pepper spray

What Is The Best Home Defense Weapon That Isn’t A Gun?

In Home defense by Jesse Mathewson43 Comments

What is the best self-defense weapon that isn't a gun

Some non-firearm tools used by the author…

Open-ended questions like these are often answered using personal experience or second-hand chatter. What is often ignored are the actual studies and verified results coming from these studies. For instance in the United States did you know that while Bear Spray (somewhat more elevated approach to pepper spray) works very well on animal encounters while similar products are less likely to have an immediate stopping effect on humans? (Smith, et al. 2006) (Vesaluoma, et al. 2000) Facts matter when it comes to self-defense of any type.

What I hope to give you with this article is a compilation of data that shows enough for you to make appropriate decisions regarding your defense of self and family. The best defense is avoidance of potential harm through better life decisions and practices.

An indisputable reality is that those who seek war will find it, and those who seek peace will also find it. Lastly, training is inherently necessary with any form of defense and or tool used in said defense. Without training, any tool used in defense is as useful as a brick sitting on the ground. With the preaching out of the way, its time to look at what is the best non-firearm home defense weapon!

Non-firearm defensive implements take many forms. Some of the more popular are as follows, in no particular order.

  • Blades (knives, swords, and farm or working implements with blades)
  • Chemical repellents (oleoresin capsicum otherwise known as OC spray or pepper spray through hairspray and even ammonia in bottles as suggested by some misguided individuals.)
  • Taser-type devices (tasers, stun guns, cattle prods, and spring or air powered electric prong launchers)
  • Bludgeoning tools (bats both cricket and American ball bats, rocks, bricks, anything that can be held in your hand and used to bludgeon an animal or individual who may be attacking you)
  • Walking aids and support material (canes, walking sticks, umbrellas and or walkers etc.,)

When you are in the home what is your plan of defense and approach to safety? Do you have plans in place with alternative meeting locations for all individuals in your house and immediate family group? Do you know what you will do in case of a fire? Have you made plans and practiced them with regards to potential home invasion by armed assailants?

best self-defense weapons that not a gun

It has been established that armed home invasions while relatively small in number compared to other crimes are still a large enough risk that if you practice fire drills than you should also be practicing home invasion drills. It is essential to understand that there is no glory in battling from room to room with individuals regardless situation when your family is also involved.

In fact, while it may seem a bit cowardly it is the more intelligent thing to avoid this and barricade yourselves into rooms resorting to using of armed defense only when directly threatened.

Obviously, if you live in a rural area and have no backup from emergency responders or neighbors within a reasonable distance and time frame, in this case, it would be important to have studied how to repel individuals intent on harming you and yours. It is still the best approach to barricade yourself and loved ones and defend from a secure position.

Hunting the intruders is pure Hollywood and will only get you or those you love harmed physically or otherwise. I for one would rather my children never have to take a human life or witness its occurrence. Use of less than lethal tools for defense allows for a solution that while not always immediately effective reduces these issues. It should be noted that firearms are not immediately effective either.

Use of bladed tools for defense is hotly contested by many countries and in many states within the United States. Regulations on length and type of bladed tool are important to know for your individual location.

Where I happen to reside blades are relatively unregulated and I am able to own virtually any type of bladed weapon and even use them in defensive situations. However, the same legal implications apply with the use of a bladed tool and a firearm as both are seen as deadly weapons in the eyes of the law regardless of where you live.

Be very careful about the laws and take the time to review recent cases where blades may have been used defensively in your residential area (country, state or social area).

Using a blade takes a substantial amount of training to be effective with, however, due to the alternative uses for blades as utility tools they can be easily carried, procured and kept around. With this one, I definitely suggest training from someone who has a proven background in use of these tools (i.e. Ghurka) or in the Filipino art of Arnis/Escrima/Kali or similar Filipino bladed martial art as these are widely considered the best for self-defense and modern combat approaches. (Wagner, 2014)(Alonso, 2010) There are several extremely solid schools where you can train over the course of a 2 or 4-day seminar and learn enough to practice and have a good footing for future use. As with all things related to personal safety continued training is an essential component.

Chemical repellents have been shown to be somewhat more effective when employed properly. Meaning directly to the eyes and face of the assailant or assailants. It should be noted that in many tests with products and individuals over the years these sprays have had less than stellar results, some uses ending in harm coming to the person using the spray due to it simply not working at the time.

There have also been deaths related to use of OC and other similar sprays. (U.S. Dept of Justice, 2003) There is a relatively high failure rate of the spray canisters themselves to function. These devices are not legal and are outright banned in many locations around the globe. I disagree with the reasoning behind these decisions made by governments, however, they exist so make sure you understand the local laws!

pepper spray

As for overall effectiveness, OC spray ends up being about 85% effective per several studies, when used properly. (Kaminski, Robert et al. 1999) I would suggest training with one and even being sprayed if possible so that you understand exactly how this spray works and can better use it or avoid the use of it when needed.

Lastly, make sure you get a solid version and do not settle for inexpensive knockoffs as this will simply lower the effectiveness with these tools.

These are tools that absolutely require a higher level of quality control from the factory and result in a higher price as well. One last consideration with these devices, OC spray regardless concentration can cause or significantly contribute to difficulty breathing which with already impaired individuals (asthmatics, obese individuals and similar) can and has lead to death as shown above.

SABRE Red is one of the most effective and is used by many police departments across the United States – check current price and availability at

Taser devices work well in some scenarios also and do take somewhat less training to operate, though as with everything I do suggest practicing with your chosen tool. When it comes to taser type devices there are only a few types I can recommend as I have had numerous types used on myself and personally can attest that the vast majority of the low-cost noise makers hawked by unscrupulous individuals at local gun shows and even gun shops rarely function well.

The only versions I have used that functioned well every time contact was made are the Vipertek brand and Taser-brand stun guns. Vipertek is quite a bit less expensive than Taser with the trade-off being that Vipertek products require you to directly contact the assailant with the device while Taser offers this ability, as well as use as a standoff weapon through gas, propelled electrical leads. Both devices work quite well with human assailants when employed properly!

stun gun best home defense weapons that's not a firearm

There are other brands out there, Sabre and Ruger both made forays into the stun gun market, my experiences with these are no different than my experience with off-brand versions. They are more gimmick than function in my strict opinion.

Stun guns may also result in unintentional death though the risk is relatively low compared to the overall use of said products. Again as with all other defensive tools, make sure you know the local rules and regulations attached. Good stun guns work well, again make sure you practice use of these and if possible test them on yourself so that you are able to better understand the effect. Practice, train and practice more!

Bludgeoning implements are the last segment we will look at for non-firearm based defensive tools. I will be including canes, walking sticks and umbrellas into this area simply because legally in some locations they are seen in the same light when used as a ‘weapon”.

Again with these make sure you know local laws, for instance in most areas around the world use of police batons and nun-chucks are banned for use as a defensive tool. However, some areas allow the use of expandable batons and other similar tools for defensive purposes. Again, you will want to have some training.

I highly recommend Filipino martial arts in this arena as they are unparalleled in the implementation of beneficial combative approaches utilizing batons and knives.

There are several approaches to using a cane, walking stick and even your umbrella as a defensive tool as well. It is relatively easy with training to use the extra leverage a cane or stick can offer to gain the upper hand in a situation requiring self-defense.

There have been several news stories over the years of elderly women and men using canes and or purses to bludgeon their attackers forcing a retreat and defending themselves safely. As one of the individuals I worked with over the years stated, everything can be a weapon if you know where to use it best!

There are canes that are specifically made for the dual purpose of being used as a cane plus as a self-defense tool when needed like this BadAss Cane.

So to answer the original question, What is the best home defense weapon that isn’t a gun? There is no definitive best home defense weapon. Any self-defense instructor with personal integrity and ability will tell you something similar to what I will.

Use your head, avoid potentially dangerous situations and get training in solid, functional approach that allows you to best defend yourself. More importantly, remain aware of your surroundings and continually train yourself to recognize threats that may present themselves! If you have anything to add or comment on be sure to do so below in the comments!

Free the mind and the body will follow

Alonso, R. (2010). In the Stick of Things –, Philippine News for Filipinos. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].

Kaminski, Robert et al. (1999). Assessing the incapacitative effects of pepper spray during resistive encounters with the police. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management. 22. 7-30. 10.1108/13639519910257801.

Smith, T. et al. (2006). Efficacy of Bear Deterrent Spray in Alaska. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].

U.S. Dept of Justice (2003). The Effectiveness and Safety of Pepper Spray. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].

Vesaluoma, M. et al. (2000). Effects of Oleoresin Capsicum Pepper Spray on Human Corneal Morphology and Sensitivity. [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].

Wagner, J. (2014). Filipino Kali is Alive and Well in Today’s Police and Military Training – [online] Available at: [Accessed 29 Jul. 2018].


  1. As mentioned, almost anything at hand can be used as a weapon. My initial response would have been bear spray or pepper spray. It keeps the attacker at a distance. Is not lethal but disables for a brief period.

    1. the 25 foot hornet spray its a gaurenteed trip to the er if it gets into there eyes…

    2. Wasp spray is more effective. Shoots an accurate stream up to 30 ft. & temporarily blinds its victims.

      1. Wasp spray will get you prison sentences for being a dangerous chemical substance not formulated for humans. Eg., chemical/biological attacks are extremely difficult to defend and NO real instructor who actually studies and teaches something more than an hour long taikwando dance class would suggest using it.

        Not saying it doesnt work. Simply that it’s not legally defensible – and until gov goes away…its necessary to follow the rules.

        1. Government will never “go away” so long as its unconstitutional “rules” & edicts are legitimized and recognized by “following” them. Government will eventually criminalize all forms of self defence as is being witnessed now in the UK.

          1. Ya’aqov – I do not disagree with your approach – I cannot however legally agree with the approach –
            Lastly, wasp spray is a myth, period.

  2. Handheld LASERS. You, your wife and kids. Various colors.

    It’s amazing what happens when people go blind.

    You’re welcome.

  3. Standard handheld laser pointers. Various colors. One or more for each family member. No one can wear eye protection for all colors.

    Blinds at about 300 yards and in. Works best at night, and that’s when it’s most likely needed to be used.

    You’re welcome.

    1. Wasp spray will get you prison sentences for being a dangerous chemical substance not formulated for humans. Eg., chemical/biological attacks are extremely difficult to defend and NO real instructor who actually studies and teaches something more than an hour long taikwando dance class would suggest using it.

      Not saying it doesnt work. Simply that it’s not legally defensible – and until gov goes away…its necessary to follow the rules.

  4. I live a long distance from any fire department, so I have multiple fire extinguishers around the house, storage and garage. Can they be used as a repellent?

    1. Fire extinguishers are not good human repellents. Great for distractions. As a police officer, we would take CO2 extinguishers with us on raids to use on dogs. Much more effective than trying to shoot them and it usually scared the beejesus out of them enough that they would prefer to run and hide. It doesn’t have the same effect on a person for very long.

  5. Why not consider a pistol crossbow? 80 lb. draw can be very quickly loaded & cocked and are lethal & deadly accurate at close range. Can be purchased for a reasonable price.

    1. Quite often the assailant already has his weapon in hand, drawn. If you have to load something, you are already dead. Just saying.

      1. So keep your Kabar close a hand. It’s not an either or choice.

  6. Hornet spray works, look around the room you’re in and see what kind of weapons you can find. Fire poker, lamp lamp cord…ect.

    1. Thor1 is correct, anything can be a weapon if you use it well..

  7. I have pretty much all of the above but the best HOME defence weapon for someone without training in my opinion is a spear. Mine is made with a Cold Steel Bushman knife/spear head on a fairly heavy hoe handle.

    I have seen U-tube demonstrations that lead me to believe that wasp spray may not always be effective. Do your research.

    The hand held stun weapons just allow an adversary to get too close to you and you may get hurt before you can zap them. The same is true of a knife.

    Swords and machetes and battle axes are great but they take some practice and are only good for when you want to kill someone where the spear can disable at a safe distance and also be used to bludgeon someone from a distance.

    Stun Guns have a lot going for them but the ones available to people are not as powerful as the ones that the police use and even those don’t always drop someone and keep them down. Once again research before making a decision.

    To some extent everything that I said about the stun guns is true of pepper spray. If I was going that route I might go with bear spray instead of spray for people.

    1. Dan. Thanks for confirming what I wrote in the article. I absolutely agree it is essential to train, and know what you choose and how to use it

  8. The best weapon is the one between your ears. If you go through life as nothing more than a shambling, texting, slack-jawed, brain-dead, mouth-breathing, vaping, earbud-wearing Mall Zombie, then you are doomed. If you look like food, you will be eaten. I saw it for over 30 years as a Peace Officer in SoCal.
    Situational awareness is the key. I realize a lot of folks have no desire to own, practice with, or use a firearm. I’m okay with that. However, you can still defend home and hearth through passive security measures and non-lethal devices such as described above.
    One other observation: Nothing gives a male perpetrator quicker pause than an angry, focused female with a knife, the larger the better. There is something very primal and frightening in the male lizard brain about a knife-wielding female intent upon defending herself and her children.

  9. My experience is that when I didn’t have anything to use as a weapon, the power of prayer was very a pro pro. However, I believe we were given brains and intelligence and are expected to use them. Please read on.

    Now, my educational experience has taught me that Kung Fu, Karate, etc. does not work in most situations. Why?

    Let me introduce you to the knife. Most attackers with a tiny bit of intelligence (see England’s news of knife reports), have a knife that people do not see until they have already been cut. This is a huge problem. No amount of “grab the wrist and throw over the back” is going to work. “Aim for the nose” won’t work either. People have been cut and don’t always know it. The attacker is already long gone.

    BEST defense for out and about: Wearing 2 layers of knife protection clothing and a bullet proof vest when out and about. I would even see about a bullet proof neck brace if you are in an area where guns are a problem. I’d wear the knife protection over the bullet proof vest.

    Why 2 layers? One may not work as well. You do need to get one that is expensive and made right such that knife points can not get through. 2 layers helps prevent knife points from getting through.

    What else? Always know how to read people and know what is going on around you. Notice tiny details. Notice if someone’s eyes are deadpan or glossed over. If the attacker is too near you, a weapon in your hand already is faster than the gun not in your hand.

    Around the house? Having stuff handy but not too handy where by children will get hurt (education is key here). The trick is that you have to be able to reach it and use it within a second, and if you are fortunate, you’ll have 2 seconds or more. Anyone hell bent on murder, will only give you 1 second. My grandmother didn’t have protection she could use. She knew her killer. This leads me to a very important weapon.

    Confidence! When you know the person who wants to harm you, that is not the time to believe “oh, he/she won’t really harm me”. Believe instead that they will harm you and that they must be treated like a stranger. Sure, try to not kill the attacker, as that is always best. OTOH, you do need to do what you need to do, in order to stay safe and get out alive. A cop died because his son murdered him. A cop with a gun, died because of his own son. Don’t rely on the gun to save you! It won’t!

    Don’t rely on your ability to talk someone down. The father knows his own son and couldn’t. You don’t know if the attacker is on drugs or drunk or simply insane. I guarantee you that you can not talk down a drunk, a meth addict on meth or someone who is criminally insane! You can’t reason with someone who lacks reason. Textbook psychology.

    Will telling them where a safe that does not exist is, while tossing the instructions on how to get into the safe at them work? Only if you can run in the opposite direction and get out without them making you open up the safe that does not exist.

    Telling them that your stash is in the attic might work. Most houses have attics and they might just let you alone long enough for you to run. Still, you don’t want your back to them, but you want to get out fast! Using a bottle to hit them on the back of the head is NOT worth it, if you have a good chance to escape and get out because they are going to the attic. Let them go and just leave. Why? That bottle might not do enough damage to make them leave you alone. They will retaliate if it doesn’t knock them out. Meth people are like weebles. Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down.

    1. So now we are simply not even reading articles but writing them in response to preconceived notions gathered from? The ether?

      Good information thanks for taking the time to write it all out. Feel free to read it as well!

  10. Brooks Camp, Katmai National Park ranger recommends bear spray.

    Secondly, anything in the face (keys, drink, phone, book) could provide you with the opportunity you need to escape.

    In close quarters grab anything that you can use to take out an eye.

    1. Ranger Rick, did you read the well documented multiple study included article?

  11. I live in the Portland OR area and carry a large can of Spectracide wasp spray in my car (also have one in the house). As a former pest exterminator I am well acquainted with its use. Effective range is 10-15 ft. Aim for the eyes! I am also a Vietnam combat veteran and carry a small but sharp blade weapon which can also be used in an emergency.

    1. Mongoos, you do realize wasp spray is illegal as a weapon against humans contrary to the legally mandated purpose in virtually every place and stating you use it as a tool in this way publicly is hardly a good idea

      1. wrong advice from me, but use the spray and get away.
        you’ll be alive.
        cannot stop to think about legality when attacked.
        best advice is to avoid trouble when possible.
        don’t get into an area or situation where known dangers are.

  12. Pistol crossbow with razor tipped arrows. Silent but oh so deadly! They will never hear it coming. Neighbors wont hear a thing. Goes through bone. One shot is all you need. Precock and set on safety on my shelf in the closet ready to go!

  13. Ah yes, another defense Guru, touting the best protection methodology. Remember my friends, as far as the law and lawyers are concerned, “Dead men tell no tales”. If you only injure your assailant he can get a shyster lawyer and sue you for mayhem, but if he’s dead, it is your word against no one but the forensic facts, which cannot determine intent.

    Your best attack position is based on one of stealth. Make him hunt for you, because when he finds you he’ll be close enough to put a long pointed knife through his heart, and it will be silent. The evidence will show that you tried to hide, but he was relentless in his pursuit, thus you will more than likely not be arrested, as will appear as self defense.

    1. Forearmed I highly suggest reading the article prior to commenting.

      1. Jesse Mathewson,

        Yeah, commenting without reading and thus not looking so bright is common online…

  14. Always go outside of your opponents experience. There are a lot of people not impressed by firearms and cutlery. If you are not in immediate danger of bodily harm you can’t do much about them. You want bright light, loud noise and as much mischief as you can devise to draw attention. Motivate them to want to be somewhere else. The bad Joes read all of these boards. They train against anything they find in the commons and are quick to adapt anything they learn to their own advantage. People like these are in a different world. They are entitled to anything you have that you can’t protect and get quite angry if you try to stop them. Establish a layered defense, keep your back doors hidden and stay alive. No property is worth your life. And choose your enemies wisely, for in the end you will become just like them. 30

  15. 3/4 inch conduit bender

    I know a guy who had a CCP but his employer did not allow firearms in the parking lot.
    One evening on his way home he tried to stop a pit bull attack. Had nothing to use. The lady died!

    Now, I always carry my 3/4 inch conduit bender on the backseat.

    1. Old Bull,

      My old employer had the same policy… I still carried in my truck. Just because I’m told to do something, or that I can’t don’t mean that I’ll listen or won’t do it.

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