Melee Weapons – Are They Worth It?

Let me start this by saying I’m a big gun fan. I’ve been shooting for years, go to the range regularly, carry every day and have even built my own AR-15. As far as I’m concerned, firearms are the weapon of choice when I have to defend home and family.

I’ve scorned other weapons a bit. After all, a gun trumps them all, so why would I be interested in learning how to use some sort of martial arts weapon or a knife? If it ever comes down to a fight, I’m pretty sure that my gun has a greater range and more stopping power than those do. Besides, most of those weapons require a lot of training, before you can become proficient in them.

There’s a saying about this, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight.” We’ve probably all used that one a time or two. But what about the converse of that? Should you bring a gun to a knife fight? That question actually made me change my mind a bit about just depending upon guns as my only weapon of choice.

We all have a tendency to think of fights as being one-on-one. But criminals don’t think that way. The average home invasion isn’t one criminal, but three to four. If I’m fighting them one on four, then my gun is still the best way to go. I’ve got the best chance of getting them all quickly with that gun; hopefully before they can get me.

Now, let me throw the wrench in the works. That is, other family members. You see, in any such situation, there are probably going to be other family members around. In any active shooting situation, one’s abilities are degraded drastically. So, even though I practice regularly, there’s too much of a chance that my bullets will hit a family member, either mixed in with the bad guys, going through the wall into the next room.

Of course, if the bad guys break into my home with guns in their hands, I don’t have any other choice but to use a gun. But what if they don’t? What if they come in with knives? That’s actually the weapon of choice for home invasions. They use it to intimidate, rather than with the intent to kill.

In such a case, there’s a good chance of ending up in a melee, rather than a gunfight. According to, that’s “a confused hand-to-hand fight or struggle among several people.” In such a case, a gun may not be the thing to use, because it can go off and end up hitting a family member.

Facing three or four criminals armed with a knife probably wouldn’t be all that good an idea. While I know a few knife fighting tricks, by no means am I an expert. They probably aren’t either, but the odds would definitely be against me. I never like the idea of getting into a fight where the odds aren’t in my favor. The only “fair fight” with a criminal, as far as I’m concerned, is one that I win.

Bring on the Melee Weapons

This is where I started thinking about melee weapons. While just about any item that can be used in hand-to-hand combat can be categorized as a melee weapon, the term is most commonly used to refer to either edged weapons or blunt weapons, longer than a knife, used at close range.

In other words, most medieval weapons and martial arts weapons qualify as melee weapons. They are intended for use in a fight, where you are at close range and a whole bunch of people are fighting. Now the issue is picking an appropriate melee weapon for use against those three or four guys who just invaded your home.

Once again, we want the advantage on our side. So, if they are using knives, we want something with a greater reach. That way, we can hopefully hit them before they can hit us.

Some Good Ideas for Melee Weapons

The sword is the classic melee weapon. Through its various iterations, the sword long held the place of being the ultimate weapon for close combat warfare. At least, it did until firearms came along. But the problem with swords is that they take a lot of skill to learn how to use. Someone armed with a sword, but without the training for using it, is probably going to be at a distinct disadvantage.

The Axe

I remember seeing a historical documentary dealing with medieval weapons. They did a segment in which they introduced the axe as a melee weapon. In that segment, they had an axe wielding attacker fighting against a skilled swordsman. Guess who won? It was the attacker with the axe.

The axe, like many melee weapons, goes beyond being a melee weapon to becoming a berserker weapon. What I mean by that is that it’s something you can just go crazy with, swinging it at your enemies, and do so quite effectively. There is no science to fighting with an axe, it’s all swing like crazy and scare your enemy between hits.

If you are going to use an axe for a weapon, I’d recommend buying a double-bitted one. The standard axe used for cutting wood is not balanced well as a weapon. On top of that, the handle on a standard wood cutting axe is bent, making it hard to wield as a weapon. A straight handle is better.

The tomahawk is actually a small axe. But rather than being designed to be a melee weapon, it is designed to be a thrown weapon. Nevertheless, it can be used as a melee weapon, although not as effectively as a larger axe.

The Club


One of the oldest weapons known to man is the club. Originally, the club was nothing more than a stick that was picked up off the ground. However, through the ages, the club has changed considerably. There are a wide variety of different sorts of clubs that were used through the medieval ages.

One of the easiest ways to modify a club and make it more effective is to drive nails into it and then cut off the heads. This gives you a spiked club. The spiked clubs used in medieval times had much stouter spikes than nails will provide, but the nails will make an enemy wish they were someplace else, even if you’re not likely to kill them with it.

Another variant on the club was the mace. The mace was a metal weapon, rather than a wood one. This made it heavier, so it hit harder. The classic mace wasn’t designed with spikes that could pierce, but rather with protrusions that could focus a crushing blow. That would allow the user to inflict damage on adversaries that were wearing armor, explaining why armor was worn over heavy quilted garments.

The Spear


Like the sword, the spear has gone through many changes throughout the history of warfare. In a sense, it is still in use, as a bayonet on a rifle is essentially a spear. The changes in spear design have always been based upon the use of the spear, whether used in formation fighting, used as a throwing weapon, or used against mounted horseman.

A spear used as a melee weapon will vary anywhere from four to six feet long. It could be just pointed wood, which is hardened in the fire, or it could have a fancy hand-forged head on it. Since it is a thrusting weapon, the edges of the spearhead don’t really need to be sharp, as all they are doing is helping the point to penetrate the target.

One problem that has always existed with spears is the balance between making the point sharp and making it strong. A spike ended or dagger ended spear is sharper and will penetrate better. However, the tip is likely to break when hitting something hard, like armor or bone. So, the “spear point” was developed, which is a point where both sides curve towards the point.

Dave Steen

About The Author: Dave is a 58 year old survivalist; father of three; with over 40 years of survival experience. He started young, learning survival the hard way, in the school of hard knocks. Now, after years of study, he's gray-haired and slightly overweight. That hasn't dimmed his interest in survival though. If anything, Dave has a greater commitment to survival than ever, so that he can protect his family. Click Here To Read More About Dave

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