Improvised Weapons Roundup

There’s something special about improvised weapons built for the upcoming zombie apocalypse. Whether it’s a Lousiville Decapitron or a shotgun revolver, we’re always fascinated by homemade weapons. Here’s a few that rolled into the tip line over the last few weeks:

You call that a knife?

[Joerg Sprave], a.k.a. that German guy on YouTube that has fun with slingshots, built a spinning steak knife saw thing. Basically, it’s eight steak knives attached to a wheel and driven with an electric drill. It’s not a terribly complex build, but it does give off a zombie apocalypse/first person shooter melee weapon vibe.

Battery cannon, because why not

Why use potatoes when you can use D-cell batteries? [CasterTown] on YouTube put together a small propane-powered spud gun that can put a battery through a car door. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen batteries used as ammo, but it’s still an extremely powerful build.

Oh man the 60s were cool.

Back in the 60s, safety wasn’t a huge concern. Any 10-year-old could walk into a dime store and buy Jarts – a game consisting of kids throwing sharp spikes at each other. Also, magazines had descriptions of how to build a freaking mortar in a backyard. Able to make a 20-foot grouping at 1900 feet, this would probably merit a visit from a SWAT team today. Needless to say, don’t try this at home.

Don’t do this. Please.

Last but not least is [Rocketlab] and [SadisticTheory]’s $15 flamethrower. It’s just a gas tank from a 2-stroke engine, a 12 volt battery and a pump. Common sense requires us to mention this build is very, very illegal (apparently it is legal)and extremely unsafe. Don’t replicate this build.

Actually, we take that back. You shouldn’t build any of these weapons because they’re very dangerous. Just think of these as a neat thing to look at. Let other people hurt themselves. You may complain about how unsafe these weapons are in the comments.

34 thoughts on “Improvised Weapons Roundup

  1. You should correct your statement about the legality of the flamethrower. There are no federal regulations specifically addressing the construction, possession, or use of a flamethrower.

    Of course using one to destroy property or cause someone harm would be illegal, but there is no law (at the federal level anyway) that says you can’t own a flamethrower.

      1. It would be a stretch:

        For the purposes of the National Firearms Act, the term “Destructive Device” means:

        A missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more than 1/4 oz.
        Any type of weapon by whatever name known which will, or which may readily be converted to expel a projectile, by the action of an explosive or other propellant, the barrel or barrels of which have a bore greater than one-half inch in diameter.
        A combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a device into a destructive device and from which a destructive device can be readily assembled.

        Now, like I said earlier, there are a lot of things you can DO with a flamethrower that are illegal…

  2. Actually, projection-type flamethrowers like this are considered agricultural equipment and are perfectly legal in nearly all states. They are used to start controlled burns for forest understory management and smaller ones are used for brush and weed control on organic farms.

    Of course, they are still hideously dangerous if built wrong.

    1. Your comment is an implied oxymoron.

      Either they are weapons, and all weapons have no purpose apparently.


      These are stupid cobbled devices that will have no use but to maim their creators.

      They cannot be both ineffective and dangerous weapons.

    1. So, everyone jumping on the blog post writer about how “uncool” it is to have a disclaimer…what the heck are you on? Damn near every single writer and TV show and so on has a “this is dangerous, do not do this at home” disclaimer.

      They HAVE TO. It’s required, or else the first person who builds something on this list will sue the blog, the writer, the person who made the item. The “do not do this at home” disclaimer helps to cover the people who do interesting things from not being able to do them anymore because some self centered brainless twit inures or kills themselves.

      It doesn’t really mean you shouldn’t try interesting, dangerous projects. It means you shouldn’t blame the person you heard about the thing from if it goes horrible and you end up with a steak knife in your intestines while your ass hair is on fire.

      Now, onto the post itself. I actually rather like that design for a flame thrower. The pump in between the flame and the fuel source should help reduce the chances of back-flaming, which is massively dangerous, and is a problem with various pressurized rigs I have seen…as you loose pressure, there’s a chance of flame being sucked into the barrel as the air inside contracts’s a whole bad “OH SHIT I’M ON FIRE” deal. with this…even if it gets sucked inside, there’s a pump between the nozzle and the tank, reducing the chance of said very bad things.

      As for the steak knife chainsaw…I’ve always thought that guy was interesting, if crazy. Now I’m adding “to stupid to live” to the list. Your taking $1 steak knives, which most likely have almost no tang. You’re screwing the plastic handles to a disc, reducing the structural integrity of the attachment of the handle to the blade. Then you’re spinning it really fast while bashing the blade against things at a really stupid angle. Every impact moves the blade in the plastic juust a little, and eventually one of those cheap blades will shatter, or fly free from the plastic handle, and fly back, right into the guys stomach, puncturing his flesh, lacerating his organs….If he uses it long enough, that’s quite likely going to happen, as the blade is pointing right back at the man just moments after it’s weakened past the bearing point by hitting something.

      As for the legality of these builds, it depends on where you live. In California, most if not all of these are illegal to own, with very minor chance of actually really being arrested for the possession…Unless you use them and fuck up.

      That’s the issue, that’s where the real jail time goes in. Using a flame thrower? Eh. It’s a year in jail or a ten thousand dollar fine, max, in my state. Deliberately starting a fire that turns into a forest fire? That’s hundreds of thousands and years in jail. If someone dies? That’s manslaughter, and that’s twenty years, more or less.

      A mortar is fine, unless you’re caught using it as a weapon. Or to launch illegal fireworks.

  3. For the steak knife chainsaw thing: I think I would have angled the knives back a little to get more of a “sawing” action out of the serrated blades. As it is, it seems like it would be really easy to stall the device by moving it too quickly into something solid.

  4. Why wouldn’t an improvised weapon be a hack? That sentence doesn’t make any sense to me at all. I thought a large portion of hacking dealt with improvisation and making do with what was at hand. Maybe I missed the point of the hacker community…. if I did though, I get the fun of making a new term to describe what I do. I think I’ll start with “Awesomization”…. maybe. It’s still in the spitball stages =)

  5. I’ve remembered that little mortar my whole life since I saw it the first time. I thought it was so cool.

    Made me want a metal lathe.

    BTW It is entirely legal because it’s a muzzle loader.

  6. Though all of this seems cool in a MacGyver meets Mad Max sort of way, I going to just let these guys build and test these things as I watch from the safety of my computer desk.
    The “D” cell launcher seems awesome for mowing down zombies. But seeing that there are no zombies about, and a concerned passerby could have the local SWAT team drawing down on someone… Yeah.

  7. I still have my Jarts set in the garage, and played Jarts with my kids. We only impaled 3 cats and a squirrel with them, never another human.

    I am thinking a semi-auto AA battery launcher would be fun…

  8. So the Zombies are attacking. What’s hotter than a flame thrower?

    Well, I’ll tell you.

    Hear me now, and believe me later.

    An in-ground lawn sprinkler converted into a perimeter fire curtain system… That’s way hotter than a flame thrower.

    I’m thinking you’d power it with LPG or some other flammable liquid.

    Someone please do this. Preferably when your parents are out of town.

    Make sure you don’t burn the video camera, because we’ll want to see it.

    1. It might be difficult to use an actual in-ground sparkler system as the fittings or anything else close to the flame would probably melt. However, the idea of an in ground purpose built flame system isn’t horrible. You’d have to make sure it was hot enough to stop them from walking though. When faced with ravenous re-animated corpses, the last thing you want are flaming ravenous re-animated corpses.

      1. Those attacking zombies will quickly clog the perimeter and next line will just climb over them. This is useless. Well, anything is useless when you are circled in by hord of zombies.

  9. When I have a real reason to build an improvised weapon, I won’t be giving a damn about regulations or laws, and I may be desperate enough to not care about personal safety either.

  10. Brian Benchoff, don’t be that guy. Nobody likes that guy. You know, the one that says building stuff is a great past time as long as it is [safe | doesn’t interfere with profits | only on this specific list]. That attitude is the antithesis of maker culture, inventiveness, and flies in the face of sites like the one you are currently affiliated with.

    As has been stated, flamethrowers are not illegal(and on that note how can something be more illegal i.e. very). I would expect a writer to actually, you know, check out the integrity of their own work before somebody else does.

    Flamethrowers are similar to potato cannons or lockpicks. Generally they are legal to posses, make, sell, and buy as long as there is a good will intent to do no harm with them. Essentially its the ‘don’t be a dick and it’s cool’ clause.

    I do not choose to complain about how dangerous these projects are, I choose to complain about how dangerous your attitude is for the hacker culture. Creativity and innovation leads in many directions, not all kidsafe. Give people the knowledge they need to choose what they want to do and let them do it. No lies, spin, or misinformation is needed.

    1. I really doubt Brian was making any kind of statement about hacker culture, nor trying to influence things. It is more likely that he was responding to the hordes of people that criticize us for not warning people of the dangers of our projects often enough.

    2. Here’s the bind I’m in:

      If I write up a post about someone using Schedule 40 ABS pipe to build a potato cannon, everyone in the comments screams at me saying it was irresponsible of me to post this; you can’t use ABS as a pressure vessel, some kid is going to read this and blow their hand of, yadda yadda yadda. Right now, you’re complaining that calling something dangerous – keep in mind we’re talking about a flamethrower held together with duct tape – isn’t good for the hacker culture.

      You do see I’m between a rock and a hard place here, right?

      1. I think that it is hard to find the balance. You see something that is cool and fits in but then you realize that the builder(s) of that cool something is only small misfortune away from becoming Darwin award candidate.

        So how to write about this? I think that the best is to be a good and honest observer. When you see something then write about it but double check that you are not fooled by the builder or by your prejudice.

        For example the duck tape can be decorative and not part of the actual structure.

    3. I think that Brian is prety much right here but I would add a clause – dot not replicate this unless you need a quick solution against an approaching zomby horde.

  11. So I’m looking at the steak knife saw and thinking “He really should’ve included a guard on the back of that murderwheel, just in case it strays too close to something he wants to keep.”

    There MUST be something wrong with me if “lack of a guard” is the only thing I see wrong with that build other than the power plant being a little underwhelming.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.