Weapons of Opportunity

Weapons of Opportunity

Andrew’s Note:  Prepography reader JD in Portland, OR who’s a Marine Corps veteran has been teasing me lately for not including enough anything but Army Manual reprints when we don’t publish original articles or infographics.  He said he want’s to see something from ‘The Corps’ so here you go JD…Task MCCS.23.15, Identify Weapons of Opportunity from The Marine Corps Common Skills Handbook, Book 1B, All Marines (what the Army calls Skill Level 1).

Condition:  Given the requirement, scenario, battlespace, and without the aid of the references.

Standard:  The Marine must identify weapons of opportunity while adhering to all safety precautions in accordance with the references.


In any unarmed close combat situation, a Marine can rely on his or her body as a weapon. In addition, a Marine should be ready and able to use anything around him or her to serve as a weapon. This may mean throwing sand or liquid in an opponent’s eyes to temporarily impair his or her vision so you can smash the opponent’s head with a rock, e-tool, helmet, or anything that is readily available. In a confrontation, a Marine must use whatever it takes to win or face the very real possibility of losing his or her life.


Identify blunt and sharp objects that could be used as weapons.  Weapons of opportunity include:

Entrenching Tool (E-TOOL)

Marines commonly carry an E-tool. It can be an excellent weapon, especially when sharpened. The E-tool can be used to block, slash, smash, and thrust at an opponent as shown in figure 1.  Andrew’s Note:  There’s something particularly intimidating about someone coming at you with an entrenching tool.  In World War I troops often preferred to fight hand-to-hand using their e-tools rather than their bayonets when they had to abandon their rifles during a trench melee.  I much prefer the Entrenching Tool Gerber makes to the G.I. Original because of the weight and construction…it even fits in the same entrenching tool carriers but is a bit pricier.

 Entrenching ToolTent Pole and Pins

Tent poles and pins can be used to block, strike, or thrust at an opponent as shown in figure 2.

Marine Tent PoleWeb or Rigger’s Belt

A web [equipment belt] or riggers [refers to a parachute rigger’s type of belt which is a popular military style of belt] belt can be stretched between your hands and used to block an opponent’s attack. It can also be an effective choking weapon as shown in figure 3.

Marine BeltDebris on the Battlefield

Debris on the battlefield such as sticks, glass, or any sharp piece of metal may be used to cut, slash, or stab an opponent. Other debris such as a shovel or ax handles, boards, metal pipe, or broken rifles may be used to strike an opponent or apply a choke as shown in figure 4.  Andrew’s Note:  Leave it to a Marine to take a perfectly good M-16 and use it like a club…. seriously though, if  he did need to use a broken firearm as a club he needed to make sure it wasn’t loaded first.

Marine DebrisHelmet

The helmet’s primary use is to protect the Marine’s head, however, a helmet can also be used to strike an opponent on an unprotected area like the head and face. Grasped the rim of the helmet with both hands. Thrust your arms forward and strike your opponent with the base of the helmet as shown in figure 5.  Andrew’s Note:  Our Marine below isn’t following directions very well, he’s supposed to hold the helmet in both hands. 
Marine Helmet


  • MCO 1500.54, Marine Corps Martial Arts Training Program (MCMATP)
  • MCRP 3-02B, Close Combat


  • Ensure all safety precautions are adhered to when performing this task.  Andrew’s Note: This Marine manual was kind enough to point out that the instructors or evaluators need to make sure that “all safety precautions are adhered to”… they just didn’t bother to tell their fellow marines what those were.  That’s O.K. though…Marines have a very well deserved reputation for being tough!  I’ve been fortunate to serve with a number of Devil Dogs over my Army career and to JD in Portland and all the other Marines out there (there’s no such thing as a former Marine you know) I salute you!
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