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URBAN SURVIVAL: Improvised Weapons – The DVD Shank

Jersey Shore season 1 DVD – Great for seeing how far society has fallen or shanking fools

NOTE: The following article is for educational and Entertainment purposes, do not attempt to follow any of the below information.

As someone who is constantly passing through countries for work and play where you can’t own weapons – figuring out how to make a lethal weapon MacGyver style is a must-have skill (especially in countries where anti-American attitudes or street crime is a threat).

Also – knowing a few improvised weapon tricks isn’t just something that is handy for when I am traveling internationally. When I am back in the U.S. hanging out with my buddies in “anti-firearm/knife/pepper-spray/harsh language” Washington D.C. I keep a few common objects on me that I can use as a ditch weapon.

But out of all the different types of improvised weapons the DVD or CD is my favorite Every Day Carry in restrictive 1st World places like D.C. – all you have to do is snap it in half and wrap a handkerchief or piece of paper around it and you have one nasty knife that will slice and dice better than a Ginsu.

Another advantage the broken DVD has is it’s easy to explain if a cop or someone asked me: “Why do you have a broken DVD in your pocket wrapped-up in a handkerchief?” My answer would be: “I accidentally broke it, so I wrapped it in a handkerchief so it wouldn’t get any more scratched up on the way home – hopefully I can ship it to one of those data recovery companies in the back of PC magazine”

Article and Commentary Track


The Safest way to break a DVD in half is to just place it under a towel and quickly bend it in half until it snaps – and for fucks sake do not hold it in front of your face and break it. You may have to do this several times before you get the shape you want so have a stack of your “trip with grandma to Vegas” DVD’s sitting around.

I am assuming you know some basic stabbing and slashing moves, if you don’t, take a seminar or buy a DVD or something so you will have some sort of idea how to use a knife. The broken DVD is best suited for stabs to soft tissue, the groin, stomach and slashes to the face or any exposed skin – avoid stabbing in the chest or anywhere there is heavy clothing.

This is a “hit and run” improvised weapon, meaning it is not suited or study enough for a prolonged fight. So if some dude in Mexico City tries to man-rape you don’t attempt some sort of epic knife-fight with him, just hurt him and run before the DVD breaks.

If you guys have any other good ideas for improvised Every Day Carry weapons that won’t get you arrested for carrying go ahead and make a comment on this article.

Read All URBAN SURVIVAL Articles | Read All Articles by JAMES G.


~James G
Founder – Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and stabbing people with Tracey Ullman CD’s


  1. Drinks cans- rip one in half and you have some nasty sharp edges there, or if they’re full then some brick-to-the-head fu can be utilised.
    First time commenting, but absolutely love the site, even if living in the UK means that even DVDs carried as a weapon can land you a nasty prison sentence, and seriously harm your wallet.

  2. Jeezzzz… I keep hearing stuff like that about anything sharp from our UK readers and my Brit buddies here in Iraq – you don’t think the “I was bringing it home to save” excuse would work?

    In a few years it will be illegal to carry a rolled up magazine in the UK

    ~James G

    • Unfortunately, I fear you may be right. And while the ‘bringing it home to save’ excuse might work, if you get a bobby who’s really not having a good night and decides that you’re wandering around with an offensive weapon, you risk anything from a caution and thus a criminal record to a 2 year sentence for carrying a knife. They can’t stop me carrying pens yet though, which is where my defensive EDC stops right now- ‘Weapon, sir? I always have this sharpie on me…’

      • The metal pen is one of my favorites – but it requires regular training and (in my opinion) physical strength to be an effective or lethal improvised weapon.

        ~James G

  3. Yea, I spent a year in the UK and the guy I took Modern Arnis from told me that the best thing to do is just run. Even if you can reduce a punk wielding a knife to rubble, you still may get in trouble for over doing it or being excessive.

    Good idea with the dvd, I have used a variety of different hard plastic items, one time it was a broken dvd case that I sharpened on the ground.

    Which gives me a good idea. I say you market these, call them something like tactical shivs. Paint them in multicam and I guarantee you would sell a boat load to the wannabe crowd.

  4. My favorites include the common water bottle and parker ball point pen. Huge fan of yours!!

  5. James,

    This is the first time I listened to the commentary and damn! It is so much better and funnier.

  6. I have a friend who stabbed someone with a candy cane – that was one of the weariest stabbing stories I have ever heard

    All I could think of was all the funny shit I would say if I ever did that

    “Marry Christmas Bitch!”

    ~James G

  7. I love reading this site! I was thinking…with the “it’s not a weapon” line, shouldn’t we have the whole ensemble to really sell the story? For instance, carrying the other half of the DVD, versus just one half (again, so we can hopefully save the data)?
    Perhaps if a pool cue was our improve weapon of choice, a screw-together type in a case, w/ chalk and a “How To Win at Billiards” book would “prove” there was no malice aforethought.

    Versus the idiot walking down the street with a baseball bat at 0200, sans ball, glove, or anything else that might actually indicate he was out for a game of work-up.

  8. Dang, I thought I mentioned to carry both halves of the DVD together – it will make the DVD knife stronger and your story will be more believable. Thanks for pointing out that omission

    ~James G

  9. In the old days in NYC, when violence came on unexpectedly, a knowledgeable local would simply walk over to a car, break the antenna off of it and make use of it. The break make it sharp as hell, the length gives it a little more range than a comparable improvised weapon. If a car is not available, a rock usually is.

  10. Dang, I thought I mentioned to carry both halves of the DVD together – it will make the DVD knife stronger and your story will be more believable. Thanks for pointing out that omission~James G  

    Anytime. I was also thinking it had better be some sort of CD or DVD-r w/ some sort of data written on it. The story of data recovery would kinda suck if it was blank, or was labeled, “Jersey Shore, Season I, Volume I: How to get Pauly’s hair”, or some other pre-made entertainment DVD.

    Maybe just burn a CD w/ some tunes, Label it ,”Venezuelan Goat Porn”, er, I mean, “2008-2009 Golf Scores”, and then snap it.

  11. Love it – and it does not take a lot of strength to drive a plain old sharpened, disposable wooden pencil, thumb over the eraser, into throat, side of neck, diaphragm, face… and when you toss it, you’re out maybe a quarter. So far the faggy UK government hasn’t outlawed pencils,

    Anyone remember the story a year or two ago about the elderly lady who was arrested and fined in England, for stringing barbed wire across her back porch? She had been broken into by armed thugs, three times, they always kicked in the back door since they could not be seen from the street.

    Anyway – keep the great articles coming!

  12. PS, RE Crunchyfrog:

    In some of the civilized hellholes where the nazi-style governments are too restrictive, we used to go to a simple large market discounter – like Wal mart or K Mart – and for ten bucks, you could buy a kid’s sized aluminum bat with a cheap baseball attached to it by a plastic shrink wrapper and a cardboard tag. We just left the ball attached, it didn’t get in the way, and if a cop asked any questions, seeing it in your car, it was a gift for our kid / nephew / whatever. But even with the ball attached, the handle was easy to grip with two hands and the business end was free to deliver a rather impressive blow.

  13. Has anyone mentioned using a carabiner like brass knuckles? I once hit somebody with a bowl of soup and another time a heavy glass ashtray at a bar.

  14. Has anyone mentioned using a carabiner like brass knuckles?I once hit somebody with a bowl of soup and another time a heavy glass ashtray at a bar.  

    I use the carabiner as brass knuckles all the time. They go through airport insecurity no problem if you attach it to your pack with a water bottle. And if you come up with a good enough story anyone, even UK police will believe it. My favorite has always been, “you know officer I was climbing Ausangate in the andes when everything started to fail and this little biner saved my life, yada yada. So I keep it on me as a good luck charm. Never thought I would use it as a weapon.”

    • I keep a few useless old keys on mine (keys to a house my mom sold years ago, a truck I sold, etc.), namely keys I won’t use. Along the same lines I’ve used a padlock with a finger through the loop.

    • be advised, carabiners do not always go through security easily. I was going onto a train in spain and for some reason they have xray scanner for all luggage in trains there. I had a small carabiner with me and the guards attempted to place the carabiner on their knuckles as a set of brass knuckles, and decided to let me through b/c my particular small carabiner was too small to be used in such a fashion. If it had been larger, who knows.

  15. A beer bottle. Don’t break it like in the movies bu it can be used against soft targets like a reverse grip knife in stab mode. Its very strong and would seriously smart the arm or face. Obviously thats only good when in a bar but its faster than having to draw anything from a pocket.

  16. i know most of you guys laughed at the heavy metal/biker guy wearing the gaudy ass rings on 3 or 4 fingers with big skull heads and demon faces,well not only are they cheap but they slash and tear into someones face like a blinder turned all the way to 11.

    some of the longer wallet chains can be used to sting and slash open some ones face(like the rings). i wouldnt suggest wrapping it around your hands,but it def works wonders as a attention getter,one of my friends fashioned a led weight to the section that goes around your belt loop,might only be a couple ounces but getting smacked in the face repeatedly with it changes a lot of people minds.

    plenty of skin heads back in the day wore steal toe boots,just kicking someone in the shins with those can end a fight,doc martin still makes some steal toe 3 holes that can pass as dress shoes for nights out on the town.

    and those fashionable belt buckles,haha back in the day my buddy would take his belt off wrap it tight around his hand leaving 6 or 8 inches of belt with that big ass buckle hanging there and would beat the shit out of people with it…growing up as a punk rock kid in the deep south we were always fighting,always trying to even the Mohawk to redneck ratio..

  17. Confirming the carabiner-as-brass-knuckles works. a proper climbing size one, not those dinky ones they sell for 50 cents at the hardware store. also, don’t use it for climbing after using it for keys or self defense. dings and dents can cause metal fatigue.

  18. Correct me if I’m wrong but even in the UK you can carry a non-locking folding knife legally as long as the blade is 3″ or less. Lee Valley has a wood workers knife with a hawk blade that would be almost as effective as a karambit. For $8 its disposable and no worries about explaining it away.

  19. you can use a tube of harissa, you put on your hands and shredd the face of bad’s impossible to continue to fight, it’s more effective than pepper spray.

  20. Chopsticks. Stainless steel or plain wood both work.

    A piece of chain with a padlock is a formidable weapon, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s as much a hazard to yourself than to the other guy.

  21. LMAO Chop sticks funny but true never thought of that one. @ Mr.C also note some of those that you pick up at the hardware stores are stamped “Not for climbing” in small letters.

  22. First comment, fairly new to your site, not sure how I found it, think it was something to do with camping of all things. For travel I don’t like being toothless either. Myself, being a computer consultant, I know of the DVD uses, also in that ilk consider a stick of RAM, some folks use them as keychain fobs. The circuit board is some nasty stuff for slashing, I suppose one could fashion something more out of a larger board such as a sound card or video card.

  23. This should by no means be done, it is only for comic value!

    When i was a kid, my uncle was getting jacked by some guys in high school and so gram-pa with his infinite wisdom told him to fill his pocket full of flour. He said “If they F@#k with you just hit em with the flour and then wail on them!” My uncle being a genius decided to listen and that day it rained like crazy and he ended up with paste in his pants! Awesome tactics, that’s why I don’t associate with him….

  24. My favorite beat down weapon is a broom or mop handel, and better yet a master lock worn like brass knucks. But the broom handel is probly the best, it will leave the agressor broken and beat with many contusions and laserations on the face, and a few broken ribs if you go ape shit on the perp. The master lock knucks just break facial bones.

  25. you can make a decent “shank” out of six of those coffee cup lids from the mess hall. all you need is a heat source and an abrading surface.


  26. One time at Band Camp,I mixed water and Ammonia togather and sprayed this Mensa punk with it!! 1 hour b4 he could see!

  27. And try explaining to the nice cop why you are walking down the street with a huge padlock….to keep your fly closed?

    The best improvised weapon? Get yourself a leather strap about a foot and a half long. A piece of leather dog leash works good. Get a big keyring like you find at Lowes, about 2″ in diameter and attach it to the leather strap. Then get some old keys, about 2 dozen (or more). place the keys on it with the jagged edge alternating. Have you ever been hit upside the head with a pound of swinging jagged steel? The best part, the jagged edges slice your attacker up real good for ID later, plus the jagged edges hold a lot of DNA evidence.

    Keychains aren’t illegal in any jurisdiction. “Thats right officer, I was attacked and I just happened to have my keychain in my hand!”

  28. What I like to carry in my jacket pocket is a candy sucker. A lot of damage can quickly be done with a few good punches to the soft areas of the neck and face when held in your fist with the stick portion poking out between your middle and ring fingers. Think krav maga style punches. Pretty brutal but if its a them or me situation, I stopped being nice a long time ago. It’s an easy nondescript self defense weapon that is super cheap, easy to use when your fight or flight response has kicked in and can be found in most stores. I prefer the tootsie pop brand over dum dum because the sucker portion is larger and fits better in my hand. Either will work though.

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