Full Of Hot Air: Blowguns for Survival?


A little while back I did a review on pellet guns.

And I have to admit these were not the Red Rider pellet guns that I grew up with..

These things can take out a full grown hog with a single shot!

Recently I was wandering around at the local gun show (looking hopelessly for some decently priced ammo… and not having much luck), when I ran across something that I hadn’t seen in quite a few years.

The old standby of my backyard hunting days,  a blowgun.

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The blowgun is an effective weapon, it’s been used for thousands of years as the weapon of choice for many indigenous tribes across the globe, but we have come a long way from using hollowed out reeds and bamboo.

While the skill and knowledge to craft your own blowgun is invaluable to a survivalist, it never hurts to pick up a modern equivalent (and you don’t have to worry about whether or not it will shoot straight.

Modern day blowguns are made out of aluminum, plastic, and carbon fiber and many of them can be broken down into smaller sizes to be easily carried.

So lets take a look at blowguns shall we?

The Good:

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Proven (thousands of years of testing leave little doubt that they are effective)

Portable (many varying lengths and the ability to break down allow for most of these to be carried in a standard backpack)



Plentiful ammo (much cheaper and easier to access than my 9mm)

Legal almost everywhere. (Except the state of California, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia.)

There is currently no age requirement for using a blowgun.

The Bad

Not as powerful as a pellet gun (You won’t take down anything much larger than a rabbit with one of these, but I have taken out a few squirrels in my younger years)

Single shot (but it’s silent so you should be able to get out a couple shots before spooking the critter)

Durability can be questionable (if you don’t get a quality blowgun you run the risk of denting the piping and impeding the airflow)

Small game means small targets.  You will need to practice a decent amount to become accurate enough to take out anything worth being a meal.

The bottom line:

Whether you want to relive your childhood like me, or you want to practice the ancient art of killing your prey using only the air in your lungs,  a blowgun is a decent survival hunting weapon.  And the best part is, you can stock up on it and practice right now!  I loved hunting squirrels in my grandparents garden with my trusty blowgun as a kid, and I never would have dreamed just how easily it can be used in a survival situation to provide a meal.

What are your thoughts on blow guns for survival use?

P.S.  Like I said above, a cheap blowgun will quickly become a useless blowgun if you make a single mistake…

Check out this heavy duty American Made  blowgun that I found,

It’s one of the last all American made blowguns on the market.

It’s double tough and ready for action (and you can snag it at a fair price too)!

Read more with these related articles on our site:

Best Survival Weapons: Bows or Guns?

Best Survival Guns Reviews | The Ultimate List

Why Air Guns Make The Best Survival Weapons

46 Responses to :
Full Of Hot Air: Blowguns for Survival?

  1. wizzardous says:

    A good slingshot is cheaper, less prone to damage, more accurate, more powerful, nearly as noiseless, uses easier-to-carry ammo, is smaller and easier to carry unobtrusively and fits in nearly any size backpack. With a little practice, you can put a 1/2″ ball bearing or glass marble through both sides of a #10 can at 10 yards consistently. With a small modification, it can also shoot small (16″) crossbow bolts.

    1. Great Grey says:

      Sorry slingshots also have parts that break and maybe impossible to replace in bad times.

      1. old school says:

        If you are in reference to the elastic (rubber hose), all it takes is an inner tube cut into appropriate length strips and a good anchoring knot. The middle grip can be replaced by an old leather shoe tongue.

    2. dodger says:

      I just added a Wrist Rocket slingshot and ammo to my BOB. My intent is to gain some expertise though target practice at my next opportunity.

  2. Steve says:

    Dip the darts in poop and use on humans. Death may not be immediate, but….

    1. OFF says:

      I wouldn’t want poop close to my mouth.

      1. Greg Gilbert says:

        the other end! lol

  3. s_smith1984 says:

    I’m all for playing devils advocate, and you have a good point about replacing the band, but 5 bands could last you 15 years or maybe more and still the slingshot is going to be an easier weapon to be skilled with. Additionally, replacing blow gun darts isn’t exactly an easy task. I completely understand your argument and agree to some extent, but if I have a choice of which weapon I’m going to start with, its gonna be a sling shot. I can learn to work with a blow gun later if it came to that.

  4. david2867 says:

    I picked up a well made alum blowgun years ago, and an arm’s full of darts. Most of the darts are lost by now, and they were worth every cent in fun and experience for my kids. Also bought several “Wrist-Rocket” sling shots and a giant box of someone’s old marble collection from their grade school days. I used the marbles to impress the amount of damage a weapon can do, before moving the kids up to rifles. Next we need to learn what David did to take down Goliath…

    Don’y forget. Practice, practice & more practice = hours of fun

    1. Steven Najera says:

      Hey, there is a difference between what David took Goliath down with…a sling and the usual Y-shaped Whamo slingshot or the wrist rocket slingshot. When I was younger, my Whamo slingshot had what you call an “arrow” attachment. Looked-like a wire clothes hanger with two points to intrude into the bandslots and bent into a v-shape in the middle to hold the arrow in place. Since the pull from newly installed bands was 45-lbs. I was able to take down a good-size deer. Believe me, I had lots/many hours of practice before I attempted to take a deer….squirrels, rabbits, opossum and ringneck pigeons. Plus a lot of paper targets. The better “legal” survival weapon would be the slingshot.

  5. You should review crossbows i have a smaller one and it goes right through thick aluminum

  6. Jim says:

    Ship it with an Arrow poison frog

  7. Rey says:

    I bought a home from my neighbor who was in the military and passed away. As I was getting rid of his things, I came accross a bamboo set blowgun. He would tell me stories of when he traveled through the Amazon and even found pictures of him holding the head of an extremely large Anaconda. I wondered if the bamboo set actually real.

  8. dee says:

    With due respect for guns of all sizes and power, sometimes it’s the small which can give one the keys to survival. Teaching children, older people or the disabled to use blowguns and/or slingshots, in a survival or rustic country living can be the difference between eating a meal and going without. In survival situations the more people out searching for food, the more likely there will be food on the table. Having experienced such situations, it was often the young which brought back a rabbit or squirrels or other small animals for meals. Now, I am disabled and couldn’t roam to find large animals but I am still capable of finding a trail and waiting for animals to come to me. I have also taught developmentally delayed people to use these…even though they may not be able to use them to kill….these can be used in certain situations for defense ie. pack of wolves, dogs gone wild etc. Once taught to look for the leader, and knowing the person will be hurt if they don’t do this, even they can be taught to defend themselves. Sometimes it’s not about power as much as skill and patience. Thanks for updating me about what’s out there. I’ve just begun to rediscover a different path of hunting and self defense and this gives me yet another method. 🙂

  9. John says:

    Both are indeed useful IF you practice regularly. As a youngster, I brought in alot of chow with both. My blowgun, a piece of scavenged copper pipe with darts made of bicycle spokes & bits of cloth. Heavier and more deadly than modern darts! My slingshot? Hand carved, inner tube straps, and ball bearings. That old bike sure was useful! Nowadays, I have a modern folding wrist rocket with surgical rubber tubing as the straps. It’s considerably more stout than what came on it originally and easy to get from any medical supply or some pharmacys. Most will sell it by the foot in different sizes! I have taken a buck with a .50 caliber lead ball cast from my own mold

  10. Sam says:

    A blow gun may be the very last thing on my list to use in order to feed myself or anyone else. No real effective range, very few target opertunities, more inclined to mame than kill. Therefore I would never consider carrying one as a stand alone option. However if it were part or parcel to something else useful then maybe. The 410 barrel from a Rosi 22/410 rifle makes an excellent blow gun you could use when you are out of shells. The tube Handel from a trench tool or croval can also work. A section from a collapsible walking staff or a ski pole… Never would I spend money for just the one use.

  11. Josh says:

    used a blowgun made of 8d nails punched through 1″circle of paper and taped at one end for a loose fletching. Blown through a welding rod casing, my first round I put 3 of 5 into an 8″ circle at 15 yards.

  12. Turtlemom says:

    Where can I get stuff to dip the tips of the darts in to kill game? One of these darts is NOT going to stop a wild boar, nor even a good-sized wild hare.

    1. K says:

      If you find tip dip that will kill prey, and still be useable for food, let me know. Have been thinking about this for a while.
      Know natives in other countries do this regularly, would like to know what they use.

  13. Rod Start says:

    I’ve hunted with A home made blow gun as

  14. Rod Start says:

    I’ve hunted wîth a home made blowgun as a kid long before they were professionally made ,all you need is a lenth of aluminum conduit a nail , tape and sissers . Form a cone tape it ,place a nail in the cone tape it,place the dart in the end of the conduit and cut. Cheep and more deadly then what you can buy. To increase its lethality hammer the end of the nail flat and sharpen. Happy hunting

    1. K says:

      Had a hard time following how to do that, diagram please.

  15. JIMBOW says:

    When I was a kid we make blow guns out of small metal pipe, the blow dart was made from a sharpen nail and a tail cone made of duck tape, I got good at killing frog with it.

  16. bruce says:

    Dipe the reeds in cat urine, I hear it’s very infectious!!

  17. Bob says:

    Blow guns are illegal in CA according to local police.

    1. jimbow says:

      self defeince seems to be too from what i understand.

  18. STMA says:

    I used to use a 2-3″ wide strip of cloth around 3′ long and a decent size projectile such as a 1-1/2″ diameter rock or a man-made object such a ball bearing as a sling. I put the projectile about in the middle of the cloth strip, folded it in two around the object, holding one side of the sling between my thumb and index finger and the other three fingers wrapped around the other side. I basically used the sling as an extension of my arm- swing it with lots of force and let go of the side between the thumb and index at the proper moment. I was able to generate considerably more velocity than just with my arm alone, but it does take practice.
    Talk about a cheap and easily procured weapon! (although I’d rather have a wrist rocket- the aim is better at farther ranges and it would probably be more effective at killing things- a squirrel might be quite hard to hit, but a person, not so quite.)

  19. rebelyankee says:

    I have all the primitive weapons in my collection, and will weigh in on this. Both the Blowgun, and the slingshot have their place, strength and weakness. OWN BOTH, they are both far cheaper, and effective in their own right than an AR15, an overated glorified .22. My pleasure to have pissed so many of you gun snobs off, who WILL I guarantee you defend their willfull ignorance rather than acknowledge truth. LOL! The blowgun has a MAJOR advantage over the slingshot, and that IS it’s inherent accuracy. Get one, EXPERIENCE it, and shut up. The other above average Joe

  20. Greg Gilbert says:

    I too have been bitten by the unaffordable prices and availability of ammo. I started looking around for something else for small game. Additionally something my young grandson could use. I landed first on sling shots. Ammo is plentiful, with practice you can become very accurate and something my grandson can use. I bought 2 with 5 extra bands for each. We are not too bad. Then I looked in to blowguns. I purchased three different lengths and three different calibers. We both shoot each one pretty well. One additional con is the length, not easily carried. (I have to promise his mom that I won’t let him shoot guns until he is least 8. I know it would be better at an earlier age but it was promise or not to get to keep him over night. The trade off was worth it.)

    1. Greg Gilbert says:

      The blowguns that come in two pieces don’t seem sturdy and the 18/24″ seem to be easily bent. They are fun if nothing else.

  21. Denis says:

    Blowguns of the right type are certainly not a toy and definitely an excellent survival tool. I’ve several, from the 36″ ones up, but the most effective one I have is a 60″ one in 50 cal diameter. It has a grip handle at one end and cap on the other and doubles and can pass as a walking stick (if it wasn’t for the dart holders I’ve got mounted on it)I’ve even mounted a detachable shoulder sling on it. There are a various darts that can be purchased for it, from simple practice round tipped ones, metal bird darts, and even broad heads made of a space age plastic that will go through a 1 gallon metal container and come out the other side, the darts range from 3″-5″ long and I can tell you from my experience are lethal to small game up to about 25 lbs with a well placed shot. I’ve even made some using bamboo BBQ skewers for birds. The added length of blowgun allows for great accuracy and added impact. With a few hours practice I was hitting baseball size targets at 50′ consistently. Price for the gun was very reasonable, and with 100 or so various hunting darts under the cost of a pellet rifle(less than $100)

  22. Miles says:

    Cold steel has a magnum blowgun best I’ve found check it out!

  23. Nyghtlourd says:

    Never used a blowgun, but bought a wrist rocket type slingshot with my first paycheck. Got pretty good with it, never actually hunted with it, but I could, back in those days, put a 1/4″ steel shot through the mouth of a glass milk bottle and blow out the bottom. Could also nail a sapling from across a field. I miss those days.

  24. Brian Maday says:

    I recently saw (where?) a guy cut the top-end off a plastic water bottle, stretched a balloon over it, and used 12″ bamboo skewers placed in the balloon – he pulled the “Skewer in balloon” back (like a slingshot). Aim and release – POW – Through 2 aluminum pop cans at 20′. Would take practice, but cheap and easy…

  25. Prepper_T says:

    Personally, I would rather use a hand held crossbow and have a lot of bolts. Both, are quiet. Or a regular sized crossbow. The smaller version will fit easily on your BOB.

  26. frank cohran says:

    I understand the common sense of these survival sites but you can not call your self an expert when yall have not survived any of these scenarios but i do like the i guess it will work knowledge thanks

  27. Sharlie says:

    Is the blowgun that’s being suggested as a deal, – the kind that can take out a boar?

    (The article mentions that at the beginning, and then says that a blowwgun is only good for small game.) Just checking.

    I live in the UK where it’s illegal for citizens to have guns, and I’d have to research whether blowguns are legal. If not, obtaining a commercial one in unlikely, though the home-made versions of both blowguns and slingshots would be doable.


  28. Great Grey says:

    The reason that poison darts were invented is to take larger game.

  29. Jim Perkins says:

    “Check out this heavy duty American Made blowgun that I found,

    It’s one of the last all American made blowguns on the market.

    It’s double tough and ready for action (and you can snag it at a fair price too)!”

    It’s not made in the USA!! only some peripherals.. Sorry, no sell.

  30. MaD dOG says:

    I have been blowgun hunting for decades. A good hunting blowgun is a VERY effective weapon. It will be indispensable when SHTF.
    That said, the blowgun pictured, and virtually every commercially available blowgun, is utterly useless for hunting anything.

  31. John says:

    Where do you get extra ammo for the Blowgun once you run out?

  32. Jimmyjohn says:

    I carried a sling shot most of my child hood. It kept the kids with zip guns at bay (better better range).I was good enough at one time to hit birds on the wing. When I took up hiking in the mountains I had problems in camp at night with raccoons very aggressive and stealing food. After I hit one in the head with a rock and it just hissed at me. I dusted off the slingshot, cut the top off of a 12ga double ought filled my watch pocket with the pellets. The first raccoon jumped 5 ft in the air and they all left me alone after that. I did not hit him hard enough to leave a pellet in him but it got the message.

    I came back to camp one night after a long day of fruitless fishing and a black bear had gotten my pack out of the tree where I had hoisted it and was batting it around trying to knock it open. I was hungry and fifty miles out that was all the food I had. Without thinking, I dropped a pellet into the leather of the sling shot drew back to my ear and let it go. I was about an inch to high it went right betten his ears. He snapped his head in the direction that it hit an looked left and right but appearently could not see me. I was down wind in a nice breeze maybe that was what encouraged me to make the correction and bounce the next one off of the top of his head. The reaction was dramatic. The bear sat let out a howl with both paws slashing the air. It pivoted 360 looking for who to kill. Then ran off at about a 45 deg angle from where I was standing. How ever he took out three 4 inch dia trees on his way by slapping them with his paw in anger. They were healthy trees too looked. I have seen cars get the bumper folded around trees that big and they did not break off. I estimate the bear was only about 350lb not a big bear. Goes in the catagory of one of the stupidest things I have ever done. I could have hiked out the three days hungry and lived. Any one of those hits to the trees would have likely done me in not to mention the bone crush bites to follow. Lesson from a safe protected distance a sling shot with .36 cal lead can repel a bruin.

  33. Beanfarmer says:

    My 9 yr old grandson consistently hits a 2 inch group with my 30″ blowgun at 10 to 15 meters. He hits hard penetrating the tip thru a quarter in piece of plywood. Using it has improved his shooting with his .22 rifle, his .243 deer rifle and his 20 gauge duck gun.

    We used a BB gun, a slingshot and the blowgun to begin teaching him the lethality of weapons and the safe handling of them.

  34. > These things can take out a full grown hog with a single shot!

    Where are the youtube videos of that? How is that possible?

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