Obviously, the perfect weapon for survival—for getting food and self-defense both—is a firearm. However, there is a finite amount of ammo available and even reloading components eventually will run out. What ammo remains in a long-term survival scenario will be worth so much more than what you have in trade or services that having back-up weapons in your survival cache is a smart idea.
You can always use your knife as a weapon or tool, same with a big flashlight or rock as a blunt force weapon. However, hunting with either of those will take extreme skill, patience and a whole lot of luck.
In a survival situation, you will need something lightweight, easy to use and can strike an animal—two-legged or four-legged—within a safe, effective and stealthy distance. Even if you have plenty of firepower, ammunition and reloading supplies, at times an alternative weapon will have advantages over a firearm. Many alternative weapons are quiet, if not downright silent. A firearm will give away your location and if you are not a skilled hunter, will scare off potential game if you miss your shot.
This article provides five good alternative weapons for survival.
Slingshots are one of the most primitive and first recorded weapons used in history. Ancient peoples used slingshots in survival, hunting and self-defense. However, they were very different from the slingshots of today. The invention of the modern slingshots evolved when Charles Goodyear created vulcanized rubber. For the deadliest, most effective slingshot ammo, use steel three-eights or three-fourths shot and don’t forget to pack replacement bands.
- Easy to operate
- Never run out of ammo—rocks, shotgun shot, nails, marbles, glass, fishing weights, or arrows
- Will kill grouse, squirrel, rabbits, rats, dove, pheasant and quail
- Easy to pack and transport
- Bands break and need replacing
- Requires significant practice to master
- Velocity limitations
- Effective range limitations
Scientists have found evidence of bows used for hunting dating as far back as 20,000 BC. People used rocks, flint, sinew and feathers to form arrowheads and construct bows. The modern compound bow uses a sophisticated system of cables, pulleys and levers making it easier to use, more effective at longer ranges, and more accurate and faster than traditional long or recurve bows. Derived from the traditional bow, the crossbow looks more as if you turned the traditional bow on its side and mounted it on a rifle stock. A crossbow releases its arrow using a trigger instead of by hand.
- Anyone can learn
- Reusable “ammo” (arrows)
- You can make your own primitive longbow and arrows cheaply and from very limited supplies
- Will take down small, medium and large-sized game
It is likely that the spear was the most used weapon in history. Either thrown or thrust, spears have been used in battle as well as for hunting and fishing. Chimpanzees and orangutans have even been known to make and use spears to kill their prey.
- Easy to use, learn and make
- Requires strength, skill and practice
- Range limitations
The axe was originally a handless tool used to manipulate wood. It is also one of the world’s oldest weapons. Scientists have found evidence of hand axes in Africa dating back 1.8 million years. By the 19th century, 300 different types of axe heads were in production. The key to a good axe is keeping the blade sharp!
- Easy to make
- Due to its balance and weight, it is easy to be effective with it
- Can be thrown
- Doubles as a tool
- Used to slaughter domestic animals for food
- Range limitations
Multi-pump or break-barrel air rifles require nothing but air, ammunition and a little bit of manpower to work. They also tend to be slightly more accurate than CO2 or pneumatic powered rifles. .177 or .22 caliber air rifles will kill small game and birds.
- Can take down small game
- Inexpensive compared to traditional rifles
- Ammunition is cheap, lightweight and easy to carry
- Are not classified as firearms-no transfers, no background checks, no paperwork, no registration (where legal)
- Hard to conceal
- Awkward to carry
Of course, as last minute, last ditch items, you can always use anything sharp—a machete, shard of glass, a dagger, a tactical pen or even something that will cause blunt force trauma such as a rock, baseball bat or D-cell Maglite.
What is in your survival weapons cache? Tell us what they are and why in the comments section.