Best Gun Alternatives for Urban Survival

As a member of the prepper and survivalist community, I know how popular guns are and how important they are as part of your survival plan. Many people are taking the step of stockpiling guns and ammo for when SHTF…

But I’ll also warn you against relying so heavily on your gun!

While a firearm might be a great weapon, it isn’t perfect.

  • Guns are loud and could give away your location.
  • Guns are lethal, and you won’t necessarily want to kill everyone who poses a threat to you.
  • Guns rely on ammo, which could quickly run out.

With this in mind, here are some good gun alternatives for urban survival if SHTF!

Pepper Spray

I consider this the best gun alternative for urban survival. Pepper spray is such a great weapon because it requires virtually no skill or strength to use.

My wife, barely 5 feet tall and very petite, once debilitated an attacker with pepper spray even though he was twice her size. Yes, she is trained in self-defense tactics and might have been able to land a good kick to the groin, but why risk it when she had pepper spray to stop him in his tracks?

Woman using pepper spray
A woman practicing with pepper spray during a self defense class

Stun Gun

stun gun

Like pepper spray, a stun gun (Amazon link) is a great weapon because it requires little skill and is non-lethal.

The primary issue is that you’ve got to be close to your attacker to use it.

There are projectile stun guns that give you a bigger range, but then you risk missing the attacker and being left defenseless.

A stun gun also isn’t effective if there are multiple attackers.

Another issue with stun guns is that they could be destroyed in an EMP attack (which would destroy all electronics).

However, if you need a backup to your gun or live in a bad neighborhood, then a stun gun is worth considering.

You could also consider a stun gun flashlight for a dual-purpose piece of kit.


A knife is a good weapon choice because it serves multiple purposes.

Not only will your knife provide protection, but it can be used for skinning animals, digging holes, prepping food, splitting wood, and much more. 

In almost every movie where a knife is used as a weapon, the character wields a huge Rambo-style knife. These might look intimidating, but getting a smaller and less conspicuous knife is probably better.

Recommended Reading:

Using a knife as a self-defense weapon takes a lot of skill. I’d recommend taking a good self-defense course where they teach knife fighting skills.

 Krav Maga class
Practicing knife self defense in a Krav Maga class


The biggest draw of using a club for self-defense is that it looks scary as hell. An attacker will think twice before coming at you if you are wielding a huge, scary club!

Of course, this could always backfire, too. You might get attacked specifically because you have a club – thus making it seem like you’ve got something worth stealing.


You can carry these items in plain sight for something more discreet.

  • Baton: Can be easily hidden but will deliver a formidable beating if called upon
  • Self defense cane: Looks just like a walking cane but is designed specifically for self defense
  • Self defense umbrella: Again, it looks and functions like a standard umbrella but has several design improvements that make it a potent weapon

Further Reading


If looking intimidating is the goal, then forget about a standard club and opt for a mace instead. It has the same head-bashing leverage of a club but spikes sticking out of the end for maximum damage.

I admit that I feel queasy about using a mace for self-defense. I do NOT want to see someone’s brains splattered over the pavement! What if my daughter was watching? Would she be able to get over the trauma of that?

But when your life is at risk, you’ll do what it takes to survive.

It is pretty easy to make your own mace. Just get a sturdy board and hammer some long nails into the end. Here are some more DIY survival weapons that are scary as hell.


An axe also tops my list of best gun alternatives. It isn’t just because axes look intimidating when you carry them around.

The reason I like axes is that they are multi-purpose. You can use an axe to break down doors, build a survival shelter, get wood for a fire, and much more.

Recommended Reading

Chain Whip

If you watch Japanese and Chinese martial arts movies, you’ve probably seen a chain whip. The person will spin the chain whip around them to build momentum and then flail it towards the attacker.

In some of the really awesome movie scenes, the chain doesn’t just inflict harm from its momentum. It also wraps around the attacker to subdue him.

In real life, using a chain as a weapon is much harder than this. You’ll need a lot of martial arts training.

However, if SHTF and you find yourself roaming the city without a weapon, a long piece of chain is better than nothing. You can use it to lash out at attackers from a distance. Or just scare the crap out of them by spinning the chain around. They’ll think twice before attacking you!

Chain whip
Martial artist practicing with a chain whip

Your Bare Hands and Wits

Finally, don’t underestimate how much damage you can do with your bare hands and a clear head. No weapon will protect you if you react to danger like a deer in headlights.

Recommended Reading:

I highly recommend taking a self defense course or practicing self defense tactics like Krav Maga. You’ll get in shape and up your defense level at once.

Self defense class
Taking a self defense class is excellent for building mental toughness!

What do you think is the best gun alternative for urban survival? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. I’m making a 6’ spear to keep in our apartment by using a six foot length of steel pipe with a large dagger very strongly attached to one end. It’s not to throw but more of a stabbing or slashing weapon. You can also keep several attackers at a better distance away from you with it, than you can with a knife or a club.

    Also, a small fire extinguisher is as effective as pepper spray and if it’s powerful enough you can blind several attackers at once with it. You can also convert a larger extinguisher into a powerful flame thrower if you know exactly what you’re doing, but DO NOT attempt to make one if you have the least doubt in your abilities to do so.

    • I think the shock value of seeing someone with a 6′ spear would be enough to deter most intruders! 🙂 Thanks for the tips — though I’m not sure how practical a extinguisher-flame thrower would be, especially indoors.

  2. A distancing weapon like a club or a gun backed up with a close combat weapon like a dagger would be my prerogative. A few egg sized rocks to throw early on might not be too bad an idea, though thrown weapons can always be thrown back, so…

  3. When a bunch of hoodlums threatened to gang-up on me one fellow gave me the hint of placing a plaster stone or billiard ball into a sock, knotting it properly, and using this makeshift flail for self-defense. Bonus is: It can be thrown, but sane people should realize that means they are without weapon thereafter, and hence it is not too wise, when really threatened by a bunch of craven scum against a solitary citizen.

    Otherwise: Thanks for the article!


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