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Old 03-06-2011, 07:51 PM
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Default Make a Survival Blowgun and Darts



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I have been working a lot with different survival blowgun types and techniques and I am confident that a blowgun can be built from easy to acquire everyday materials in minutes and can be a deadly hunting weapon too.

Some of you may not like the idea of blowing on poles for fun, but we're talking survival here.

I recommend to use copper tubing for a blowgun. This is easy to obtain ahead of time at any hardware store pre-TEOTWAWKI. Or if the SHTF and you are not prepared, then you can use a tube cutter or hacksaw under your house and make one pretty quickly. PVC could be used, but it is too flexible and conduit is too heavy to transport easily. Copper is just right.

I prefer to use 3/8" OD tubing, but whichever size you get then that dictates how you will make your darts. I prefer to cut the 8' tubing into a about 5' piece and a 3' piece. That gives me a long tube and a short tube. The short tube is less accurate at long distances, but is good for travel or for children to use.

I have made many different darts from all sorts of materials. I have used steel shafts, bamboo skewers, chopsticks, arrow shafts, playing darts, tree limbs, and coat hangers. I have tried lengths varying from 3" to two feet. For cones I've used duct tape, rolled up magazine covers, hamburger wrappers, thistle down, hair, cotton balls, and ear plugs. For the tips I have used unmodified barbeque skewers, exacto blades, tips cut at angles, and tips that have been hammered flat, cut, and sharpened. I have tried light weight and heavy weight darts. I have experimented with different balance points and flight characteristics.

I have found the easiest to construct design that requires minimal time commitment or supplies and that has the most consistent speed and flight patterns. It is a coathanger and an earplug. It is deceptively simple, but extremely effective and lethal. Don't laugh this off. I've tried everything and this is a magical combination.

Select an earplug that fits snugly into your copper tubing. I buy the cheap cylindrical yellow earplugs. It should slide freely down the tube, but not have too much space around it. Actually, choose the earplug size first and then stick it in the ends of different diameter tubing at the store to find the best fit to get in order to buy the right size tube.

Cut the metal coathanger with a pair of snips. There are different gauges of coathangers and the heavier metal works better, though they are harder to cut. The piece should be cut about 6" long and you can get 4 from one hanger. Cut off the curved areas. It isn't worth the time to straighten them out, plus the slight curve can affect accuracy. Hammer the end of the hanger really flat. This takes 30 seconds. Cut the flattened tip at an angle with the snips. Try to aim for about 30 degrees or so. If you cut at a 45 degree angle it reduces the penetration capability. Sharpen the edge on a whetstone or other rock. The metal is really soft and will take about 30 seconds to sharpen. Slide the earplug onto the unmodified end of the dart so that the metal sticks out the end of the earplug. Slide the earplug down the shaft so that there is about 1/2" of hanger sticking out the end. If the earplug isn't completely pierced by the shaft then the earplug has a tendency to bounce off the shaft when you hit a target. However, the earplug tends to slide down the shaft when it hits a target. You can wrap a small sliver of duct tape around the shaft ahead of and behind the earplug to prevent it from sliding.

I also like to spray paint the shafts bright orange so that they are easier to locate if I miss a target. Shoot away!

This dart is light weight and allows you to get good distance with minimal drop. This is important for accuracy and distance. With heavier darts, you must blow really hard to get any real distance and this spooks critters and they move before your dart arrives. With the sharpened coathanger technique you can make 4 effective hunting darts in under 2 minutes from materials you already have at home. My dart quiver is full of these and I love hunting squirrels and birds with them.

Another easy technique in a pinch is to use chopsticks. They work almost as well, but dull very easily. Cut the end of the chopstick with some snips for a sharp edge and slide the earplug on like you would do with the coat hanger.

Good luck!

I hope this helps.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:07 PM
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When I was a teen I bought a blow-gun from a magazine ad. It was a metal pipe with foam rubber handles, a mouth piece that had a funny 'L' shaped wire there. The darts were spring steel that had been heated and set into plastic beads.

At that time white plastic beads with cotton thread were very common in junk stores. My buddies and I made lots of those darts. 3", 6", 9". The wire was easy to get and the beads were easy to get.

I was totally amazed at how easy it was to learn to be a sharp shooter with that thing.

That was in the 70's.

Once while we were raising our children, I set about to again find a pipe and plastic beads that would work. I thought my boys would have a ball with such a weapon.

But I was not able to locate plastic beads of an appropriate diameter to fit into an appropriate piece of pipe.

I distinctly recall when I was a teen: buying necklaces, using pliers to pull the beads off. Heating spring steel wire with a candle and pressing the heated wire into the plastic beads to make the darts.

If I cut the wire to 3" it would be very accurate. I could nail a fly to the wall.

If I went with 9" of wire it was not as accurate, but it had so much more punch, that it would pick-up a rabbit and flip it.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:15 PM
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There was just another thread about this. The blowgun as a weapon or hunting tool didn’t fare well at all.

I would maintain that a sling shot or bow would be easier to make, obtain / hunt with.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:16 PM
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I haven't tried beads, but I'm certain that they would work just fine if you got the right diameter to fit inside the tube. You can also shred up a couple of cotton balls and tape them around the end of your dart. This would mimic the thistle down that our ancestors used on their darts.

The first darts I made were with bamboo barbeque skewers. I carefully split the tip with a knive and inserted a small exacto blade that you can snap off. Then I took thread and wrapped around the split end to hold the tip in place. Then I superglued the string to hold in down and to keep the tip from coming out. Next I carefully rolled a glossy magazine cover into a cone and taped/glued it onto the shaft. Then I put the dart in my gun, marked the limit of how far the cone inserted into the gun and then cut the extra off with scissors. This was very time consuming and the darts were not consistent. The cones were different lengths, the tips weren't at the same angles, and the darn skewers kept breaking. It really was a lot of time and preparation for what I now feel is an inferior dart.

This is a perfect example of how practicing your skills now can make you more effective if you really need to rely on them in the future.
Old 03-06-2011, 08:21 PM
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There was just another thread about this. The blowgun as a weapon or hunting tool didnít fare well at all.

I would maintain that a sling shot or bow would be easier to make, obtain / hunt with.
I make bows too. You can make simple ones easy enough, but for a decent one it takes some work and a lot of time. Not to mention making the arrows. Don't get me wrong, arrows have a much longer effective range and travel at fast speeds and are great for large game. But for small game hunting a simple survival blowgun can be made anywhere very easily and it is very effective. I'm sure slings would be effective too. This is just another tool to keep in your survival tool bag. I believe in redundant technologies. I also use Paiute deadfalls and snares, but those are topics for another thread.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:29 PM
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I make bows too. You can make simple ones easy enough, but for a decent one it takes some work and a lot of time. Not to mention making the arrows. Don't get me wrong, arrows have a much longer effective range and travel at fast speeds and are great for large game. But for small game hunting a simple survival blowgun can be made anywhere very easily and it is very effective. I'm sure slings would be effective too. This is just another tool to keep in your survival tool bag. I believe in redundant technologies. I also use Paiute deadfalls and snares, but those are topics for another thread.
well I have never hunted with a blow gun and according to those that have, its not worth the time, plus I dont know how to make the poison.
Old 03-06-2011, 08:40 PM
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well I have never hunted with a blow gun and according to those that have, its not worth the time, plus I dont know how to make the poison.
This is a common misconception about blowguns. You don't need poison to kill an animal in a survival situation. Poison is used to paralyze prey. In the jungles the poison acts like a muscle relaxant and is used to help animals (like monkeys) fall from trees if they aren't fatally wounded. For small ground animals you don't need poison. With the darts I explained they act like broadheads on an arrow. They kill by blood loss and trauma, just like an arrow. If it runs then you can track the blood trail. If it doesn't run because it is stunned and/or pinned to the ground you finish it with a kill stick. Problem solved.
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Old 03-06-2011, 08:45 PM
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This is a common misconception about blowguns. You don't need poison to kill an animal in a survival situation. Poison is used to paralyze prey. In the jungles the poison acts like a muscle relaxant and is used to help animals (like monkeys) fall from trees if they aren't fatally wounded. For small ground animals you don't need poison. With the darts I explained they act like broadheads on an arrow. They kill by blood loss and trauma, just like an arrow. If it runs then you can track the blood trail. If it doesn't run because it is stunned and/or pinned to the ground you finish it with a kill stick. Problem solved.
well if you say so. IMHO a good slingshot is easier to build, use , carries more of a killing punch and I can find ammo in any creek bed.

I would look up the other thread if I were you, like I said the ones who say they actually hunted with a blow gun reported that it was more useful as a walking stick. just sayin...
Old 03-07-2011, 12:29 AM
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I'm going to have to agree Primative that blowguns are very effective for small game, especially birds. I've never tried a copper blowgun, but ones made of natural materials have always worked wonders for me. It takes a lot less practice to master as compared to slings.

One little piece of info I'd like to share is how to get a powerful shot. What works for me is building up a lot of pressure in my lungs all the way up to my tongue. Try to get the air pressure up to the end of your tongue, and quickly snap your tongue open to let the pressure into the blowgun. Try to keep pressure going after the snap, all the way through the shot. At first this method will ruin your accuracy, but with a few adjustments and enough practice, you can pull off unbelievable shots. In my opinion, hunting with a blowgun is a very useful skill to learn.
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:46 AM
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You are going to have to meet evolve 23. He's the resident blow gun expert on these forums. There is a primitive weapons forum and a hunting forum. Evolve has a habit of posting in the wrong sections. Where's he been lately? TP
Old 03-07-2011, 12:51 AM
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Sounds good, I'll have to check out some of his posts. Thanks!
Old 03-07-2011, 12:55 AM
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I didn't see him in the member list. Perhaps it is because he's a ninja?
Old 03-07-2011, 02:09 AM
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I brought a Montagnard (Monyard) cross bow home from 'Nam. It has these cute little arrows. They make the poison from a piece of goat/pig liver that they have a poisonous snake hit half a dozen times. Venom just drips out. Then they stick it in a clay pot and cook at low heat for a day or so. The various toxins are a deadly mix, and rather fast acting. It would work for darts too, but you need to take special care with them.

ISS
Old 03-07-2011, 01:00 PM
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Sounds good, I'll have to check out some of his posts. Thanks!
I was being cheeky. Sry. He is known for idiotic postings. I don't have any use for blow dart guns. TP
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:03 PM
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One little piece of info I'd like to share is how to get a powerful shot. What works for me is building up a lot of pressure in my lungs all the way up to my tongue. Try to get the air pressure up to the end of your tongue, and quickly snap your tongue open to let the pressure into the blowgun. Try to keep pressure going after the snap, all the way through the shot. At first this method will ruin your accuracy, but with a few adjustments and enough practice, you can pull off unbelievable shots. In my opinion, hunting with a blowgun is a very useful skill to learn.
That is good information about how to get good pressure. I'll try that technique. It makes sense because it allows you to get maximum air pressure all at once.
Old 03-07-2011, 06:34 PM
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That is good information about how to get good pressure. I'll try that technique. It makes sense because it allows you to get maximum air pressure all at once.
that gives me an idea.

If you could somehow attach a small compression chamber to the blowgun then use a small hand operated pump to build the pressure you could get a higher pressure with each shot and be consistent about it.

This would also increase the shot range and the killing force.

You would have to add a trigger mechanism to release the pressure.

oh and if you built some sort of shoulder stock you could keep it steady much longer to get a better aim.

somehow if you could add just a simple iron site to the front of the blow gun you could direct the dart better.

wait I have a design you might like:

New Blowgun Design
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:46 PM
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Whats with the blowgun threads?
Sure they are fun to play with...but cutting the copper water pipes out from under my house is just not going to happen...beside...I think I'd quicky tire of blowing on the darn thing and just pick up a gun and shoot what ever it is that needs a hole.
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:42 PM
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copper has a tendency to bend if you fall on it or have an accident. I made mine out of a small dia. pvc laminated betueen two pieces of redwood. Shave it down and whip lash the hand grips and it's a light weight tube that doubles as a walking stick. A blowgun will take small game and birds, is silent and saves your ammo.
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:43 PM
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Quote:
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Whats with the blowgun threads?
Sure they are fun to play with...but cutting the copper water pipes out from under my house is just not going to happen...beside...I think I'd quicky tire of blowing on the darn thing and just pick up a gun and shoot what ever it is that needs a hole.
Agreed.

I played around with a blow-dart gun for a while... but wasn't terribly impressed.
I decided instead to focus on throwing darts... Yeah, the kind you throw at a board on the wall in a bar.
They have all the advantages of a blow dart gun, but without the bulk of the gun, and with a faster 'firing' rate.
Working on modifying the darts: straighten a fishhook for the barb, poison the barb, lightly glue the barb to the original point of the dart...
(The thought here is to make the barb stay in the victim, for two purposes:
1- to ensure full absorption of the poison
2- to prevent the victim from pulling it out and throwing it back -- they still could, but it would then be pretty harmless.)
The main thing I still need to figure out is how to make a convenient (and safe) carrying case for a few darts.
Old 03-07-2011, 09:18 PM
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that gives me an idea.


wait I have a design you might like:

New Blowgun Design
That's cute. I like the color too. Not my style though. However, I have considered actually using a design similar to a paintball gun to increase effectiveness. You could create a breach on the tube and attach a CO2 canister with a trigger. The CO2 blowgun could be more effective than the standard design, but only until the CO2 runs out. Human breath is an easily renewable resource and CO2 cartridges aren't. But, if you are going to that much work to create a CO2 powered survival blowgun ahead of time, then you might as well get a firearm or bow. I'm sure that last sentence will get quoted. The whole blowgun idea is so that you have another tool in your survival toolbag. Take it or leave it.

Now, your idea about a sight is a good one and I have tried that. I put a metal clamp on the end of the gun and shot at targets at a known distance and adjusted the location of the clamp up and down the tube until it could be used as a good sight. I tried this in my early experiments with heavy darts where it was necessary because of the rapid drop in height of the heavy darts. With the lighter darts that I describe the sight could be useful, but it is less necessary.
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