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12 Improvised Prison Weapons

Updated on July 16, 2017


Nunchucks are Bruce Lee’s signature weapon. The thing about this weapon is it is harder to use than to make one. The concept of the weapon itself is extremely simple, get two hard sticks, tied them together and you got yourself a nunchuck. St. Louis Workhouse inmate Lorenzo Pollard did just that. He made them out of two chair legs and a bed sheet. Then, he made his escape while fighting off a dozen armed guards who stood between him and his freedom using his custom weapon. He broke through a window, squeezed through an escape hatch that he made beforehand and scaled two razor-wire walls. Even though he got recaptured a while later, that doesn’t make his story any less impressive.

(Not actual picture)
(Not actual picture)


When we think about prison escape, we usually think about escaping silently using stealth and crawling into the ventilation systems while hiding in the shadows. The point is to avoid attention from the jailers who guard the prison. But not for Peter Saunders, an infamous convicted murderer. While he was an inmate at maximum-security Stateville Correctional Center, he built a fire bomb out of a battery, electrical wires and ground up match heads in a Magic Marker. The bomb later was disguised as a book and sent Federal judge Blanche Manning. However, the clichéd hollowed out book trick used to conceal the bomb was discovered and later disarmed.


Just because it’s fake doesn’t mean it’s useless. Handcrafted by an unknown inmate from Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany, this fake firearm managed to instill fear when the jailers found it in the prison workshop. After further investigation, they found out that it was a fake firearm crafted with grease injector, wood, a rubber sleeve and duct tapes. Lots of tapes. They believed that the inmate responsible of this invention was planning a daring escape and will use the fake firearm as a tool of intimidation. To be honest, this is very a smart tactics as carrying a fake firearm could scare people off better than a knife. Plus, even if you got caught, the punishment won’t be as heavy as carrying the real deal.


Two words; PAPER. BLADE. This weapon is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a blade made out of paper. An inmate took the concept of paper cut to a whole another level. Toilet papers was torn and rolled as tightly as humanly possible to create a pointy shape. Then, the rolled paper was soaped and salted using, well, soap and salt. These materials aren’t hard to be found in prisons. Toilet papers are quite plentiful, soap can be obtained from bathroom and salt can be found in foods. Apply these normal, everyday items and you get yourself an extremely lethal handmade weapon capable of stabbing people straight to the heart. Ouch. To make things worse, this weapon can be easily disposed since they are just a bunch of papers. And you still think getting a paper cut is hurt?


When you go to prisons, it is very common to find religious items there. After all, what better place to turn to when you have nothing else in the world other than God. Unless you’re atheist, that’s a whole another subject. With that being said, crucifix is pretty normal to be found in prisons. However, it is the normal things that prisoners like to use as a weapon. In 1994, an inmate from Wolfenbüttel prison, Germany made a shiv disguised as a crucifix. The crucifix part is pretty simple to be made as there are quite a lot of woods available in prison workshop. The blade part, however, is surprisingly simple. There has been numerous reports saying they were made from something as primitive as chicken bones, sharpened toothbrush handles, and melted and hardened trash bags or Styrofoam cups. As if it wasn’t lethal enough, some crazier inmates covered the blade with their own feces to increase the chance of bacteria or virus infection. Eww.


What’s a better weapon than your own two fists? A knuckle duster, that is. This particular weapon works similarly as standard brass knuckles; you grip it on its handle with your hand and you’re good to go. The contraption itself is pretty simple, get something hard, preferably metal and wrap a clothes around the part that you want to grip. An inmate from a Germany prison did just that. He stole a rasp from prison workshop, bend it somehow, and wrap some clothes from a blanket around the grip part. This weapon might not be as lethal as shiv, but there’s no doubt a punch from this could tear some skin off your face, if not knocked you out cold.


If you’re one of the cool guys with cool hair, chances are you have come across or even own a butterfly folding flail comb. It’s basically a comb with the design of a butterfly knife, stylish and completely harmless. In prison, they obviously don’t have these fancy combs. Only normal, boring plastic ones. But it didn’t stop there. In 1980s, a weaponized comb have been found in a maximum security prison in New Jersey. This bizarre contraception of comb, shoelaces and razor blades is a thing of nightmare. Not one, not two but four razor blades were inserted into the tines, bound together in place by shoelaces and you got yourself a lethal weapon. To think that this terrifying object came from a maximum security prison is simply unbelievable.


Do you like chocolate bars? Apparently, so does inmates only not in the way you would imagine. Chocolate bars as a weapon is completely beyond comprehension, but in prison anything goes. Some sick, twisted minds came up with an idea to weaponize a perfectly normal sweets as deadly napalm. Maybe deadly is a bit of exaggeration. This weapon may not be deadly but it still is dangerous. The trick is pretty simple, heat up a chocolate bar to a near boiling temperature and throw the molten mess on some unlucky bastard’s face. Ouch. The rapid cooling of the chocolate makes it very difficult to take it off the skin and will leave a severe burn. Usually, when we heard of people died from chocolate, we would think of diabetes. But after seeing what these inmates could do with it, maybe we should started thinking twice.


Back in Medieval Ages, maces were commonly used and still is now. But you might be thinking, “That was like 500 years ago! People don’t use maces or sword anymore”. And you’re right. 99 percent right. The other 1 percent goes to some creative inmate that managed to get a hand on one. Or better yet, create one. In 1997, this handcrafted mace was found in the metal workshop of Santa Fu prison in Hamburg, Germany. The inmate who is responsible for the creation of this mace was never found. This weapon looks crude, but still packs some serious punch. Plus, it is believed that this weapon can be used to aid in a daring prison escape as a tool to push the barbed wire from the top of the wall.


Like I said before, getting a gun in prison is a near impossible task, but making one is not. Most common firearm found in prisons is zip gun. The concept of zip gun is very simple; a barrel, a bullet, and something to push the bullet along the barrel at high speed. Zip guns are small, lethal, easily concealed and most importantly, can be assembled from common materials. Plus, hiding the gun is very easy. Since they are crudely made by assembling a bunch of stuff together, that means it can be easily disassembled too. A bunch of components from firearm have been found scattered in prison cells. From the first glance, they look like useless junks that pose no threat whatsoever. But upon investigating, they can be a lethal weapon that can be used to take hostage, organizing a riot and even killing the jailer.


The best weapon in prison isn’t the most sophisticated one, but rather the simplest one. The razor whip, a whip with razor blades, was found around 1996 in Santa Fu prison in Hamburg, Germany. The story behind this particular weapon is quite interesting. The inmate who is responsible for this terrifying device was a drug addicted inmate. He created this monstrosity after failed to extort a higher Methadone ration by threatening a female prison officer with a knife. He thought that knife wasn’t scary enough so he came up with this weapon. Luckily, he never got the chance to use it as he was found out by the jailers. And so, his Magnum Opus was confiscated and he was severely punished. Only God knows what would have happen if this weapon was used on any human being.


Pack up your shiv, knuckle duster or even razor whip because they are nothing compared to this one. Throw away you zip guns either because they got nothing on this one. Some creative bastard thought a gun wasn’t powerful enough and went on making a shotgun. A working shotgun made with bits and bobs found in prison. The story behind this weapon is as awesome as it is scary. On May 21, 1984 two inmates from a prison in Celle, Germany, took a jailer as a hostage. In order to prove that the shotgun is the real deal, one of them fired a shot at bullet-proof glass nearby. Obviously, the glass didn’t broke but they still managed to show off that the shotgun they made was legit. Then, they escaped with a car. This ad-hoc shotgun was made from iron bedposts as the barrels. The gunpowder used was made of lead from curtain tape and match-heads, and was fired by AA batteries and a broken light bulb. This crude device only used once in the history and possibly the most sophisticated device to be made by inmates.


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