How To Make A Monkey Fist Knot Useful For Survival

By Will Brendza | Updated: 03/28/2023

The Monkey Fist Knot IS An Incredible Survival Tool 

Monkey Fist

The monkey fist is a knot you should learn for various reasons.

Most people think of them as a self-defense weapon.

And that’s one way to use it.

  • But you can also use it for survival, like climbing over a rock cliff.
  • Another excellent use is to make zipper pulls easier.
  • And this knot also makes for a great dog toy.

So as you can tell, knowing how to use and tie this knot is worth it.

So in today’s article, I’ll be using my vast outdoor experience and training to cover the following topics:


What Is A Monkey Fist

A Brief History Of This Knot

Best Monkey Fist Uses

How To Tie A Monkey Fist Knot

How To Video Tutorials

Best Jigs To Help Make Them

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paracord monkey fist

What Is A Monkey Fist?

Most people don’t even know what a monkey fist is, let alone how to use or make one.

They’re a time-tested self-defense tool that’s both dangerous and effective.

Like a miniature flail, a monkey fist can come in many sizes, shapes, and weights.

Some fit on a self-defense keychain or in a purse; others are larger and harder to conceal.

But they are a versatile means of self-defense survival.

Now, you can purchase various types from different vendors.

And IF you know where to look, they are all over the place.

They’re also a fairly simple device you can make yourself.

Learning how to make one will save you a couple of dollars and is also a very handy skill.

If the grid goes down and anarchy ensues, you’ll want access to as many weapons as possible.

And the more weapons you are capable of making yourself, the better.

The Legality of a Monkey’s Fist?

Well, it’s technically illegal in many states in the US and Canada (plus other areas around the world) IF you wrap this knot around a hard object.

But Why?!!

I mean, how is it any different from a hammer?

Watch this video to understand how the monkey’s fist became an illegal weapon:


And just for fun, here’s the “world’s largest build.”

↓ World Largest Monkey Fist ↓

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Brief History Of This Knot

As with most knotted instruments, the origins of monkey fists are out at sea in the 1800s.

Sailors used them to throw lines between ships or to shore, and in a pinch, they would use them in a fight, too.

Initially, the knot was tied around cannonballs to add a lot of extra heft.

And imagine what that would do to an attacker!

Getting slammed with a cannonball flail could cause some severe damage.

Since then, they’ve spread widely as a survival tool for self-defense.

Most of the ones you’ll find today are not cannon-ball-sized.

Instead, they’re shrunk down to marble size.

This makes them easy to carry.

Or they can be attached to a zipper tab, keychain attachments, or bug-out bag loops.

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Best Uses

This is one of the most diverse tools in a survivalist arsenal.

Unlike other pocket weapons (like pepper spray), this knot can serve various purposes, from decorative to dangerous.

Here is a shortlist of the most popular uses:

Self Defense

There’s no telling when or where you’ll fall into a bit of trouble.

It could be while walking home from a friend’s house late at night.

Or maybe it’s while you’re wandering around a town on vacation.

It could happen when you return to your car in a deserted parking lot.

Wherever you are or whatever you’re doing, you need a means of self-defense.

Something to protect yourself from an attacker.

One who emerges from the shadows and demands your wallet or threatens your life.

There are many self-defense tools for such a situation.

These devices make great self-defense weapons.

Ones you can keep with relative ease and covertly.

You can stash them into pockets, purses, or bags with no problem.

And many can be attached to a wallet, zipper, or keychain, enabling fast access in tight situations.

Here’s how to use one for self-defense:

Hold the long end by the tip and swing the heavy knot hard – using it as a flail.

You want to strike your attacker with the blunt knot at the end.

Swing hard and follow through to generate the most power per stroke.

Aim for sensitive areas like the temple, trachea, or groin.

The more massive your knot, the harder your swing.

The more force is generated, the more effective the weapon becomes.

↓ Monkey Fist testing. Can It Really Protect? ↓

Rock Climbing

Back in the day, before rock climbing was as widely recognized as a sport, they were used as cams.

Cams, for those who don’t know, are the devices climbers jam into cracks to create points of contact.

Today’s cams are very technical, but this knot can do the same for rock climbing.

You wedge the “fist” into a crack in the rock as tightly as possible. Then you clip your rope into the other end with a carabiner.

I don’t recommend using this unless you have no other option.

Using makeshift climbing equipment is extremely dangerous.

↓ Monkey fists don’t work or get stuck if they do ↓

Skydiving Parachute Ripcord

This is popular among people who deal with parachutes.

Skydivers attach these to their parachute ripcords. This makes it easier to grasp the ripcord while in free fall.

You might buy very colorful ones (or use colorful paracord to make your own).

That way, when the wind whips past your face, you can easily see your ripcord, grab, and yank it.

Then, hopefully, your chute comes out.

Zipper Attachments

Have a zipper that lost its grip tab? No problem!

You can make small one and tie them to your zipper, even if the slider grip has fallen off.

Due to their shape, they make great little zipper knobs.

Plus, you can attach them to anything – tactical backpacks, duffel bags, and even pants!

↓ 8 Awesome Paracord Zipper Pulls ↓

Dog Toys

Tired of buying expensive rope toys for your dog at the store?

Make your own!

They make excellent pet toys because the material is cheap (rope or cord), and they are very durable.

Perfect for chewing or tug of war, a well-tied monkey fist will make your canine companion happy as a clam.

And you can keep making them new when they tear apart the ones they’ve got.

↓ Making a ‘Monkey Fist’ Dog Toy (How-To) ↓


This knot works well as a keychain for several reasons.

First, they are usually bright and easy to spot (thus making your keys easy to find and harder to lose).

Second, this puts an extra self-defense weapon at your fingertips.

Keys are one thing that’s almost always on a person. Keeping one on your self-defense keychain ensures you’re always armed.

↓ 3 Great Ways To Finish A Monkey’s Fist Key Chain ↓


This was the original purpose.

If you have ever tried throwing a rope a long distance, you understand that the task is nearly impossible.

But when you have a heavy knot on the end of the rope, you are throwing; it adds a lot of extra weight—enabling the thrower with much higher accuracy and much greater power.

But rope is not the only thing you can throw with this knot.

You can also attach written messages to the handle to pass messages over a decent distance.

Or you can tie smoke bombs to them to smoke out an area within throwing range.

You could even use them to throw fire. Douse it with gasoline, light it up, and throw it as hard as possible.

↓ How to use a monkey fist for rope throwing ↓

As Paracord

Finally, most are made of paracord.

And Paracord itself has a ton of survival uses.

So if you’re ever in a tight spot and need some paracord, you can disassemble and use it instead.

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How To Make A Monkey Fist Knot

Maybe you want a specific size, or maybe you want to get one made from particular cordage material.

But finding the perfect one can be difficult or impossible.

That’s why learning how to make your own is important.

You can customize it to meet your personal needs and desires.

Not only that but in a dire survival situation, it’s helpful to know how to make a monkey fist.

You could make a backup weapon for yourself and anyone else in your party.

And when it comes to defending yourself in an “IT hits the fan scenario,” there can never be too many weapons on hand.

The Materials

Note: A jig makes this process much easier.

We cover a few good jigs to consider after we show you how to tie one without first.

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Want a free 54 item survival gear checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Video Tutorials

As they say, an image is worth a thousand words.

So there are several “how to make a monkey fist” tutorial videos:

Without A Marble

This video shows you how to make a monkey fist without an object (like a marble) on the inside.

This makes for a very small, keychain-sized fist knot.

However, be aware that these don’t provide much self-defense value.

How to Make a Monkey’s Fist with No Marbel | Ball Bearing Tutorial

With A Marble

This video shows you how to make a monkey fist with a marble on the inside.

↓ Paracord Monkey fist how to ↓

Using A Jig

This video shows you the process of using the help of a simple jig to build your paracord monkey fist.

How to make a Monkey Fist using the Speedy Jig

The Process – Step By Step

1. Hold the cord

Wrap the paracord vertically three times around the fingers of your non-dominant hand.

This should create a loop that is three wraps wide.

Make sure the longer end is closer to your fingertips, as that will be the end you are working with.

2. Slide the triple-loop off your hand

First, make sure not to let the three loops fall out.

Next, pull the loops off your left hand and hold them between your right thumb and index fingers.

3. Warp horizontally

Continue holding the three original vertical loops with your right hand.

Use your left to wrap the long end through and around the vertically looped cord.

Do this three times.

You should now have three horizontal loops wrapped around three vertical loops.

4. Wrap vertically again

This step is somewhat optional, but it strengthens your knot.

(It depends on how much spare cord you have left.)

Once you’ve finished your horizontal wraps, make three more vertical wraps over the top of the ones you originally looped.

Now pass these second horizontal loops between the original vertical ones and the secondary horizontal ones.

5. Insert a round object

At this point, there should be an opening within the loops you have made to insert a round object.

Whatever you’re using, whether it’s a steel ball bearing, marble, rock, golf ball, pool ball, or another round, heavy object, place it inside the loops.

6. Tighten the knot

You need to work through and tighten each loop individually.

Start with the loop closest to the short end of the cord and work your way through the horizontal loops.

And then through the secondary vertical loops.

Tighten each one, ensuring you don’t pull too hard on the first few loops.

This may take a little practice, and it will take some patience.

So try not to get too frustrated.

Work through the knot several times to achieve maximum tightness.

Once you’re finished, you’ll have a functional monkey fist.

This is not a project that will work the first time perfectly.

You’ll likely need several times before you’re successful.

But once you get the hang of it, it will come naturally.

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Want a free 78 item prepper checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Best Monkey Fist Jigs On The Market Today

Again, some jigs and toolkits to make life easier.

They serve as an extra set of fingers to hold the loops as you make them.

This also enables you to tie four-, five-, and even six-loop monkey fists!

You may want to invest in one, depending on how often you plan to make them.

Paracord Planet Paracord Bracelet Pro Jigs

With this jig, choose from 10”, 14”, 18”, 24”, 30”, & 60” sizes.

The Paracord Bracelet Pro Jig includes vertical dowel posts to support various paracord projects.

This jig will hold your projects in place for easier and faster finishes. It also includes etched measurements to provide accurate dimensions.

Check Today's Price
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↓ Understanding and Using Paracord Bracelet Jigs ↓

Maxi-Monkey Jig (Silver) Paracord Tool Jig

This simple monkey fist jig can make monkey fists from 5/8" up to 2 1/4" (pool ball size).

It features a rugged full metal construction platform with (4) zinc-plated steel rods for exceptional strength.

Check Today's Price
We earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

↓ 3 Monkey’s Fist Jigs REVIEWED | Which Is BEST? ↓

SpeedyJig Plus Paracord Bracelet & Monkey Fist Jig

This jig can make monkey fists up to 2.5" in diameter and paracord bracelets that are 4-13” long.

It's built with a sturdy powder-coated steel base that will stay in place while you work, thanks to rubber feet.

The built-in ruler makes it easy to correctly size your paracord survival bracelets when you're not making a monkey fist.

Check Today's Price
We earn a small commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
↓ Speedy Jig Monkey’s Fist Jig Review | Worth A Buy? ↓

Final Thoughts

Monkey fists are insanely versatile survival tools.

They’re cheap, they’re relatively easy to make, and they’re highly useful for survival.

Owning one is beneficial for survival, but knowing how to make your own is worth learning.

They make great survival gifts and are useful for survival and everyday life.

Few survival knots are as useful as this knot, and even fewer can achieve such a wide range of survival needs.

Will Brendza

Will Brendza

  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Member of The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association
  • Certifications: Avalanche 1, WFR (expired), CPR (expired)
  • 8+ Years Researching, Writing, About Survival and Preparedness
  • Awards from Society of Professional Journalists
  • Winner of Camp Cold’s “Happy Camper” award in 2020
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