June 16, 2024

(Continued from Part 5. This concludes the article.)


I’ve saved what will probably be the most controversial type of weapon for last – the use of fire for self-defense. Humans have an instinctual fear of fire, so you can harness that fear by adding fire-based weapons to your potential arsenal. There are a number of such options you should consider, but be aware that carrying pretty much any of these during ‘normal time will most likely get you in trouble with law enforcement.

  • Molotov Cocktail – This is any breakable container filled with flammable liquid with a soaked wick sticking out – you light the wick, throw it and watch it break and burn. However, you first need to forget everything you’ve seen about them in the movies – modern glass bottles are designed not to break, so getting them to break on anything other than a hard surface like concrete or brick is very difficult. They can also be very dangerous to the person using them, since any gas spilled on your hands or clothing can catch you on fire. That being said, there may be scenarios where you can find smaller glass bottles you can fill with flammable liquid and store safely, which means without the wicks in them. However, in order to use them you’ll need to have the time to take them out, remove the cap or cover, stuff the wick in, allow the wick to soak up some fluid, then light them on fire and throw them onto a hard surface in front of or next to your attackers. A defense scenario with that amount of reaction time is probably not going to happen often enough to justify trying to carry them.
  • Propane torch – A small propane torch that you find or buy can be an extremely effective way to deter an attacker. Try to find one with a trigger start so you don’t have to hold up a lighter to start it. There’s also going to be a short delay when deploying it since you’ll need to turn on the gas before you can light it.
  • Flammable aerosol – You can do just like James Bond did and light the stream coming out of many types of aerosol cans such as deodorant, hairspray, WD-40, etc. Keep in mind that there are many ways this can go wrong and backfire on you, especially if you try to keep up a continuous stream for a long period of time.
  • Flammable liquid – Fill a small plastic HDPE or aluminum squirt bottle with a flammable liquid like gasoline, lighter fluid, kerosene, etc., and when you’re attacked pull it out and squirt your attacker(s). Where you squirt them doesn’t matter, as long as they get some on them. Then light up your Zippo lighter and threaten to throw it at them if they don’t skedaddle. Note that a Bic-style lighter won’t work, since it will go out if you throw it. A 4oz. Zippo lighter fluid can also works well, since it’s designed to hold flammable liquid and it can squirt a decent distance.
  • Torch – Wrap some 100% cotton material tightly around the end of a stick, soak it in flammable liquid and light it on fire. Swinging it in front of you will tend to keep most attackers at bay (human or otherwise). Keep in mind you’ll have many of the same issues as a Molotov cocktail – you’ll either have to carry something soaked in flammable liquid around with you, or hope an attacker will give you time to soak it and light it.
  • Flare – Swinging a lit road flare in front of you will keep most attackers at bay, assuming you can keep them in front of you and you’ve got a backup plan for when the flare runs out. You can also use a flare gun to shoot flares at an attacker, although those are typically a lot harder to find than road flares. You can also break up road flares into smaller pieces and use a lighter to ignite them for a great fire starter.

The use of fire as a weapon can be extremely effective, but at the same time it’s extremely dangerous for the user. If you choose to used fire-based weapons exercise extreme caution and practice storing, accessing and deploying them using plain water in place of any flammable liquid until you’re comfortable your approach is safe.

Carrying and Deploying

The most effective alternative or improvised weapon is useless if you can’t access and deploy it quickly during an attack. As I’ve mentioned previously I tend to prefer a layered defense – an initial stand-off disruptive or projectile weapon using my weak (left) hand, with a club or penetration weapon in my strong (right) hand. During ‘normal’ times, even if I’m carrying a firearm I have several additional alternative weapons I can deploy – my Siege belt around my waist, an ASP pepper spray ‘pen’ and a Nostrum Tracer with a blue laser either in the right interior pocket on my jacket or my left exterior pocket, both of which I can quickly access with my left hand. You should also consider the current circumstances when carrying your weapons – you’ll probably want to be a lot more circumspect when laws are being rigorously enforced and more focused on quick access when things go pear shaped.

For example, I normally carry a First Strike whip (minus the handle) stored in an antenna bag in my backpack and my GPCA X Grip carabiner attached to my water bottle. As I mentioned earlier I can zip tie or tape the whip to the carabiner. I then can choose one of several methods to carry it, depending on what I’m wearing and what I have with me – I can slip it up through the loops on my backpack strap so the carabiner hangs loose at the bottom, slide the whip through my belt loops with the carabiner in front, attach the whip to the inside of my coat or jacket with tape, or slide it up my sleeve and hold it in place with a couple of rubber bands. The carabiner also has a pocket clip on it that can be used to hold it in place. Any of these methods will give me quick access and deployment.

I’m also a big fan of belt/pocket clips on my alternative weapons. My Nostrum flashlight, ASP pepper spray, pen stun gun and extendable whip all have pocket clips on them, so I can attach them to my backpack shoulder strap, belt, pockets, shirt sleeves, etc. and have quick access when I need them. A lot of devices come with some kind of loop or split ring for attaching to a carabiner, but that usually requires two hands and a few seconds to remove, which can mean the difference between life and death. In those cases I’ll usually attach them to someplace accessible using a medium weight nylon thread that will keep them in place but allow me to quickly pull and break the thread to deploy them.

I’ll typically carry any distractants like powders or sprays in my left exterior jacket or vest pocket so I can quickly access them. For powders, I’ll either just keep them directly in my pocket or in an open bag in the pocket so I don’t have to take a container or bag out and open it with two hands to deploy it. With flammable liquids or aerosols I’ll keep the bottle or can in my left pocket and my Zippo in my right one. For things like squirt bottles with a cap I’ll attach a length of Microcord to the cap and a small mitten hook or carabiner to the other end; the hook is clipped onto something on my body so that when I pull the bottle out the cap comes off without me having to use my other hand.

Take some time to think about the various weapons you’ll either be carrying or planning to improvise and how you can best carry them to maximize your effectiveness. You should also practice deploying them from non-obvious positions. For example, if you pull out a small spray can and hold it up in front of you your attacker is likely to know something is up and try to protect their face. However, if you can hold it close to your body and accurately spray them in the face they’re more likely to be caught entirely by surprise.


The world is a dangerous place, and it has the potential to become a lot more dangerous in a heartbeat. If you’re operating in a non-permissive environment where you can’t carry a firearm or knife you’ll need to be creative in regards to alternative and improvised weapons if you want to increase your chances of survival.

I’m not suggesting you need to run out and turn yourself into a walking arsenal, but you should think about and select some alternative weapons you can carry every day and make some plans for improvising some more effective ones when things go from bad to worse. Most importantly you should practice with any weapons you plan on having or making, because the worst time to realize you can’t effectively use a weapon is when your life depends on it.