Field Expedient Weapons

The place to discuss the weapon stats provided in Codex Martialis.

Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Thaeris » Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:19 am

No weapons? No problem - Make your own!

Let's start with bows:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFTPxK2X0NA

The bows I made as a kid were far simpler - usually only green wood without any notable carving. Mitch did not apply much, if any heat to the wood to form it, though that can be done as well.

Arrows:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNWesh15MrM

Traditional arrowheads:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCVFouQtMDM

Traditional arrowheads for the 21st century man with 20th century garbage:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsjON0YBkp0

You can use curved glass, too - the example below is for a knife, but I am certain it would make a fine arrowhead as well. A C-shaped cross-section blade seems like it would cause a grievous wound:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81Y2pt-bKTM
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Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Thaeris » Sun Aug 13, 2017 5:38 am

Here's a version of the US Army's FM 21-76 Survival Manual, complete with field expedient weapons! This version is a bit different - perhaps updated - than my personal reprint by Barnes and Noble. Improvised weapons start on page 120:

http://www.preppers.info/uploads/FM21-7 ... Manual.pdf

Some of the arms listed were already demonstrated with superior detail in the previous post. However, it's always good to have multiple sources for reference.

Interesting aside, the animal traps have also been updated. Someone's been watching way too much Rambo - check out the fancy new bow trap on page 86. :D
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Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Galloglaich » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:36 pm

Very interesting stuff.

I've seen bows made out of PVC pipe and some kind of other stiffener which seemed to be surprisingly effective. Any info on that kind of thing in there?
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Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Thaeris » Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:21 am

I don't think so. The weapons in the linked manual are, again, a bit updated (but not by much) from my copy, but they really only cover weapons and tools one would make from natural materials. I'm certain there's a FM out there that covers improvised weapons and tools specifically, but I don't know what that might be. Poor Man's James Bond definitely has improvised stuff in it, but not the sort of thing we're covering here (yet?).

I have heard of PVC bows, however. Here's a tutorial on making the kind you described:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmxn-nPNhY8

^The above is definitely an easy weapon to produce, and might be useful for certain role-playing scenarios if we speak in terms of usage in a gaming environment. In a practical sense, it may not necessarily fall under the guise of field expedient, considering all of the specific man-made materials which must be on hand to complete it. I think it may be possible to build a version with PVC alone and no heat treatment, but that would likely result in an unreliable weapon. If one uses only PVC, heat treatment seems to be a requirement. The fellow in the video, Nick, seems to produce bows which average about 40lb draw weights. He's got quite a classy channel with a lot of great projects covered, including PVC crossbows and a variety of file knives; he's also written books on PVC bows. Here's the channel linked directly:

https://www.youtube.com/user/BackyardBowyer/videos

Speaking of crossbows, it may be possible to produce a field-expedient bow based on this 11th Century example made by Tod:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tk5drua6sK4

So, you would produce a typical bow from wood as demonstrated previously, and then lash it to a simply carved stock. The simplest trigger would be held in by friction, using either a curved component riding in a depression or a straighter piece riding on a fulcrum to push the bowstring up from the stock's integral string stop.
Last edited by Thaeris on Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:41 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Thaeris » Thu Aug 17, 2017 4:37 am

While on the subject of wooden weapons, why not spears? Or those points for your arrows... when you have no arrowheads? For anything that you intend to use more than once, you'll need to harden the points - here's a quick guide to fire-hardening:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R96y0QK3-U
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Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Galloglaich » Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:04 pm

If I was trying to get a big group for trouble in a hurry in some post-apocalypse situation I'd use plumbata, vaned javelins, and / or thong-javelins (javelins with amentum) for missiles.

You could make those out of wood, PVC or anything. Simple to make, simple to use, require little training. Good range and rapid rate of 'fire' so to speak. Very effective when used en-masse (if you could teach people to throw volleys).

Then spears for the front ranks, swords and shields for the back ranks...


Crossbows are very effective but hard to make good ones, like the medieval military grade ones. Modern hunting crossbows are pretty lethal / dangerous but not powerful enough to make it worthwhile for a large group IMO.

Both crossbows and bows also require a fair amount of training
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Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Thaeris » Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:28 pm

An interesting dilemma with any missile or projectile weapon is the logistics involved with their deployment. Arrows are expensive to make - the arrow-making instructions linked in the first post give good evidence for that. Any effective projectile needs effective directional control by some means - javelins and arrows/bolts both require effective balance/stability and possibly flights as well. The simplest materials must be effectively worked (craftsmanship required), and the sub-components must be sourced and worked as well. What I can tell you from countless hours in the woods as a child that sticks do not magically become throwing spears. I would worry about stability and balance in crudely produced arms en masse - because you need a lot of missiles for combat persistence - and I also am of the impression that long thrown weapons are not necessarily that easy to handle for the uninitiated. That's a lot of weight to project linearly, even if you can launch the projectile straight. So, I think your first impression, plumbata or war darts, is probably one of the best choices here. But, now you need to worry about fletching them effectively. If only they still made lawn darts. :D

Slings are a really cost-effective arm (I'll do a post on those later), but also require a lot of training to use accurately at range. If I could McGyver (or MacGruber, your choice) up a weapon, I'd attempt to make a stone crossbow of sorts - I figure it would be easier to make a few weapons requiring technical complexity than a large volume or arrows or javelins, which each require proper balance and fitting to fly properly. At least with round or shot-type projectiles you can shoot anything that fits in the thong of the bow. The bow itself would need to use a fairly long draw length to keep the stresses of the weapon low - it would also allow for higher rates of fire than with using short, powerful limbs. Perhaps it would look a bit like a Greek belly bow when cocked?

I was also thinking about some of my comments last night - I've been thinking of arms you'd make from primitive materials only (when you have no other materials available), hence why I did not initially consider PVC bows to be field-expedient. However, in approaching the matter in that fashion, I apply unnecessary definitions to the conversations which only complicate the conversation. In my mind, "improvised" covered just about anything that is manufactured below a certain quality or lifecycle threshold using repurposed materials; "field expedient" would include improvised arms which were manufactured from materials which could be sourced only from the maker's immediate area and environment. These definitions, however, kind of loose their individuality when I again consider arrows, which require the shaft, the fletching, the head, and the binding fiber to be effective. Those materials will not be found in a concentrated area. On that note, I am sorry for kind of shooting down the PVC bow idea as field-expedient.

Really, anything you can get your hands on will do.
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