Necessity is the mother of all invention, so is the desperation to live. So, if you found yourself in the middle of a battle without your beloved M4 or an Abrams Tank, then you gotta improvise, adapt, overcome. With that, here are some improvised weapons used throughout history (and even now).

Molotov Cocktail

molotov cocktail
A member of a demolition team from Task Force Alpha, 2nd Marine Division, displays a Molotov cocktail that failed to work during Operation Desert Storm.

Perhaps the most famous when it comes to improvised weapons, this incendiary weapon is fairly easy to make. Before this improvised incendiary became the Molotov cocktails, they were already being used in the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1939. They made these “petrol bombs” by filling a jam jar with petrol before wrapping its mouth with fabric before igniting and throwing it on Soviet T-26 tanks. The goal was for the jar to shatter and set fire to the engine compartment or rubber bogey wheels of the tank. It was the Finns who first coined it as the Molotov cocktail during the Winter War of 1939 as the “Molotovin koktaili” in Finnish, as an insult to Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov whom they held responsible for starting the war. In the Finnish version, it was made from a bottle of vodka filled with gasoline with two long-burning woodsman matches attached to its sides with cotton strips.

K Pattern Flamethrower 

This simple flamethrower made for the Polish underground was used in the Warsaw Uprising during WWII in 1944. The components were simple: two interconnected cylindrical steel fuel tanks, a compressed air bottle, a rubber fuel hose, and a flaming rope. This design was made in ordinary workshops and was deemed a successful weapon, considering its primitive design.

Blyskawica Submachine Gun

Weapons used by Polish insurgents during the Warsaw Uprising. Upper: Błyskawica SMG, lower: STEN Mk.II.

Blyskawica was a weapon covertly manufactured during WWII. This improvised gun was designed by two Polish engineers, Wacław Zawrotny and Seweryn Wielanier, and was originally produced in Britain. Materials for this gun included waterpipes and some other basic materials joined with machine screws and plumbing micro-groove threads for easier production. Blyskawica was a result of the Polish resistance being underequipped against the Nazis. All in all, around 600 pieces were built in Warsaw.