Which javelins are best?

Javelins and other throwing spears have been used for almost the entire span of human history as tools for hunting and weapons of war. They are still used as projectiles in athletic competitions and survival tools among some hunters and wilderness survival experts.

The Reapr 11003 Survival Spear is a classic hunting javelin design made using tough modern materials. Other javelins on the market have features better suited for athletic competitions, historical reenactments and other non-hunting activities.

What to know before you buy a javelin

The difference between javelins and spears

Traditional spears can be thrown and traditional javelins can be used as melee weapons in a pinch, but the design of javelins is far better for hitting targets at a distance. Javelins are shorter than spears and have lighter, more slender shafts, the better for hurling across long distances. 

The difference between sports javelins and weapon javelins

Modern sports javelins aren’t made for hunting or fighting; they have blunted tips, sleek aerodynamic designs, light metal shafts and centers of gravity designed to let athletes throw them across impressively long distances. Military and hunting javelins, in contrast, have sharp points for piercing hide and armor coupled with weight and heft that prioritizes causing damage. Some models of javelin or dart are even made with weighted tips so they arc down when thrown into the air.

Basic javelin throwing techniques

According to the official Olympics website, an athletic javelin-thrower starts with a run-up, holding the javelin up by its head and sprinting down a runway toward the foul line. A few steps before reaching the foul line, they twist their waist, bring their arms back and step sideways, using the joints of the arm, the rotation of their waist and one final lunge to hurl the javelin. 

In wars and hunts of the ancient world, most javelin-throwers probably threw from a stationary position, prioritizing swiftness and accuracy over range.

What to look for in a quality javelin

A design that matches its intended purpose

If you’re looking to throw javelins during a modern athletic competition, search for products with blunted tips, long shafts and a generally aerodynamic shape balanced to fly far. If you want to use them in a survival situation or throw them at fixed targets, it’s better to buy javelins with shorter shafts and a blade more akin to historic spears.

Shafts made from light but sturdy materials

As mentioned before, javelins should generally have shorter, more slender shafts than spears so throwers can hurl them farther. At the same time, javelin shafts should be made of sturdy woods or even the tough synthetics used in certain survival machetes. Unlike in the past, modern smithing workshops don’t mass-produce barrels of expendable javelins that soldiers can literally throw away on the battlefield.

A central grip that isn’t slippery

To throw a javelin using the force of your entire body, you need to be able to tightly grip its center of mass, transmitting all of your accumulated kinetic energy into the projectile up until the point of release. To this end, search for javelins with a braided or rubber grip near the center of gravity. Alternately, search for javelins with shafts made from a coarse but comfortable material that won’t easily slip through your hands. 

How much you can expect to spend on javelins

Modern “tactical” hunting javelins cost $70 on average. Javelins made for athletic competitions, experimental archaeology or historical reenactments can cost anywhere from $100-300.

Javelin FAQ

Q. What equipment did pre-modern javelin throwers carry?

A. Many javelin throwers in the ancient Mediterranean used a tool called an amentum, a leather strap wound several times around the javelin’s shaft. By lightly grasping one end of the strap before throwing, athletes, hunters and skirmishers could make their javelins spin like a top upon release, increasing the projectile’s stability in flight. 

Other cultures in other times made use of spear throwers similar to the Aztec atlati, wooden shafts with spurs at their tips designed to cradle the back end of a javelin or dart. These tools extended the length of a javelin thrower’s arm, letting them throw their projectiles with more force and longer range.

Q. What role did javelins play on battlefields of the ancient world?

A. In pre-modern battlefields, military javelins were frequently used by lightly equipped skirmishers such as the Greek peltast, who would approach a formation of enemies, hurl their handfuls of javelins outside melee range, then retreat before their slower foes could close the gap. Roman legionnaires and other heavy infantry forces with large shields also used throwing weapons like javelins and weighted darts, generally hurling a single volley to disrupt their enemy’s formation before entering close-quarters combat.

What’s the best javelin to buy?

Top javelin

11003 Survival Spear

Reapr 11003 Survival Spear

What you need to know: This 44-inch long tactical throwing spear uses modern materials to re-create the javelins of the ancient world.

What you’ll love: Its shaft is made from a blend of nylon and fiberglass, while the leaf blade is tipped with stainless steel and comes with a rubberized snap sheath for safety purposes. It’s balanced for throwing and close-quarters self-defense.

What you should consider: The shaft of this spear is a bit too short to be used as a walking stick.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top javelin for the money

Turbojav 400 Grams Training Javelin

Turbojav 400 Grams Training Javelin

What you need to know: This compact, bargain-priced javelin is a great training tool for athletes that can be thrown indoors and outdoors.

What you’ll love: Its shaft and vanes are made of medical grade polyethylene, while the safety tip is made from soft elastomer. It weighs 400 grams, is 28 inches long and comes in four color combinations.

What you should consider: The inventory stickers on these javelins sometimes give the wrong weight measurement.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Gill Athletics Boy’s Tru-Flight Javelin

Gill Athletics Boys Tru-Flight Javelin

What you need to know: This athlete’s javelin is designed to comply with the regulations for most javelin throwing competitions.

What you’ll love: It’s roughly 106 inches long and weighs around 800 grams. The stiff shaft is made from hardened aluminum and has a padded grip near its center of gravity. The tip is blunt and designed to embed itself in grass fields.

What you should consider: This javelin is designed for sporting events, not hunting excursions.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Coleman Gailloreto writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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