How to Turn 12 Everyday Items Into Improvised Weapons

“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” –General James “Mad Dog” Mattis

While rare, violence often strikes when you least expect it. To counter violent attacks, you need to be fast and furious. Hand-to-hand combatives are a great tool to have up your sleeve to quickly dispatch an attacker, but you should always be looking for force multipliers—tools that make your counterattacks even more painful, damaging, and effective.

Having some sort of defensive weapon—be it a firearm, knife, or spray—as part of your EDC is never a bad idea, but sometimes you don’t have one on you (like when you’re in an area that prohibits weapons), your attacker has taken or knocked your weapon away, or you’re in a position that makes drawing your weapon hard to do.

Thankfully, you’re constantly surrounded by potential weapons that can be quickly accessed to counter violent attacks. To find and employ them, you just need to hone the most important weapon in your arsenal—your mind.

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In the right hands, seemingly innocuous, everyday items can be turned into lethal weapons. Such a transformation just requires violating those objects’ Aristotelian telos—the end for which they were made. If your life is on the line, I don’t think old Aristotle would mind.

Below we offer 12 suggestions of everyday objects that can be turned into improvised weapons. Use this as a jumping off point to think of how other objects could save your life in a pinch. When you’re out and about in public, practice scanning your environment and considering what might be used as a weapon if needed. Think of it as creating mental models for your OODA Loop so you can win the fight if/when it comes your way.

Pot of Hot Coffee

man pouring coffee pot improvised weapon illustration

There’s nothing like the smell of coffee brewing when you first wake up in the morning. And if you’re ever attacked while pouring your cup of joe, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not just holding something wonderfully fragrant, but a great weapon as well.

Smash the pot into your attacker’s face. The blunt force will stun him, the shards of glass will embed in his kisser, and the scalding hot coffee will make him wish he stayed home that morning.

Coffee Mug

coffee mug improvised weapon illustration

Same principle as the coffee pot, just on a smaller scale. Throw the hot coffee from your mug into the attacker’s face and then proceed to bash him in his fleshy mug with caffeinated ferocity.

Fire Extinguisher

fire extinguisher improvised weapon illustration

Fire extinguishers cannot only save your life in a fire, but in a violent attack as well. Spray the assailant in the face to temporarily distract him and disrupt his OODA Loop. While he’s figuring out what’s going on, forcefully bludgeon him in the head with the extinguisher’s canister.

A Pen

use a pen as an improvised weapon illustration

In the right hands, the pen can indeed be mightier than the sword. A stainless steel pen like this Zebra number can be used to stab an assailant. Hold it with an overhand grip and aim for vulnerable parts of the body like the face and throat. If you really want to up your writing-implement-as-weapon game, get a true tactical pen like this Smith & Wesson.


car keys improvised weapon self-defense illustration

Your keys can start your car or let you into your house. They can also savagely maim a violent attacker. Hold the keys in your hand so their points are coming out between the fingers of your fist. Proceed to punch your attacker in vulnerable parts of the body like the face and throat.

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