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
Thaeris
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:20 am

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
Thaeris
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:20 am

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?
Galloglaich
 
Posts: 2010
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 5:30 pm

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.
Thaeris
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:20 am

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
Thaeris
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:20 am

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
Galloglaich
 
Posts: 2010
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 5:30 pm

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.
Thaeris
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:20 am

Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Thaeris » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:11 am

Continuing on with expedient weapons, how about something you could make from a sapling? You know, the atlatl! Here's a fun old video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej3it7Ct76w

Here's a simplified version using no flights:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrlr02YDr5A

Interestingly, the author of the last video refers to his projectiles as spears. Not that such a definition is wrong, but It doesn't jive well with the rather Victorian classifications we've become accustomed to.

What is interesting to consider is the practical limit to the mass and rigidity of an atlatl arrow/dart. When does the system devolve into a simple spear-thrower, and how effective can a rigid body be projected with a lever arm as demonstrated?

For those using modern materials - namely PVC:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwI6OJod-4Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaW8-gZc5Fg
Thaeris
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:20 am

Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Galloglaich » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:36 pm

When I was in high-school my punk rock friends and I used to make sparring weapons out of PVC, for kind of a proto-HEMA like activity we called 'Sham battles'. Lance Chan in Hong-Kong made a business around this kind of thing for a while.

I figured out that if you use the high pressure (sch 80) pvc you could make surprisingly durable weapons out of them (I actually told Lance Chan about this back in the day and found out later from some Chinese HEMA people that he followed my advice and it made a big difference in the quality of his weapons). Considering how bamboo and other relatively light weapons were used for spears historically, I think PVC is a pretty good poor-mans weapon material.

Image

You can use motorcycle, military, lacrosse, hocket etc. helmets, you can make armor out of rugs (an old SCA trick) and scrap metal.

I think if I had to equip an army in a hurry in some post-apocalypse situation, not considering gunpowder weapons (assuming some kind of rarity of gunpowder for whatever reasons) I would make shields out of aluminum road signs like stop signs (we used to do this back in the punk rock days, they make great shields - though definitely not bullet proof) use a front rank of those like the pavisemen of Italy. Then a large section of pikes which you could make with a 8' -12' pvc pipe with a butcher knife stuck in it and secured with duct-tape.

Then a rank of people with some kind of halberd-like weapons, poll-hammer and poll-axe type weapons, and two-handed 'flegel' or Czech style military flails. The type with just a few links and a really long handle. For all of these weapons I think hard wood or steel pipes would probably be best since they have to be really strong. Probably the best for killing armored people is the flegel type thing .

Then behind them, people with javelins and plumbata, or maybe atlatl or some other kind of spear-throwers.

Image

And a host of other missiles, more on that in a second.

I agree arrows are complicated to make (and they break a lot when you shoot them at hard things) but lawn-darts do not appear to be (if you have ever played with one they have crudely made plastic vanes but they fly pretty well, fairly accurate (certainly accurate enough for 'volume' / area shooting) so I think you could make plumbta fairly easily. Not necessarily for precision like for hunting but good enough for war.

You can also make the spin-stabilized javelins with the thongs. Pretty easy to make.

Rocks also make really good weapons, and were used prominently right up to the mid 16th Century. The Swiss made a lot of emphasis on carrying rocks, often each soldier carried three rocks. Think of a baseball player throwing a baseball at 90 mph and then think of hard granite or marble or something instead of a leather ball.

We found "back in the day" that boomerangs turned out to be pretty effective and easy to make. As well as other similar flying things like the ring / chackrum type weapons. In his Book of the Sword, Sir Richard Burton describes 'throwing woods' as technological precursors to the sword, pretty plausibly. These were known as teutona or a cataea, they date back to Ancient Egypt as hunting weapons and seem to have been in wide use by early Celtic and Germanic tribes. I think in a modern context you could also use things like circular sawblades as thrown weapons. Imagine a large group of people throwing hundreds of saw blades at another group of people prior to engaging.

I think throwers, like lacrosse sticks, can be used to throw rocks or things like batteries.

I also think in a modern context, if you had 40-50 guys with things like claw hammers, hatchets and other heavy-ish hand-tools that they could throw, would have a potentially devastating impact. If you had access to a disk grinder (or a grinder powered by a water wheel, an animal or some kind of bicycle powered kind of thing) you could "improve" these weapons into something like a hurlbat.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurlbat

I think if you got your group of people practicing with these weapons, use some of the more accurate ones (and say, any guns, bows or crossbows you had) for skirmishers, divide up shield people, pike people, halberd people, and then short, medium and long range missile troops, you could create a pretty effective army.

G
Galloglaich
 
Posts: 2010
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 5:30 pm

Re: Field Expedient Weapons

Postby Thaeris » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:54 pm

Awesome post as usual. Again, I think my mindset at the time of starting this thread was different than it is now concerning PVC. You've fully shown your perspective on the matter to be accurate, and I am in full agreement.

Concerning modern improvised shields for hand-to-hand use, [round steel/aluminum] trash can lids aren't half bad. I had one as a kid, and while the lip on the lid can make it awkward, it also does make the shield very strong. There might also be some means of using the lip in a martial sense to capture an incoming thrust, though such could also force an opening against the shield's user if that thrust forces the shield to one side or the other. A compromise can be made between strength and awkwardness if a hammer is used to dish the face of the trash can lid inwards - trying to flatten the flange is probably not a good idea, and will only make the shield look worse with no added functionality.

Body armor is also worth considering. The most seemingly effective (simple) stuff that comes to mind is lamellar armor made from sheet metal. If sheets can be cut, the holes marked, and then drilled, an entire suit of armor for hand-to-hand fighting can be fabricated by only moderately skilled people. Interestingly, you can actually buy pre-made lamellar plates from places like Kult of Athena, but prices seem rather high for what you actually get. Creating a hybrid coat of plates with smaller lamellar segments (thus basically creating a European brigandine) would probably be the best way to go, with the only tools needed being metal shears or a hacksaw, a hammer, and a drill.

Other less-effective means can also be attempted. Sub-chainmail armor seems to have been popular for a while in Europe, with rings sewn into a garment rather than using rings alone to make the garment. Rings could be replaced with flat washers to make a lightweight armor with some cut and thrust protection. Like the historical European examples, however, strong thrusts between the gaps of the rings would likely defeat the armor, with only direct thrusts onto a ring stopping a thrust. I suppose an alternating pattern of rings could be made on the opposite side of the armor to overcome this issue, but the light weight and flexibility this kind of protection offers would be sacrificed as a result. Making a decent suit of armor in this manner would be time consuming (kind of like chainmail, but not as bad), but the good thing is that just about anyone can make and maintain it. The only things needed are the raw materials (a shirt, washers, and thread), a needle, and time.

Of particular interest to improvised armors like these is that they actually might serve HEMA practitioners fairly well if they cannot afford proper equipment, but have the time and resources to make their own. Layered clothing with the "sub-chainmail" armor, using alternating rings on either side of the textile to the front, could produce a serviceable brigandine-type armor on the cheap which would also be light and flexible. Some commercial products actually mirror this concept to an extent:

http://www.thatguysproducts.com/gorgets.html

On a semi-related note for improvised equipment for HEMA practitioners, you can actually get surplus stab-resistant vests at what I think to be reasonable prices. Since I don't have anyone I practice with, I'm not in the market. However, I think it's worth sharing:

https://www.sportsmansguide.com/product ... ?a=2080497
Thaeris
 
Posts: 45
Joined: Wed Jun 01, 2016 2:20 am

Next

Return to The Weapons

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron