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The Realities of Carrying and Using Self Defense Weapons

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If you follow Fightfast, you probably have some questions about carrying and using self-defense weapons. Are they legal? Should I carry one? Do they really work? How do I know which one is really best for me?

The fact of the matter is that there really are no one-size-fits-all answers to these questions. When it comes to what is best for you, of course, it’s a personal question with a personal answer for each individual. However, I am going to do what I can to help clear up some answers for you by giving you some of the realities of self-defense weapons.

What Is A Self-Defense Weapon?

Self-defense: The act of defending oneself or one’s interests from harm by the use of physical force or argument.

Weapon: Any instrument or device used to inflict harm on another, either for attack or defense.

So, for the purpose of this article, I want you to consider a self-defense weapon to be any instrument or device used to defend yourself from physical harm or attack… Simple enough, right?

Personal defense weapons come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, just about anything you use to defend yourself could be considered a self-defense weapon (I say this because I teach about improvised weapons in my videos.) So instead of creating an endless list of self-defense weapons, I’ll just go over some of the concepts that are common for most self-defense devices.

First, let me tell you what is NOT a self-defense weapon…

A self-defense weapon does not have a mind of its own

In other words, it doesn’t think for itself, and it doesn’t sit there waiting for the opportunity to strike at someone. A self-defense weapon is just a tool, no more. It’s an extension of the person wielding it and as such, depends entirely on the person as to how it will be used. A self-defense weapon can be very useful for keeping you safe. However, you have to keep a few realities in mind when using it.

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Just because you have a weapon doesn’t mean you’re automatically safe. So don’t go around looking for bad situations to get yourself into or venture into bad parts of town in the middle of the night, or carry a bunch of money in your expensive car just because you think you are protected. Also don’t flip off the local gang leader just because you have a weapon in your pocket.

I remember when I was a federal agent and used to visit family on the south side of Chicago, I would be armed and sometimes I would be confronted by known drug dealers doing transactions on the block.

I never tried to be the tough federal agent for two reasons:

  • First, I knew I was outnumbered and outgunned.
  • Second, I knew that after I left, my family members would have to deal with the repercussions of my actions.


This is an important one.

I have seen so many armed people who did not know a thing about how to use the weapon they carried; and even more important, you need to have confidence in your ability to use the weapon.

I was at a self-defense seminar this past weekend, and one of the Grand Masters said something that really resonated with me. He told the attendees that now that they had learned all these self-defense techniques, they needed to be mentally prepared to actually inflict harm on another person. That was brilliant, and easier said than done.

Just having a weapon doesn’t mean it’ll be any help at all if you are afraid to actually use it against your attacker. This is actually a big problem among the uniformed military and law enforcement; research confirms that people who lack confidence in a technique or device will not resort to it in a stressful situation, even if they know how to use it.

As ex-military and law enforcement; I have seen where many people have been seriously hurt in violent encounters with a personal self-defense weapon right in their hand, or the weapon was taken away and used against them.

In the stress of the moment they did not think to use it or, doubted its’ ability to impact the situation. Perhaps they were afraid that it would only make matters worse or perhaps could not bring themselves to use it against their attacker.

So, if you’re thinking about carrying a personal self-defense weapon make sure you’re prepared to learn how to use it and practice becoming skillful with it. You also need to be prepared to use the device aggressively on an attacker to protect yourself.

Never carry a self-defense weapon with the intent to “bluff ” your assailant. This is one sure way to have your weapon taken away and used against you. If you are not prepared to act decisively and use it, don’t carry it!

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You’ve got to keep your eyes open and pay attention; you need to know how to carry and use your weapon of choice, because if you don’t you may not get a chance to use it. A gun doesn’t help if it’s still in its holster, and pepper spray or a stun gun isn’t too useful if it’s still in the bottom of your purse or in the kitchen drawer at home when you get attacked.

So when you carry a weapon for self-defense make sure you can get to it quickly if the need arises.

In another blog I wrote about a female law enforcement officer I knew who went into a store and saw that it was being robbed; she had on sweats and was actually wearing her bulletproof vest underneath, however she left her gun in her car.

She started to back out of the store so she could retrieve her weapon but a voice behind her told her to, “stop and get down on the floor”, the robber had an accomplice. Without her gun she had no way to save her own life if she got the chance to, luckily she was not hurt.

People seldom leave their homes thinking, “Gee, I think I’ll go out and fend off a mugger, or a rapist today!” What happens to most self-defense weapons is the novelty wears off and they’re quickly forgotten; they find their way to the bottom of a purse, glove box of your car, or the back of a kitchen drawer. They won’t do you much good there! So ask yourself, is the device you are considering something practical enough to carry with you all of the time?


Be aware that many gadget salespeople and wannabe self-defense experts exaggerate the benefits and capabilities of their systems and products all the time.

I need you need to understand and acknowledge the limitations of a self-defense weapon and have a backup plan just in case yours fails.

I had a friend in high school try to defend himself with a knife (well he actually attacked a bully) and the guy grabbed the knife and actually broke it. Don’t buy cheap weapons! That’s why I advocate for self-defense or martial arts training. If you are the weapon, you never leave home without it.

Anyway, keep in mind that nothing is ever 100% effective all of the time, even a gun.

There have been many people shot who did not go down. They can still harm or kill you, especially if they have a weapon too. However, most people believe that if they shoot someone that person will go down like on TV. That may not be the case. Knowing that nothing works 100% of the time means no matter what self-defense weapon you decide to carry, you should still have a backup plan for defending yourself… just in case.


Finally as former law enforcement, I must tell you that there are many laws you may be subject to if you use your weapon even to defend yourself.

The laws are especially prevalent for guns, the use of guns, carrying a gun, etc., especially with everything going on today. But there are also laws about stun guns, pepper spray, knives, batons, etc. Mostly having to do with when weapons may be used, and under what circumstances. It’s funny to me that here in Maryland I can carry a knife and not a baton. Which do you think will do more damage?

You should learn your local laws for whichever self-defense weapons you choose to carry. More importantly, use a bit of common sense. Pulling a gun on a guy because he cut you off in traffic is a no-no, and shooting someone in the face with pepper spray because they looked at you funny is not using good judgment.

As you learn to use your self-defense weapon (and you should), also learn the laws regarding the weapon, and when you can and can’t use it legally.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it, a few basic realities about self-defense weapons. I could go on forever about self-defense weapons and never run out of things to say, but this article has hopefully given you enough to think about for now, so I’ll end it here.

The bottom line is if you’re going to carry a weapon for self-defense, make sure you know how to use it, and are you prepared to use it if you have to.

Until next time, stay safe and stay alive.

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40 thoughts on “The Realities of Carrying and Using Self Defense Weapons”

  1. This is an excellent article !

    I live in Maryland and I’m not allowed to defend myself or my wife… In fact, I can be arrested and charged with assault which earns me 10 years in prison… Not to mention being sued…

    Brian Frosh, the current State AG, says that I and other citizens “have a duty to retreat”… Where to, Mr. Frosh ? What if my home is invaded ?
    Not to mention that I am disabled…

    Maryland needs a “anyplace/anytime self-defense law”…

    And you’re right about the “crazy” laws regarding knives…

  2. I only carry keys because of the places i go into prohibit weapons,as a pastor i have to be careful. So i check my surroundings before i go into anywhere.

  3. Thank you for the words of wisdom Derek. I’m going to have someone I know, who just got some pepper spray, read this article. Also, thank you to Bob, Jimbo and the entire staff at FightFast and TRS for what you do for us.

  4. I agree with your statement on people studying martial arts. I’ve been a martial artist for 25 years. I have instructed in weapons knife disarmament and gun disarmament. I’ve done demos where a man with a knife can take out a man with a gun from across the room before the gun comes out of the holster (With and with out throwing). It’s about the person’s level of commitment and no hesitation. If you’re ready for it and it happens and you have trained it’s instinctive. Your mind takes over and does what you have to do to survive. But you have to train. You have to know how to overcome fight or flight. I have personally for life and death situations. You are going to get hurt but you control where you get hurt. With knives you’re going to get cut. If it goes in you do not let the night come back out again keep it. Gunshot keep it from hitting vital area as keep going control your breathing control your adrenaline flow. The outcome belongs to who has their adrenaline flow the longest.

  5. I agree with your statement on people studying martial arts. I’ve been a martial artist for 25 years. I have instructed in weapons, knife and gun disarmament. I’ve done demos where a man with a knife can t
    neutralize a man with a gun from across the room before the gun comes out of the holster (With and with out throwing). It’s about the person’s level of commitment, training and no hesitation. If you’re ready for it and it happens and you have trained it’s instinctive. Your mind takes over and does what you have to do to survive. But you have to train. You have to know how to overcome fight or flight. And once you commit you do not stop until they do! I have personally defended my life 4 times. All 4 over in less then 45 seconds. You are going to get hurt but you control where you get hurt. With knives you’re going to get cut or stabbed. If it goes in you do not let the knife come back out again! Keep it. Gunshot keep it from hitting vital areas. Keep going! Again when you commit do not stop until they quit moving! Control your breathing it controls the oxygen in your body and helps control your adrenaline flow. The outcome belongs to who has their wind and adrenaline flow the longest. never give up neck and keep stuff from penetrating your torso. Arms legs feet hands they heal. Anyway I love what you guys are doing I look forward to my emails all the time. Keep up the good work!

  6. I am learning self- defense the kind I’m learning is for the street or at anytime i need it it’s called Kenpo one of the most oldest martial arts there is

  7. Yiu have said everything And I agree with
    You 100% you should also have said that the inmates in prison actually practise mugging and robbery techniques so they can be better criminals. I carry a few knives with me and kno we that there is a possibility that I will have to use it thank God that so for I have not
    Keep up the good work and thank you for you’re service

  8. Yiu have said everything And I agree with
    You 100% you should also have said that the inmates in prison actually practise mugging and robbery techniques so th ey can be better criminals. I carry a few knives with me and kno we that there is a possibility that I will have to use it thank God that so for I have not
    Keep up the good work and thank you for you’re service

  9. I have used a weapon several times in self-defense, after the first experience I learned that if your attacker does not know you, if there are no security cameras and no witnesses, which is usually the case when attacked as the criminal will pick their ambush location for their benefit, then you are crazy if you call the Police. If you call the Police you will face questioning, be asked about the weapon and you will be charged with something to validate the amount of time the Police have spent on the ‘case’, then there are enquiries and if you were silly enough to leave the aggressor with either knowledge of who you are or alive, that criminal will sue you for the loss of their quality of life.
    Every edged weapon leaves a signature when it enters flesh much like a bullet has markings specific to the weapon that fired it, blades have specific lengths, widths and even chip marks on the blade. If there are no chip marks on the blade before you use it, there well maybe chips caused by using it, bone can and will chip even a quality blade.
    If you use a blade lose it until you can aggressively sharpen it to change the blade profile, if you’re silly enough to carry something very exotic, don’t use it in self-defence at all. The blade will testify against you.
    Don’t try to move the criminal that tried to attack you, leave him where he falls, don’t lean over the body and drop hair on him, don’t spit on him and don’t touch any of his possessions. Any forensic evidence found in the street is worthless, but on the body, it is of a high value.
    If you think you are going to be attacked with a weapon, as soon as you ‘see’ the weapon, draw and use your own in one movement, strike hard, strike often and don’t think, just do it and then do it again.
    Look around, confirm you are secure and there is no partner or observer and then leave the area swiftly. Never deny walking down that way, never deny parking where you parked, you just did not see any violence. Your clothing and shoes will contain splatter, wash your shoes in a strong bleach solution and wash your clothing by soaking everything in an enzyme wash for at least 30 minutes and then two full normal washes, all in cold water. Now you don’t have to worry about using the weapon.
    If there are witnesses or you are attacked in a public place, try to use his weapon not your own, remember it is not a duel, it is prey meeting predator, the only question is, who is the prey.
    Always show respect tor life, as a guideline on where this respect line is, look to the aggressor, he will indicate the value of life today. Whatever his attitude is, lower the bar by 20% so you always have the edge.
    The best way to survive a weapons fight and not to face charges is not to get into one in the first place, but if you have to, if there is no option, think about your actions before and after, but not during, thinking during will slow your aggression because we are all nice people inside.

  10. Your comments are well written and right on target. The person carrying the self-defense weapon should know how to use it and be prepared to inflict damage with it.Otherwise,no sense in carrying it.

  11. In AUSTRALIA the average citizen cannot carry a knife or a firearm in public. Transporting such weapons have to be in a secured locked safe and all firearms have to be registered to the person in charge of transport. These laws were brought in by a prime minister ( PRESIDENT ) who was afraid of being shot or stabbed by a private citizen, over the top knee jerk reaction for sure,
    That is the reason we now have more guns in AUSTRALIA than any time previously, all registered of course with a fifteen year jail sentence for possessing any unregistered firearms under NEW ANTI TERRORISM LAWS.
    This country is not a democratic country in any way what so ever, sad but true facts.
    Regards to all from PADDY.

  12. Brilliant and eye opening incormation!
    The thought of ” am I prepared to use my weapon to I flicf harm on another human being” never crossed my mind until I actually started carrying a weapon for self defense. I always told my self I would have problem using my weapon but when I held it in my hand and began to say the same thing reality hit me like a ton of bricks, of what it actually meant to use a weapon against another person, another living , breathing, human being with a mom and dad and possibly a family of their own. So from that moment on I have had to prepare my self mentally and emotionally for that God forbidden scenario when I have to defend the lives of me and my loved ones. So thank you for giving this extremely valuable information to us and for free thank you again (you never know you may have just saved the life of an unprepared person or even their loved ones)
    PS. Stay safe and best wishes to you and your family

    Mitch S.
    Armed and educated

  13. I liked your article. Got the self defense on line for my son and daughter in law to see,,,they are in their 30’s and more agile then I am at the moment,,,,hoping physical therapy will fix my torn miniscus, and 3 yrs of pain. The right mind set is the key to you or them… much do you want to make it home?? But when do you shoot? I know it depends on all the circumstances, but is it hair standing up on your neck,,,your inner self saying to do it, if they move positions with any body part or just shoot and ask questions later ???

  14. I liked it. Your self defense weapons. Whatever your choice is of what you prefer to carry as a self defense weapon. You most certainly should know how to use them. That’s for your own safety. And if you pull it well you damn well better know how to use it. Cause if you don’t then you should have kept it hidden. Cause you never pull out any weapon you’re not prepared to use right then and there the moment you pull it out. There’s no time for second guessing yourself or hoping your assailant or assailants will be scared and run away. Cause if you pull a weapon on me you damn well better use it before I take it away from you. Cause it’s time for action not hesitation. Cause hesitation will get your ass killed. Pull it! Use it! No fear! You’ll have plenty of time to be afraid after you’re finished with the confrontation and the cops show up. Which I never do. Wait for the cops to show up. When it’s over and you’re still standing. Get the fuck out of there. The cops will only try to make you into a criminal. Even though you were just protecting yourself. Believe me I know from experience. Get your ass out of there quick And don’t be stupid and throw your weapon away. Take it home and get a grinder from Harbor Freight or Home Depot etc etc. And grind it down to nothing. Proof is gone. Evidence! What evidence? Never happened. Keep your mouth shut. It never happened.

  15. Here in Califunny, Gov. moonbeam Brown has castrated this states population so much about anything and everything related to firearms, I’m paranoid about just taking a gun to the car for a trip down to the target range. I recently stopped at the local police depd, to ask about the possibility of acquiring a CCW, and thought I’d be arrested and held for observation for just asking the question.
    So now even if I was carrying at the time and came across a robbery, or a female under attack/rape, I’d probably just turn around and walk away, except if it was my wife or daughter. Knowing that if I wasted this SOB, I’d be left penniless by the time I was taken thru the criminal, and then the civil court system, and loosing. I kept hearing oh-no because of this-or-that….. No way in hell will I trust Califuny’s legal beauroacity with my future for being a GOOD GUY

  16. One interesting point: I started learning Judo back in the 1960s, aged 17. At that time in the UK, after taking your first grading you automatically went on a database held by Scotland Yard, and you were classified as being permanently in possession of an Offensive Weapon. It figures: Judo was developed for Samurai warfare. Similar techniques were used by Medieval European knights, for the same reason: It’s no use punching a guy in a suit of armour, but throwing him can work. Though obviously Judo isn’t so useful in a Street Fight. Apparently they’ve scrapped this database now. They realised Martial Artists generally wouldn’t want to harm anybody.

  17. A very good read and information, everyone who carry’s for self defense needs to know these principles.

  18. I’m glad that someone is putting this kind of info out there because people need to know it.

  19. Your advice is always sound and I agree I know that I must turn myself back into what I was on the way to becoming I was happy felt truly best put like a natural order or a animal should I had focused my mind to push beyond boundaries of fear pain and trained to be a very unlikely person to be bothered . life happens choices are made many of my younger years I saw how law enforcement was focusing on just trying to be those cop show guys and couldn’t tell who was good or bad wether there lethal. I should be a 3 degree tai KWON doe. Now I must reopen my road to becoming master of self and elements that protect me and mine. I always wanted to be FRANK DUX . the man who bye eye picked up enough skill and the will and determination to use it that he fought few of the very top sen SEI’s to stailmatte until he became the legend of true Bloodsport.

  20. Very helpful and useful information. I know a lot of us think we know everything about defending ourselves and others. Knowing and following rules, laws, but most of all common sense also is a must. Thank you for all the lessons you provide for us. Being in my mid 70s and no longer strong, some of this info has me thinking more about how to defend myself, family and others.

  21. when i went out to town out or out with friends i was on edge all the time i was out i thought i could take care of myself boy was i wrong learning martial arts has taught me alot I’m not on edge as i once was learning martial arts has taught me be ready don’t fight unless U have no choice do what needs to be done to save your life at that time i might have bad knees but it don’t stop me from learning martial arts i also use wight set as will from learning self-defense i have seeing things different in life I’m in my 40’s and no plans of slowing down yet I’m working on becoming a Black Belt where i live no one does martial arts so i have a home study course I’m learning I think it’s always good ideal be be able to take care of yourself when time comes good ideal to learn self-defense even if a home study !! i love training in martial arts great workout and able to take care of yourself as will

  22. Thank you Mr. Smith. The information is very informative. As a former peace officer, i have familiarized myself with many of your instructions during my career. I believe many will learn with this. Keep up the great work.

  23. Thanks for this great advice. It sure gave me a lot to think about. I have several defense weapons and I need to get them out of my bug out bag and keep them close in case I need them. Again, thank you.

  24. Explained well no matter who showed me a technique, they always would say that a weapon is just an extension or modification (shoes) and that it doesn’t magically make you stronger or quicker. When I think about weapons firstly it is against the law to carry them so I like to also train with thing I can carry, even a earphone cord or lighter, then I look around while walking at projectiles like rocks is swingers like stick and bottles but I look and remember they are there, there is no reason to pick them up, lastly I look for escape paths, thanks guys

  25. They should be required to teach this before you can graduate from high school and college!!

  26. It is wise to know your rights but that does not mean you should let someone beat the crap out of you without trying to save your own hide.
    I ordered your last offer but was turned down because the number of letters in the city where I live did not match the required number.
    I wrote and asked for an explanation and am still waiting for an answer.
    I could have had the merchandise by now if I had been approved.
    Hopefully I will not have to defend myself until your system is working correctly.

  27. Well said! I think there are too many out there who carry a weapon like it is a rabbit’s foot. You have to own it, touch it, clean it, sharpen it, use it and be comfortable with it. Unless you make it part of your life, it will probably not be there to save your life. And the hardest of these to make part of your life is a gun. That really takes work.

  28. You are right when you say that one needs to be mentally prepared to use the weapon and deal with the consequences that may result. The average person does not have the mindset that taking the attacker’s life is sometimes necessary, and as a result, their life is now at risk.

  29. 1. Never pull a gun if you are not willing to pull the trigger.
    2. Never carry a gun that can’t carry a proper load.
    In World War II the officers found that they could empty their sidearm into charging enemies in the Pacific theater and the enemy would continue to charge at them. They had .38 Cal pistols.
    3. Don’t commit to carrying a gun if you can’t commit to practice, practice, practice.
    Even police with 17 round clips miss their felon 2/3 of the time in real life in the real world. Real life is not like the gun range.
    4. Consider using an alternative self defense item & practice with it until you can use it in your sleep without thinking about what you need to do to make it effective.
    When I carried a gun the pouch for a spare clip on the holster was used to carry a can of mace. Not every situation justifies lethal force.

  30. I spent over 40 years learning to stay alive. The I instruction material I have read or watched is of exceptional quality at this site. In reading comments it scares me to death. For years I believed that I became a target when I put on the uniform. The fact is we now live in a society that makes a you a target all the time.
    As a uniformed cop you present a certain target but you are looked at as a hard target. For most pussy bad guys they want softer targets. So I am now 60+ years I’m not in the Blues with a big star on my chest.
    I have been out of law enforcement for some time. But I have rules that I live by and enforce upon my family members. I am 61 years old I hesitantly admit that I show alot softer target than I did 30 years as a hot shot street cop.
    My rules that I live by and hope my family follows Are; Are we are viewed as soft targets. That is to our advantage. But if you are presented with a situation that causes you to worry about the well being of yourself, your loved ones or other innocents You are the hardest target, if you’re armed use your weapon and use it effectively. I am no longer a police officer nor are you if this has kept your attention. If confronted with a threat you respond with an attack. In that attack you utilize,your most effective weapons. I’d go gun ,knife, fists depending what you have. You have to totally commit to devastating your opponent. Because at the point that you hesitate you will lose. Your goal needs to always to be to, deabiltate your opponent. That means that he/she can no longer hurt you. In many cases that means death a minimum would be disfigured/dislocated limbs and/or uncociousness.
    It frightens me to see anyone claiming to be a survived that has even the faintest doubt that they could and would hesitate to take another’s life or to not accompliess this post haste.