While the collapse of pre-war society led to countless military and police weapons falling into the hands of survivors of the war, homemade improvised weapons remain in common use around the world in the aftermath of the Great War. These improvised weapons may be made for pre-war parts, including scrap metal and even parts from purpose-built weapons, or from natural materials such as wood or stone, and may include melee weapons, firearms, explosives, and sometimes even energy weapons. Until the limited revival of pre-war industry, homemade improvised weapons were the only new weapon manufacturing in the world
While pre-war knives, axes, and other bladed weapons are commonly used, typically as secondary weapons to a firearm, the crafting of handmade melee weapons in the postwar world remains common. These designs range from crude blades cut from sheet metal with a blowtorch and sharpened to less common, relatively high quality blades made using traditional hand-forging techniques.
- Gladius vulgaris/Improvised machete: A crude short sword or machete made and used by Caesar's Legion from scavenged lawn mower blades or sharpened sheet metal, sometimes known as the gladius vulgaris (Latin: common sword). The weapons is the most commonly used weapon of recruit Legionaries, and often the only one they are issued with (other weapons seen in the hands of Legion recruits are typically scavenged). The grip of the blade is very crude, often consisting of a metal tang cut into the end of the blade using a blowtorch, which is wrapped in cloth or duct tape, or in some cases covered in two wood pieces attached by bolts. As it is often poorly maintained, the blade does not hold an edge well, does not last for an extended period of time, and is generally inferior to hand-forged blades, pre-war machetes, and blades manufactured after the revival of pre-war industry in the New California Republic.
- Bumper Sword: An improvised blade commonly used by super mutants made from crudely sharpened car bumpers, the bumper sword is not particularly sharp, but heavy, allowing it to cleave through flesh and bone like an axe. The Bumper sword is generally a single-edged blade used mostly for slashing, though some do have a crude point. While the point found on some models would at least theoretically allowing the user to thrust, the heavy, unwieldy design makes thrusting with the weapon difficult. While mostly used by super mutants, there are some examples of bumper swords being used by humans, most notably the Blade of the East, a bumper sword Legate Lanius of Caesar's Legion took as a trophy from a fallen Super Mutant warlord, and subsequently used as a two-handed sword.
- Deathclaw/Bladed Gauntlets: The Deathclaw gauntlet is a fearsome melee weapons fashioned from the severed hand of a Deathclaw, with two or more of the large claws acting as brutal blades which can be used for slashing attacks or thrust forward with a "punching" motion. Similar Gauntlets have also been made from the hands of giant mantises or Yao Guai, as well as more conventional improvised punching daggers made with steel blades or even parts from old bear traps.
- Deathclaw Dagger:: In addition to the gauntlet, some examples of daggers constructed from deathclaw claws also exist. These weapons typically consist of a single claw which may be mounted on a wooden or metal grip, or a grip made from the phalanges of a deathclaw finger held together by a metal rod through the middle. While deathclaw daggers are sharp enough to use in combat, they are often kept primarily as trophies, as proof the owner killed one of the fearsome beasts.
- Clubs: Improvised clubs are generally short, one-handed designs intend for extreme close-quarters combat, follow a wide variety of designs which typically use a wooden or metal shaft and a metal or stone head, and may have metal flanges, studs, or spikes, making them reminiscent of a medieval mace or a First World War trench club, while others may resemble traditional clubs of cultures of various regions. For instance, in parts of the Southwestern US, clubs based on Native American war clubs are common. These weapons may be known by a variety of names including "wasteland clubs", "war clubs", "trench clubs", "maces", "morning stars", and "skullcrackers". While small one-handed club-type weapons are most common among humans, super mutants tend to favor heavier two-handed blunt weapons, which are more frequently used as a primary weapon, including wooden boards studded with nails or fitted with circular saw blades, as well as weapons fashioned from road signs.
- Modified Baseball Bats/"Swatters": Among the most common improvised melee weapons found the post-war United States are old baseball bats, sometimes referred to as "nailbats" or "swatters". As the sport of baseball was practically lost after the war, baseball bats are used mostly as two-handed clubs. While some are used as-is, many baseball bats were modified to increase their lethality, with common attachments including nails, barbed wire, razor blads, railroad spikes, and circular saw blades.
- Modified Tools
Bows and CrossbowsEdit
While firearms, whether pre-war or improvised are the most common weapons in the post-war world, bows and crossbows are nonetheless commonly used for hunting and combat as they are practically completely silent and the arrows or bolts can be collected and reused. The designs of wasteland bows and crossbows are practically as varied as the weapons themselves, ranging from traditionally made weapons made from wood and other natural materials to those constructed from materials such as spring steel and synthetic strings, often with springs and pulleys added to further increase the power of each shot. In addition to bows and crossbows, weapons that are truly more classed as slingshot- relying on the elasticity of the string instead of the body, are sometimes used to fire projectiles such as arrows, bolts, and sometimes even explosives.
Repeating and Automatic CrossbowsEdit
Among the most advanced designs are repeating crossbows, many generally are either similar to an ancient Chinese design (possibly based on old museum pieces or images in pre-war books), intended to be fired from the hip using a top-mounted lever, from a magazine of about ten bolt. However, these designs cannot be easily fired from the shoulder. For this reason, some Wastelanders have designed pump-action repeating crossbow or even "fully automatic" designs operated using a crank mechanism, with magazines of up to 30 bolts. Most repeating crossbows are less powerful than standard crossbows, and for this reason, bolts may be coated with poison to increase lethality.
Examples of explosive arrows and crossbow bolts are sometimes observed in the wasteland, effectively turning a bow into an improvised grenade launcher. Many designs make use of partial sticks of dynamite taped to arrows, which must be lit using a long fuse before drawing the and releasing (except in a crossbow, where they an be easily lit when drawn). Some also use hand grenades, equipped with a mechanism on the crossbow to pull the pin or at least hold the safety lever in place once the pin is pulled. In general, the safest, but rarest designs make use of a piece of remote C-4 attached to the an arrow, which will not detonate until the user activate the detonator, eliminating the risk of being killed by their own arrow if the user drops it, for instance.
Air and Steam GunsEdit
Among the rarer and more unusual weapon designs seen in the wasteland are weapons similar to guns, but which fire projectiles with compressed air or steam instead of a powder charge. Of the two types of weapon, air-powered variants are by far the most common, typically operated by a hand-pump or, in come cases a compressed air tank filled by a electrical or gas-powered compressor, should one be available. Postwar air-powered weapons are functionally similar to pre-war BB guns, but much more powerful, firing either very large lead slug (.50 caliber or greater), or some form of sharp projectile, either a single arrow, spike, or spear, or a blast of flechettes. While air and steam-powered guns have a lower muzzle velocity and shorter range than conventional firearms, like bows and crossbows, they have the advantage of being almost completely silent.
- Railway Rifle: The railway rifle is one of the more unusual designs of improvised weapons found in the Wasteland, even for the already unusual category of air and steam-powered weapons. The railway rifle uses a gas-powered torch to heat a water vessel into order to create steams. When the trigger is a pulled, a spring-loaded mechanism chambers a railway spike, before releasing a valve, the steam pressure ejecting the spike at high speeds.
While pre-war firearms are relatively common, at least in the North American wasteland, substantial numbers of improvised firearms are still in use in North American, and they are particularly common in areas where civilian ownership of guns was less common, such as Europe, China, and Japan. These weapons range from simple single-shot weapons and to intricately designed semi or fully automatic weapons, some even being handmade copies of pre-war manufactured weapons. The majority of these weapons are chambered for either common pistol-caliber rounds or shotgun shells. Rifle caliber weapons are rarer, as they require a more durable construction to survive the higher pressures of firing.
While significant stocks of pre-war mines and grenades remain in use in the postwar period, improvised munitions played an increasing role as the stock of pre-war explosives were slowly depleted. One of the most common pre-war improvised grenades remains the Molotov cocktail, a simple bottle of gasoline, alcohol, or other flammable liquid with a rag for fuse, used as a simple incendiary device. In addition to Molotov cocktails, improvised mines and grenades, typically using homemade explosives such as black powder or ammonium nitrate are in common use. Among the most common designs for improvised grenades are the "pipe bomb" and "tin can grenade", which consist of a metal pipe and a tin can respectively filled with homemade explosives and nails and other metal scraps for shrapnel. These devices are typically triggered by a simple hand-lit fuse or a crude imitation of a pre-war grenade fuse, using a spring mechanism held in place by a safety pin. When the pin is released, a spring-loaded striker strikes a percussion cap, which in turn ignites a short (typically 2-5 seconds) fuse.
Improvised mines may be made from a variety of different materials, some of the most common casing being cigar boxes, lunch boxes, and paint cans loaded with explosives and shrapnel similarly to improvised grenade designs. These devices may be triggered by a trip wire or a sensor made from pre-war electronic components.
Improvised Energy WeaponsEdit
Energy weapons are among the most valuable weapons in the post-war wasteland, being rarer than conventional firearms, but highly prized for their range and accuracy. When an energy weapon breaks down, the owner will often attempt to repair it, and if purpose-built parts are not available, they will make use of parts taken from other sources, typically pre-war electronics. One of the most common designs of improvised energy weapons is an improvised laser rifle with a capacitor charged with a hand-cranked dynamo. This design has the unique advantage of not needing fusion cells to operate. These weapons are most common in the Commonwealth, where they are referred to as "laser muskets", but can be seen in a variety of locations across the wasteland. For instance, on the rare occasion a laser weapons finds its way into an isolated wasteland settlement, it will often be converted into such a hand-cranked weapon as soon as the supply of fusion cells is exhausted. These weapons generally much more fragile and do not last as long as the reliable AER-9 laser rifle, and there is a danger of overcharging and damaging the capacitor (though Commonwealth laser muskets avoid this with a mechanical device that stops cranking after given number of cranks and does not allow further cranking until the trigger is pulled). These improvised laser weapons often have the pulse-control mechanism removed, meaning that all of the charge in the capacitor is released at once. This means that the beam is far more powerful, with some Commonwealth laser muskets reportedly able to have comparable armor penetration to a .50 BMG round, but this will eventually increased wear on the lens due to heat stress. The assembly of an improvised laser weapon may be mounted on the original stock and grip, typically of an AER-9 laser rifle, or on a hand-made stock and grip, as is often the case with Commonwealth laser muskets.
Hand-loaded ammunition made by re-using fired cartridges is by far the most common source of ammunition in the wasteland, at least until the industrial revival in regions such as the New California Republic, and even afterwards in more remote regions. In most cases, rounds are reloaded with a solid lead or steel projectile, which in some cases may not have a copper jacket. If the round is unjacketed, it will result in greater fouling of the barrel, requiring more frequent cleaning, an issue which may also present itself due to the lower-quality propellants used.
Shotguns are among the most common weapons in the postwar period, and also have seen some of the most unique and creative forms of improvised ammunition, by virtue of it being easily possible to load anything that will fit in the shell into the weapon. It should be noted that some forms of improvised shotgun rounds may damage the barrel of the weapon they are fired from.
- "Junk shot": Shotguns shells are sometimes refilled with various improvised projectiles, such as small ball bearings, small nails, nuts, pieces of bolts, razor blades, coins, cut-up pieces of thick wire such as a coat hanger, and other small metal scraps. These projectiles can cause severe trauma, but may damage the barrel of the shotgun.