Improvised Survival Weapons in a Lady’s Purse

It doesn’t matter how many guns or knives you have at home when you’re caught in a survival situation without them. For that matter, you may have a gun in your purse but either run out of ammo or lose it somehow.

Stealth may be in your best interest and the sound of your gun going off will bring more danger to you. Don’t despair because there are many improvised survival items right in your purse or on your body that you can use to defend yourself. The key is to be creative.

In any survival situation, your mind is your greatest weapon and any material item that you use will be limited or strengthened by your ability to creatively and effectively use it. There are three traits that make an item suitable for use as a weapon and we’d like to talk about those first so that you can start looking at everyday items in a new light.

Before you even consider possible weapons, it’s critical that you stop thinking of yourself as the underdog. This isn’t to say that you need to be the instigator, but you do need to think of yourself as equal (or superior) to your attacker. You need to go in with confidence and force and put everything you have into each strike.

You’re no weak, passive victim so don’t act like one. This attitude will give you an automatic advantage because your attacker is going to expect a weak, scared puppy instead of a pissed lioness. Use that element of surprise as your first weapon to get in a few successful licks before he (or she) realizes what they’ve gotten ahold of. You may get lucky and end it before the attacker’s shock wears off.

Improved Density

You want to get as much bang for your buck out of every single strike in order to cause maximum damage with minimal effort. Though your fist can be sufficient if you know how to use it, there are several items in your purse that will add weight and force to your hit without causing damage to your hand. Here are a few:

  • Flashlight – it’s always a good idea to carry a flashlight in your purse and if you do, then you can use it to hit soft spots such as the temple, eye, mouth, throat or groin.
  • Your cell phone – don’t worry about breaking it; worry about surviving! A cell phone flat to the nose can do serious damage.
  • The purse itself – use that thing as a club and take advantage of the weight.
  • Change rolls – if you have a roll of quarters in there, they can do some serious damage either to add weight to a punch or to use in a similar manner as the flashlight.
  • Mascara – again, it’s all a matter of how much force you use. If you hold it in your hand and aim the end at the temple, the eye or the throat, you can do major damage.

Video first seen on Expert Village. 

More Damaging Strikes

All of the improvised survival weapons items above add WEIGHT to your strike and are great but these items add damage. In other words, they can penetrate the skin and cause serious injury or even death if you hit in the right spot.

And the good news is that you’ll most likely have at least a few of these items with you. Aim at the tender spots: eyes, throat, groin or, as a last resort, the stomach or wherever else you can hit to cause damage. Here are a few items you probably have:

  • Pens or pencils – your mama always told you not to run with pens, pencils or scissors because you’d put an eye out. Use this advice to your advantage!
  • Nail files – If you’re going to carry a file, carry a metal one. They’re lethal.
  • Car keys – Some people say that the car key idea is a load of malarkey but we figure that it’s a sharp object that everybody carries. A key to the eye or throat would hurt.
  • Screwdriver – Don’t laugh – we women have the craziest things in our purses sometimes and, especially if you do handy things and have a tendency to carry things in your purse forever, a screwdriver in the purse isn’t as crazy as it may seem. They make fine weapons, too.
  • High heels – If you think they’re painful to walk in, imagine how excruciating they’d be jabbed in an eye or other soft area. Before you go this route though, remember that you’re going to be running barefoot now unless you can get it back and on your foot in time to escape.
  • Manicure scissors – These little darlings look great in the eye or carotid artery of somebody who is trying to kill you.
  • Hand sanitizer or lotion – Have you ever gotten this stuff in your eyes? It stings like crazy and no matter how tough your attacker is, it’s going to sting him, too. Squirt it at him or squirt it in your palm before you hit him in the eye.
  • Hair pins – Yes, a bobby pin can do damage but what we’re talking about here is that long wooden stick that some hair clips have. That is almost as good as an ice pick.

Extended Reach and Force

This type of improvised survival weapon allows you to reach out and touch your attacker from further away. They are extensions of your arm and may disable your attacker or add force to your blow.

  • Umbrella – they actually make umbrellas specifically designed for self-defense. They’re durable and don’t break or bend like standard umbrellas do. Even a normal umbrella can be used as a club or to stab an attacker with. You can also use them as a shield in case something is being thrown or sprayed at you.
  • Cane – these make great clubs and poking devices. The ones with the curved handles can also be used to hook your attacker either by the leg to trip him or by the throat to injure him.
  • Hairspray, perfume and bug spray – if you use aerosol, you can get quite a reach from any of these common items and they sting like mad when it gets into your eyes.

Video first seen on Expert Village.


Though defense items typically fit into one of the three categories above, these items can be used offensively to disable an attacker and certainly bear mentioning.

  • Purse straps, dental floss, your belt, or a scarf – all can be used to choke an aggressor or to tie him up, though you would probably be better off doing the former rather than the latter.
  • Lighter – everybody has seen how combustible most aerosol products, including hair spray or bug spray, are. Use a lighter to make that stuff a flame thrower. If all else fails and you have a lighter in easy reach, catch your attacker on fire when he’s got you in a hold if you can. Any port in a storm.

As you can see, some of these items take a bit of creativity to fashion into weapons but that’s what day-to-day survival is all about. Your most valuable weapons are going to be your brain and your courage; without them, you’re done for.

Start viewing all the uses of an item instead of just the intended uses. It’s good practice should the day come when you need an improvised survival weapon straight from your purse! If you have any good suggestions for improvised weapons in a lady’s purse, please share them with us in the comments section below!


This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

Written by

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors.

Latest comments
  • I suggest carrying a few packets of salt, like you get at a fast food place. If you are in need of defense, bust them open in your palms and throw them in your attackers face.
    If you ever had even a single grain of salt in your eye, you know it is immediately debilitating, your eye shuts involuntarily, and you only want to wash it out.

    • That’s good, Don. If someone is going for you you’ll have plenty of time to open enough packets of salt and empty them in your hand and do an accurately aimed throw in the attacker’s face? As long as we’re out of the grasp of reality and into mythology, why don’t you just carry around a large can of Wasp spray hanging from a bicycle chain around your neck? After all, it kills all those nasty Wasps, it’s only ‘logical’ that it would immediately also “shut your eye involuntarily, and you only want to wash it out. LOL! (Never mind your eyes normally instantly blink/close automatically beforehand at the motion of something coming at them which is why most pepper spray shots don’t work and only make the attacker more angry and violent when ripping your face off after you try this bullshit). And then of course you could lock chain the assailant’s arms and legs so he can’t run away by the time you call police get there. Oh wait! if you smashed your smartphone on his head, that won’t happen…

      Never has there been more mythology about martial arts and street fighting in society than there has been lately. What, is there some new ninja Turtle nonsense polluting the cartoon networks? Oh, I know, it’s the new Wonder Woman movie, isn’t it?

      The time spent wasted on all this purse nonsense could be put to way, way better use developing skills for real time protection.

      The info in this article would actually be a good Saturday night Live article if it wasn’t so potentially deleterious to your safety and insulting to serious street defense. C’mon, Dental Floss to choke out your assailant…Really?!

      After many many years of mastering every choke out and professional combat garrote type take downs available, i’d really like to see the ‘Dental’ floss technique in action? Some genuine hand to hand self-defense would say this stupid video would actually get the victim killed?

      Well, I’ll reluctantly qualify that a bit. There’s always a chance that if you whipped out your can of hairspray and lighter to make a flame thrower and lit your own hair on fire, (about a 50/50 chance depending upon if you don’t do it exactly right), As the the attacker watches barbecue yourself, he might just die laughing?

  • Excellent point, Don.

  • Keep Up The Good Work..


    • Potato mashers are large and bulky, won’t come close to fitting in small shoulder bag. I suggest the Zyliss paring knife 3 inches it comes with a shield over the blade sold in many grocery stores. Fits easily in purse. Also roll or two of quarters in a men’s dress sock can be used to hit someone in the head or face.

      • The banks will soon ask for your CRQC (concealed roll of quarters carry permit). How about one of those hand held metal walnut crackers? Crouch down in feigned fear, reach stealthily between his legs and clamp onto his evil cajones… and then SQUEEZE the ‘trigger’ hard! When you hear the ‘pop’ and he starts screaming in pain, you should then dial 911, BEFORE you break your cell phone on his head.

  • A retracting flip out style of box knife is an excellent purse accessory. If time permits, a ‘credit card’ knife is useful as well. Put a small pepper spray cartridge on your key ring for easy access. Above all, be aware of your surroundings and do your best not to be distracted by children, pets or companions.

    • Credit card knife??? BWAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHcough, cough! Yeah, dig down in that purse/bag posing as a weapons arsenal, find your wallet, remove your credit card knife, pull it out and grip it, and he’ll still be standing there waiting for you to miss the stab… to kill you, because you wasted more time stocking your weapons bag after reading stupid articles like this instead of learning adequate self defense.
      “Time always ‘permits’ because it always waits patiently for you to die”- P.J.Klipangle

  • I like these ideas. lots of good info in this article. I am 66 and have been carrying a cane for 12 years. I don’t really need it anymore but I carry it for defense. I had a deputy show me a few ways to use the cane both as offense and defense and I practice these frequently.

    • a number of years ago I was on crutches I was at a family get together
      when we were leaving I saw a group of young males attacking a young man
      what a shock they got that night standing on one leg I attacked 5 males with my alloy crutches using them as a martial arts weapon game over they scattered except one the instigator he wanted to have another go I said the Gods are hungry tonight come feast made a lot of mouth but would not come near me
      then his father came asked me what happened then dragged him back home

  • While I agree with many of your “improvised weapons” suggestions, I am not as enthused by your “creative” tactics..i.e, dental floss, flamethrower etc…And with due respect to the posting by Don, yes, salt in the eye is very irritating. Unfortunately, it is neither debilitating nor practical. As a retired police chief, I have had many years of experiencing teaching and lecturing women and men about surviving an attack. First and foremost is the practice of prevention and situational awareness. Simply stated, the majority of the assaults I investigated over the years could have been avoided had the victim practiced common sense “target hardening”. Don’t put yourself in compromising situations. And if you don’t know by now what a compromising situation is, take a self defense class from a reputable trainer or at least read books about self self defense. Now, that doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to you. Nor am I suggesting that circumstances don’t arise where you are forced into a compromising scenario. Life happens. In those cases, as you correctly stated, the “victor” mindset is imperative. You must honestly evaluate yourself and determine if you are a mind of flight or fight? Flight isn’t necessarily bad. But capitulation is! If you can avoid the threat by flight, definitely do so. Only soldiers, cops and “mother bears” are expected to wade into the danger. But “fight” had better be in your DNA through genes or training, if you hope to be the victor. And women, your first “go to” weapon, absent a firearm or other self defense weapon which is IN YOUR HANDS at the time of the assault, is your purse. Not as a striking tool, but rather as a pseudo “frag” gernade. Throw it at your attacker! The action of a heavy projectile hurdling towards their head and hopefully the contents of the purse discharging in a shotgun like pattern, may buy you enough time to retreat to safety. And if the purse was the target of the assault to begin with, the attacker has no reason to pursue you. If the attacker does pursue, you are in a fight for your life. Remember the bodies vital points….eyes, nose, throat, neck, sternum, groin, knee, feet. Kick, punch, gouge, bite, spit, stab…..whatever it takes. It isn’t about your strength, it’s about your attackers weaknesses. I strongly encourage ALL law abiding citizens to obtain a weapons permit, become proficient with that weapon and make it part of their daily wear. I am often asked what I think the best caliber of weapon is for self defense. My answer is always the same….”whatever caliber is in your hand at the time of need” Remember, it only takes one .22 round to the brain to neutralize your average scumbag. Be safe!

    • I actually USED salt in self , once. It worked beautifully.
      A friend and I were having a burger and beer in a bar, in Florida, and some loud mouth locals became inhospitable. I could see the situation was about to get ugly, and the only thing I seen on the table was a shaker of salt. I casually picked it up, salted my fries, while my friend kept them engaged talking, while I unscrewed the cap. I stood up and swept the salt shaker in the faces of the big mouths, and 2 of the three went straight to the floor, hollering, holding their eyes, while we made a hasty exit. Was it ideal? NO! It did, however, work, and I was neither charged with killing some low life, nor beaten to a pulp.
      All of us do not have the liberty to carry handguns legally, or openly, or want a concealed permit for a civil right I already am suppose to have. Citizens are not afforded the luxury and extra rights Law Enforcement get.

      • why did you make a hasty exit ? should have finished the job ?

      • Hey Buckshot, haven’t seen you on the posts in a while, how you doing there buddy? Enjoying your retirement?

  • I like to know how a lady has time to reach in her purse and find one of the items that has been suggested. Most women, myself included, carry large bottomless purses and can not find a thing they are looking for. In an attack, there is little time to react and go through a purse to find something. I do not think your suggestions are realistic.

    • I agree, no matter what you are looking for at a given moment it seems to always be at the bottom, under a pile of other stuff. But perhaps in a situation where an attacker is searching for a victim & the woman is hiding, in that case she can be preparing something from her purse to use if she is attacked while running to greater safety. I prefer to have the true essentials (like, driver’s license & handgun) on my person, & “other stuff” (all of which I’m willing to part with) in the purse. I can see this article being most helpful to women who aren’t used to using thing for something other than its manufactured intended use.

    • Think about it… if you already know your purse isn’t helpful in this arena, and you’re supposed to be proactive in your self-defense, then it’s time to get a different purse where you CAN find what you need in a fast hurry. A flashlight or a pepperspray container on a caribiner clipped to your purse can be easily retrieved. The ability to throw your purse at your attacker can buy you time to flee. But again the most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings and to plan ahead – having a big garbage bag of a purse is not only ‘stupid’ on any terms, it’s certainly not helpful in prepper terms of safety. You’re not on Let’s Make a Deal – get a different purse. Just saying. These suggestions are only going to be helpful if you’re smart enough to USE them.

    • You’re absolutely right Sharon.

  • I think all women should learn to never walk in a parking lot, from your car to your home….any place where an attack could happen without having your weapon of choice in your hand. No attacker is going to stand around and wait for you to find it in the bottom of your purse. I once carried a small gun in my purse because I worked in some unsafe areas. My son pointed out that there was no way I would ever get it out in time to protect myself. He reminded me that an attacker is going to come in fast and hard, most of us would spend a second or two to recover from the shock and realize what is going on. I now either have pepper spray in my hand or some sharp item…..and I hold it in a position I would use it to cause injury to my attacker. Such as my keys are sharp and I put one between my fingers….if I am attacked from behind, I might be able to hit over my shoulder and poke out an eye. When someone has you in a choke hold you don’t have time to figure out if your pepper spray is turned on or off or to fumble with your key ring.
    Please consider taking a self defense class. I am an older woman and went to only one with a friend….in two hours I gained confidence and was encouraged to hit like a man, not like a polite southern woman. I was walked thru the process of attempting escape from different kinds of attacks….this is the sort of thing young boys learn in sports and horseplay. It was thrilling and I can’t wait to sign up for more classes.

    • Olivia, Your son is an advanced realist. You still should carry a gun though. ALL women who are often out and about, especially with a daily pattern like going to work.
      I teach women to use the ‘fastest’ quick draw concealed carry in the world which I also used when traveling in likely ‘ambush’ areas when I worked undercover.


      If you are alone in the optimal victim areas like parking areas or public transportation, a nice lightweight compact .380 like the many to choose from now with a small attached high lumen flash light under it should could even be carried like I did/still do in my hoodie/ sweatshirt/jacket/raincoat/ pocket, with my hand gripping it (trigger finger off the trigger) and positioned so it rests comfortably and safely (more safely, actually, than hip or appendix carry) angled downward and forward away from my body. But in an instant I could point/shift it slightly AND SHOOT IT while STILL INSIDE the pocket at the Center Mass of anybody who attempts to assault me at close range and never miss. The assailant would never see it coming and no reaction time wasted digging into a stupid purse. (Search the archives here for my article on flashlights for defense, there’s a picture of one of these pistols.)

  • Great website! My father-in-law was a private detective and told me to empty a small plastic nasal spray bottle and fill it with amonia. I carry a tissue in my hand and my “nasal spray” which seems harmless but would stop anybody or anything instantly.

    • be care full with the ammonia I have some and it is deadly if you breath it in it will collapse your lungs

  • Your car keys can also be used as a weapon to use by gouging them into the attacker’s eyes. I was raped when I was seventeen and so wish I knew this at that crucial time. Kate

  • A credit card or drivers license makes a good knife. Hold it in your hand and have the edge sticking out about an inch and quickly swing it across the face, eyes, neck, or juggler and you will inflict damage. I am a man and I would use this and it is always in my pocket. Keep a card that is no longer any good and have it in a handy place that you can get to quickly. And don’t forget your teeth bite are painful and can give you the time to use that weapon you have.

  • There are high voltage devices that generate 1,000000 volts that work well ,they are disguised as cell phone ,flashlight etc.also taser if you can own one.

  • a can of food In a strong plastic carrier bag is a deadly weapon, a leather belt with a heavy duty buckle also, chop sticks, chilli powder on your hands the slightest touch on your attackers eyes will make them totally use less ,take a little time folks and think what you can use from everyday items you can carry
    without the fear of being arrested for having offensive weapons on your self
    take care , john from england