapons can be a great equaliser.

They can be acquired at short notice.

Improvised Weapons can prevent the need to carry an actual weapon, which legally is very good.

They can be just as effective as actual weapons.

But not all Improvised Weapons are created equal.

In this article, I will be having a look at what makes a good Improvised Weapon, what makes a bad one, the benefits of Improvised Weapons and then finish by highlighting the 5 Best Improvised Weapons in the world for today's day and age. A modest aim.

Let's get into it.

Many people talk about how good improvised weapons are. A lot of the time though, what a person recommends as a good improvised weapon, is often a poor one. There are a number of things an improvised weapon should be.

An improvised weapon should:

  • be a benign item that is not automatically viewed as a weapon
  • be strong enough for its purpose
  • be better than an unarmed option
  • have a use outside of a weapon
  • be able to be used quickly

This list is not exhaustive. But already, it rules out some potential improvised weapons. Let's have a look at what we want.

an improvised weapon Should be Benign

For an item to be used as an improvised weapon, it should be able to be carried by a person (or be close to an area where conflict is likely to occur), without drawing attention to it being a weapon. If an attacker can see an items potential for use as a weapon, they may quickly mentally develop counters in the event it is used. They may even desire to use it themselves. 

If it is benign, they do not consider it. They cannot be prepared for it. If they do not consider it, we can harness the element of surprise when we bring it to bear. The element of surprise is a massive advantage to whoever holds it.

Strong Enough for its Purpose

An item may look to be good as an improvised weapon, but consider for a moment the forces that it will be required to sustain. It will be used at a time where our very life may be at risk. It needs to be strong enough to be used at full power against a hard object. Of course, you can expect it to be slightly damaged, but it should not immediately cave in, break or shatter. 

If you would hesitate to use the possible improvised weapon against a wall or heavy bag, it probably isn't suitable to be one of the 5 best improvised weapons in the world.

Better Than an Unarmed Option

This kind of sounds obvious, but an improvised weapon needs to be better than an unarmed option. Consider a good unarmed option. This would be an attempt at a knockout, perhaps by using an open palm strike to the chin. This is a solid strike to a well known and effective knock out zone. An improvised weapon needs to offer advantages beyond this unarmed possibility. If an improvised weapon cannot achieve this, it is not one of the best 5 improvised weapons. Perhaps it is not a good improvised weapon at all. 

An improvised weapon could offer any number of advantages. It could offer us a reach advantage. This is very good, especially if the attacker is armed. It could offer an impact advantage. It may offer a more solid and less forgiving striking surface and/or weight. It may be completely unexpected and provide the element of surprise. It may offer us a sharp edge for us to cut or stab if we need to. It may be able to be used as a shield, which would be especially useful in an armed attack.

A good improvised weapon should offer us a clear advantage over a good unarmed response, otherwise we should just use the unarmed response.

Useful Not as a Weapon

An improvised weapon should have another use, not as a weapon. If it doesn't, it is probably just a weapon. A knuckleduster is not an improvised weapon. A folding concealed knife is not an improvised weapon. A balisong is not an improvised weapon (no, it is not a 'letter opener'). These are weapons.

If you carry one of these or use one, it wil be considered as a single purpose weapon. An improvised weapon is more innocent. This will be explained further, below.

Quick to Deploy

An improvised weapon needs to be able to be used, when needed. It should not take long to get and deploy. A car jack (or its handle) may be a good weapon, but it will be in the boot. If you keep it on the passenger seat it may raise some questions by the police if you do use it. It can seem premeditated. And you cannot really walk around carrying a car jack. This limits its utility. Although in a home garage it would be fine.

If it needs to be carried in your backpack, it is not really up to being a top 5 improvised weapon. It will take too long to get by the time you may realise you need it. So any good improvised weapon needs to be quick at hand and/or quick to deploy. This area can be massaged...

A Bad Improvised Weapon

Besides the points raised previously, a bad improvised weapon may maim an attacker, but will it stop them? 

One commonly espoused improvised weapon is a set of car keys. I have even mentioned these on this site before, some time ago. Sure, they may have their benefits. They are harder than knuckles when held appropriately. But do they offer knock out power? Or will they just cut up an attackers face? That is my concern with them. You get blood all over you from some crim who has what blood born diseases? AND it doesn't really stop them? This is an example of an improvised weapon not being as efficient as an unarmed option.

Wouldn't an unarmed knock out blow to the chin be more effective at stopping an attacker? Yes, keys may instil some confidence to fight back. That is really the main benefit of the use of keys as a weapon. For a weak defender, it may even provide more damage than what they could deliver unarmed. So that is an option for them, but overall, they are an average improvised weapon. And there are better options than keys.

Another bad improvised weapon is one the user cannot use effectively. If you cannot use an improvised weapon well, it will likely be largely ineffective. It may even be taken off you and used against you. If you identify a good improvised weapon (some will be listed below), learn how to use it. Consider one to three moves and practise them again and again. Know where it will be, know how to go for it and know how to utilise it. Spend time thinking about its deployment. Think about legal consequences.

A bad improvised weapon will just break as you crash it over an attackers head or even break as you begin the swing. Do not annoy the attacker with an ineffective improvised weapon. You will just make the attacker more committed and determined in his attack when he realises you are attempting to fight back with a weapon of some sort. He will likely go further with his attack. There are times when an uncommitted attacker will flee but don't chance your luck by assuming that will be the case.

A bad improvised weapon will not be there when you need it. You may not need an improvised weapon on you all the time, 24/7. Think ahead for the high risk times and places. At those times, you need to be able to have access to one. No matter how good you think your crowbar is, you will not be able to take it to the shops.

There is a time and place for many improvised weapons.

The BIG Benefit of Improvised Weapons

The biggest benefit with using improvised weapons is that in the eyes of the law, you were not using an actual weapon. You did not use a knife or baton. There was no apparent pre-meditation or preparation for using a weapon. You did not pre arm yourself.

Considering the law is so important.

If you need to use force in a real self defence situation, a great equaliser is a weapon. It is the "street tough's" number one rule of a street fight. Grab anything you can, and hit them with it. A weapon is such an equaliser, especially if the attacker has a weapon or there are multiple attackers.

But using a weapon you had secreted on your body, in the eyes of a court or jury will be much harder to justify self defence than if you just used some item you happened to have nearby in desperation. This also applies for home invasions.

Can you see the difference here?

This is why an improvised weapon must have another benign use.

Also consider that using any weapon, even if it is improvised, is using more force than an unarmed attacker is using. Unless they are much bigger than you, they have a weapon, they are kicking your ass or there are more than one, or you are female and they are male, it is not recommended to use an improvised weapon, or even any weapon. Just another legal consideration. 

Considering all of the above, the following include short and long range, cheap and pricy, for home defence and defence when out and about as well as when travelling. A good spread of requirements.

What are the 5 Best Improvised Weapons in the World?

5. A pocket of loose change

This is a simple and basic projectile weapon. A bunch of loose change thrown really hard straight at an attacker will likely trigger a flinch in them. Just get the change out and throw it really hard. An alternative would be a suitably small rock or rocks. Anything small and with weight. To conserve ammo, throw the coins one or two at a time.


  • Extra long distance
  • Projectile weapon
  • Delay an advance
  • Multiple volleys can be used
  • Surprise an attacker
  • Used to regain the initiative and launch into follow up attacks if required, or escape
  • Enable space to manoeuvre
  • Provides time to call out for help, gain attention of third parties, deter willingness for attacker to continue etc.
  • Quick to get to, especially if it is a mugging type attack, hand in pocket etc.
  • Can be used to buy coffee, fill parking meter


  • You need to have a pocketful of loose change
  • You may not be a good thrower and miss entirely
  • May only get one throw
  • Unlikely to deter a committed attacker

4. A Backpack

A backpack (or other suitable bag), can be used as an excellent shield. A backpack can quickly be swung around and held up in front of the body acting as a modern day shield. It can even be held by one arm leaving the other free to use a weapon or fend or whatever.


  • Can be used as a shield
  • Can leave other hand free to use a weapon (such as No. 5, 3 or 2)
  • Can slow down and/or confuse/delay an attacker
  • Unexpected use, can put attacker off
  • Can be swung or used as a weapon, primarily to create distance to facilitate manoeuvre
  • Can freely carry around out in public
  • Quick to use
  • Can leave lying in house at strategic locations for home defence
  • Can carry around your stuff, handsfree


  • Limited use as an offensive weapon, no stopping power
  • May not always have
  • Can flail around, be hard to control
  • Can be too heavy to hold up if carrying heavy/numerous items

3. A Drink

A bottle of drink (glass or plastic), a hot coffee, a can of soft drink, glass of soft drink etc. can all be used as excellent improvised weapons. These are cheap and you can have one anywhere. They can be used a number of ways.


  • Can carry a drink almost anywhere
  • Very benign, common
  • Half filled or more in a bottle with lid on can be used as an impact weapon
  • Hot fluid can be used to scald
  • Cold fluid can be used to distract/cause flinch/harness element of surprise and regain initiative
  • Cheap disposable item
  • Various drink types are available everywhere
  • Full unopened can is a solid impact weapon, especially when thrusted straight out
  • An Aluminium Can can cut when scrunched up and twisted and the sides split
  • Half full or more bottles and cans as well as glasses can be thrown as projectiles
  • Drinks can provide sustenance


  • Limited range advantage, unless thrown
  • Limited hard, solid surface except unopened can
  • Scalding from hot coffee gets one shot
  • Broken glass can injure self
  • Almost empty plastic bottles offer limited advantages over unarmed strikes

2. A Maglight Torch

My Maglight (Amazon link) torch is an excellent, solid impact weapon with bonus light that can be used tactically as well. I have had one for years and it will always feature in my home defence strategy.


  • Solid weight
  • Good to use as an impact weapon
  • Very Strong
  • Used for offense and defence/blocking
  • Common household item in event of blackouts etc.
  • At night, can turn light on in attackers face for further effect, even set up a strike
  • Excellent for home invasion situations
  • Offers some range beyond unarmed
  • Good for striking weapons or weapon bearing arms/hands
  • Lots of systems that formally teach stick of similar length so can gain proficiency
  • Can be used to provide light when it is dark out


  • Difficult to have at hand in public places, no bags, cannot get into bag in time etc.
  • Many situations would be unable to have
  • Need room to swing

Learn more about the Maglight HERE (Amazon link).

1. Unbreakable Umbrella

I have had my Unbreakable Umbrella for a couple of years now. I got the knobbed end rather than the crook, curvy end. I find it easier to hold and wield. This umbrella  is perhaps the ultimate improvised weapon as you can take it anywhere you want to go. You just need to get over the fact you are carrying an umbrella around, they can be kind of dorky to some. Good for home defence, travelling and when out and about.


  • Excellent long range, can strike weapons or weapons bearing arms, hands etc.
  • Can swing out wide extending with one arm or can be held close with two hands and thrusted
  • Can use to keep attacker away, enabling time to call for help
  • Can keep multiple attackers at bay, at least for some time
  • Can be used in stabbing/thrusting motion to strike with the tip
  • Can be used as impact weapon
  • Common benign item
  • Can be taken even on aircraft
  • Used for offence and defence/blocking
  • Can be carried in public places
  • VERY strong
  • There are lots of systems that teach stick fighting of similar lengths to the umbrella so you can gain proficiency
  • Can keep rain off you and a friend


  • Can be odd on bright sunny days
  • Some can feel awkward carrying around an umbrella
  • Can be cumbersome to carry around at first
  • Can be seen as 'uncool'

Learn more about the unbreakable umbrella HERE.

How would you use these improvised weapons?

You could use some for at home, some for when you go out at night, some for travelling, some for during the day, some for commuting etc. Think of a way to layer the use of improvised weapons.

So there we have it. The 5 Best Improvised Weapons in the whole entire world.

But that's not all.

Do you want to know what the 10 best improvised weapons in the world are?

Do also you want to learn how to grip, hold and wield a wide range of improvised weapons?

I have updated this very post, expanded the list from 5 to 10 of the best improvised weapons in the world, included a related report about how to grip, hold and wield improvised weapons and consolidated it all into a quick guide (in PDF format) that is completely downloadable by you right now.

Do you want it? It's for you. Grab your own copy right now. See below.

Opening Image via Joaquin Villaverde and the remaining from the Author, Adam at Low Tech Combat.