5 Little-Known Cold Weapons For Your Defense

Many modern textbooks say that Native Americans and other cultures lost out to Europeans because the latter had the advantage of guns that easily outstripped bows, arrows, spears, and other common personal defense weapons.

It is also a well-known fact that if you are in a close range fight, most large guns will not be of much use to you. From that perspective, there are actually better, and far more lethal options that you can use for personal defense. A short look back in the history would help you a lot.

Since these “cold weapons” tend to be easy to build or obtain, there is no such thing as making them “illegal” or ever really putting as many controls on them as with guns and their relatively limited manufacture options.

As an added bonus, there are even limitations on many of these weapons because they do not require complex ammunition, if any at all.

1. Kusarigama

The Kusarigama is one of the most fascinating and deadly weapons used by the samurai of Japan. It is basically a combination of a chain and a sickle. If you add a larger ball at the other end of the chain, then you would also have the added benefit of a mace in a single weapon.

kusarigamaYou can use the Kusarigama to:

  • deliver lethal cutting blows with the sickle,
  • use the chain to trip up someone trying to hurt you,
  • strangle an adversary using the chain
  • use the ball end to deliver blows to the head or strike at the eyes
  • you can also use the chain area to wrap around your arms or other areas where you need quick armor.

Before building or trying to use a Kusarigama, remember that the free moving end can very easily come back and hit you if you don’t know what you are doing. In the same manner, if you aren’t paying attention, or have no experience with using chains in a fight, then you may trip yourself up or get your limbs tangled up in the chain.

Practice with foam and breakaway string versions and then move up to light weight wood so that you become accustomed to the way the chain and each end move. As you add more weight to the weapon, you will also have to adjust your movements to compensate and also to redevelop your accuracy.

2. Throwing Star

The throwing star or death star is little more than a piece of metal fashioned into a 3 or 4, or more pointed star shape. They are easier to manage than throwing knives and can be much smaller in size.

throwing starAs with spring assist guns, you can dip throwing stars in poison or adapt them to a range of needs. Throwing stars can also be made from just about any material including tin can lids or even very hard plastic if it is sharpened right.

Here are some adaptions to the basic throwing star that may make them even more lethal and versatile:

  • The Maya used to take wood and then add very sharp obsidian blades along the edges. You can try using this method to fashion a wooden throwing star and then use obsidian for the blades. Since the obsidian can be made into a sharper edge than metal, the star would have more cutting power.
  • Try making a polymer throwing star that is just thick enough to add springs into the center. Use the springs to release needles once the throwing star acquires its target.
  • Make foldable throwing stars that can be easily disguised and even easier to carry
  • try a different number of points or blade shape. For example, how does a curved blade work versus a straight blade?

Since the throwing star is thrown, there is always a chance that you will not be able to retrieve it. Therefore, you will have to make and carry several of them for effective self-defense.

On the other side of the equation, always practice with your throwing stars so that you do not wind up throwing in a way that creates a boomerang effect.

When using or carrying a throwing star, remember that it will be very difficult to use if the person is within arm’s length. This particular weapon is best used when the attacker is a few feet away and the star has enough distance to gain some rotational force. Always have a weapon on hand that can be used at closer quarters to back up the throwing star.

3. Atlatl

The Atlatl or spear thrower is a Mayan invention. This device is basically a half round tube with a cap on one end. It can be used to launch both spears and darts. Basically, as the Atlatl and the projectile are moved forward, additional force is stored in the Atlatl.


As the spear or dart moves away from the thrower, it has more power and speed because the Atlatl is also pushing it.

Historically speaking, Atlatls were made of wood. You can also try making them out of plastic or other materials that are readily available. Few weapons can rival the Atlatl for being light weight, easy to conceal, and completely impossible to control.

If you can make a pipe with a cup on the end and a few darts, then you have a formidable device that can disable or kill many different kinds of attackers.

As with throwing stars, the Atlatl is best used for longer distances. Since the projectile can travel at almost 100 mph it can do more damage than several other weapons. You may also want to adapt the Atlatl by adding springs to the cup end to see if you can get better speed out of the projectile.

Even though you may not reach an average of 1700 mph (the average speed of a bullet), you may be able to get up to 500 mph out of the Atlatl when combined with other technologies.

4. Tetsubishi

The Tetsubishi is another fascinating device invented by the Samurai. Basically, it is three dimensional six pointed star with very sharp points. It is usually aimed at the feet of attackers.tetsubishiIf someone steps on these weapons, the points will break through the bottom of their shoes and puncture their feet. At face value, this particular weapon doesn’t seem like more than a deterrent.

You can make the following adaptions to make the Tetsubishi more lethal and more effective against modern shoes:

  • Either make the points thinner or use needles on the ends to create a sharper point that can penetrate even the thickest work boot soles.
  • Use spring assist on the needles for more force and to deliver poison payloads
  • Dip the points in poison or even mercury if nothing else is available.
  • Do not overlook what you can do with the center of the Tetsubishi. When your foot lands on something, there is a natural reflex to be distracted and to pause for a split second. Even if you cannot get a strong enough needle or springs to fit into the points, there may be a way to deliver a more lethal payload from the center of the Tetsubishi. This includes a mini bomb that will detonate as the points collapse or something else that will do more than slow up your attackers. Even though the original design is not meant to have collapsing points, there are still some advantages if you want to use that collapse to launch a projectile up into an attacker’s foot.
  • Your design should be lightweight so that you can carry several of these devices.

When it comes to fighting off attackers, many anti-gunners make the insane claim that guns are more dangerous than other weapons because they can kill multiple people at one time. Sadly, their imaginary and ignorant thinking does not take in the reality that one bullet can only hit one target, and that only one bullet can leave the gun at a time.

That being said, many cold weapons do have the disadvantage of being mainly person to person defense weapons in situations where you may have multiple attackers.

The Tetsubishi has an advantage in these situations because you can throw a handful of small ones at a group and potentially trip up 5 – 6 people with one action. Alternatively, try throwing them from a bucket or other launcher and you can trip up dozens of people in less time than it would take to raise and fire a machine gun.

5. Yawara

The Yawara is a small piece of wood or metal that is designed to be held in the palm of your hand. In Japan, it was used to hit pressure points and other sensitive areas such as the eyes or parts of the face.


This is a very close range weapon that can also be used to make punches more effective.

Today, many self-defense classes teach you how to use house and car keys for a similar purpose.

If you want to customize the Yawara to make it more effective, consider spring assist technologies that can be used to push a poison needle into the flesh of an attacker.

At close ranges, you will not so much need fast projectile speed as you will the opportunity to reach flesh.

In order to use the Yawara effectively for this purpose, you will also need to know how to make fast acting poisons and sedatives. Fortunately, there are many poisonous plants that are easy to grow as well as a number of animal venom that are hard to regulate.

As a cold weapon, this one stands out because it is very compact and easily overlooked. There are also a number of adaptions that can make it more effective.As you can see, there are all sorts of cold weapons that may not be as powerful and compact as guns, however they can save your life in a crisis situation and be easier to conceal than guns.

With a little bit of practice and modification of these basic designs, you may even have a combination of personal defense weapons that will make guns useless in the hands of your attackers.

Subscribe to our newsletter (if you haven’t already) to get more knowledge about these uncommon weapons for your personal defense, and click on the banner below to find out the most effective techniques to defeat intruders!


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Written by

Carmela Tyrrell is committed to off gridding for survival and every day life. She is currently working on combining vertical container gardening with hydroponics. Tyrrell is also exploring ways to integrate magnetic and solar power generation methods. On any given day, her husband and six cats give thanks that she has not yet blown up the house. You can send Carmela a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.

Latest comments
  • Remember that shuriken, like throwing stars, are not intended as a lethal weapon, but used for distraction and of course to do some damage.

  • Throwing stas are useless. We all had those as preteens and found their limits quickly. Poision? Please.
    The Atlatll and the fist pack are the only realistic weapon on here. The caltraps would be good for road spikes.
    U would add some more classical weapons like a sword, a bow, crossbow, a spear, to the list .
    I am a big believer in armor for the body. Over time I have aquired a few flak vests, several helmets,of various uses, Footall shoulder pads, baseball catcher shin guards, etc. I got a couple of used level 3 vests and some level 2 panels. Kevlar can be hardened with fiberglass epoxy to strengthen it.
    Practice improving and conciving traps, defenses and ways to stay alert or heighten your awareness. War game against your own plans or have a buddy or relative poke holes in it. Don’t get an ego and fall in love with your own plans, be willing and able to adapt quickly to change.

  • The Yawara is good. The currrret version is the Tactical Pen.
    I would choose a sling shot over the rest except for the spear/bo.

  • A dissapointment. Medevial weapons like Swords, hand held spears and maces are much superior to the above which are tricky and require practice. A sword or hand spear are particulary leathal at short range, and unless an attacker is prepaired for or familiar with such weapons, nearly impossible to defend against. Also consider the Fransesca–a short throwing axe. The signature weapon of the Francs and considered one of the most effective hand weapons. Generally used in pairs–One is thrown at the attacer, and if not killing him, definately distracts him, the user then rushes in with the other axe as the attacker is reacting, and finishes him off with the weapon in his hand.

  • A sap is a deadly weapon and most people can make one with they have on them. Even on an airplane you have the stuff to make one. All it takes is a sock and a weight. Put all the stuff in your pockets in one of your sock, swing it and you can do a lot of damage. Sap’s are so dangerous that they are against the law in many locations.

    A leather sap with a led weight can knock a person out cold, and maybe never to wake up again. Be careful with using them, don’t want to end up making license plates for the next 15-years…

  • Yawara is not a cold weapon. Lot of people think so, but it’s not true.

  • I particularly like the inclusion of the atlatl, but all around, a pretty good list.