9 Less Than Lethal Self-Defense Items

I wanted to write today about some less than lethal self-defense items that can be employed by just about anyone who can’t or does not want to own a firearm
I wanted to write today about some less than lethal self-defense items that can be employed by just about anyone who can’t or does not want to own a firearm

Last Updated on September 21, 2016

Many times on the Prepper Journal, we have articles that revolve in some capacity around the subject of firearms. If you can access firearms and aren’t morally or philosophically opposed to them, they are the single greatest defensive tool you can have on you in a bad situation. Naturally, they come second to a good smart brain, but as tools go, firearms are the best self-defense items that preppers can acquire in my opinion.

Now, that being said it is just my opinion and you all know what they say about opinions. To continue down that line, simply having a firearm is no guarantee you will use it or that it can’t be taken from you. Firearms are simple tools designed to kill people but they require training, discipline, wisdom and willpower to be effective in a self-defensive situation. They aren’t a magic wand that you can simply wave at a problem and make it disappear. Often their very use creates more problems for those who carry them.

There are others that will say (rightly so) that without ammo, or if parts malfunction, any firearm is just an expensive club. To that end they will advocate alternative self-defense strategies. Still others live in areas where firearms are illegal so I wanted to write today about some less than lethal self-defense items that can be employed by just about anyone who can’t or does not want to own a firearm. We showed some of the creative weapons made by the protesters in Ukraine but this list will be a little tamer than that.

Less than lethal

Before I get to the list, let me explain what I mean by less than lethal. The items below with just a few exceptions could all be used to kill someone if used too long, too often or too forcefully. You could say the same thing about a rock. I gave them the less than lethal category because unlike a firearm, the self-defense items below won’t likely penetrate skin, almost assuredly won’t go through a wall and kill someone else and can likely be purchased anywhere without the need for a background check or permit.

Additionally, these items may fall into groups that could be expanded upon logically. It is really just a thought-starter for those preppers out there looking for options. Some of these items could be used in an emergency or improvised if needed. The down side of most of these items in my opinion is that you have to be really close to your attacker to deploy them. That proximity brings greater risk of injury but we are talking about saving your life here. I don’t want my wife or children to get any closer than they have to.


VIPERTEK VTS-989 - 88,000,000 V Heavy Duty Stun Gun - Rechargeable with LED Flashlight
VIPERTEK VTS-989 – 88,000,000 V Heavy Duty Stun Gun – Rechargeable with LED Flashlight

The venerable tazer has been around for a while now and you can purchase one for less than $20. These use a small battery and a transformer to multiply the voltage of that battery. When pressed against someone’s skin, it delivers a high charge over stimulates the sensory and motor nerves. This results in strong involuntary muscle contractions and the victim is usually incapacitated for a brief time.

Tazers have been known to kill people but this is rare so I still believe this weapon qualifies as less than lethal. If you are ready with this in your hand, you can subdue an attacker and make your escape.

Pepper Spray/Bear Spray

SABRE Red Pepper Spray - Police Strength - Compact, Case & Quick Release Key Ring (Max Protection - 25 Shots, up to 5x More)
SABRE Red Pepper Spray – Police Strength – Compact, Case & Quick Release Key Ring (Max Protection – 25 Shots, up to 5x More)

Pepper spray is concentrated chemical compound that irritates the eyes, causing tears, pain and temporary blindness. It is used by police officers in crowd control and against rapists by females all over the world. The effect of pepper spray doesn’t last long but it is serious enough to allow you to escape. Unlike the tazer, you can spray pepper spray usually up to 10 feet. Bear Spray has a longer range of about 30 feet and the containers hold more spray which is why it is a prepper staple.


FURY Tactical SDK (Self Defense Keychain) with Pressure Tip
FURY Tactical SDK (Self Defense Keychain) with Pressure Tip

A kubaton is a short striking instrument that is designed to be held in your hand and deployed against sensitive or vulnerable areas on your attacker’s body. This requires some training before use, but you can get an idea of the use in the video below.

Many kubaton’s are designed to be a part of your key chain and ready to deploy quickly.

Self-defense cane

Durable Self Defense Cane - Virtually Indestructible
Durable Self Defense Cane – Virtually Indestructible

We’ve all seen the comedy act where the little old lady is whacking the purse snatcher over the head with her cane as he is trying to wrestle her pocketbook from her grasp. They do make canes that are designed from Fiber filled nylon that are meant to be used as a striking weapon. Crack someone over the head with this and you will get their attention. They also make canes with a tazer built in!

Extendable Baton

Expandable Solid Steel Baton
Expandable Solid Steel Baton

The expandable baton is a modern revision of the old police baton. Newer models are stored collapsed down and extend with a spring and a pretty good amount of force. Police officers carry these and they are basically a metal rod used to break windows or skulls.


Tire Thumper

RoadPro RPTT-1 Wooden Tire Thumper, 19-Inches,
RoadPro RPTT-1 Wooden Tire Thumper, 19-Inches,

Tire thumpers were designed by truckers to check the air pressure in tires. It is not a scientific measurement, but by listening to the sound the thumper makes and judging by the recoil felt in your hands you can get a good idea of roughly whether it needs a lot of air. The tire thumper itself is just a simple club and can be used to crack someone’s head under the right circumstances. Of course you could also break hands, arms, legs…

Baseball Bat

Or golf club, hockey stick, cricket bat, broom handle… Anything with some mass you can get your hands on and swing with all your might. Primarily for last ditch home defense, the baseball bat is certainly a formidable weapon but like most of these others will require some stealth. If you can sneak up on someone and disable them with a blow to the head they aren’t getting back up.

Fire Extinguisher

Why would you waste a good fire extinguisher on a bad guy? Because your life depended on it! A fire extinguisher puts out a big cloud of flame retardant that not only could temporarily blind someone but could also be very disorientating. Follow up by swinging the heavy cylinder at their head for the big finish.

Bug/Wasp Spray

We had a guest who wrote a post some time back about a weapon you may not have thought of. Bug Spray or more specifically wasp and hornet spray because it has a more targeted spray and further distance is one of those items that has made the rounds in prepper circles. To be honest, if I am down to wasp spray it is pretty serious, but in a desperate situation, I would give it a try.

So there are 9 less than lethal self defensive items you could use if the situation called for it. What ideas do you have for potential weapons?

  1. If I may add other items…. one which I own….

    A cold steel item (before anyone jumps on me, I can tell you this is the only item I own) and it works great for thumping tires or having by the door in case of un-friendlies. I have used it on wood and brick and let me tell you, it will dole out the punishment when needed and keep it going.

    The Brooklyn crusher

    And bear spray (what works on bears and has a range of 20-30 feet),

  2. Pat, three of these items have a maximum defensive range of about 10 feet, (pepper spray, taser and wasp spray), provided that the wielder of these tools can effectively aim and “fire” them under great duress when they are charged, surrounded or cornered. The other six tools represent the functional equivalent of hand to hand combat. If confronted by a group of determined predators, I doubt that any of these non-lethal devices will keep a squeamish person safe. I’m a strong believer in the old saying that a handgun is what you use while you’re getting to your rifle.

    1. Actually Bol the RAID WASP AND NEST DESTROYER has a 22 ft range and the chemicals in the tin are bloody evil, its one of the few things we can get away with in the UK that are not illegal. We cannot have Tazers, Gas Sprays, Kubotans, telescopic batons etc or anything designed as a defensive weapon (Isnt socialism wonderful) so we have to think outside the box.
      Fire extinguishers, Nest Destroyers, Keys on a chain (flail) Hiking poles, Tactical flashlights with serrated bezels (missing from this article) UK legal knives at a push.

      1. Raider, I was thinking of the same product when I wrote the above comment. While Raid says that their product has a range of 22 feet, I am focusing on the ability to aim and shoot (under pressure of imminent attack). A wasps nest is stationary, adversaries are not. In any case, I’ve had this nasty stuff blow back on me at distances even shorter than 10 feet when trying to clear out a nesting site in moderately breezy conditions. A can of Raid Wasp and Hornet Spray takes up more space than four magazines for my sidearm. I realize that carrying (or even legally owning) a sidearm is a huge issue in some places. I simply want to make sure people think through their options when considering “non-lethal” alternatives.

      2. You still have cricket bats. a 1 or 1.25 inch hardwood walking stick up to your chin. They practically invented staff fighting in England. Read George Silver.

    2. I don’t disagree Bolo and I even mentioned that in my article, but these would in fact be considered weapons in the eyes of law enforcement. Maybe it’s better to say combat enhancers.

      1. Pat, I fully understand your reason for providing potentially non-lethal alternatives, and you will get no criticism from me for doing that. I simply want to make sure that anyone who adopts this approach understands that the outcome may not be a happy one for them or their loved ones.

  3. I would be careful about the wasp spray. On the label it states that it is against federal law to use in manner inconsistent with labeling. In other words, you could be sued by your attacker or go to federal prison for defending yourself with wasp spray since the label says nothing about self defense. Use pepper spray instead.

  4. It would be important to remember that all “taxer” type devices, require constant contact on the attacker’s body for 3-5 seconds, in order for them to be effective. Maybe, just maybe, the presence of a stun gun or “taser type” device will deter an amateur thug, most will be able to fight through it. It IS better than a pencil most of the time.
    Kudos for the keno tan! I used one in law enforcement for many years, and still have the “old” polycarbonate one made by the original producer, Monadnock Company. They still make them and they are very affordable and superbly effective when you are in close.
    As an older dog, I am used to any aluminum bodied high intensity flashlight, STILL legal for carry in all fifty states, and a dandy personal impact device.
    In California, it is an instant felony, for ANY private citizen to merely possess a collapsible baton, much less use one. They are restricted to law enforcement and qualified security personnel.
    Same with a “tire thumper”type device, they are restricted under stupid California law. If you have a baseball bat in your vehicle, it IS best to have a well worn mitt WITH it, to complete the ensemble. Makes your “I forgot I left my ball gear in my car” defense, FAR more plausible in court.
    My personal favorites are still my legal hand guns and situational awareness. However, when you absolutely cannot have anything, I really REALLY am fond of the Zebra brand of ball point pens, available at WalMart and about anywhere else. Inexpensive, great pens, that can take a lot of harsh (self defense) use, and, one can take them on a plane as well.

  5. Please do not use wasp spray or other insecticides or pesticides! these disgusting chemicals shouldnt exist to begin with as it is absolutely destroying our planet. but it has been shown to have almost no effect against a determined attacker anyway! they may feel absolutely nothing other than a slight shock of being sprayed by something, which will wear off quite quickly, imagine you think youre about to get mace to the face (which is quite crippling) but instead u just get some seemingly harmless orange stinky stuff sprayed at you that doesnt really even phase you. but the ingredients are so dangerous that they can cause lung issues, blindness and even death as well as genetic damage years later. it is a felony to use this in self defense even if someone is planning to rape you or threatening your life. the last thing youd want is to not only not stop your attacker but to then be attacked and then sued by your attacker and possibly thrown in prison for using this against the perp!

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