Forget ‘What Melee Weapon for SHTF?’ and ask ‘What Armor?’
If you’ve spent any time around the more survival-oriented parts of the Internet, you’ve seen the question of what type of melee weapon is best for SHTF, which comes up something on the order of 1 billion times. It’s a perennially popular forum topic, but never once have I seen anyone give the right answer to this critical question.
So what is the right answer to the question of what melee weapon is best for SHTF? There are two right answers, actually. The first right answer is, “Whatever melee weapon you’ve trained most extensively with.” But maybe you’d like to pick up some weapons training, and you’re not sure which weapon to train on. In that case, you need to back way up and answer a different question entirely. That question is: what types of armor will people be wearing post-SHTF?
Throughout history, a particular society’s dominant melee weapon is always the concrete, physical embodiment of the answer to the question, “What can I make with the tools and materials at hand that will enable me to kill someone who’s wearing the kind of armor that I’m most likely to encounter in combat?” On the flip side of the coin, a society’s most popular armor is whatever will defend against the dominant weapon.
So before we can think about weapons in a post-SHTF scenario, we must first think about armor. Yes, I know it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg question as I’ve framed it above, but in our case it makes sense to talk armor first. In modern 2014 America, we have access to an array of fine melee and ranged weapon options that would blow the ancients’ minds. Almost every weapon that has ever achieved any degree of popularity is now available in the modern material of your choice and in a variety of quality levels that in most cases would shame all but the greatest master weaponsmiths of old. So once you figure out what type of armor you’ll be facing post-SHTF, you can take your pick of amazing weaponry.
Let’s Talk Armor
Your dual-wielding ninja fantasies won’t survive your first real fight, and assuming that you survive it yourself, you’re going to start looking for ways to protect your vitals the next time around.
Warriors wear armor. This is true in almost every culture since the beginning of time. There are only two places really where this isn’t true: 1) in societies where males duel over honor, and 2) in Hollywood movies about the apocalypse. With regard to the former, these duels all take place in the context of a wider society that still recognizes rule of law. When the rule of law prevails, people might wear weapons and frequently take violence into their own hands, but they don’t generally walk around wearing armor.
With regard to Hollywood, I can only imagine that post-apocalyptic warriors don’t bother wearing armor because the costume department doesn’t think they’d look sufficiently menacing wearing motorcycle helmets, pads, and puffy jackets.
But think about it. Take a moment, close your eyes, and really try to imagine that the S has hit the F and you and your friends are about to leave your safe zone and travel through an area where you might encounter armed gangs. And for whatever reason, either you’re out of bullets or everyone else is. If you’re not imagining that you’re looking around for something–anything at all–that you can cover your body with that would prevent a fatal blow from damaging vital organs, then you’re not taking the exercise seriously enough.
If you really, truly fear for your life and you believe that some thugs wielding melee weapons might jump you, then you will get creative about body armor. You won’t care how it looks. You’ll be rockin’ that pink bike helmet you found and maybe have it paired with an umpire vest that’s overlaid with PVC and a toilet seat cover that you scavenged from an abandoned house. If you think it’s going to keep blade out of your rib cage or a club off of your skull, you’re going to wear it with pride. Your dual-wielding ninja fantasies won’t survive your first real fight, and assuming that you survive it yourself, you’re going to start looking for ways to protect your vitals the next time around.
I don’t personally know what type of armor people will be wearing in a SHTF scenario, but my guess is that bike and motorcycle helmets will be extremely popular, just because they’re so ubiquitous right now. I’d also imagine that any kind of protection that you can find in a sporting goods store will also be popular. Commonly available hard materials that can be cut with a hacksaw and even shaped a bit, materials like PVC pipes, fiberglass, tin, and other metals will also be worked into rubber- and cloth-padded outfits in any number of ways. So a few trips to Home Depot and your local sporting goods store will give you plenty of material to start with.
You can also take a look at some of the makeshift armor that civilians have been putting together in places like Ukraine and Egypt. I used a shot from Ukraine at the top of this post, and there are more linked up in this SurvivalistBoards.com thread on armor.
If you’re really serious about this whole prepping thing, you’ll spend some time now working on designs for your own post-SHTF suit of armor. This effort will not only go a long way towards keeping you safe in a without-rule-of-law (WROL) situation, but it’ll also give you the insight you need in order to answer the “what melee weapon” question.