Unspeakable Times

Everyday Objects That Were Turned Into Prison Weapons 

Mike Rothschild
Updated March 3, 2020 2.6M views 15 items

In this list of true prison stories, you'll learn how DIY weapon creativity is off the charts behind bars. Inmates make everything from flamethrowers to fully-functioning crossbows. Plus, there's the usual array of shivs, shanks, knives, and blades - all made out of ordinary items you can buy in the commissary or get brought in for you.

Here are 17 of the most creative and brutal weapons that have ever been made by prison inmates. Some facilitated escapes, others never got a chance to whack anyone in the face before they were sniffed out. But, they're all examples of how having a lot of time on your hands and a lot of enemies can lead to some disturbingly innovative means of protection.

Bedpost Shotgun

One of a number of homemade weapons retrieved from German prisons, this ad-hoc shotgun was made from iron bedposts, used gunpowder made of lead from curtain tape and match-heads, and was fired by AA batteries and a broken light bulb.

On May 21, 1984, two inmates used it to take a guard hostage, shoot through a bullet-proof glass, bust out of jail and steal a car.

Toothbrush Crossbow

A Canadian prisoner in solitary used his time to make one of the most creative and complicated prison weapons in history. He built a full-fledged crossbow, using “10 toothbrushes, a cigarette lighter, a section of ballpoint pen casing, a piece of wire coat hanger, a section of a pair of aluminum cafeteria tongs, assorted electrical components, pieces of yellow rubber gloves, some Kleenex, a piece of string, and a few screws.”

The bolts were made of tightly packed toilet paper and aluminum foil – and they could be fired as far as 40 feet. The weapon doesn’t appear to have ever been used, and was confiscated and put on display.

Homemade Bomb

Convicted murderer Peter Saunders was held at maximum-security Stateville Correctional Center. Saunders built a fire bomb out of a battery, electrical wires and ground up match heads in a Magic Marker, then sent it in a hollowed-out book to Federal judge Blanche Manning. The bomb was discovered and disarmed long before it got there.

Wooden Post Razor Whip

Made of a simple wooden post, a shoelace, and razor blades, this horrifying homemade weapon was seized from a prisoner in Hamburg in the '90s.