As I was writing my article on whistles (see link below), I realized I was making some potentially serious assumptions.  I was concentrating on low price and small size, and did not actually try bigger or more expensive whistles.  And, I was relying on the company’s claims.  Upon reflection, this was a bit silly, as the difference in price was only a few dollars, and size only matters for EDC (everyday carry) and small kits, whereas bigger kits (which I am also building) deserve the very loudest.  Besides, advertising has been known to stretch the truth on occasion.

So, I found a store which had a large selection of whistles, and ordered a bunch.  The ‘biggest’ whistle companies (at least they have the most models) seem to be Fox 40 and Acme (from the UK); I added to my existing collection each of the companies’ claimed loudest models and any which seemed fairly loud but small, as well as the Storm and Windstorm.  Generally I was skeptical of any ‘large’ model which did not specify a dB rating, since ‘loud’ is entirely subjective and the only reason to have a large whistle.  Here is the list which I compared to each other to determine which is the ‘loudest’ overall, and the best choice(s) for everyday carry:

Storm and Windstorm

Fox 40 (Micro, Sharx, Sonic Blast)


The nameless one (

Acme (636 Slimline, 649 ‘London Bobby’ low tone,  T2000)

A generic ‘classic’ whistle for comparison purposes

Have another whistle you think should be a contender?  Please let me know.

The testing was an ‘A – B’ comparison indoors about 50 feet and 2 walls apart, with a fan going at both the source and listening ends.  After the first round, the winners (and losers) went through a second round of testing and so on.  The results are, of course, subjective, and based on the way I blew them and the listener’s preferences (higher pitch).  In other words, your mileage may vary.  With the exception of the classic whistle (useless, almost certainly a flaw of this particular one, pea gummed up perhaps) and the Acme 649 (not good at distance), any of these would be useful.  All the other ones worked well, but either used too much air (I was not able to blow it for as long as the others) or there was a louder one or an equivalent one which was smaller or a smoother shape.


The loudest (most discernible) was the Storm (on the right).  This is the one you want in your backpack or belt pack, and around your neck if you know you are likely to need a whistle shortly.  Due to it’s size and clunky shape, it would probably be a poor choice for EDC.

The best of the small whistles was the Fox 40 Micro (leftmost whistle); making it the best choice for small kits and adequate for EDC if a bigger one does not work for your situation, particularly for smaller children.

The best for EDC (loud, moderately sized, versatile lanyard attachment) was the Fox 40 Sharx (middle right).  It is a bit ‘fat’, and if this is a problem, the JetScream (middle left) might be an adequate alternative although it is not quite as loud (or at least was not perceived as being as loud).

Whistle_T2000b Whistle_T2000a Whistle_T2000c

The Acme T2000 has thin wings on the side to make it look like, and allow it to be held like, a classic whistle.  If these were cut down and well rounded, it is possible this whistle could be a contender in the EDC or even small kit category if you eliminate the support ribs.  If you are handy, you could give it a try, but there is a chance you’d trash it, and I’m not sure it would be worth the effort.

As mentioned in the earlier article, there are smaller whistles available if the smallest compared above are not small enough.  Just be aware that you are trading smallness for loudness.

For safety, a ‘break-away’ lanyard is the best, and Fox 40 has a nice one, in a wide variety of colors (3 shown in the winners picture, above, with the breakaway link shown on the left), adjustable and at a very reasonable price.  It does have a metal bezel and snap clip, so if you are likely to be going through a security checkpoint, a length of paracord (shown in the winners picture, above) makes an decent lanyard and and if any metal ring on the whistle is removed, won’t set off a metal detector.

1 Comment

October 12, 2013 · 7:28 pm

One response to “Whistles for Survival and Emergencies – Revisited

  1. Diane

    I helped with the testing of these whistles. I am a singer and have excellent range of hearing. I judged these a lot based not only on how loud they were but on sharpness of sound (to get attention of emergency response at a distance and not get absorbed in white noise) and length of solid strong sound (so that emergency response would be able to have time to “home in” on where the sound was coming from).

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