Preparedness blog

How to Make a Survival Whistle

By Emily Hutchison
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Can you whistle? I can call the dog, but that is about it. Do you remember your high school gym teacher whistling to get the game going? Whistling is nothing new. It has been used as a form of communication for thousands of years. Several isolated mountainous regions developed languages using only whistling. Whistling was ideal for caring messages across long distances. Whistling can be heard from farther away than shouting. More importantly, whistling can be understood from great distances. Shouting will only travel about a third of a mile and won't be very clear. Whistling, on the other hand, will travel nearly 2 miles and be clear as a bell on the other side. With the advent of the telephone communicating across long distances has gotten much easier. Speakers of Sylbo, a little know whistle language from the island of La Gomera part of the Spanish Canary Islands, fight to keep their language and traditions alive. The whistlers of Antio, a Greek island village, face a similar fate. If whistling is no longer used it will be forgotten just like other ancient languages.

Scottish shepherds have used differently pitched whistles to communicate with there Border Collies to move sheep herds up and down the rugged hills for hundreds of years. During a survival situation, a whistle can be used to communicate with other members of the group, warn of danger, or call for help. You can even use a whistle for morse code. A whistle is perfect for long and short sounds that make up morse code. The Boy Scouts of America recommend carrying a rescue whistle when venturing out into the wilderness. It has even become popular for many college women carry a rape whistle to signal for help during an attack. A whistle can be made from just about anything, including a bullet shell. Keep a whistle with your survival gear, you never know when it might come in handy.

Bullet Survival Whistle 

Items Needed

  • .223 bullet shell
  • .22 bullet shell
  • Scrap brass (bullet shell)
  • Flashlight
  • Cordage
  • Triangle file
  • Solder
  • Diagonal cutting pliers


  1. Place the triangle file just below the bend in the shell casing. Roll the file so it sits on the pointed side. Make a mark on the shell. The mark should be 1/4 from the bend in the shell casing.
  2. Keep filing until the blade of the triangle file sits just inside the shell.
  3. Use the diagonal cutting pliers to remove the bottom edge.
  4. Solder the spare brass to the top of the .22 shell casing so it covers the opening half way. Cut away the excess brass.
  5. Push the .22 shell into the .223 shell. It should be a snug fit, solder it into place. The two opening in the shell should meet. Use the flashlight to make sure everything is lined up correctly.
  6. File down the top for a smooth finish.
  7. Tie some cordage around the end of the shell casing to attach it to your other survival gear.


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6 years ago
3 years ago at 12:01 PM
Whistles are so cheap these days that it is hardly worth the effort to attempt to make a whistle when one can buy one almost everywhere for under $5.00. For under $10 one can buy a whistle loud enough that one should wear earplugs when using it to any extent. I have four in my vehicle. Two in my bug-out bag and two in my everyday carry bag that goes with me everywhere. In addition, I have two on either side of the bed so that if trapped in my bed because of a bad earthquake at night, I can reach it and sound it so that rescuers know I am in the collapsed building.