11 Best Self-Defense Weapons for Men in 2023

11 Best Self-Defense Weapons for Men in 2023

What the Expert Recommends

GearLight 2-Pack S1000 LED Flashlights High Lumens

2-Pack S1000 LED Flashlights High Lumens

What the Expert Recommends

GearLight 2-Pack S1000 LED Flashlights High Lumens

Pros
  • Jagged edges for striking if needed
  • Includes strobe effect for blinding to get away
  • Can carry with you anywhere
  • Super affordable
  • Practical everyday use
Cons
  • Best suited for use when being approached with some distance between you and a potential attacker.

A tactical flashlight is the most underrated self-defense weapon you could own. The high brightness levels and different flickering or flashing settings are smart ways to inhibit the vision of an attacker without even having to physically attack them back. Tactical flashlights often have jagged edges, which can be used to strike directly at an attacker.

Michael Corwin is a huge fan of carrying a tactical flashlight for these reasons. “When I am out at night or early morning, I carry a small tactical flashlight in my hand,” says Corwin. “They’re inexpensive, can be held single hand, and can be used to change the dynamics of an attack by flashing the light into the attacker’s eyes—thus, causing them to momentarily shut their eyes or turn their head,” says Corwin.

Best for Everyday Carry

CRKT Williams Tactical Pen

Williams Tactical Pen

Best for Everyday Carry

CRKT Williams Tactical Pen

Pros
  • Can carry with you anywhere
  • Works as a rugged everyday pen
  • Special designed end that’s capable of puncturing soft targets
Cons
  • A little expensive considering it could get lost easily

Made from precision-machined aluminum and outfitted with ink that’s suitable for writing in outdoor conditions, this tactical pen has the ability to work as a solid everyday pen. As for self-defense? The design on the end of the pen is intentionally crafted to be used to jab and break away when in close quarters with an attacker.

Best Incognito Knife

Gerber GDC Money Clip

GDC Money Clip

Best Incognito Knife

Gerber GDC Money Clip

Pros
  • Secret knife holder
  • Works as a money clip and wallet that holds up to five cards
  • Strong steel design for the knife
Cons
  • Can’t carry the knife into areas with security

Knives are one of the first weapons that come to mind for self-defense, but they can often be dangerous to the user if they don’t know how to properly weld one. Being that you understand the threat of a knife being turned back against you, this unique money clip with a hidden blade could prove to be a smart tool to carry for self-defense. What’s nice is if you are anticipating going through secured areas, like TSA, you can leave the small blade attachment at home and just use this wallet to carry your cash and up to five cards.

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Best Alarm

She’s Birdie The Original Personal Safety Alarm

The Original Personal Safety Alarm

Best Alarm

She’s Birdie The Original Personal Safety Alarm

Now 10% Off

Pros
  • Incognito design that’s easy to carry
  • Smart attachment feature that immediately starts alarm
  • Strobe light is bright and alarm reaches 130 decibels
  • A good gift idea to give to family members and friends
Cons
  • No striking function on device

She’s Birdie was founded by women who wanted to create a better personal safety device. The Original Personal Safety Alarm comes in a stylish design that can clip onto a backpack or keys for easy carry. When there’s a threat, all you have to do is pull on the device and watch as it breaks away from its top ring. Then, an alarm that reaches a screaming 130 decibels will go off and the strobe light on the front will activate. What’s great is when you want to reset the alarm, all you have to do is clip the device back into its key holder. This is a smart device that can be used to ward off an attacker before they even get close.

Best Whistle

Daily Carry Co. TiWhistle Titanium Emergency Whistle

TiWhistle Titanium Emergency Whistle

Best Whistle

Daily Carry Co. TiWhistle Titanium Emergency Whistle

Now 17% Off

Pros
  • Can carry on a key ring
  • Blasts an impressive 120 decibels
  • Whistle is light as a feather
  • Works as a dog whistle too
  • Good for camping and hiking
Cons
  • Can get lost if not attached to key ring

A loud safety whistle is another way you can ward off potential threats from humans and animals. This emergency titanium whistle blasts a piercing 120 decibels and is small enough to hook on your key ring. It weighs a lofty 0.14 ounces. The TiWhistle can even be used as a dog training whistle.

Best Taser

Sabre Self-Defense Kit with Pepper Spray and Stun Gun with Flashlight

Self-Defense Kit with Pepper Spray and Stun Gun with Flashlight

Best Taser

Sabre Self-Defense Kit with Pepper Spray and Stun Gun with Flashlight

Pros
  • Solid price point for the combination package
  • Effective one-two punch if used properly
Cons
  • Want to properly train so you understand how to use the devices
  • Can’t carry a taser into a secured area

Sabre is a well-known name in the world of self-defense products. This duo set of pepper spray and a stun gun is all you need to protect yourself at a safe distance from any potential attacker. The pepper spray has a 10-foot range and contains a UV-marking dye to help police catch the criminal, should they try to run away. If, for some reason, the pepper spray doesn’t deter an attacker, bring in the stun gun. The handheld stun gun delivers a painful 1.250 µC (micro coulombs) charge to help defend against an attacker, which the brand says produces intolerable pain.

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Best Pocket Knife

Kershaw Analyst Tanto Pocket Knife, 3.25″

Analyst Tanto Pocket Knife, 3.25

Best Pocket Knife

Kershaw Analyst Tanto Pocket Knife, 3.25″

Pros
  • Long lifespan
  • Serrated edges
  • Strong steel blade
  • Line lock and one-hand opening feature
Cons
  • Can’t bring into secured areas

Every guy should own a decent pocket knife. This knife from Kershaw is made from steel and features a serrated blade for cutting strong materials. We love how it’s designed for easy one-hand opening and how it has a line lock to keep the blade in place once extended.

Best Roadside Self Defense Weapon

Big Rig Defense Hickory Stick Tire Thumper

Hickory Stick Tire Thumper

Best Roadside Self Defense Weapon

Big Rig Defense Hickory Stick Tire Thumper

Now 33% Off

Pros
  • Can be used to deliver swinging blows to an attacker
  • Rubber grip on handle
  • Doubles as use for checking tire pressure
Cons
  • Not ideal for carrying around. Should only store in car or at home

Keeping a self-defense weapon in your car, as opposed to carrying it on you at all times, is a smart method for always making sure you have something near to you. This hickory stick works as a tire thumper, producing a sound that will let you know if your car’s tires are properly aired. At the same time, this stick can be used as a baton to block an attacker’s advances and to also deliver some blows back in return.

Best Pepper Spray

Sabre Defense Spray With Attachment Clip

Defense Spray With Attachment Clip

Best Pepper Spray

Sabre Defense Spray With Attachment Clip

Pros
  • Under $10
  • Can attach to a belt loop
  • Effective if sprayed properly
Cons
  • Want to properly train so you understand how to use the spray
  • Can’t bring into secured areas

Sabre’s pepper spray is used and trusted by law enforcement, so you know it’s dependable in life-or-death situations. The 3-in-1 formula contains Sabre’s maximum strength pepper spray, as well as military-grade tear gas (which heightens the burn of pepper spray), and UV marking dye for suspect identification. When choosing to use pepper spray, it’s important to know that it needs to go directly into an attacker’s eyes, or else it won’t be as effective. Another important note to think about with pepper spray is an attacker could be in a mental state that leads to reduced feelings of pain. “Drugs and alcohol use by an attacker may lead to them not even feeling pepper spray,” says Corwin.

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Best Door Lock

Addalock Original Portable Door Lock

Original Portable Door Lock

Best Door Lock

Addalock Original Portable Door Lock

Now 44% Off

Pros
  • Great for traveling and use at home
  • Smart design that keeps door lock tight
Cons
  • Device could break if someone theoretically kicks entire door out from its frame

If you travel often, this is a must-have. This portable door lock installs in seconds without tools and can be used in hotel rooms, apartments, and AirBNBs—anywhere that someone else may have the keys—for added security and peace of mind.

Best Self Defense Key

CRKT Williams Defense Key

Williams Defense Key

Best Self Defense Key

CRKT Williams Defense Key

Now 17% Off

Pros
  • Small enough to store on key ring or keep in car glove box
  • Easy to hold in hand and use for punching
Cons
  • Larger than you’d expect. Sticks out a bit on a key ring

This unassuming defense key looks like just another key, but the pointed tip and ergonomic handle can turn this small object into a self-defense weapon in a pinch. The handle provides a secure grip between your fingers, ensuring you can get a few strikes in before the assailant hopefully realizes what’s good for them and retreats. It’s bigger than a regular key, so it may look clunky on your key chain compared to the rest of your keys; but on the plus side, it definitely packs a punch.

Meet the Expert

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Michael Corwin is a former private investigator for 30+ years, where he conducted witness interviews for civil plaintiffs and criminal defense cases in places like South Central LA and Albuquerque, NM. “My work involved walking up, unannounced, to a total stranger’s home (witness cold call) in these areas, knocking on the door, introducing myself, and then interviewing them about some deeply stressful events they witnessed—including homicides,” says Corwin.

For the past 10 years, Corwin has taught personal safety and workplace violence prevention to individuals businesses, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies (including probation officers, court staff, administrators, judges, and the staff of a United States Senator.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Self Defense Weapons

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What Is the Best Self-Defense Weapon Other Than a Gun?

It’s true a gun is one type of self-defense weapon that can keep you safe, but the truth is unless you are properly trained to operate one the risk of carrying a gun outweighs the actual safety it could provide. “In all reality, firearms are really not that great as a self-defense weapon,” says Corwin. “You can’t take them into many places and they are easier to disarm and use against you than a knife; plus, bullets that miss their target can easily strike an innocent bystander or your loved one.”

When asking Michael Corwin further about the best self-defense weapon overall, he gave us an insightful answer we recommend all individuals should take note of. “The very best self-defense weapon is your brain,” says Corwin. “Provided that you learn how to pattern and make automatic situational awareness, this is the only self-defense weapon that allows you to AVOID a risk to your safety,” says Corwin.

As someone who has carried all sorts of self-defense weapons in their long career, Corwin said if he had to name a favorite tangible self-defense weapon he’d choose a tactical flashlight—a device he personally carries when out late at night or in the early morning. “You can use them to change the dynamics of an attack by flashing the light into an attacker’s eyes causing him to momentarily close his eyes or turn his head,” says Corwin. “The blinding effect can last for several seconds effectively turning him from attacker to defender, then you can quickly in rapid succession strike the attacker swinging downward a hammer-like motion if it comes down to that.”

Should I Carry Pepper Spray for Self-Defense?

Pepper spray is another common self-defense weapon people purchase, but in order to use pepper spray effectively you need to make sure you have proper execution and training on how to actually use it. “As a new PI in CA back in the late 1980s, I was certified to carry tear gas canisters—the same would apply to pepper spray—and went through a multi-hour certification course,” says Corwin. “I used to keep a canister on my key ring, but stopped because you have to spray someone directly in the eyes to be effective, which is hard to do under the stress of an attack; and spray cannot be used in a confined indoor area or else you’re going to be indirectly spraying yourself too.” A last point Corwin notes is spray might not be felt by an attacker if they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is all to say pepper spray is a strong self-defense weapon, but just be aware of its faults if you choose to carry it.

How Should I Train for Self-Defense?

Corwin, who teaches self-defense classes, recommends all individuals should learn at least basic de-escalation skills in order to engage with potential threats without physical contact and get out of a situation safely. Basic self-defense training, and certainly martial arts training, is another recommendation from Corwin. “Add in some basic self-defense—elbows, knees, palm strikes, palm pass blocks, etc—and you become the self-defense weapon that works anytime and anywhere,” says Corwin.

How We Selected

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For the past two year, Men’s Health gear editors and writers, including our Gear and Commerce Editor John Thompson, have been testing and reviewing the best self-defense weapons. We evaluated self-defense weapons based on cost, safety, durability, and performance. We also considered what safety weapons promise the least amount of risk when used by an individual. Lastly, we spoke with self-defense experts to gain a better understanding of the philosophy of what it means to choose to carry a self-defense weapon, and why the best self-defense weapon starts with one’s own ability to use their brain in a situation to try and get away from an attacker as fast as possible—as opposed to first choosing to engage with an individual.

Headshot of John Thompson

John Thompson

Gear and Commerce Editor

John Thompson is the Gear and Commerce Editor at Men’s Health, where he covers fashion, grooming, gear, and technology. He was previously the Style & Gear Editor at BroBible.com, and a commerce writer for TheManual.com. His interests include shopping for rare vintage clothes and following his favorite baseball team, the Kansas City Royals. 

Headshot of Cristina Montemayor

Cristina Montemayor is a freelance writer and journalist living in Austin, Texas, covering beauty, grooming, style, and culture. Her work has appeared in Very Good Light, BRIDES, Elite Daily, among others. 

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