Emergency preparedness from a Counterintelligence Agent

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. http://graywolfsurvival.com/?p=47375Let’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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About graywolfsurvival.com

I am a former federal agent and military veteran who has deployed to combat theaters in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan and have almost three decades of military and military contracting experience.

My goal is to help families to understand how to intelligently protect their family and their way of life against real threats, without all the end-of-the-world doomsday crap.


  1. donald rutledge, SGT says:

    Excellent info for everyone, hopefully nothing happens, I have to use the cane myself gray wolf it makes a excellent back scratcher I found alot of useful way to use it for my disability, it was issued by the VA, they asked me at the VA concerning weapons I had to say the DOD trained me as one, lol. By the way the pen is also useful also, thanks gray wolf for the article.

  2. joe doe says:

    Slapping the ears with open hand is a nice way to get their attention! It disorients the attacker long enough to either escape or do further damage to them.

  3. thanks. I’m going on a girls weekend trip soon and I know a few of the gals have small hand guns but probably will not be bringing them. I love the ideas here and will be sharing them.

  4. Thanks for the helpful insights, Graywolf. And thank you for your service to our country.

  5. I always have a lawn mower blade in my truck (car) that I am taking to be sharpened. I sometime even carry it with me “just to see if (your business) sharpens blades. Especially if I am forced into a Gun Free Zone.

  6. Informative as as always. Thanks for the tips.

  7. Justin Dillon says:

    In Bourne Identity Jason uses a plain Bic shoves it in the back of an attackers hand in Supremacy fends off a knife attack with a rolled up magazine. I personally carry a rotring 600 series mechanical pen and pencil set as well as the 600 fountain pen great pieces of kit and we’ll worth the price if you can find them.

    • A plain wooden pencil. Hard uppercut stab to just below the sternum, or just above his Adam’s apple, then breaking off the protruding end would work well.

  8. wow i’m so glad i live in a country (Britain) where we don’t have to carry weapons and we feel/ are safe.

    • So nice that no crime ever happens there. We don’t live in such a place.

      • Graywolf, me thinks James lives in his own fantasy world. As I have seen and read that Britian is not as safe as he thinks or says it is. By the way, thank you for your service. God bless you, Sir. Amen.

    • James that should be “I” not “We”- You are certainly not talking on behalf of the all the residents of the UK. Graywolf please excuse this nonsense. Yes here in the UK unfortunately we have those people that insist on living in their little bubble. Thank you for your insights and love your posts

    • Preston Thacker says:

      I don’t think you’d say that if you lived in Birmingham or London. Crime is rampant.

    • As a retired London police officer I can tell you crimecertainly does exist in the UK! Often after going to late meetings out of uniform I would make sure I had a newspaper tightly rolled for use in defence. A confident swagger of my umbrella also prevented me being robbed one evening. Just being aware, alert and equipped is often enough to deter criminals

    • Hows that unarmed crap working out for you subjects now?

    • Seriously? Or, are you being sarcastic? With the Islamization of the UK, you would need self defense.

    • Are you sure? I guess you would feel safe if all you do is circle your block 😉

  9. Vicky McKee says:

    Don’t forget keys. I have a four keys I’ll use like claws if need be

    • Definitely do not put the keys between your fingers. You can break your fingers that way if you hit someone. Only way to use them is to put them between your thumb and forefinger and scrape their face. Useless otherwise.

      • Heather O. says:

        Thank you for clarifying that. I always walk with them between my fingers because that’s what I’ve heard we should do. I’ll make sure I walk with only one key at the ready from now on.

  10. What about spray cans? A well aimed stream of hair spray or perfume into the face can be pretty incapacitating, and is quite inconspicuous, (for the ladies at least.) I also like knitting needles for us girls.

  11. Indeed James, I bet the people in Paris were thinking along these lines a few day ago.

  12. For women, a pair of heals reinforced with a steel core can also be effective.

    • My lady friend was in Italy & approached by a Gypsy thief. One well placed blow with her shoe’s high heel into his eye socket dropped him to the ground instantly.

  13. These are all good ideas. As a woman, we also have items that can easily be used as weapons. A metal nail file is one, the chopstick style hair pins are another. Hell, even a bobby pin can be jabbed into someone’s eye!

  14. James, the problem is that you no longer live in a country that is safe, I’m afraid none of us do anymore, thanks to the terrorists. That said, I’m so glad to find a site without all of that doomsday rhetoric. Thank you graywolf for a great site and also for your service to our country.

  15. Zebra makes the F-402 series stainless steel pen and it’s pretty freaking stout. If I were in a real pinch, I wouldn’t hesitate to grab it. I have one with me as long as I have clothes on. They are around $5 a 2pk.

    • Dennis Rowe says:

      I love the Zebra pens, for all uses! The small aerosol can of hair spray can become a flame thrower if sprayed across a cigarette lighter!

  16. I remember when I was going to college in Chicago I used to keep a spray bottle of perfume in my purse. This was in the days before pocket Mace and pepper spray.

  17. I am 56 years old i find it funny that you have news paper listed. My mother who was born in 1923 could roll up a news paper news paper so fast and beat you with it she used it like a club. I bet if you took that news paper she rolled up and put it on a fire it would burn for days. lol But believe me it hurt to be beat with it. So to me your news paper is spot on.

  18. Check out the tactical Benchmade pens.

  19. I just read this article (after with your gray man/blending piece) and found the info here using a cane helpful. In fact, it brought to mind a Systema martial arts club in the neighbourhood which offers instruction to seniors ~ I think I will look into it. Thank you again for sharing your knowledge.

  20. Dennis Rowe says:

    I am a retired veteran , but even with my training I’m going to be carrying a heavy cane.

  21. My mom always told of putting a bar of soap into a knee sock. She said you could knock someone out with it.

    • Oh, and a retired cop once told me to buy a small bottle opener (the metal kind that are about the width of your hand and come to a point on one end) and keep it in my purse or pocket. Because of the way you hold them in your hand, they are hard to pry out.

  22. I’m a single mom, so I find all of these amazing tips so useful and I definitely feel more informed and confident in my ability to learn to effectively defend myself and my daughter. I do have one bit of advice for everyone here, particularly inexperienced people, I suppose. My brother worked as a security guard for many years and while he doesn’t ave the tactical experience that some of you wonderful veterans do, he told me to never carry a weapon like a knife or a club or a gun unless I was professionally trained to use them because most people who try to use weapons to defend themselves end up having the attacker use their own weapon against them. You need to be certain that you can effectively disarm your opponent and not allow them to take your weapon from you. Thank you for writing this great page.

  23. An unexpected jab with the side of your hand to their Adam’s apple gives enough pain and shock that you have time to kick both knee caps twist his arm and break his elbow with yours .

  24. Just be careful about flying with those tactical pens…my husband bought us a pair and he flew three times with it before we got on an international flight and security pulled us aside and took them from us after seeing them on the x-ray in our backpacks, telling us they were weapons and illegal. Just check recent regulations or you might be out $15-30 per pen.

  25. coming up on 74 years thanks to the bloggers and graywolf needed infor. my 1911 is getting to heave to carry. and thank god I live in a real place ARIZONA. attacks on older people seem to be on the rise.

  26. I once stabbed someone with a pencil when they hugged me from behind. He still has a scar.

  27. WOW ! These are some really good tips. One I learned years ago was wearing steel toe boots. I had heard of them being used as devastating but legal weapons but never gave it much thought until I was kicked (think 50 yard field goal) with one several times. If my eyes had been closed I would have bet money it was a baseball bat. Aerosol spray cans are also very effective . I was sprayed with Raid once and learned firsthand not only does it temporarily blind and burn it also soaks into your skin and you actually taste it for 2 days.

  28. I always carry my keys. There are about 15 keys on a lanyard. I have whopped somebody upside the head, by swinging my keys by the lanyard. It nearly knocked him out and he was bleeding and too busy holding his face to peruse his attack. The lanyard is always sticking out of my purse and easily pulled out and ready to use..

  29. The belt is the best one. It gives you a lot of reach and would would really hurt if you were struck by it.

  30. Great ideas

  31. I knew a guy who played guitar and he had a stainless steel guitar slide that by itself was a nasty weapon being it would keep his fist perfectly tight. And he always had a few picks in his pocket if any security people ever got suspicious. You can buy slightly oversize rings online, too.

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