Update on Self-Defense Products
About a year ago I researched and wrote my first Advisory about stun guns and tasers for self-defense. It generated a number of comments then, and continues to be one of our most popular posts.
You may want to take the time to read it here, then come back for this update.
Obviously, self-defense products are NOT for everyone.
At the same time, our readers’ personal safety continues to be a concern.
So we keep up with the news and reviews about all aspects of self-protection, including the Second Amendment controversy. I’m not ready to jump into recommending firearms yet, but I certainly can suggest some non-lethal alternatives that may serve ALL our readers.
Stun Guns vs. Tasers – They are NOT the same.
The confusion about these two items continues in the public, at least. Even on Amazon, there is no distinction!
Here are three differences you need to know:
1 – Different technology
While both these devices operate using a charge of electricity, the stun gun generates a shock when the probes on the gun itself are pressed against someone. The taser shoots a projectile that creates the shock when the projectile hits someone. Stun guns are available starting at around $20. Tasers start at around $300 and quickly go up in price from there.
2 – Different uses
Obviously, given the technology, the stun gun is an up-close weapon useful when you are being physically attacked. The taser can be put to use from a distance – typically from 10 – 25 ft, away.
3 – Different regulations
Stun guns seem to be legal in most states. Tasers may not be legal without a weapon carry permit and the training that goes with it. It all depends on the state – or even the county – you live in.
Here are two places you begin research about your own state:
No guarantees! Check with official agencies in your OWN town to be sure you know the rules.
Warning about these NON-LETHAL devices.
The taser really isn’t non-lethal. It has been reported as causing the deaths of hundreds – yes, as many as 800 – of people in law-enforcement related incidents. Only some of these deaths seem to have been accidental.
My recommendation – Unless you are willing to come up with the cost for a taser, get the appropriate training and licenses and run the risk of a tragic accident that could get you mired in the legal system – I’d stay away from a taser.
Stun gun vs. Pepper Spray
The disadvantage I see to a stun gun is that your attacker has to actually be within arm’s reach for you to use the device. Yes, its colorful “Zap” may have some deterrent effect, but that’s it.
When it comes to stopping an attacker before he gets too close, I’d prefer pepper spray.
A hand-held canister of pepper spray can shoot a spray or cloud at least 8-10 feet, and probably more.
The important questions to ask about pepper spray:
Size of canister – Does the spray canister fit easily and comfortably in your hand so you can grab and use it? Sizes range from lipstick-tube-size to much larger cans. The 2-oz. size offers enough liquid that you can test a couple of times without emptying the canister.
Safety features – If you hang your canister on your key chain or onto the outside of your purse, or carry it IN your purse, what keeps it from accidentally going off? Flip top? Twist top? Can the safety features be operated WITH ONE HAND?
Life of product – Pepper spray won’t last forever, although it should last at least a couple of years. Check the expiration date on the packaging, and test to see that the spray is working every 6 months or so. You don’t want to need it and discover that nothing happens when you press the button!
Product quality – There are a number of manufacturers of pepper spray, and while I am usually happy to get “the best deal” on anything I buy, in this case the cheapest is not likely to give me what I am looking for.
My research has led me to one particular manufacturer of pepper spray – Fox Labs.
Reviews from law enforcement users as well as “regular” people are compelling. This product seems to work when other products, similarly priced and highly promoted, do not.
Here’s what the 2 oz. canister looks like. It should provide 18 or so ½ second bursts, so you can practice a couple of times. Its range is advertised as 17-20 feet.
Click on the image to get the latest pricing at Amazon. (It was just under $17 when I last looked.)
There is also a 4 oz. canister that may shoot even farther and has double the number of bursts, but that size is not legal to be shipped in California, so may not be legal where you live, either. Again, check local regulations!
Note that this product must be shipped via ground, so it may not arrive immediately.
If you purchase pepper spray, check your canister carefully. Note its expiration date. Then . . .
Practice getting it out of your purse, unlocking the cover and shooting. You must be able to do it in the dark and when you are nervous! Get your moves down, and then refresh your skills from time to time.
If you ever need this, you’ll need it.
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team
P.S. Joggers and bike riders say this spray works great on threatening dogs, too.