Crafting my own packable survival tools has got to be one of my absolute personal favorite hobbies, especially since they can usually be made in the garage workshop on the super-cheap. I’ve made quite a few slingshots, fishing kits and PVC bows in recent years, but if I had to pick the easiest project of them all, it would have to be the DIY survival blowgun.
It is true that there are quite a few online retailers that will sell a manufactured blowgun for a whopping $50,but believe it or not, you could make a comparably effective one on your own and shell out a fifth of that cost for the materials.
What Can This Baby Actually Do?
First off, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here, because this little DIY-dart-driver isn’t meant to replace your 45-70 for next year’s bear hunt. And no, this is certainly not going to be an effective “home defense weapon” (you’d probably do more damage with a frying pan). But if you’re interested in a survival implement that’s incredibly lightweight and will take little furball critter for brunch … then this should do the trick.
It has three primary benefits:
- Takes down rabbit-sized and smaller animals — In terms of what you can hunt with this DIY blowgun, you’re mostly looking at chipmunks, squirrels, frogs, and no bigger than a jackrabbit/hare.
- Is portable and easy to run — The beauty of this blowgun is that it’s extremely lightweight, and when broken down, it can be strapped to the side of your pack for storing away while trekking and scouting.
- Provides lots of ammo options — Interestingly enough, these blowguns will actually run the same .50 cal dart ammo that’s sold in retail stores. However, you can also make the ammo yourself, too; and in my opinion, the DIY ammo has greater energy transfer and target penetration.
Essentially, you’re looking at a reasonably effective range of around 10 to 15 yards, but I wouldn’t expect much more out of it. At shorter distances, shot placement isn’t nearly as crucial, since the sheer energy of impact will deliver the most shock value to the target, but as distances get longer shot placement becomes crucial, and that requires skill. To give you an idea, here’s a video on what a DIY PVC blowgun is capable of:
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But if you’re going to eventually get good with your DIY blowgun, then we’ve got to get her up and running. So, here’s what you’ll need …
The parts list is rather simple, and can basically be found at any hardware store:
- ½-inch schedule-40 PVC pipe
- Threaded PVC couplers (male and female)
- PVC glue
- Spray paint (camouflaging)
- Wire connectors
- Wire coat hanger(s)
- Wooden grilling skewers
To begin, you’ll need to determine the ideal length of your blowgun. Bear in mind that the longer it ends up being, the more energy can build up behind the dart, resulting in greater velocities. However, the longer the blowgun, the more gravity works against it. The PVC tends to bow in the middle after about six feet.
You can basically use anything that will cut PVC here, because precision isn’t really an issue for this project …
- My suggestion is to cut your ½-inch sched-40 PVC piping down to about 4.5 to 5.5 feet, depending on your level of comfort and the length of your arms. The wide coupler end of the pipe can be used as your mouthpiece.
- Then make another cut, creating two equal halves that are approximately 2.25 to 2.75 feet in length.
- Next, take your ½-inch male and female threaded couplers, and use your PVC glue to fasten them to each half. This will allow you to break down the blowgun when storing, also adding rigidity to the blowgun itself to keep it straight.
- Once that’s done, simply hit the surface with a coat or two of camouflage paint, and she’s all done!
Now, let’s get your ammo ready for target practice. As for the blowgun itself … well … that baby is ready to rock.
Ammo Assembly & Options
This is where your ½-inch diameter wire connectors come in. For some reason, the right size for making your darts usually comes in yellow, but have no fear, because even if you end up wasting money on a pack with the wrong size, you’re still only going to be about $3 invested in your ammo (yet another reason why I love this blowgun).
Next you can either use…
- Straight part of coat hanger. Simply cut it into pieces, pre-drill a hole into the top each plastic wire connector, and fit the coat hanger wire piece into the pilot hole with some gorilla glue. Either sharpen the tip for added penetration or hammer the very top to create a “broadhead effect.”
- Wooden grilling skewers. No cutting necessary; however, you’ll still have to pre-drill a hole into the top of the wire connector and fit in the skewer with glue. These will also work extremely well, and are quite heavy in comparison to manufactured blowgun darts.
- Wire connector without a tip, offering a “stun” option on smaller critters. These are great for target practice, because there’s no prep work, and they’ll send an empty Pepsi can into orbit … along with your sense of self-satisfaction from becoming a blowgun ninja deadeye.
One way to keep track of your ammo is to use that black ½-inch-thick pipe insulation tubing by cutting it into a 4-inch piece. Then, simply fit that piece onto the PVC pipe and glue it down to hold it in place. This ammo-holder works especially well for keeping your coat hanger-wire darts at the ready for lightning fast deployment.
Just because every state and community is different, I wouldn’t actually hunt with this DIY blowgun (or really any blowgun for that matter) until you’ve checked your state laws. You might run into some issues with the local game warden if you’re caught, holding a dead rabbit with a dart sticking out of it. So be sure to do your homework on this one.
Well, other than that, feel free to sharpen your instinctive shooting skills via target practice, but don’t be surprised if you get oddly addicted. I know this addiction from experience: The struggle is real.
What advice would you add on making a DIY blowgun? Share your suggestions in the section below: