$14 POP-BH-18

Inspired by the comments here:


That bolt came home with me when I retired and now sits on my home office desk. 😁

“WE MUST BAN HARDWARE” before the nuts are all armed with bolts.

(h/t to H.R. for the inspiration)

I decided to test how hard it was, and how long it would take, to make an ersatz Battle Hammer out of a Pile Of Parts.

Now I have most of this in the garage parts bins somewhere, but I had no idea what current prices might be. So off to Home Depot. (While there, I discovered that their California prices, at least, have gone “crazy high”. The same $2.50 or so quart of alcohol stove fuel from Walmart was just shy of $8 there. Just nuts, since 12 oz of methanol as HEET is $1.57 or so, you would be better off buying that at an auto parts store…)

I hefted a few iron pipes. Decided that 1/2 inch diameter felt best. Also, while the historic length tended to 2 feet to 2.5 feet, I decided I’m not “sitting a horse” so didn’t need that much reach. As I already have long arms, and any opponent is unlikely to be wielding a Roman Gladiolus, I settled on a 1.5 foot or 18 inch shaft. They did not have this in cheap iron pipe, so I got the more expensive galvanized.

For the head, I selected a 3/4 x 1/2 x 3/4 inch T and 2 x 3/4 inch “plugs”. I briefly considered the greater heft and effectiveness of a 3/4 inch nipple to 1/2 or even 3/4 to 3/8 adapter, then plugs (or just leave it open to remove disks of skull…) but decide for a first test I didn’t need the expense, or complexity. This gave a 12 oz head weight. Less than the traditional 1 to 2 lbs, but enough – I’m not facing Norman Knights in helmets, after all.

Here’s what it looks like partially assembled:

Pile Of Parts Battle Hammer - 18 inch

Pile Of Parts Battle Hammer – 18 inch

This is the prototype light weight (about 2 lbs all told) Pile Of Parts Battle Hammer 18″.

Cost was $7.29 for the pipe (outrageous, I know), $3.30 for the two plugs, and they managed to not ring up the T as it wasn’t scanning so the guy keyed it in, but I think forgot to add it to the bill. I didn’t notice till I got home that it was not listed. IIRC it was about $2.50. So all up, this ought to cost about $13. Toss in a roll of tape (electrical, or Duck Tape, or First Aide Cloth, or even Hockey Handle) to make the grip less slippery (ONLY put on at time of use, so it doesn’t look like a planned grip prior to need) and you end up about $14 to $15.

Not bad.

BUT: Will it WORK?

To test that, I picked an old, dry, and somewhat representative of a skull, chunk of 2 x 4 from my discarded wood pile. Then a medium force blow (about 1/2 power) was applied as it lay on the ground. Why only 1/2 force? Well, I’m lazy, don’t have any adrenaline running at the moment, wanted to get a “feel for it” and what kind of forces got back to my hand; and bending over head down near your knees is not conducive to a full on body rotation shield in other hand swing.

So what happened?

Pile Of Parts Battle Hammer 18 inch vs 2" x 4" of wood.

Pile Of Parts Battle Hammer 18 inch vs 2″ x 4″ of wood.

This picture you can click to embiggen to better see the dent in the 2 x 4 and wonder…

No, I don’t remember what kind of wood it was. I THINK it was fir. It isn’t redwood (that I use in fences). It is heavy. I usually buy fir for construction. But in any case you would get a bone chunk punched out.

Do note the impressed “CHINA” from the end plug. That will be ideal for forensic tracking. If that’s a concern, replace it with a 3/4 to 3/8 reducer and a pipe nipple that will section a plug out and leave little to go on…

Swing was easy. Notice I hit a little off square. Taped handle and practice would help. I thought of putting a cap on the end of the handle pipe, but the supplied ‘safety’ plastic cover was good enough. Force back into the hand was “not much” and easy.

This was all just “hand tight”. No wrenches involved. It assembled in about 20 seconds (I’m slow, I know…) and disassembled about as fast.

If folks wanted a heavier head, adding some more reducers and nipples and caps would do it. If desired, a cylinder of something heavy could be slid into the top from 3/4 end to 3/4 end. Needs to be innocuous so it doesn’t look planned. Perhaps a fragment of rebar?

The Pack

I then thought about where to put it. Clearly if you have a tool box in the car, the ideal place is in it along with some other bits of “leftovers from construction projects”. For me, I wondered if it would fit in my “walking home” bag. The head bits easily slipped into the cordage pocket and disappeared. The handle slides nicely into the exterior webbing loops of the “size adjusting” straps. I looks like it would fit “middle of the main pocket” too, but I think this is fine.

Yes, officer, that’s a pipe. It is for sucking water out of skinny holes and other pipes where I might find it. This is a survival pack for getting home post quake. (Well, it’s worth a shot…)

UPDATE: Upon inspection, it looks like it makes a great little “Pipe Cheater” for those too short just round handle Mercedes lug wrenches. So it’s “a pipe cheater with T handle ’cause I can’t get the tire off with the short wrench”…

Yes, I know, “This blog can be used against me”… IF I ever did have to use this in anger, this posting would demonstrate intent to create the weapon. As I’m never going to be using it unless all law and order has left the area and I’m under attack, I’m OK with that. Better to be judged by 12 (after that fact) than carried by 6.

Copy Left

I hereby copy left this design and the name “Pile Of Parts Battle Hammer” under the attribution GPL (current or other dates as the user may desire). Feel free to make them, sell them, give them to friends. Even make specialty heads ( I was thinking a nice cast bronze axe head one side and a cast bronze spike the other…)

All I ask is that you say “Design inspired by E.M. ‘Chiefio’ Smith” or something equivalent.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled mayhem that is the world today, but comfortable in the knowledge that now you, too, can have a Battle Hammer in hand inside a minute (most of it getting the tool box open) and are highly likely to be legal while driving through just about all possible jurisdictions. It would be interesting to see if the Plumbers Union would join any case with an amicus brief about not wanting ALL plumbers arrested on the spot and toilets & drains nation wide no longer functional… ;-)

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Arts, Emergency Preparation and Risks, History, News Related and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to $14 POP-BH-18

  1. u.k.(us) says:

    Devil’s advocate, have you tried it on a moving target, like a hopped up (similarly armed) meth head ?
    You might only get one swing, therefore, you need to make it count !!
    Practice makes ……., better to just be in “the zone”.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve swung enough T-Ball Bats to know know I’ll be on target, even a moving target.

    Biggest issue is just the round profile handle means you don’t have a tactile feel for “plug” orientation. But frankly, clock someone with the side of it and you will have plenty of opportunities to fix that on restrike opportunities as they just lay there… Of course, one COULD put a 4 way T and then nipple and the regular T on top, crossed; so there were four plugs in four directions (more like a mace). But I just don’t see the need.

    IF it ever were an issue, I’d just make a wooden shaped handle that clipped around it and indexed on a pin through the handle. But then you get more into clearly building a weapon and away from “just happened to have hardware in the car and shit happened”.

    My strike wasn’t that far off square and i wasn’t even trying hard.

    Mostly I thought adding another T at the bottom ( 1/2′ all ways so lighter) would be better than an end cap for retention, and give a nice handle for turning the shaft into the head. That, then, also gives a tactile orientation feature… Find where the bottom nestles into your hand, and adjust the head accordingly.

    Remember that the intent of this is to have something available in very short order in those locations that are stupid enough to criminalize possession by otherwise peaceful folks of more effective things.

    FWIW, while pondering “upgrades”, it occurred to me that two pipe fittings (one on each end) and a length of 1/4 inch strong rope (nylon or similar) would make a heck of a flexible weapon system.. From Bolos to big garotte to use like a Sash in martial arts… 2 elbows and a rope are pretty tame in a car trunk…

    Hmmm… So with about $3 more, I could be equipped with Battle Hammer, Garotte, and flexible sash like weapon… All in about a minute.

    For anyone who doesn’t know what I mean by flexible weapons and sash fighting:

  3. Steven Fraser says:

    Imagine it this way… 1′ of pipe into the T where you’ve got a plug, with 2 4-6″ pieces in the other holes, or without caps. With an overhand grip, grab the piece at right angles to the others, and voila.. pipefitter’s baton, a highly effective defensive weapon, and spun by the handle, a real flail, and an ersatz hook. The whole thing works 1-or2 handed as a bat, too.

    As a side note, a T-ball bat would work well in the other hand…

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    Now you’ve done it… I need to make a “Pipefitter’s Baton” now. (Side handle baton).

    So I’d use about a 4 inch pipe forward, and the upward handle bit, the length of my hand width, with cap on end, then about 1 foot to 1.5 foot of “tail” going back along the forearm…

    Used in the “off hand” it’s a decent block for various strikes, including swords, and makes a good swung club as well. (I’ve practiced the ‘swing’ where the tail part does a circle and returns under your arm to where you grip stop it. In just a few minutes you get to where you can whack someone a tail length from your extended hand…) Standard punches thrown with the forward bit as the striker are very damaging. Then the battle hammer in the dominant hand.

    OMG, I’d hate to go up against that with anything less than a gun…

  5. u.k.(us) says:

    By “the zone” I meant when things seem to go into slow motion, muscle memory takes over, and you hit that home run.

  6. ossqss says:

    A piece of conduit may work, LOL

    I have what I call a Moses Staff that works also. Made for me by a friend from what he called swamp wood (I believe young Hickory). Just sayin, it is only as good as the user in the end.

  7. H.R. says:

    Hey, thanks for the h/t, E.M.

    I’ve got a T-ball, an aluminum T-ball bat, and a ‘yout’ baseball glove in the back of my car. The whole set was about $14.97(?) at Walmart.

    The T-ball bat was drilled and filled with the contents of the plastic, giant size BB gun filler. It’s innocuous, but it’s at hand in the case of while I’m putting my fishing gear in my car in the wee hours of the morning, someone should walk up and inquire as to the whereabouts of my wallet.

    I carry concealed (properly licensed, of course), but the bat may actually be the better choice if they have the drop on me. An obvious move for a gun may not be the right play when fumbling for my wallet in my fishing gear and may relax a baddie enough that the bat can be grabbed and swung in one smooth, surprise move. Then I can go for my gun.

    I also have a 12″ Cuda filet knife in my kit and an 18″ ball-bat shaped flashlight at hand in my fishing backpack (I no longer use tackle boxes. Maybe a topic for the W.O.O.D.)

    I like having options when I’m sitting alone on the lake, fishing at 1:00 – 2:00 am.

    “WHEN BATTLE AXES ARE BANNED then I’ll finally get some relief from my mother-in-law”
    (MIL joke. Mine is actually fine.)

  8. E.M.Smith says:


    That’s why I have not actually made a “flexible weapon”… Never trained with them, and you can clop yourself good with them if not careful…

    I have a 1 inch x 8 foot wood pole I’ve played with, but the staff isn’t useful indoors. Tends to hang up on walls and ceiling. Short sword is much better. Cane works well indoors too.


    The Zone is nice to have, but training & sparing is better. You get fast w/o The Zone and make better decisions. I’m now just an observer during sparring. Making suggestions and noting what happens. By the time I realize I need to move, I’m alredy in motion. The state of “no mind” or “the empty vessel”. Very spooky the first few time it happens, then you relax and enjoy it…

    @H.R.: I use a fishing backpack now too, but still have a couple of tackle boxes. A lighter club swings faster so too much weight is not best. I use a 3 or 4 C cell flashlight instead of D cell when fishing… even in daylight…

  9. H.R. says:

    @E.M.: I drilled and tapped the fill hole at the handle end of the bat. Then I added BBs after each of several test swings until it swung ‘just right’ and stopped adding BBs.

    I was going to pour lead into the bat but the weight factor and holding the weight at the end was going to be problematic. What I like about the BBs is that they are distributed through the length of the bat until it is swung, then they all head forward to the end during the swing, adding momentum to the swing and concentrating the mass at the tip; think rock on a string or sash.

    P.S. I, and my bat, have been banned from T-ball.“Ump, sumpin’ ain’t right.” 😜

  10. u.k.(us) says:

    I think we are on the same page here, but you say ” make better decisions”.

    The reason we lose so many teenagers to car crashes, is because they are trying to make decisions, when, if they only had a little more experience, they could reflexively avoid the trouble.

  11. ossqss says:

    Use 6′ Em.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    The “make better decisions” comes out of the conscious mind being unburdened from the detail of responses.

    One example:

    I got really good at “catching front kicks” and having my sparing partner hopping around on one foot ;-) So the hand just moves and does the catch on that kick. Gets launched as soon as the kick is visible. The conscious mind is free to think things like “his axe kick is a killer though… does he have a tell?” (The black belt Tai Kwon Do I sparred against had that.. I learned to just move rapidly back when he did a slight ‘set’ before the kick – so no ‘catch’ with him…)

    Essentially the reflexes take care of the immediate tactical (known best move) while the conscious mind works out better strategies and solves unexpected situations.

    The alternative is thinking “I’m going to catch the kick” and being too late to catch the front kicks and the wrong move for the axe kicks…

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    In a hallway, 6′ is too long. Thus the short sword and cane. Not interested in a weapon that only works in about 1/2 the house at a time and can’t move between the halves nor work well going through doorways…

    Really, a Staff is a weapon where the “range” is appropriate for outdoors.

    Every weapon has an optimal range. A kick is good from about 3 feet to about 8 (leaping kicks forward). Punches are more like 1 foot to 6 feet (launched with forward step). A short sword is about 1 to 9. Oddly, most guns are not suited to close range. Even hand guns are more of a 5 to 15 foot range. Inside 5 feet an attacker using hands can get inside your aim before you can pull the trigger…

  14. H.R. says:

    If you want a plumber’s battle hammer, I’d recommend a close nipple and a female cap on one end of the tee and one reducer to a smaller end plug on the other end of the tee; more psi at the point of contact for a given blow. But… it would look like a battle hammer and would not pass the innocuous test.

    If you really want a spike on the end, you can buy a faucet, unscrew the valve portion of the faucet, screw that into the tee. Then ‘open’ up the faucet and remove the faucet handle from the valve stem. That arrangement would put an inch and a half of steel into any part of the baddie’s body.

    Pro tip for those who can’t leave well enough alone:
    Chuck the valve stem in a ‘vertical lathe’ (drill press) and use a file to shape a nice point on the end of the valve stem.

  15. ossqss says:

    If prepared, it doesn’t matter….

  16. ossqss says:

    The item does not have to swing, only have forward punch in small quarters. Just sayin….

  17. ossqss says:

    Before being skeptical of my posts, understand that I got this book at age 14, and then sought out more through high school and college. There is no belt related to such. It is simply Jeet Kune Do!


  18. Another Ian says:


    While you’re in the plumbing department


    3/4 inch pipe is about 12 gauge

  19. E.M.Smith says:


    Not being skeptical of your comments. Just pointing out things I know. One of them is that to use a weapon effectively you must know the weapon (so I don’t try to use flexible weapons as I know that I’m not good enough to avoid clopping myself in the head ;-) I “played” with a nunchuck for about 10 minutes once – ow!)

    I know that when I try using a staff in any space more constrained than one staff length, I have issues… and expect any other person similarly inexperienced with it would have the same issues. So you may well have some special skill that lets you use an 8 foot pole in a 4 foot space, but that doesn’t help me… (Similarly, I have repeated practice with a “lunge punch” that lets me punch someone about 5 feet away. Others can’t do that as they don’t know how. I can effectively use a handgun at a 2 foot range by holding it close to the hip and having already decided ANY forward movement by my opponent I squeeze (reflex time 1/4 second)- but most handgun users will stick it out in front of them a foot or two and involve the decision cycle of the cortex so about 1/2 second lag – enough for a trained person at 4 to 5 feet -body to body- to get inside the gun with a block and strike.

    There is both an optimal range for a weapon and a range where exceptional training can let it work. They are different. Similarly, while someone trained might be able to use a staff in a narrow hallway, it is not the optimal weapon for most folks. It will tend to give warning to your opponent that you approach (sticks out in front) where a short sword can be held vertical at the shoulder. It can not be swung against the 90 degree wall as you enter the next room “clearing the space” where a cane or short sword can. And similar constraints. None of that means it is not a fine weapon against an unarmed or untrained opponent. None of that means a practiced user can not overcome those issues. It does mean that it “has issues” in that space which other weapons do not have. (And it means that knowing each weapon is more important to the individual using it than choosing to use a weapon where competence and practice is low – It does me no good that a hand grenade is more effective at clearing a room IF I’ve never used one and do not know to be out of the room when it goes off… and it does me no good to choose a nunchuck for an alley fight when I have no skill in using it as I know I’ll do more damage to me than to them…8-)

    Endless (and pointless) Martial Arts movies have been made (and arguments made) about what martial art, technique, style, and weapon is “superior”. What is usually ignored is that “what you are most practiced using is your superior skill and weapon”. Also ignored tends to be “what works best in that time and space”. It’s only important if you know in advance AND have time to gain skill with that optimal choice. Faced with a sudden need to take out an approaching army 2 miles away, I know the optimal choice is artillery (for low cost) or the fighter bomber at higher cost. Doesn’t do me any good as I can’t fly a fighter bomber and don’t know how to load and aim artillery. I also don’t have either one… But given enough advance warning, I can choose, learn, and acquire.

    It is that dynamic that leads to all the lusting after this or that particular weapon, or skill, and the endless “does so does not” about them. (Like the gun magazines and the endless .45 vs 9mm bickering – when in reality either one is fine if you have it and know how to use it and neither one is much good if you don’t…) It also leads to having 20 guns, each one “perfect” for a particular task, when 99% of the time a 12 gauge shotgun would be fine, especially if you practice with it… AND a .357 Magnum handgun would ALSO be fine… (Both can take down a deer, wild pig, small game like squirrel and quail, and “thin skin deer sized animal” be it 4 legged or 2…) Would I want to shoot skeet with a .357? No, but with shot shells it can be done, if poorly. Carry the 12 gauge all day? No, but I could if the .357 on the hip was unavailable. Yes, neither one is ideal for a brown bear. But can be made to work with multiple shots. Just like a .30-06 is not ideal in an alley but I’d be OK with that…

    In like manner saying a short sword is optimal for a tight space home with hallways while a pole is not optimal presumes taking the time to learn the short sword and having one. While I’d rather be skilled with the short sword in that context; I’d be better served with a long pole, if that were my skill set, than I would with the short sword with no clue how to use it. That the Japanese short sword was specifically designed for use indoors may make it more ideal for that use; yet the long sword in the hands of one skilled with it can still win (more lunging, less swinging, use reach over slash); yet the short sword came about because generally users of the long sword would get it caught on the walls or ceiling… and it constrained choices of technique indoors. Since I’m NOT going to become a Grand Master of the long sword, I choose the short sword to have by my bed…

    Essentially this is all a very long way of saying “Skill matters more than weapon choice, but weapon choice can reduce some skill demands.”

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    I have a fascinating book. Title something like “Modified and Improvised Firearms”. It includes how to make various “zip guns” and what caliber / gauge fits what size standard pipe… Several of the guns illustrated used 12 gauge shells in standard pipe ( I think it was 3/4 inch).

    Yeah, you can make it work. Just know that sometimes the gun can blow up and sometimes the firing pin can become a rearward projectile… but not too often if desperate…

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    Cleaning up the kitchen and loading the dishwasher….

    I have been reminded that the 18 to 24 inch long heavy duty metal BBQ Fork & Spatula would make a pretty darned good stabbing and slashing set… especially with a “worn sharp” edge on the spatula… (Used on iron plancha – restaurant metal slab – grills, a spatula eventually becomes knife sharp on the main sliding edges)

    Maybe I’ll put a BBQ utensil set in the back of the car… Add a small bag of briquettes and one of those “tool box BBQ” things and you have emergency cooking, fuel, and weapons; all in a PC acceptable form…

    Ninja BBQ Fork – who knew?


  22. ossqss says:

    Don’t forget the Tactical Battle Spatula! That just sounds good, but upon a search, they make them! LOL

  23. E.M.Smith says:

    OMG! And I was thinking it was a new idea… While I note that image link includes an April 1 date, this one does not:


    You can get a “tactical spatula sheath” to hold your spatula while engaging in “tactical grilling” …

    I especially like their apron with pockets to hold 3 or 4 beers (or grenades?) ;-)

    For those with a smithy, DIY example:

  24. u.k.(us) says:

    Couple of quotes:
    “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
    “everything that can be invented has been invented.”

    So there :)

  25. ossqss says:

    Wow, that Dude has talent! That was an impressive build and effective tool. And a pretty diverse Youtube channel with almost a million suscribers.

    I had to laugh when he described the tool he made for bending the spatula was made from parts from his Guillotine!

    Classic! ;-)

  26. E.M.Smith says:

    Doesn’t everyone have an old Guillotine that they’ve outgrown?


    Yeah, Classic! I could easily see, some future date when some emergency plumbing fix popped up, posting something about how “The pipe was fixed with parts from my Battle Hammer”!

  27. Larry Ledwick says:

    And you are prepared to fight off the zombies while you grill your steaks.

    Don’t forget the meat tenderizer hammers.


  28. cdquarles says:

    This just confirms that you cannot disarm someone against his will as well as confirming the futility of banning ‘arms’, aka, inanimate objects. I am more afraid of a human than I am of any animal. I’m familiar with enough animals to know what to do and what not to do. Humans, especially wild ones, are much less predictable.

  29. ossqss says:

    LOL, cruising through wallyworld to get beer and boom! There are $3 tactical weapons of war everywhere! I actually like this one! ;-)

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, if $3 is too much for you, you can always stop in the hardware store and get 2 foot of rebar for a few cents, or stop at most large cement laying operation and get a barrel full for free by offering to clean up the trimmings…


    Oooh! Good One! I need to check out the butcher supply store. Things to buy:

    Knife kit.
    Meat hammers & cleavers.
    Chef hat and coat (for the “story” ;-)

  31. Larry Ledwick says:

    I used to carry one of these on the floorboards of my car.


    Makes a very serviceable tomahawk and expedient camping hatchet.
    A work belt a box of dry wall nails and a roll of dry wall tape – – – –

    When I was doing martial arts and we got into staff weapons, I would train with a 6 ft piece of 1 5/8 chain link top rail pipe, for the actual staff, I went down to the lumber company and picked up a piece of 1 1/8 inch oak closet rod (which is getting hard to find now in this area.

    For a short club like used in Escrima a 24″ long piece of 1×2 red oak or 1″ oak dowel of a suitable length is very serviceable.

    For striking weapons you want a combination of both lightness (speed of strike), and toughness to survive strikes without breaking. Until the police started outlawing traditional weapons like nun chucks most of them you could buy, were made of hard red oak.

    If you go into truck stops you will find a nice selection of short oak clubs used to “strike tires” to detect flats quickly on an 18 wheeler without putting an air gauge on each tire.

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    I’ve got a shingling hammer that looks a lot like that drywall hammer, but it has a little sheet metal knife attached to the hatchet side for cutting shingles. “Somewhere in the garage”. (Last used about 20 years ago when I re-did the ridge lines on the house, fixed some parts, and built a shed to match the house with matching roof…) Add a tool belt and a couple of shingle ends for “story”…

    I’ve also got a rock hammer out there too.


    Add a geod or other interesting broken rock for “show”..

    That’s my baby… Before pull tabs, the Teaching Assistant taught us how to precisely install a large and small hole in the “soda” can tops ;-) But the shaft is a bit short for a battle hammer (though I’d gladly use it and not feel disadvantaged if needed…)


    We’ve now identified several more professions that will need to be arrested on site for “weapons control” purposes:

    Framing / construction workers
    Home Repair
    Geologists (Geology teachers, Students – I got mine in Geo class…)
    Outdoor Party Operators
    Lumber yard employees
    Probably Electricians ( I remember using saws, hatches, and hammers doing socket installs)

    Somehow I don’t think this whole “banning” thing is going to work… 8-)

  33. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like there’s a long handled rock hammer… Hmmm…. I’ve got $30 in my Amazon gift cards…


    Oh, and ice picks / axes. We’ll need to add miners, mountain climbers, tree surgeons, gardeners, fire fighters, ice climbers, cross country adventurers, etc… to the list of folks who will need to find new occupations…

  34. ossqss says:

    Oh dear,,,, once disarmed, we are Doomed! ;-)

  35. ossqss says:

    Well, for me, I think a 1/2″ or 3/4″ piece of PVC pipe is better than #5 rebar for most situations E.M.

    Just depends on what the need is. Deterrent vs. demolition if you will,,,and the clean up factor….. Just sayin

  36. E.M.Smith says:

    I was actually thinking that using the thick (Sched. 40?) PVC in 3/4 inch for the handle would be just as workable while looking even more benign.

    The forces in the handle are fairly small (my palm did not complain) and given a thread / slip adapter is glued over an inch or so of thick PVC at the head end, even the force concentrated there ought to be OK. (If, after a few dozen whacks of a board, some weakness at the shaft / head joint sowed up, it would be trivial to make that a 6 inch iron nipple and then use a foot of PVC as extender – which gives you 2 pieces both small enough to look bland in a pile…)

    Were I not busy with other stuff (ATM the spouse has shared her cold / congestion with me 8-( so even those are backing up) I’d make such an alternative handle shaft just to see how well it worked or what issues it presented.

    But yeah that whole destroy vs dissuade thing matter. I generally figure something like a battle hammer is for well after persuasion, as an option, has left the field of contact…

  37. Steven Fraser says:

    Tactical grilling… I LIKE it!

    Some other things one might have handy around the bug-out vehicle, depending on the time of year or other hobbies: tire chains, a whip antenna for a shortwave radio, a super-soaker with charcoal lighter in it, tire wrench…

    All this makes me think there is a potential market fire-retardant Grilling gloves, or perhaps a kevlar Chef Apron. The Word ‘chef’, does, after all, mean the same thing as Sensei…Master.

  38. Larry Ledwick says:

    I always find it useful to look at the important characteristics of devices that various cultures and occupational groups have adopted, especially those where there may be severe consequences if that tool fails to function as intended.

    In the category of striking weapons intended for use in one hand.the top consideration probably should go to the striking sticks used in the Philippine martial art of Escrima. The explorer Magellan was killed by an Escrima warrior, stick vs sword.

    Typical Escrima stick is 7/8 inch Rattan wood 26 inches long. An untrained person might be better off with a slightly shorter stick.

    The standard police baton used in the US for years was about the same size, typically just a bit larger in diameter at around 1 1/8″ to 1 1/4″ diameter. Modern ones are often polycarbonate but traditional wood batons were often hickory or other hard wood, like straight grain oak or maple.


    Food for thought:



    The shovel handle makes a dandy walking stick.

  39. E.M.Smith says:


    You have reminded me of my ancestral martial art of Ro-Wing-Oar ;-)


    Even though I don’t ride anymore (the kid grew up… and the motorcycle needed an overhaul) I still keep my full face helmet and riding suit. Why? Ever try to sock someone with a full face helmet on? Then a full set of “leathers” makes all sorts of impacts not so effective. (Has about 1/2 inch pads in it under hard / tough exterior…)

    A Friend tells a story of about the ’60s when two them were riding in the mountains out east. Virginia IIRC. AssHole Car Driver comes up and does the “lets get real close to you in passing and start to run you off the road”. This having happened before, the 2nd rider did a cross hand reach (left hand to right side) where he pulled an axe handle out of the rifle like sheath and proceeded to play drums on the guy’s car door… with a hardest possible “WHACK!” to get things started…

    Well, car shot to the far left edge and sped up … Never to be seen again…

    IIRC, it was about a 3 footer…

    Nothin’ like a good hunk ‘o Hickry… ;-)

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    IMHO, the key “take away” is that, around the world, in all sorts of contexts, from Knights in Armor to the jungles of Manila to the Streets of NYC: A “short staff” of about 2 feet to 4 feet, but sometimes as short as 18 inches or as long as 6 feet, with or without a “head”; tends to be just about ideal as a personal defense weapon (as long as guns are not involved…).

    Generally the 2-3 foot range is best unless circumstances are known to advantage a different length. Most any material, from metal to wood to rattan to polycarbonate works fine. Training helps (Escrima is what makes the rattan stick lethal, not the ‘stickness’ of it)

    Tomahawk, battle hammer, battle axe, mace, Escrima Stick, night stick, club, etc. etc. it’s all basically the same thing… Even the swords of old were often more club than cutting device, and the Roman Gladiolus was… about 2 feet long. (24 -33 inches, 1.5 to 2.2 lbs per the wiki).

    Start from that design point and the weight of history is on your side…

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting to note that the club is the oldest manufactured weapon known to have been used by proto-humans. In the book Arican Genesis, Robert Audrey talks about the anthropological trail that led to that discovery. How Raymond Dart noticed a pattern of injuries on baboon skull fossils he found. They almost exclusively had the skull crushed on the left side. Upon investigating possible weapons he found that the most likely weapon was an antelope thigh bone swung as a club by a right handed primate (Australopithecus).

    Hand any random adolescent or adult male an object about 18 inches long of moderate weight and you will almost invariably witness a subconscious testing of its suitability as a club, usually grasping it near one end and striking into the palm of the other hand along with some motions to test its balance.

    We are, it appears, hard wired to use clubs as a weapons dating back to around 4 million years of evolution.

    [ from the wiki page – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Genesis ]

    Robert Ardrey, at the time a working playwright and screenwriter, travelled in 1955 to Africa, partly on the behest of Richard Foster Flint, to investigate claims made by Raymond Dart about a specimen of Australopithecus africanus.[4]:119

    He met Dart in March 1955. Dart, in his laboratory at Witwatersrand University Medical School, had assembled evidence for a controversial thesis. Among the collection were fossil baboon skulls from the caves of Taung, Terkfontein and Makapan that he believed showed fractures caused by Australopithecus wielding bone clubs; the jaw of a juvenile ape-man from Makapansgat which had been fractured and lost its incisors; and 7,000 fossil bones from the Makapansgat cave. Among the fossils, skulls and lower leg bones were disproportionately represented, leading Dart to theorize that man’s ancestors were hunters who used bones as weapons.[4]:125–6[5]:41:20 His overall thesis was that “it was the ape-man’s instinct for violence, and his successful development of lethal weapons, that gave him his dominance in the animal world from the very beginning. Those instincts are with us today.”[6] Ardrey was initially much taken by the theory. As a correspondent he wrote an article about it for The Reporter. After receiving significant attention the article was reprinted in Science Digest, which marked the beginning of the spread of popular notions about Australopithecus. The article in Science Digest also led to The Smithsonian Institution contacting Dart and eventually providing him funding to continue his research.[4]:123–5

    Following a visit by Dr. Kenneth P. Oakley Ardrey agreed to write a book on the subject. Oakley secured an office for Ardrey in the National History Museum in London, as well as access to its private libraries. Ardrey spent six years traveling between Northern universities and African archeological sites. During this time he worked with many notable scientists, including Louis Leakey (then affiliated with the Coryndon Museum in Kenya) and Tony Sutcliffe (then affiliated with the Royal Archaeological Institute).[4]:139–40[7]

    Ardrey eventually came to be a vocal proponent of this thesis, introducing it, in modified form, to a broad audience with African Genesis. He added to it his own ideas about the role of territory in human behavior, about hierarchy in social animals, and about the instinctual status of the urge to dominate ones fellows.[6]

  42. E.M.Smith says:


    Wonder where I can get a cow thigh bone (cleaned and dry) to toss in the trunk ;-)

    Oh, and add ranchers, butchers, market operators… to the list of folks in trouble as they deal in “natural clubs” and lethal weapons…

  43. Larry Ledwick says:

    Well an 18″ – 24″ 1/2 drive breaker bar makes a dandy club, and would not be at all out of place in the trunk.

  44. E.M.Smith says:


    I think I mentioned that up above, with a socket on it that “just happens to fit my lug nuts” ;-)

    I find it a bit too tail heavy compared to the POP-BH, but usable…. IMHO a large ratchet would have better balance (heavier head lighter handle) and is already largely a BH layout. Even if single sided.

    Unfortunately, they cost more… so I don’t have a 2 footer …

  45. ossqss says:

    My dad used to have a Black Jack when we owned a bar. Quite the interesting tool.

  46. E.M.Smith says:

    On one occasion I had inherited a big bag of lead shot. #6 I think.

    So I got to try things with it. A baggie of it in the toe of a strong sock makes a passable Black Jack… I was thinking of making a leather pouch to hold the shot and then working on a stronger sock system (say a nylon inside a work sock); but decided to do something else instead (like reload some shotgun shell ;-)

    Wonder if we ought to add socks and baggies to the list of banned items? ;-)

  47. Larry Ledwick says:

    An expedient sap used by military on shore leave is a sock and a bar of soap, or double socks full of pocket change.

    A fist full of pea gravel works too I suspect.

    When I was little, my dad wore a heavy belt with a brass buckle. (Garrison belt). One time I asked him why he wore that belt. Without a word he took the belt off and wrapped the tail end around his fist a couple time, and let it dangle at his side for a moment like a short mace then put it back on.

    I never asked him the back story on why he decided to start wearing one, but I suspect it had to do with shore liberty when he was on PT boats in WWII.


  48. ossqss says:

    If you ever handled a blackjack you would understand the difference with having it strapped to your wrist. Just saying

    Now that I think about it, it was much more potent than I thought. Amazing how we figure stuff out later in life :-)

  49. ossqss says:

    BTW E.M., over the last 5 years I have avoided the cold, sinus infection, type thing by using a Vicks sinus spray. Orange label , smelled like Vicks Vapor rub, and burned like heck when used (meant it was working to me). Like Afrin, 3 day or less use due to addictive properties, but usually killed things the first day. Saw your posted reference earlier to sick stuff going on, so figured to let you know. It works, but hurts.

  50. E.M.Smith says:


    I’m generally getting better on my own by day 3. This is basically just a garden variety head cold / chest congestion. Already on the way out…

    But if if isn’t gone in the next day, 2 max, I’ll certainly take a look at the stuff. Thanks for the tip!

  51. H.R. says:

    I spotted an aluminum staff you could use that passes the innocuous test.

    It was in Walmart’s electronics and I was looking for a USB Bluetooth receiver when I spotted an aluminum telescoping monopod; under $20.00.

    Collapsed, it was about 30″ long and the major diameter looked to be about 1-3/4″. Extended, it would be about 6 feet so even a very tall person would have their camera at eye-level. It seemed pretty heavy-duty, so I suspect you could mete out a lot of headaches before it got bent out of shape.

    “This? Just going birding, Officer.”

  52. Larry Ledwick says:

    They will also pass as a walking stick if you have on a back pack. I have several, the older more expensive Bogan mono-pods are quite substantial, and if you only open the two biggest sections a quite serviceable billy club. The smaller sections are a bit spindly for “serious use” but if all you need is a long stick to fend off an angry dog or provide a blocking staff for some other weapon they will get the job done.

    You could come up with a “tactical” mono-pod/walking stick with a little effort. The camera end of the good monopods have a 1/4 x 20 screw for camera attachment, just add something like a gear shift ball “thread protector” and you have a dual purpose walking stick HD mono-pod.


  53. H.R. says:

    Oooo… I like the gear shift knob adder, Larry. Perhaps a Tee shift knob would satisfy those who want a stealth war hammer, but I like the round knob; que ball on a stick.

  54. Larry Ledwick says:

    I remember in the old days (1960’s ) when a popular shop project was a shifter ball made of acrylic resin. Likewise the old T handle shifters made out of a piece of 1″ aluminum rod, makes it easier to sell it a a cane too.

    Pick up a hand ball butter it with Vaseline and use it to make a female mold and cast as many as you need.

  55. Larry Ledwick says:

    Or if you want to get fancy a piece of 3/4 inch aluminum tubing with an oak dowel forced down it to keep it from crushing, then drill and add the hand grip of your choice.

    Or buy yourself a proper sheleleigh


  56. E.M.Smith says:

    The sheleleigh is an attractive idea…

    A quick search showed no ball “thread protectors” for your tripod mounts. Clearly a market exists ;-) so I think you may have a product.

    Make them in “simple chrome” ball, “brushed metal”, “Que ball” and “8 ball” variations. Simple to do. Make ball, drill & tap threads, apply surface finish. Offer alone, or in a kit with an “appropriately study monopod”…

    I’d buy one just out of curiosity and ’cause my tripod is too big to really carry around much.

    My “bird head cane” has a screw off brass head, and then the shaft has a screw connector in the middle. I’d rather it were one solid piece, but it seems sturdy enough as is. I bought it on a lark about age 28? and largely as it was not very expensive and did offer very sharp Birdy Beak profile… IIRC I was on a boardwalk or similar venue somewhere and it just didn’t feel all that safe, then 10 minutes later I was walking down the way with it and suddenly the place seemed quite safe enough ;-)

    For a while I toyed with the idea of unscrewing the middle for a short BH-BH (Bird Head Battle Hammer) and then an Escrima stick with a brass threaded end… but decided that was wasting more time than gaining anything I knew how to use.

    So a “bird head” option might be interesting as well…

    Looks just like this one:


    Would need a thread adapter to fit the monopod, though… $13.20 and a re-tap or thread adapter.

    They also have a brass globe head. That could be interesting…

  57. jim2 says:

    Teeth will also have to be banned. But that might not be an issue with this bunch.

  58. Larry Ledwick says:

    Looks like lots of canes are available from vendors like this:


    The martial art Hapkido has a well thought out coverage of self defense use of the cane

    This company sells canes with self defense and martial arts uses in mind.

    Canes range from the mid $20 range to mid $100 range.

    Or you can go with these sticks sold as defensive sticks for joggers to carry (they just happen to be precisely what Escrima users use.)


    Another cane vendor that is martial arts aware.

  59. jim2 says:

    Stick one of these on your cane:

  60. jim2 says:

    Cattle stunning bolt gun, is what it is.

  61. John F. Hultquist says:

    An Erie PA school district gave teachers 16″ baseball bats


    Perhaps the superintendent is related to the bat maker!

    Would it not make more sense to have a box of 100 baseballs (or rocks) in each classroom?
    Then the teacher and students could each have a couple or three tries to take out the bad guy.
    I have a supply of rocks (living on an alluvial fan) I’ll make them a good deal on.

  62. E.M.Smith says:

    @John F:

    Of note is that those are “souvenir” bats. I bought one at a Braves game with my (then very young) son. It’s about 16 inches long, but in proportion to a real bat, meaning the handle area is about the diameter of my little finger… ( I have big hands, so maybe woman’s index finger).

    These are TOYS not even suitable for hitting a ball.

    Then they tell everyone they must be locked up in the classroom?

    Such idiocy… Apparently never heard the wisdom “Never bring a knife to a gun fight”

    So they want people to bring a toy stick to a gun fight.

    They are going to get somebody killed with that stupidity. At least issue them with Tazers and a T-Ball aluminum bat.

  63. thor47 says:

    Excellent article with many good ideas. One thought: conduit is not especially stiff compared to galvanized pipe. Bruce Lee may fight off a dozen Vikings with 6′ of it, but I would not make a hammer from it. Plastic conduit is even worse. :-)

  64. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Thor; Actually, I did make a hammer handle out of 1/2 inch EMT to carry a 2 pound sledge head. Worked better then the wood handle but was hard to control due to small diameter…pg.

  65. jim2 says:

    “Nearby Xeneral Webster, who she had never met and who had travelled from London, threatened another man with a bottle containing acid in an attempt to steal his bike. The other man knocked and kicked the bottle away, spilling the contents over Joanne.

    He also pleaded guilty to two counts of possessing an offensive weapon — a bottle ammonia and a bottle of acid — and one count of affray.


  66. philjourdan says:

    @jim2 – and that is why the “statistics” in other countries are not comparable to the US. In the US, he would be charged with Murder 2. She died as a result of a crime. So there is intent. The perp probably did not plan to kill her, so that would lessen it from murder 1.

    And thus the narrative of how safe Europe is – is born. Out of ignorance.

  67. jim2 says:

    Not shown in the excerpt, it was sulfuric acid used.

  68. pouncer says:

    Unremarkable sticks to carry through court houses and airports …

    This umbrella would not be out of place in the Old City of London carried by a banker

  69. larrygeiger says:

    “Wonder where I can get a cow thigh bone (cleaned and dry) to toss in the trunk ;-)” I think that what you are looking for is the jawbone of an ass?
    I have a Smith & Wesson full tang 2lb 11oz tomahawk next to my bed. I am not a martial arts guy. Hold the end of the handle and swing it at a problem. Somethings going to give. Choke up an push the very sharp pointy end into close targets. It’s pitch black and no one would notice that you have at night.

  70. larrygeiger says:

    PS. I do not like hammers, tomahawks, and knives with the survival cord handles. The cording moves. I’ve tried a couple of them and I can feel the winding move a little. Maybe tape but I prefer solid handles. Also around the house:
    Several wood and aluminum bats.
    Walking sticks.
    Many hammers.
    Machete, full tang handle wrapped in duct tape.
    3/4 axe.
    hand axe.
    Estwing rock hammer.
    Demolisher. (Stanley Fatmax Xtreme Fubar Functional Utility Bar-55-099. My son loves this thing.)
    True Temper Brush Hook.
    Pile of bricks.
    Stainless Steel receiver with 2in ball.
    Fireplace poker.
    Hot dog roasters (swords :-) ) (At least that’s what the grandsons think they are…)
    And last but not least, the Corona Pruning Saw. Touch someone with this thing and they will bleed. Period. The teeth are so sharp that I never walk around with it open. Cut branch. Close the saw. I’ve thought about keeping it next to the bed but it’s sort of grundgy. I like the tomahawk because it’s coal black.

  71. E.M.Smith says:

    Remind me to knock very very loudly if I ever visit! ;-)

    I have a Japanese short sword and T-Ball aluminum bat next to the bed. Both shiny, but I’m OK with that. If they see (as PG puts it) “A naked bull ape” running at them with a bat / shield and a sword and decide to “Run Away!!!”; well, I’m good with that ;-)

    If they don’t run away, it’s about 2 seconds to contact at the furthest and I’m pretty sure they will not like the contact. ( I have had martial arts training and the Karate Knife Hand moves are modeled on what to do with a sword so the training is transferable….)

    BTW, you didn’t mention kitchen gear… I’ve got a BIG meat cleaver, 2 x chefs knives, 2 x carving knives, and several smaller knives all with “handles in grab position” in the kitchen ( 2 x knife blocks). Not to mention the spousal favorite of a 6 inch cast iron skillet and my preferred 9 inch cast iron skillet. ( KA- BONG!) They live on top of the stove… about one big step from the front door… So a “surprise” and retreat from answering the front door has me with a cast iron shield / ka-bonger and “short sword” of Chef’s type… Try to stop a “Pan To The Face!” with under thrust short sword to the mid / lower gut… Just try. Even in sparring when I’d launch combinations empty handed folks had trouble stopping both of them.

  72. catweazle666 says:

    You can’t be too careful in these troubled times, can you?
    I keep a knobkerrie ( https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/19th-century-african-zulu-large-244688827 ) above my front door, a four-cell Maglite clipped to the back door and another in my bedroom.
    There is also a handy Napoleonic war Royal Navy boarding axe ( https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/19th-century-british-naval-boarding-491095238 ) in the fireplace – for splitting logs, naturally.
    Out in the back porch there is a British Army issue machete, useful for cutting back the buddliea.
    On my desk in the pen jar there is a very handy nine inch Snap-On instrument screwdriver, a nice sharp pointy instrument with all sorts of uses.
    My wife has a fine collection of heavy brass and solid silver candlesticks on the mantelpiece.

  73. E.M.Smith says:

    You know, Catw…;

    I think you’ve given us another category. “Old and Collectable Not For USE” but still very usable…

    “No, officer, that sword plaque over the dinette set is a collectable, not intended for use.”…

    Wonder if I can find some old Blacksmith’s Tongs… for a “Hammer and tongs” display.. (Not that I’d ever actually go after someone “hammer and tongs” ;-)


  74. ossqss says:

    Ha! Watching a competition show on History Channel called “Knife or Death” . Worth checking out if , well you know ;-)

  75. catweazle666 says:

    “I think you’ve given us another category. “Old and Collectable Not For USE” but still very usable…”

    I haven’t even mentioned my wife’s English Civil War musket, fully proofed and usable, that dates from her years doing military enactments!

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