When studying the firearm and blade designs of today, it's hard to imagine creating an effective weapon without the use of any metal. Sure, you could snap the branch off a tree and use it as an improvised club, or throw rocks to defend yourself, but these methods seem hopelessly primitive when compared to even the most basic of edged weapons.


Looking back at history, however, so-called “primitive” weapons progressed far beyond sticks and stones. Thanks to centuries of development by neolithic cultures around the world, we have evidence of some extremely formidable weapons without metal. Civilizations such as the Maori, Samoans, Aztecs, and Incans crafted powerful weapons of war long before the spread of metallurgy. Through the use of jade, flint, obsidian, hardwood, and bone, these cultures developed many weapons that were incredibly effective in battle.

This video from YouTuber and weapon historian Skallagrim shows a few of these traditional non-metallic weapons:

Although the Samoan Culacula may look like it belongs in a pizza oven (or in a kayak), it was a force to be reckoned with in the hands of a skilled user. Even today, there are many uses for primitive weapons without metal. If your gun runs out of ammunition or you lose your knife, you should know how to construct an improvised weapon. Studying the weapon designs of indigenous cultures can give you an advantage if that day ever comes.

This improvised flail features sharp spikes lashed together and tethered to a handle, similar to designs used during the 15th and 16th centuries. It may not last more than one or two blows, but we certainly wouldn’t want to take one upside the head.

This improvised flail features sharp spikes lashed together and tethered to a handle, similar to metal designs used...

For more information on improvised weapon design, check out our previous article, The Art of Building Effective Makeshift Weapons.

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