Common-sense emergency preparedness from a combat veteran

5 discreet weapons you can carry (almost) anywhere

You can't always carry a weapon to defend yourself but with a little creativity and some training, there are many discreet weapons you can improvise.’s face it: it would be nice to be able to carry a concealed firearm with you wherever you go to be able to protect yourself and your family from any of the millions of crazy people in the world who don’t have your best interests in mind. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.

Some governments have decided that it is up to only a chosen few to be able to do that and if you’re not lucky enough to be one of those chosen few, you need to hope that you happen to have one in the room if something happens – and hope they can take care of it on their own.

As they say, “when seconds count, cops are just minutes away.”

Luckily, there are weapons that you can carry pretty much anywhere, into pretty much any establishment. These weapons also don’t draw attention to yourself, so even though they’re out in the open, they’re effectively concealed. Last thing you want is to be the first target when someone decides to attack a room.

I get asked a lot of self-protection questions on Graywolf Survival but this particular one keeps coming up so I figured I’d sit down and write some ideas up. Just keep in mind that these are just five ideas, but they should spur your imagination to figure out something that would work better for you and where you’re going.

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I’ve done a lot of Threat Vulnerability Assessments for different embassies and commands around the world. Part of that testing involves penetration testing and evaluation. I’ve learned to look for things that are allowed into areas that most people wouldn’t consider. As such, this article should be a wake-up call for things you should keep an eye out for as well as give you ideas of how you can carry something to protect yourself and your family while grocery shopping in places like D.C. and N.Y.C. that have ridiculously restrictive weapons laws until you find a better place to live.

What I tried to do is come up with five things that you could carry around in your hand or within easy reach in your pocket that could be used as an effective weapon if you took some time to learn how to use them – and hopefully actually took lessons from an expert (or at least done some studying and practicing on – check out something like Street Survival Guide: Self Defense Awareness, Avoidance And Fighting Techniques that gives you some street knowledge in addition to learning the moves). The best fighting system that I know of that will help you in a real-life scenario is Krav Maga.

I’ve also tried to find five that would be the least likely to draw suspicion by someone carrying them. Some things that people sometimes carry as improvised weapons, like a baseball bat, screwdriver, or key ring kubaton, will still be confiscated if those in power deem them as weapons.

I’ve also purposely left off things that hide weapons such as cane with a hidden sword or lipstick with a hidden stun gun because carrying those into places where you’re not allowed to have a weapon can get you into a lot of trouble. I used to carry a T-handle, swivel spark plug wrench when I rode my Harley to seedy biker joints in the past but it was only as discreet as you could fool someone into thinking it was for wrenching.

1) Newspaper/magazine

This is probably the most inconspicuous weapon of the group but with some training it can be extremely effective. It’s an improvised weapon that’s been taught to special forces and intelligence operatives for generations. Colloquially, used as a weapon, a lot of people refer to it as a Millwall Brick.

The key is rolling it up tight and holding it in the right spot. If you roll it toward the fold, you won’t have all the pages layered out alongside it so it’ll hold up better (like I have in the picture above). You can also pre-roll it and keep it tight with rubber bands too, which would make it very effective, but now you’re starting to lose the inconspicuousness of it.

Here’s a quick video that shows just how easily it can be used:

2) Flashlight

They make a lot of flashlights like the Surefire 6PX Defender now that have a strike bezel in the front that allow you to dig into an opponent while striking them. You can see it in the front of this image:

As you can see, that would probably hurt if you got hit by it. The problem is, that will also draw attention to you and some places don’t allow them because they consider them weapons – and rightly so; there is no other use for that tip than as a weapon.

The truth is, however, you don’t need that tip. Any flashlight of the right size can be used just as effectively without it. Just as with the newspaper, it’s all about where you strike. 

The best fighting system for real-life survival

Some of them have a mode where you can ‘disorient’ an attacker with a bunch of flashing but it’s not really effective the way you may think. First, unless you’ve trained yourself to quickly find that mode, it’ll be too late to use it. Second, it doesn’t really disorient someone in the general sense. What it does is make it harder for them to identify exactly where you’re standing in order to get a good shot at you while you line up your sites.

The best ones to get will be ones that will extend out both ends of your hand while holding it so you can strike from either direction, but will also fit in your pocket and can be easily pulled out when you need it. A heavier flashlight will also strike harder. You don’t have to get all fancy with a flashlight you can use as a weapon.

3) Cane/umbrella

A cane or umbrella is probably the most effective weapon on this list. It can give you more reach, can hit harder, and can give you more leverage than anything else listed. It’s also very easy to find a qualified instructor who can teach you how to use it very well.

Most umbrellas are terrible weapons. They break easily and have a tendency to pop open if you shuffle them around too much. There are exceptions though. The U-115 is just one example of an umbrella that you can use to defend yourself effectively but won’t be typically seen as any kind of a weapon. It’s built very tough and is discreet. The problem with umbrellas though is if it’s not raining or about to rain, you look a little suspicious carrying it around.

A good cane can be used as a weapon extremely well. You just have to pick one that doesn’t look like a weapon. The key here is to find one that won’t break easily and has a heavy handle on the end. You can get hardwood canes with brass handles fairly inexpensively. Contrary to what you may think; the fancier something like this looks, the less likely it is that it would be confiscated. Nicer things aren’t seen as often as being intended for nefarious purposes. Don’t go for something that has a skull or dragon on it. Also keep in mind that if you have a cane, you should probably have a limp. Just sayin’.

A derby handle (shown below) is a great option for a cane. It’s a heavier end than a door-handle type of handle and with some training, you can use that end to control your opponent or his weapon. The door-handle types are easier to handle and carry around and use, however. Here’s an example of a derby handle:

Something like this would do some damage

4) Belt

You don’t need to have a hidden knife to use a belt effectively. You do need to find a belt and a pair of pants that will allow you to pull it off quickly without your pants dropping to your ankles in a fight. I use a riggers belt myself, but that won’t look right with some outfits so you’ll have to figure out something that would work. A wide leather belt with a heavy buckle works well. Just watch that the loop near the buckle doesn’t catch on the front loop of your pants, causing it to not want to come out.

Here’s a video I’ve found about using exactly that in a fight. If you haven’t had training, don’t even attempt the methods that require you to hold it in two hands though. Just pull it out, quickly wrap it around your hand then wrist then hand again, and use it to keep them back or hit them with it.

5) Pen

I personally carry a tactical/survival pen a lot of times because it’s now part of my personal EDC kit. These are really useful to have but more likely to be seen as a potential threat than a normal pen will. The fact is though, just about any pen can be used as a weapon. All you need is to have an inch or so sticking out of your fist as you hold it, and then use it to poke holes in the fleshy parts of your attacker.


If you’ve seen The Bourne Supremacy, you may remember the scene where Jason Bourne fought that guy with the pen and jammed it in old dude’s hand. That pen, btw, was a black Rotring 600 pen with the knurled grip. They don’t make them any more, but they’re still around.

Here’s a quick video to show you some examples:

So, as you can see, there are several things that you can use to defend yourself against an attacker when you’re not able to carry a firearm or a knife. Some of these won’t work in all situations but some of them can be used by just about anyone in just about any situation. Just figure out what you can carry with you that won’t draw suspicion and learn how to use it.

Now that you know about these things, you can also more easily identify someone who may be a potential threat who isn’t carrying an obvious weapon.



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