Best Self Defense Weapons for Non-Lethal Protection

Tactical Knife
Tac-Force Tactical Knife
Pro Bullet Spring assist allows one-hand deployment
Pro Bullet Pocket clip for safe storage
Stun or TASER Guns
Pro Bullet Snatch prevention
Pro Bullet Strength to penetrate thick clothing
Pepper Spray
Sabre Pepper Spray
Pro Bullet Compact
Pro Bullet Easy-to-use
Tactical Pen
Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen
Pro Bullet Inconspicuous
Pro Bullet No blades or chemicals
Self-Defense Keychain
Vigilant Key Chain
Pro Bullet Clip onto a keychain
Pro Bullet 130 decibels

*Amazon prices as of 1/24/2020. Prices and availability are subject to change and can vary by retailer.

Nobody wants to be the victim of an attack. It’s not like we walk to our cars after work hoping to get mugged in a dark alleyway, but unfortunately, many of us grow up hearing that we’re constantly in danger of being victimized. But have you ever stopped to think what you’d actually do if you found yourself in a threatening situation? Do you know how to defend yourself? No matter who you are, you should have a personal defense plan.

Best self defense without a gun

It’s important to choose a defense tool that makes you feel comfortable. The last thing you want to do is constantly worry about it in your pocket, purse, or wherever else you keep it. Fortunately, there are a variety of self-defense items to choose from, each with its own unique protecting power. We’ve listed our recommendations from most aggressive to least aggressive. Keep scrolling to find a carry item that meets your comfort level.

TAC Force TF-705GY - Best tactical knife

TAC Force TF-705GY
  • Best self-defense weapon you can carry
  • Quick release spring allows for one-handed deployment
  • Bottle opener on handle
Closed length
4.5 in.
Blade length
3.25 -in.

A tactical knife is perhaps the best self-defense weapon you can carry. In fact, within 20 feet a knife can be more effective, and more deadly, than a gun. We really like the idea of carrying a knife as your personal defense weapon because knives have multiple uses, even outside of self-defense.

You want a knife that is lightweight with a long enough blade to defend yourself, experts recommend at least three inches. But you also want to make sure that your knife is sturdy enough to hold up in a fight. A cheaply made knife is almost as bad as no knife at all. A TAC Force TF-705GY is a great tactical knife to carry for self-defense. Not only is it lightweight and made out of sturdy 3 mm-thick stainless steel, it also has a pocket clip that makes it easy to carry and keeps it from being buried in your pocket or purse.

In general, knives are more publicly accepted than guns. Outside of schools, courts, planes, and most federal buildings, you can carry a knife pretty much anywhere (check your state’s knife laws). And you don’t even have to take a concealed weapons course like you would if you wanted to carry a firearm.

VIPERTEK VTS-989 - Best TASER device

  • Power to penetrate thicker clothing
  • Built-in LED flashlight
  • Rechargeable batteries
6.5 x 2 x 1 in.
9.6 oz.

Another popular personal defense item is a stun gun. Many people choose to carry TASER devices or stun guns over guns, knives, or other items because they are non lethal and immobilize the target for a minimum of five seconds.

Five seconds is plenty of time for you to remove yourself from the situation and find safety.

"Being Tased is akin to having a Tyrannosaurus Rex grab you by [the] spinal column and shake you for the longest five seconds of your life!" Scott Wagner,

We recommend checking Amazon prices on a VIPERTEK VTS-989, because of its Snatch Prevention, which is two shock plates along the side of the TASER gun that produce a high-voltage shock if your attacker tries to snatch your taser from you. We like VIPERTEK because it also has an LED flashlight, so if you use it as a flashlight, you already have your taser in hand should you need it. Or you can read our other recommendations for the best TASER guns and stun guns.

Sabre Red Pepper Gel - Best pepper spray

Sabre Red Pepper Gel
  • High-strength MC rating
  • 18-foot range
  • 4-year shelf life
4.4 x 1.4 x 1.4 in.
1.8 oz.

Pepper spray has long been a popular self-defense item to carry because it’s quick, easy to use, and extremely effective, causing severe irritation of the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. But it’s also important to know that the chemicals will not stop attackers, only slow them down. Pepper spray is simply a diversionary self-defense weapon that can buy you time to get away.

We recommend using a pepper spray like Sabre, available on Amazon, because it’s lightweight and has a UV marking dye that can help authorities identify your assailant. If you're looking for other options, you can read up on our other top recommendations for pepper sprays.

Smith & Wesson SWPENMPBK - Best tactical pen

Smith & Wesson SWPENMPBK
  • Inconspicuous tactical device
  • Less intimidating than carrying a knife or TASER device
  • Functional ballpoint pen
6.1 in.
1.4 oz.

This is perhaps the most clever choice of our recommended hidden self-defense carry items, in that it’s something inconspicuous but also very useful in defending yourself from an attack.

Available on Amazon, Smith & Wesson Tactical Pen provides the same type of hands-on protection as a tactical knife, without a bladed edge. You could argue that it has less utility than a knife, but it is a great choice if you’re not comfortable carrying a blade. And yes, it works as a real pen, too.

Vigilant Personal Alarm - Best self-defense keychain

Vigilant Personal Alarm
  • 130 decibel attack alarm
  • Includes backup whistle
  • 1 year warranty
2 x 1 x 1 in.
0.96 oz.

Personal defense comes in many different forms, and sometimes we need to rely on the help of others. But in order for someone to come to the rescue, they first need to know that you are in trouble. Many self-defense classes will recommend carrying a whistle or personal alarm, like this Vigilant Personal Alarm on Amazon, that you can trigger when you need help.

What we like about the Vigilant personal alarm is that it’s small and can be attached to your keys for easy access. And it’s loud. At 130 decibels, this alarm will grab the attention of anyone close by. Vigilant also equipped this device with a backup whistle in case the alarm batteries fail.

My only hesitation with this kind of self-defense device is that you are relying on others for help, but perhaps an alarm will scare your attacker enough to think twice. This alarm could also be a good option as a secondary self-defense carry item. Trigger the alarm and then arm yourself with another carry item, just in case.


Many people don’t realize that they carry one of the most effective self-defense tools everyday; your cellphone. Aside from simply using your phone to call the police, there are a variety of self-defense apps available for both Android and iPhone and one we really like is PANIK.

PANIK personal assault alarm simultaneously activates a loud siren, flashing multi-colored screen lights, and the torchlight on your smartphone to draw as much attention as possible to your attacker. PANIK makes it possible to enter a PIN password to prevent an attacker from shutting it off.

What we really like about PANIK is the ability to integrate your social media and SMS messaging into your alarm. PANIK will send out a distress call via Twitter, Facebook, and text messaging, when you activate the alarm, alerting your friends that you need help.

Of course, as with the Vigilant key chain alarm, you are relying on other people to come to your rescue. We suggest pairing PANIK with another self-defense weapon you’re comfortable with.

There are all kinds of ways to protect yourself; in fact, many people take concealed weapons courses to receive training and earn a permit to legally carry a gun. And can you blame them? According to the Women’s Self-Defense Institute, somewhere in the United States the following crimes will be committed against women within the next hour:

  • 900 thefts
  • 189 violent crimes
  • 124 assaults
  • 66 robberies
  • 24 sexual assaults
  • 12 rapes
  • 2 murders
A staggering amount of crime is committed in as little time as taking your lunch break. To protect yourself from becoming one of these statistics, we suggest creating a self-defense plan and carrying a self-defense device on your person at all times, especially if you are going to be out after dark.

Are you prepared to counter an attack?

Attackers aren’t always the creeper in the parking lot or the weird guy hanging out in a dark alley. In fact, more than 80% of all rape victims know their assailant beforehand. Most attacks happen when you’re the least prepared to counter them.

Self-defense courses, like Women’s Self Defense SEPS, a free online self-defense resource, will teach you that trusting yourself to respond appropriately is not an effective form of self-defense and that you need to have a strategic plan in place well before an attacker targets you. This plan should include knowing when to run, when to give the attacker what they want, or even when to hold your ground.

If you find yourself in a situation where you need to fight back, a good self-defense weapon can come in handy. However, carrying a self-defense weapon, whether it be a gun, knife, stun gun, or any other option, is only one aspect of defending yourself from an attacker, and the truth is, your defense weapon is completely useless if you aren’t prepared to use it, especially against someone you don’t expect.

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With a proper plan in place, you can avoid becoming a victim. Here’s a quick list of things you can do to prepare yourself to counter an attack:

  • Know your weapon. You need to get to know your carry item as if it were an extension of yourself. Different safety mechanisms can be tricky to operate and will slow you down if you don’t know how to operate them. Things like switching off a safeguard, pressing the right button, or uncapping pepper spray are all things you should practice beforehand.
  • Have quick access. You want your weapon in hand when you need it. Fumbling through your purse or pockets during an attack will only help the attacker. Keep your weapon easily accessible. If it’s in your purse, put it in a place where it won’t get buried or hold it in your hand as you walk to your car at night.
  • Pay attention. The best plans include avoiding dangerous people and locations. Being aware of your surroundings and keeping your distance from potential threats will reduce your chances of being attacked. Knowing the nearest exit or place to run can help you escape as well.

Whichever self-defense item you choose to carry, remember that the goal of self-defense is never to win a fight; it is to survive and escape without injury. The best defense is always to avoid dangerous people and places. You don’t need to be a tactically trained Navy Seal to know how to defend yourself, but you should sit down and have a game plan in case you face an attack. Practice and get to know your carry item, and give yourself the best chance to escape unharmed.

Do you have experience with any self-defense items? Leave your recommendations in the comments.