The 9 Best Self Defense Weapons for Women

As a sixth degree black belt instructor with over 20 years in martial arts, I’ve trained a number of women who have been victimized by violence. Initially, it was challenging for me to work with them because the close contact, hands-on training — while purposely positive, gentle, and controlled — tended to trigger their trauma. But over time, I helped them learn the basics of self-defense and gain the ultra-important confidence and willingness to fight back.

Still, their stories really troubled me. I wanted to do something to prevent such trauma from occurring in the first place. I came to the realization that if I really wanted to help far more women, I’d have to offer a personal safety solution to those who simply have no interest in lengthy, demanding, traditional martial arts training.

Self Defense Weapons for Women

This led to my development of the MUNIO Self Defense Keychain. The journey that went into making MUNIO a reality meant thoroughly analyzing the pros and cons of the best self-defense weapons for women out there, and how practical and realistic they really are.

Since there are so many self-proclaimed “best self-defense weapons,” it can make it difficult to know what’s really best for you. To help with that, below you’ll find the ones I consider to be the best out there after years of my own self defense research. It is important to note that because there are so many variables, they’re not ranked in any particular order. They are all top options. It is critical that you understand any limitations of these weapons, and your expectations of the results of using any of them – and your actual willingness to use any of them. I’ve included their strengths and weaknesses, so you can decide for yourself which ones are truly the best self-defense weapons for you.

The Best-Self Defense Weapons for Women

1) Stun Gun

Stun Gun

A stun gun is relatively easy to use against someone aggressively up close in your face (where most predatory attacks occur). You can touch the attacker anywhere while holding down the electrical discharge button, and the reaction is immediate. The shock only transfers where the electrode prongs are touching, and typically you can disable an attacker in 1 to 3 seconds. In case you’re not sure, the electrical charge will come back through to zap you. In terms of incapacitating or disabling an attacker easily with very little effort, this is one of the best self-defense weapons for women!


  • It’s generally a small, easily held portable device.
  • It’s relatively easy to use; you just have to stick it onto somebody while holding the button and press it into them.
  • It has the potential to be quite an equalizer against a bigger, stronger attacker.
  • Preemptively pulsing a stun gun from a slight distance away can be intimidating, and may be enough to deter an attacker from advancing on you.
  • It’s a very “clean” weapon — you don’t have to hurt your hand, draw any blood, etc.
  • It’s non-lethal but effective.


  • You have to make contact and push the probes into/onto the attacker.
  • You must always make sure it’s fully charged for best results.
  • There’s a possibility of mechanical malfunction. You definitely want to do your research and get one made by a reputable company. It should also offer a high amount of voltage to ensure dependability; the higher the voltage, the more effective the stun.
  • It may take longer than three seconds to fully incapacitate the attacker, so you need to keep applying pressure/the charge until they’re subdued.
  • It’s not safe around small children. This is definitely not something you want your little ones to get a hold of!
  • It has carrying limitations — stun guns aren’t allowed in some places such as sports events and concerts.
  • You can’t take it with you onboard an airplane. If you check it in with your luggage, it must be transported in a manner that renders the device inoperable from accidental discharge. Some of these devices are manufactured with lithium batteries. For more information, see the FAA regulations on batteries.


In terms of overall defense, a stun gun is very capable in a close-quarters situation as long as you commit yourself to using it. If some big guy is grabbing you in a parking garage, and all you have to do is press the discharge button and poke it into them and hold it there for a few (or more) seconds to disable them so you can get away, that makes a stun gun a very good self-defense tool.

2) Pepper Spray

2) Pepper Spray

I think pepper spray is a great option if you’re able to use it properly against a true threat — and if you’re actually able to spray it at a safe distance into the attacker’s face (aim for the eyes, nose, and mouth). If you manage to spray the attacker, they will react almost immediately to the resulting inflammation with blurry and teary eyes. While the attacker is incapacitated from the pepper spray, you can run away.


  • You may be able to stop an attacker at a distance before they can make contact and do any physical harm.
  • It’s readily available and relatively inexpensive.
  • In a sense, it’s easy to use because essentially all you need to do is press a button and aim it at somebody.


  • You don’t get to choose the range at which an attacker is going to confront you. In order to deploy pepper spray correctly, you have to have enough time to make a proper assessment of the situation and come to the conclusion that you need to take action. Not all attackers are coming at you from 10 to 15 feet away announcing that they’re coming to do you harm.
  • Using pepper spray effectively relies on you being able to properly discharge it, aim accurately, and keep the stream on the attacker long enough to get the desired effect of disabling them so you can escape to safety. In fact, it’s recommended that you practice with a simulated can of spray so you know what to expect and know how to aim it.
  • Pepper spray is subject to mechanical failure. You could press the discharge button, and it simply may not spray. Don’t leave pepper spray in your car to avoid extreme heat or cold, which can cause pepper spray to leak or work less effectively.
  • Pepper spray has a limited shelf life, so you’ll need to keep track of the expiration date so you’re always carrying a fresh one for maximum protection.
  • You may be subject to blowback. The closer you are to the assailant, the more likely you’ll get blowback in your face, so be prepared. Also depending if there’s wind, even if you are at a safe distance, you may get sprayed.
  • This is another one to keep out of the reach of small children for their safety.
  • There are carrying limitations, as pepper spray is prohibited at some locations such as sports venues and concert halls.
  • You can’t take it with you on the airplane. In fact, carrying pepper spray on board an airplane is a federal offense and you may be fined up to $25,000. If you want to carry it in your checked baggage, you might be able to do that — just check with the airline first.


In a perfect world, pepper spray can be effective to stop or slow down an attacker. What bothers me, though, is that pepper spray is marketed in a way that leads people to believe that you can simply spray away an attacker from a distance. Please understand that unfortunately, the most common predatory attacks happen uncomfortably up close, not at a distance. You don’t get to choose how close you’re going to be to an attacker.

You also can’t just start spraying everyone you feel is a potential threat like they’re a bunch of annoying mosquitoes. (I know my wife would like to spray me away at times.) You must always assess the situation correctly, or you could severely hurt an innocent person.

In any event, if you carry pepper spray, any time you feel you’re in a threatening environment, you should have it in your hand and ready to use. For this reason, I recommend getting a pepper spray self-defense keychain, which will give you easier access to your pepper spray.

3) Handgun


In my opinion a handgun is the best self-defense weapon you could possibly have, simply because it has lethal stopping power and works at (1) close range (inside your arm’s reach), (2) mid-range (a few inches beyond your arm’s reach), and (3) long range (a few feet or more beyond your arm’s reach). It should only be used as a last resort for self-defense.


  • It has lethal stopping power (when you’re absolutely fighting for your life).
  • While it does require proper training, it’s relatively easy to use. If the gun is chambered and ready to go, all you have to do is aim the gun and pull the trigger.
  • If an attacker sees you holding your gun, they’ll be intimidated and may wisely choose to leave you alone!
  • It’s a great equalizer tool — something that can be used by a small woman to successfully fend off someone much larger, and possibly more than one attacker.


  • Proper use of a handgun requires training and ongoing practice. You want to be very comfortable using it and have the knowledge and practice that it takes to make it work the best, down to details such as maintaining it.
  • You need to have a license from your state to be able to carry it concealed, e.g., in your purse, under your clothes, etc. NOTE: Not all states allow open carry and even if they do, it can be socially frowned upon.
  • There’s a maze of gun laws out there so you need to be aware of your local laws, and where you can take your gun, especially if you plan to travel out of state. You can search “reciprocity” laws in states you wish to travel to or through.
  • Guns aren’t ready to shoot. To fire one immediately at an attacker, you’d have to be walking around the shopping mall parking lot with your finger on the trigger.
  • They can be pretty pricey, and so can the ammo.
  • It has very serious legal implications if you use it in a self-defense situation. You will have to defend and prove that your use of the gun was justified.
  • Are you truly willing to pull the trigger and potentially take another person’s life?
  • Mechanical failure can occur. A gun is a complex mechanism — it can jam or misfire.
  • There’s personal risk involved due to potential mishandling. You need to feel comfortable and confident with a gun around. You must use it responsibly, otherwise it can be dangerous for you as well as the people you care about.
  • You most definitely want to keep this weapon out of the reach of children.
  • You can’t take it with you onboard an airplane. If you want to carry your handgun in your checked baggage, you have to follow the airline’s procedures.


I consider handguns to be the best, most well-rounded, most damage-inflicting weapon that’s ever been available for self defense.

4) Knives


Knives can be a very effective self-defense weapon and can do a lot of damage. In the martial art that I practice, I teach both gun and knife disarming techniques and I can tell you that if I had a choice, I’d rather try to disarm a gun than a knife. Knives are a time-tested primitive tool, and there’s a reason why people have been using them for a very long time.


  • It’s relatively easy to use — and easy to cut or stab someone lethally.
  • Knives are generally small and easily concealable.
  • There are no issues with shelf or battery life.
  • There are no issues with weather, wind, or temperature.
  • Just like with a gun, if you were to be approached and suddenly showed you had a knife, your attacker might think twice about messing with you.
  • Knives are readily available in many sizes and styles and are relatively inexpensive.


  • There’s a personal risk involved — you can cut yourself. If you plan on using a knife, you need to be comfortable carrying it, holding it, and using it.
  • To use it effectively, you have to be holding it in your hand so it’s ready to use immediately.
  • There are legal restrictions. Obviously you can’t take it with you on the airplane, but they’re also restricted in many places like concerts, sports venues, and hospitals.
  • It’s not very discreet. You can pretty much tell what a knife is whether it’s closed or open.
  • This is another one to keep out of children’s reach — just as you wouldn’t let your small kids around scissors and steak knives.


A knife is an excellent and wicked self defense weapon that you can do some serious damage with, especially if you have some knowledge and training on how to really use it.

5) Improvised Weapons

Improvised Weapons

An improvised weapon is something that really wasn’t designed to be a weapon, but you can definitely use it as a weapon. Think of a hot cup of coffee — one moment you’re drinking it, and another moment you’re splashing it into an attacker’s face. Or the pen in your purse that you suddenly realize you can use to smash into an assailant’s hand, head, eyeball, or temple. Or the umbrella that you’re carrying that you can use to push off an attacker. Or the rock or piece of glass on the ground that you manage to get hold of to fight back. Or the frying pan in your kitchen to smack an intruder’s head or grabbing arm.

You get the idea. Improvising can be a handy way to turn something simple — whether small (a pencil) or large (a chair) — into a great self-defense tool. In the absence of better, or more typical, self defense options, using an improvised weapon for protection may be your best solution.

6) Situational Awareness

Situational Awareness

While more of a concept or practice, rather than an actual product or tool, situational awareness should really be your first and foremost self-defense weapon.

Situational awareness is the habit of being alert and aware of what’s going on around you at all times, but particularly when you’re in an area where you feel more at risk, like in an unknown city or anyplace you’re less familiar with and may be more threatening. It involves listening to your intuition (which seems to be particularly keen in women), and literally training yourself to be watchful of what’s going on around you in all directions.

Being aware of your surroundings requires looking – so don’t be blissfully glued to you cell phone so much that you are oblivious to who might be approaching you with bad intentions.

Being aware of your surroundings also requires listening — don’t plug your ears up with headphones if you’re out walking or jogging. Always keep one out so you can hear what’s going on around you.

Whether you’re leaving the grocery store, leaving work to get to your car in the parking garage, taking a walk or run, or leaving a nightclub to walk a few blocks to the next club, this process is basically the same, but in some locations, you should instinctively put more effort into being watchful.

When you’re out and about, your posture should be perceived as being alert and confident, which will alone make you less of a target.

No matter where you are, you should always be conscious of the people around you. For example, ask yourself the following questions and take in the answers in a quick, casual way:

  • Is anyone following you?
  • Did anyone set off your intuition or make you feel uncomfortable?
  • Did you notice any security guards around in case you need them?

Scan around, under, and behind your vehicle before opening your car door or unloading purchased items into your trunk — that vulnerable time when you’re preoccupied and the least able to defend yourself.

Keep in mind criminals are predators. When they’re hunting, they’re generally looking for the most vulnerable and an opportunity to catch their prey off-guard — so don’t be caught off guard!

Situational awareness is also using common sense to make an on-the-spot decision to not continue going the direction you’re going in, to cross the street, or to get near other people to avoid a potential threat. For example, if you’re going to the ATM and see a couple of shady characters in the vicinity, find another ATM.

When utilized correctly, situational awareness may prevent you from having to protect yourself in a self-defense situation at all. That’s just about perfect!

7) Basic Self Defense Training

Basic Self Defense Training

I can talk about situational awareness all day, or avoidance and de-escalation strategies, but if you’re not able to avoid a threat and are confronted by an attacker, you must be able to react effectively.

When it really comes down to it, are you physically ready to fight back and protect yourself if you’re threatened? Are you prepared to react immediately? This is where self-defense training comes in.

Basic self-defense training should provide you with some skills to use your body as a natural weapon. Generally, you’ll be taught simple martial arts based striking, punching, and kicking techniques, as well as some common escape techniques for situations such as grabs and chokes.

Basic self defense gives you a foundation of protection that you otherwise wouldn’t have without defensive tools — or if your tools malfunction.

Of course, longer-term, high-quality, reality-based self-defense training will maximize your ability to protect yourself without self defense weapons. Plus, it will also increase your ability to use self-defense tools more effectively. While I recommend this for everyone, I also realize it can be a tough commitment.

8) Kubaton


A kubotan is a self-defense keychain that you can use to strike an attacker either with the tip or by whipping them with your keys like a flail, thereby inflicting enough pain to help you to escape.

Having both striking and flailing options makes the kubaton two weapons in one.

The advantage of a kubaton is it’s generally small and versatile enough so that it can be used against a variety of common, close-up physical grabs and attacks that are typical in the majority of assaults and confrontations.

Kubatons come in a variety of styles, colors, and shapes. You can use a kubaton in one hand and the tip will amplify the force of your strike. This is why kubotans are categorized as a “force multiplier” or “impact weapon” type. And generally because of the way kubotans are held, you can also protect yourself against grabs from behind.


  • It’s versatile and effective against a range of the most common attacks and grabs.
  • It’s small, concealable, and discreet, yet it can be very effective.
  • It’s considered non-lethal, so there aren’t as many legal restrictions on carrying it.
  • There are no issues with weather, wind, or temperature affecting its performance.
  • There’s no risk of mechanical failure.
  • There’s no need to charge it and no worries about limited shelf life.
  • It’s generally easy to use, but obviously some degree of training will make it more effective.
  • It’s considered to be safer around small children than most self-defense weapons.


  • It’s not a long-range self-defense weapon, so it’s not going to prevent someone from coming up and attacking you. The range is limited to close- and mid-range.
  • While there are fewer restrictions, you can’t take it everywhere. Some areas don’t allow kubatons to be taken into concerts and sports arenas, and they’re definitely not allowed on board an airplane.
  • It’s not necessarily discreet — especially the more menacing variations that have come out since the original, blunt-ended kubaton.


Honestly, the kubotan is my absolute favorite non-lethal self-defense weapon. It’s so effective against the most common attacks that we train against in martial arts. The kubaton was originally created by martial artist Takayuki Kubota, the founder of Gosoku Ryu Karate — hence, the original name kubotan, which now has alternate spellings such as kubaton.

I think the kubaton is one of the best self-defense weapons for women because it can be used so easily for painful striking and in so many ways against a variety of close, common predatory attacks and grabs. As a testament to their effectiveness, kubatons are commonly used and recommended by martial arts, law enforcement, and military professionals.

8) MUNIO Self Defense Kubaton Keychain

MUNIO Self Defense Kubaton Keychain

MUNIO has all the attributes of a kubotan self-defense keychain and is an effective “force multiplier” weapon. MUNIO is actually a uniquely shaped and decorated flat kubotan. Just like a traditional kubotan, MUNIO can be used by striking with it’s point, and by swinging the keys on the other end as a flail – so you also get two weapons in one.

MUNIO is an effective weapon that is discreet, legal, and uniquely styled to be very innocent looking – which makes people, specifically women, (who are most statistically in need of protection) be more willing to carry it with them, wherever they go. And since it can be carried so casually and openly, it makes MUNIO ready to use immediately for your protection.


  • It’s legal in all U.S. states.
  • It’s non-lethal.
  • There’s no risk of accidental personal injury.
  • It’s discreet — it’s designed to look like a stylish keychain.
  • It can actually be taken on an airplane and brought into sports events, concerts, and other events.
  • It’s effective against a variety of close-range attacks, including attacks from behind.
  • There’s no risk of mechanical failure,
  • There are no issues with limited shelf or battery life.
  • There are no issues with weather, wind, or temperature.
  • Compared to other self-defense weapons, it’s safer around small children. MUNIO has also been lab-tested to meet the CPSIA Guidelines.
  • MUNIO comes with a free, downloadable e-book which goes over the most common attacks and how you can easily defend yourself against them with MUNIO.
  • The MUNIO Self Defense Workshop live training gives you hands-on practice using MUNIO against the most common attacks. If there isn’t a workshop in your area, a downloadable video series is available.


  • MUNIO isn’t a long-range self-defense weapon, so it’s not going to prevent someone from coming up and attacking you.
  • It’s limited to close to mid-range use and will not be effective at a distance.
  • Because of MUNIO’s shorter length and different shape, it wasn’t designed specifically for joint locking techniques that are common to martial arts and law enforcement training and practices. However, there are many effective joint-locking, compliance, and submission techniques that law enforcement officers and martial artists have adapted to use with MUNIO.


As much as I absolutely love the kubotan for its simplicity and effectiveness as a non-lethal weapon, I felt it could be enhanced to make it more versatile and more attractive.

In addition to being a martial artist, I’m also a graphic artist. So as a martial artist, I made MUNIO have all the simple and effective benefits of a kubotan, and as a graphic artist, I made MUNIO’s body become a “canvas” for my artwork to add decorative style. Additionally, I also added two extra rings which allows for extended range and more whipping power when using your keys defensively as a flail.

When it comes to a non-lethal option, I truly believe that MUNIO is the most effective self-defense weapon a woman can carry to protect herself.

Today, more and more women are carrying MUNIO as their favorite non-lethal choice for a self-defense weapon and countless lives have been saved and victimizations have been prevented as a result.

Hopefully, women will simply carry MUNIO as a fashion accessory and never have to use it for their protection, but in a threatening situation, and for non-lethal self-defense, I’m confident that MUNIO is the most well-rounded and best self-defense weapon for women.


About the Author

Phil Ventrello

Phil Ventrello is the Founder of MUNIO Self Defense and the inventor of the MUNIO Self Defense Keychain. He is a 6th Degree Black Belt Senior Master Instructor and teaches the Combat Hapkido self defense program at Foundation Martial Arts in Erie, PA. Phil is a lifetime member of the International Combat Hapkido Federation, a member of the American Women's Self Defense Association, and has been inducted into Action Martial Arts Magazine's Hall of Honor for his outstanding dedication to the martial arts.

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