Recently my dad came across an old blow-dart gun at an estate sale and bought it for me as a Christmas present. It is a Jivaro survival blowgun by House of Weapons, Inc. Provo, Utah. Upon a quick Google search it doesn’t appear that this company is still in operation. It is made from two pieces of aluminum tube that slip together and make a total length of 5’6”.
I’m assuming they named it after the Jivaro Indians of South America who were famous as headhunters who shrunk the heads of their victims. They also used blowguns for hunting, tipping their darts with poison from the curare plant which stops the animals heart.
I’d always thought it’d be fun to play around with a blowgun but I never took them as serious tools that could be useful for survival. Sure the natives in South America and other parts of the country made good use of them.
And then there was that one villain in the old bond movies that used a blow gun with tranquilizing poison to stealthily render people unconscious.
They seem effective in movies, and most sporting goods and gun stores still sell them so they may be more useful than I thought. I decided I was pretty excited and was ready to get to testing if a blowgun is useful for a prepper.
But I didn’t have any darts …
But I realized I didn’t have any darts for the blowgun. I ordered some from Amazon.com since both sporting good stores I tried didn’t carry them.
But me being impatient I decided to make some of my own darts. Who knows, it’s a possibility that someday we won’t be able to order blowgun darts and have them delivered to the front door!
I found some thin spring steel wire and cut a few pieces between 5 and 6 inches long. Spring steel is less prone to bending and you don’t want your darts getting all bent up.
Then some hot glue, shipping padding for fletching, and a little duct tape and I had usable darts. If you want them sharpened a nice metal file will do the trick.
I wanted to make some darts out of materials from nature but it’s rainy and nasty outside. I planned on using the super long thorns from the honey locust tree that grow over 6 inches long and are hard enough to use as nails when nailing softer woods! Yes, I’ve used the thorns from that tree as nails, it works!
Testing With Homemade Darts
The darts I made performed decent. I could reasonably hit an area of about 6 inches from 15 feet away inside. However when I got outside in the wind they went awry and had no reasonable accuracy. I think a new dart design is needed.
But when shooting inside I achieved some pretty serious results:
When shooting at double wall cardboard the darts would penetrate about halfway through. This was with a controlled exhalation to ensure I was shooting accurately. When pushing my air at full force they would penetrate all the way to the fletching, about 5 inches deep.
I then lined up 6 layers of cardboard and the darts penetrated those with ease. After that I decided to shoot one dart at the wall of my office. We have 2-3 layers of plaster, 1 layer of sheetrock and then a 1’ layer of solid heart pine on the interior walls of our old house. The dart penetrated about 1/4” into the wall and stuck there very well!
Next I set up a wood serving tray from Ikea. I’m estimating it’s thickness to be ¼” and be comprised of a moderately dense wood similar to American Maple. I shot it from 12 feet away and the darts penetrated it easily and averaged an inch of exposed dart past the back of the tray.
Since the accuracy was questionable I decided to try another way of making darts. First I decided to try some fur for the fletching. I thought I had some fake rabbit fur but couldn’t find any. And I’m not about to cannibalize the fox fur in the top of my closet.
So after trying unraveled string and few other things for the end piece I went to Youtube and found a technique where you heat up plastic bottles and form them into little cones. Then you just insert the wire through the rear of the cone, add a little hot glue, trim the cone to fit your blow guns diameter and you’re in business.
A little trial and error turned out some usable plastic cones and some very powerful and accurate darts! This trick worked great.
Even though I was successfully able to create a usable and accurate dart I still wanted to check out some of the commercially available ones.
I went to Amazon.com and ordered basic spearhead darts that came 50 to a package for less than ten bucks.
They are a nice dart even though the wire comes loose from the cone easily. A little dab of gorilla glue handled that situation.
These commercial darts were slightly more accurate than the ones I made. My guess is the cones are more uniform causing them to fly straighter.
Hunting With a Blowgun
For close range small animal hunting a blowgun could be effective enough. I can tell it’s got the power to take down small to medium birds with ease.
It’d likely be easy to take down a cottontail rabbit with the broad-head tipped darts.
Here’s a video from youtube of some guys squirrel hunting with a blowgun – looks effective to me.
I think I’ll keep this old blowgun around and practice with it every now and then. Who knows, I may even get it out to go rat, squirrel, rabbit, and bird hunting. Or in a survival situation where I need a very silent shooter it could be just the right tool!
And don’t forget safety!!! Never inhale or take a breath when your mouth is close to the blowgun. Accidental inhalations of darts happen, sometimes even with safety devices.
One thing for sure, I’ll never take a blowgun to a gun fight! However I’d say the blowgun is a weapon and not a novelty or a toy, but there are more effective weapons available. Anyway blowguns will have a place in my arsenal.
What do y’all think of blowguns? Any experience you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Check out this big bore hunting blowgun. I think it’s going on my wish list.