Tag: stun gun

Update on Self-Defense Products

Scary Parking Lot

I wrote my first Advisory about self-defense products about 5 years ago. Since then, I’ve added a couple more and then, last year, I turned an update on self-defense products into a whole booklet in the Emergency Preparedness Q&A Mini-Series!

The Advisories and that booklet have generated a number of comments. The topic continues to be one of our most popular. Still, no matter how attractive as a subject for reading, buying and actually using self-defense products isn’t for everyone!

At the same time, personal safety continues to be a concern, today more than ever.

So we keep up with the news and reviews about all aspects of self-protection, including Second Amendment controversies. 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. Stun guns are available starting at around $20. On the other hand, the taser shoots a projectile that creates the shock when the projectile hits someone. 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 is a place you can begin research about your own state: http://outdoorsmagazine.net/stun-gun-laws/ (Updated as of 2020)

No guarantees! Check with official agencies in your OWN town to be sure you know the rules. And if you’re looking for more about the advantages of stun guns vs. tasers, check out this Advisory. The Advisory shows several sample products, too.

Warning about these NON-LETHAL devices.

The taser really isn’t non-lethal. It has been reported as causing the deaths of hundreds – now over 1,000 – 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. Of course, 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 over $20 when I last looked.)

Fox Labs 22FTM Mark 3 2Oz. 2%,Fliptop Fog

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.

Important Update! Thanks to a prompt from one of our readers (See his comment below!), I’m compelled to add another couple of items to this Advisory! They are both variations on the pepper spray theme.

There are now pepper sprays in GEL format and in FOAM format! They have the same basic capsaicin ingredient and serve the same purpose of self-defense. But neither is as likely as spray to blow back onto you in a confined space! Moreover, pepper gel goes a good 6 feet farther than either spray or foam, so you can use it from a safer distance. The gel doesn’t spread out as much though, so you may have to be better at aiming.

Click on the link below to get to a sample of gel made by SABRE. I own the SABRE spray and find it fits my hand well, and it looks as though the gel is packaged pretty much the same way.

SABRE Pepper Gel with Attachment Clip, 35 Bursts (5X The Competition), 12-Foot (4-Meter) Range, Gel is Safer, UV Marking Dye, Twist Lock Safety

Finally, if you purchase any pepper product, check your canister carefully. Note its expiration date. Then . . .

Practice with self-defense products!

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.

P.P.S. I mentioned that we’ve written other articles about protecting yourself from danger. If you are serious about buying for the first time, please get a copy of our 2020 mini-book, Personal Safety. Its 50 pages of common questions and answers will give you an update on self-defense and self-defense products plus a discussion of the necessary state of mind required to use force or weapons.

Self-Defense for The Rest of Us

self-defense against street crime

Times are unsettling.

Whenever we experience a big disaster, whether it’s a man-made massacre, a devastating hurricane, or a raging epidemic — we all jump immediately into survival mode. Chances are greater that we might be attacked or simply caught up in an event that suddenly turns dangerous. We need to be ready to defend ourselves in these circumstances.And for people who are prepared, survival includes self-defense.

Keeping out of trouble is the very best form of self-defense.

For most of us this means simply staying at home, avoiding planned demonstrations, not being drawn to accident scenes. Staying at home, even after a wide spread disaster, is easy enough if you’ve taken basic steps to store food, water, medicines, etc.

If you must go out to replenish supplies, keep a low profile. And have a plan to get away from trouble if you feel you are heading into it! Know where you are going, and have an alternate route in case you need it. Avoid wearing flashy clothes and carrying purses or packs that could catch the eye. Go with the crowd, but stay on the fringes so you can get away quickly if necessary.

Mini-Series from Emergency Plan Guide

UPDATE 2021: We’ve expanded the whole topic of self-defense this last year by devoting one of our Mini-Series books to the topic. Read this Advisory, then come back to this block to find out more about the Mini-Series and Personal Safety.

But if you must protect yourself . . .

1 – What about stocking up on guns and ammunition?

I must admit to seeing a big increase lately in emails coming across my desk that advertise weapons, including all sorts of guns. Some messages promise information about how to get guns legally and illegally. Others promote accessories that will make guns easier to draw, quieter to shoot and harder to notice when you are carrying them on your body.

Now if you have been reading our Advisories for a while, you know that Joe and I both have histories with firearms. Joe was in the military. I hunted with my Dad starting at about age 12. So we are comfortable with guns.

But our Emergency Plan Guide mission is to create more resilient citizen responders and resilient communities. That includes senior citizens, young people, employee groups, etc. We try to stick with plans that are suitable for most everyone. In our estimation, a gun-owner needs a special mind-set and special training in order to be a valuable member of the community.

So, in this Advisory we are looking at other options for personal safety and self-defense.

2 – Martial arts skills are a potent defense for some.

If you are a trained martial arts master there is no doubt you might have a much better chance of surviving a violent attack by someone even with a weapon. In fact, nearly everyone can become more skilled, without having to become a master. (I’ve seen classes advertised for kids, for young women – “Don’t get raped” — and for senior citizens.)

I think even I could handle several of the self-defense moves illustrated in this article: http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_1376_16-self-defense-moves-to-impress-your-friends-muggers/

But – and here’s the big caution. I am NOT in the best shape of my life, nor have I trained or practiced these moves. So I’m NOT confident that I would remember exactly which move to apply when. What about you?

In other words, unless you are willing to sign up for a professional class and become proficient if not professional, a casual approach to martial arts is probably as useless and dangerous as a casual approach to guns.

3 – When you have to fight, your ultimate goal is still to get away.

There may be a time when your “antennae” just didn’t work and you can’t avoid a person who is threatening you. (Like the guy in the image above.)

Or, and I hate to say this, YOU may have provoked a situation by threatening, annoying or insulting someone (Road rage? Street protest?) to the point they attack you. At that moment, you need to be able to let go of your own emotions and recognize the danger you’ve put yourself in!

Either way, if you decide that you must fight for your life, then commit to it. Any half-hearted attempt will be inadequate and could put you in even more danger.

Some self-protection suggestions that make sense for me.

  • First, yell sharply and loudly right in the face of the attacker!
    “BACK OFF!” makes it clear you are not going to be a willing victim. Your aggressive resistance may even be enough to make the attacker look for an easier victim. Note you are yelling at the attacker, not yelling for “Help!” from some unknown source.
  • Then, use what you have or can find as an improvised weapon.
    If you have keys in your hand, use a key to scratch or cut. Hurl a cup of hot coffee. Toss dirt or sand. Spray an attacker with perfume or hairspray.
    Use what you can to distract the attacker so you can get away.
  • Consider “weaponized” personal items for self-defense.
    Any device is useless unless you understand how to use it, and you have it in your hand ready to use. This takes us right back to “mental attitude.” Here are some ordinary items that become weapons if you use them that way. Click the blue links under the images to go to Amazon to get current prices and full details. (We are Amazon Associates. If you buy using our link we may get a small commission. Your price is the same.)

Examples of weaponized personal items

I try to carry a flashlight all the time, for light and as a weapon.  

Lately, we have the choice of “tactical” flashlights that serve both purposes. My favorite “tactical” flashlights have a ridged grip that won’t slip and a sharp front edge that would cut seriously when used as a slashing weapon. A wrist strap means you won’t drop it so easily. (The image shows just one flashlight. You can order a pack of two from this company, too. Just click the box on the sales page.)

Tactical Flashlight, YIFENG XML T6 Ultra Bright LED Flashlight with Adjustable Focus and 5 Light Modes for Camping Hiking Emergency (1 pack)

I also like to carry a “tactical pen.”

Here’s a picture of one of my pens attached to my small, cross-body purse. (Not when I climb on an airplane, though.)

Purse with weapon

This purse looks pretty ordinary. And the pen is almost invisible. But it’s easy to grab, solid, has a pointed end and a thumb rest on the other end for a secure grip. It could break a window, too. There are other pens that are more pen than weapon, and pens with other tools built in. (see example below).

Tactical Pen Multitool Survival Gadget – LED Flashlight + Screwdriver + Emergency Window Breaker – EDC Pocket Gear – Unique Birthday Gift for Men and Women – Survival Self Defense Military SWAT Weapon

And two dedicated self-defense items you should know about

Carrying guns or knives requires a level of training outside the scope of this Emergency Plan Guide Advisory. But there are other options to consider. The items below are NOT expensive — and they work. Check them out.

Please be aware that laws regarding stun guns and pepper spray vary. Before you buy either or both, check with your own state. Here’s a link to get you started on that legal research.

Stun gun.

You hold a stun gun in your hand.  When you press it against the body of an attacker, its “electrical punch” can completely disable and disorient him for seconds or minutes, giving you the chance to get away. Before you purchase, be sure a stun gun is legal in your state or county. (For a lot more on stun guns – and tasers, which we do NOT recommend — see our earlier Advisory.)

I like the model shown below because it has a safety disable pin. If you lose control of the gun, the pin pulls out and it won’t shoot. It comes with a wrist strap, too – and in pink and black.

VIPERTEK VTS-979 – 53 Billion Stun Gun – Rechargeable with Safety Disable Pin LED Flashlight, Black

Pepper spray

As I just said, for your stun gun to work, you have to press it against your attacker’s body. That means the attacker is VERY CLOSE to you!

That’s why I prefer to carry a canister of pepper spray. It can shoot a spray at least 8-10 feet. Anyone over 18 can buy and carry pepper spray. These days you can also get pepper spray as a gel or as a foam. They have the same basic capsaicin ingredient and serve the same purpose. The gel isn’t as likely to blow back onto you in a confined space, but you may have to do a better job of aiming. Most important feature of the gel: it goes at least 6 feet farther.

Finally, if you purchase any pepper product, check your canister carefully. Note its expiration date.

Here’s a pepper spray one I recommend. It has a pocket clip and actually shoots 10 ft. (We tested it.) with up to 35 bursts. (This brand also comes in pink, with a key-chain attachment. Pick the one that works best for you!)

Be sure to read all the instructions and safety precautions!

There are now pepper sprays in GEL format and in FOAM format! They have the same basic capsaicin ingredient and serve the same purpose of self-defense. But neither is as likely as spray to blow back onto you in a confined space! Moreover, pepper gel goes a good 6 feet farther than either spray or foam, so you can use it from a safer distance. The gel doesn’t spread out as much though, so you may have to be better at aiming.

Click on the link below to get to a sample of gel made by SABRE. I own the SABRE spray and find it fits my hand well, and it looks as though the gel is packaged pretty much the same way

SABRE Pepper Gel with Attachment Clip, 35 Bursts (5X The Competition), 12-Foot (4-Meter) Range, Gel is Safer, UV Marking Dye, Twist Lock Safety

Finally, if you purchase any pepper product, check your canister carefully and note its expiration date.

Should you make a change in what you normally carry on your person? (Don’t store pepper spray in the car where temperatures could get so high it might explode!) Should some of your family members have one or more of these self-defense items?

Remember if you are faced with any of these emergencies – while you are shopping, jogging or simply resting on a park bench — you will only be able to protect yourself if you act without hesitation . . .

  • Assess the situation.
  • Decide what to do.
  • Do it!

Here’s to your safety,

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. If you’ve read all the way through to here, then you will want to know whether bear spray is legal. The answer? It depends — on the state and even on the country! Generally, bear spray is meant for defense against — you guessed it — a bear attack. Carrying it may be legal. Using it against a person is illegal.

Personal Safety – Should You Consider a Stun Gun?

personal safety

The news is so frightening these days!

Threatened bombings, actual shootings and beatings, rape. Awful. Disheartening. And, unfortunately, reality. Here at Emergency Plan Guide we try to be as upbeat and level-headed as possible. At the same time, it seems sensible to be aware of personal safety options.

One option, legal in most states, is a stun gun.

You hold the stun gun in your hand. Press it against the body of an attacker, and its “electrical punch” can completely disable and disorient him for seconds or minutes, giving you the chance to get away. In fact, the zapping sound and electric blue flash of a stun gun being set off may discourage the attacker from approaching in the first place.

Here are a couple of examples, available at Amazon where we are Associates. They come in pink and black, and in different “strengths.” (The more the jolt, the more expensive the gun.) Personally, I prefer the pink because it’s a lot easier to find in a purse or the glove compartment. You can click on the images or on the link below to do some “shopping.” Read the “shopping questions” below, though, first!

VIPERTEK VTS-979 – 53 Billion Stun Gun – Rechargeable with Safety Disable Pin LED Flashlight, Black VIPERTEK VTS-880 – 30 Billion Mini Stun Gun – Rechargeable with LED Flashlight, Pink

Is this really something to consider carrying for personal safety?

I asked these questions as I was researching for this post on personal safety.

1. Is a stun gun legal?

Stun guns are treated differently in different cities, different counties and different states! Sometimes you have to go through a registration process to own one.

To give you an idea, one stun gun advertised on Amazon carries this disclosure: “We do not ship to the following locations: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, Annapolis, MD, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore County, MD, Crawford County, IA.”

If you intend to purchase one, I recommend you check carefully to find out the LATEST rules governing buying and carrying stun guns in your town. If you plan to travel with your stun gun, then check again, because different rules apply there, too. (Mostly, it appears as though a deactivated stun gun can be carried in checked luggage. But don’t take my word for it!)

A good place to start your legal research: http://www.stungunbuyersguide.com/stun-gun-laws/

2. Is a stun gun the same as a taser?

Legislation sometimes lumps stun guns together with tasers, and sometimes treats them separately. For our purposes, there is a distinct difference.

  • A taser is a “long-distance” (15-20 ft.) weapon. It shoots out wires that carry the electrical current, and once it’s shot, you can’t quickly reload. Tasers start at around $400 and the “professional” models used by police cost more than $1,000. These tasers are of colored plastic in the shape of a pistol, with a hand grip and trigger, and are worn in a holster.
  • The stun gun, on the other hand, is a close-up self-defense tool. It has to be pressed against the body to create the circuit. You can use it repeatedly as long as its battery is still charged. Stun guns start at just over $10 and there are many available in the $20-40 range. They could be carried in a purse or pocket.

You can see more about tasers and stun guns for personal safety here.

3. How do you charge the stun gun?

Obviously, your stun gun needs to be charged to have any impact. The typical gun comes with rechargeable batteries and a cord that you plug into the wall. You’ll get instructions to charge it fully (10-12 hrs?) when you receive it and then to “top it off” on a monthly basis.

A solar-powered charger suitable for charging your computer or phone would likely work to charge your stun gun, too. Check.

4. Other features to consider?

Stun guns have been incorporated into other personal items. We mentioned the flashlight/stun gun style above. Stun guns have also been incorporated into iphone lookalikes, into actual iphone cases, and into batons and other professional law enforcement tools.

There are many sizes and styles.

Pick the one that suits your own needs and lifestyle.

If I felt threatened, or were heading into an unsavory or dangerous place, I’d have my stun gun in my hand and ready to use. I personally like the “safety disable pin” that comes with the example above. This gun also comes with a wrist strap attached to the pin. (Scroll over all the images to see the wrist strap.) If the stun gun is taken away from you in a struggle, the pin will be pulled out. This stops the stun gun from working so it can’t be turned against you.

In my opinion, the stun gun is closer to being a weapon than other personal safety items we’ve talked about. I’d investigate carefully before deciding to carry one or to give one to a family member.

It might, however, be something that would give you new peace of mind.

Your Emergency Plan Guide Team

P.S. Do you already have a stun gun? Have you ever used it? What more information can you share with Emergency Plan Guide readers to help us make our decisions?