The most important question you must ask yourself when deciding to carry any self defense item is do I feel comfortable using this and will I use it when I need to. I have written this guide because after years of selling stun guns, I still believe that they are the best non-lethal self defense products on the market today. I do believe that pepper spray can be very effective if you are experienced in using it. Unfortunately, most people carrying pepper spray have no experience using it and therefore have no idea how to use it effectively. If you are considering purchasing a stun gun for personal defense, do you homework and shop around. Find out where they are sold around your town, (spy and gun shops, swap meets, gun shows) so you can experience them first hand. Ultimately, buy from someone who is knowledgeable and can answer all of your questions because there is a vast difference in quality, performance, safety features and style from one stun gun to the next.
STUN GUNS: WHAT ARE THEY AND HOW DO THEY WORK:
Evolving from the old cattle prod, stun guns are electronic shocking devices designed to incapacitate a person by disrupting the brains communication to the body's muscles. Stun guns are battery powered. The power is sent through multiple transformers that boost voltage and reduce amperage, which builds up a charge in the capacitor and then releases the charge through the electrodes. There is also an oscillator, which produces a specific pulse pattern that is made to mimic the body's won electric signals. Once that energy from the stun gun is dumped into the attacker's muscles, it causes them to do a great deal of work rapidly by interrupting the tiny neurological impulses that control and direct voluntary muscle movement. This rapid work cycle depletes the attacker's blood sugar by converting it into lactic acid. In short, the attacker is unable to produce energy from their muscles and their body is unable to function properly. Should the attacker be touching you, the current will not pass through to your body because once the stun gun is being fired into someone, it is grounding itself and does not have enough amperage to flow back. There are many factors which will determine how long the effect will have on an individual, such as stun gun voltage and the person's own body makeup. With stun guns, you have to be touching the person in order for it to be effective. Stun guns will penetrate through clothing. The best places to strike an assailant are the upper shoulder, lower ribcage and upper hip.
IMPORTANT NOTE: SOME STUN GUNS CAN SHOCK YOU EVEN WHEN THEY ARE NOT BEING FIRED. SOME STUN GUNS WILL KEEP A SMALL CHARGE IN THEIR CAPACITOR AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN FIRED AND NEED TO BE GROUNDED BY TOUCHING THE ELECTRODES TO SOMETHING METAL TO FULLY DISCHARGE THE UNIT. SOME MANUFACTURERS INCLUDE THIS WARNING IN THEIR INSTRUCTIONS BUT MOST DO NOT. THIS IS SOMETHING YOU WILL WANT TO ASK YOU SELLER ABOUT.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STUN GUN AND A TASER:
People often do mistake one from the other. Taser's are what most police departments use. Although the police model is not available for consumer use, taser does make specific models for civilian use. Without going into too much detail, taser guns look a bit similar to a real gun and shoot out tow darts, about a distance of 15 feet, attach to the person so that the charge is going from the gun directly thought the wires to the dart attached to the person. When the trigger on the taser gun is pulled, the current is released into the person. You can also dry fire a taser, which is done like a stun gun, once the dart cartridge has been taken off the taser. Laws regarding taser guns can very from that of stun guns and are considerably more expensive too.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STUN GUN FOR YOU:
This is a personal decision that only you can answer based upon your needs and lifestyle. The most important thing to consider are the how, where and when you plan to carry the stun gun. Any stun gun you choose should come with a carrying case and or a belt clip. This will help to prevent accidental discharges. The most important thing to remember about carrying a stun gun is that if you do not have it out, in you hand and ready to go when you need it, it will do you no good. Practice and prepare.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: STUN GUNS ARE RESTRICTED IN SOME COUNTIES, CITIES AND STATES. IF YOU TRAVEL WITH ONE, MAKE STURE IT IS LEGAL TO POSSESS WHERE YOU ARE GOING.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING A STUN GUN:
QUALITY: Quality varies from brand to brand, which is why it is so important to physically check out a few different types. After comparing a few different models, you will be able to tell the difference. Do not sacrifice quality for price.
VOLTAGE: The role of voltage plays in stun guns is to delivery the amperage into the muscles. The higher the voltage, the faster it is delivered. You can tell the difference between stun gun voltages by just test firing them. The stun gun with more voltage will look and sound more powerful. Today, stun guns range from 65,000 volts on up. As stun gun technology advances, so will the voltage capacity.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: STUN GUNS CAN CLAIM TO BE ANY VOLTAGE THEY WANT, WHICH IS JUST ANOTHER REASON WHY YOU SHOULD TEST THEM BEFORE YOU BUY AND PURCHASE FROM SOMEONE WHO IS KNOWLDEABLE.
REPLACEABLE BATTERY VS RECHARGEABLE BATTERY:
This is simply a matter of preference. If you do choose a rechargeable stun gun, it is important to note that there are different types of rechargeable batteries. The two most common types of rechargeable batteries used in stun guns today are the Nickel Cadium, NiCd, and the Nickel Metal hydride, NiMh. The NiMh battery offers a capacity that is almost twice that of the NiCd. The NiMh batteries are also less prone to develop a memory effect, which is the loss of run time per charge over the life of the battery. The NiMh batteries no not contain heavy metals, making them environmentally friendlier than the NiCd. It is important to follow the user instructions included with your stun gun regarding the charging cycle of the rechargeable batteries in order to get the longest life out of it. Most stun guns that use replaceable batteries take either 1 or more 9 volt or cr123 lithium batteries, depending upon the style of stun gun you purchase. If you are using a stun gun with non-rechargeable batteries, is it a good suggestion to replace them every six months or sooner if you actually had to use it. It is important to use name brand, high quality batteries or the specific type that is recommend by the manufacturer. Always test your stun gun at least once a week to make sure it still has power but never test fire it for more than one second.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: TO ASSUME THAT MORE BATTERIES MEAN MORE POWER IS TO ASSUME THAT THERE HAVE NOT BEEN ANY TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCES IN TRANSISTORS AND OR CAPACITORS SINCE THE 1970'S. UNFORTUNATELY, SOME STUN GUN MANUFACTURER'S USE OLDER TECHNOLOGY, WHICH PERPETUATES THIS IGNORANCE.
All stun guns have various safety features that you will want to consider. All stun guns have a basic safety feature to help prevent accidental discharge of the unit. Most have an on/off switch and a button to push to activate the stun gun, while others only have a toggle switch to discharge the stun gun. The following are other features you might want to consider:
- Safety pins, also known as kill or disable pins that have to be inserted into the stun gun in order for it to operate. There are usually attached to a wrist strap or loop and are meant to disable the stun gun if the attacker tries to take it away from you, thereby preventing it to be used against you. Some safety pins are actually attached to the stun guns but most are not.
- Safety caps are separate caps that cover the top of the stun gun to help prevent accidental discharge.
- Power on/off lights that turn on when the stun gun is powered on.
- Built-in flashlights. These use 1 or more LED's or regular bulb. There may or may not be a separate button on the stun gun that activates it. Please note that is you use this feature often, you will need to recharge/replace batteries more often.
- Built-in alarms that are meant to scare the attacker away before they can even get close to you. They can differ in decibel and tone.
As the technology within the stun guns has evolved, so has the way they look on the outside.
TRADITIONAL: This is what most people are used to seeing when they think of a stun gun. Typically, they use a toggle on/off switch, run on one or more 9 volt batteries, not over 1 million volts, have extended electrodes and test probes facing inwards. Most of them still use the older technology and vary in size depending upon how many 9 volt batteries they use. They are also offered in a curved style in which the hop half is slanted.
STUN BATON: They look like a long stick, varying in lengths with the contact electrodes at the end. They do offer a degree of distance but not stealth. There are also telescopic versions that at a push of a button extend the baton out in two more sections. The electricity can run the distance of one or more of the extensions, so touching someone with any part of the extensions would be effective. Offered in rechargeable or replaceable battery operated. As of this writing, I have not seen one over 1 million volts.
MINI/COMPACT: These are quickly becoming the most popular style due to their compact size. Rectangular in shape, most can fit inside of a pack of cigarettes. The electrodes are almost flat against the top of the stun gun and usually heart or tear drop shaped. They are either powered by CR123 lithium batteries or an internal rechargeable. This style offers the greatest range of voltages.
DISGUISED: These stun guns are disguised to look like very day items you would carry with you. Most popular are the cell phone and lipstick styles. Rechargeable and replaceable battery options are offered.
MISC STYLES: There are also a variety of stun guns that take on different shapes ranging from brass knuckles, sticks and yes, even a tampon.
ARE STUN GUNS LEGAL WHERE I LIVE?
Stun gun laws change from year to year and it is ultimately up to you to make sure that they are legal where you live and plan to carry them. As of this writing, here are the counties, cities and states where they are strictly illegal to possess:
HAWAII, MASSACHUSETTS, MICHIGAN, NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK, RHODE ISLAND, WISCONSIN, ANNAPOLIS MD, BALTIMORE MD, BALTIMORE COUNTY MD, CHICAGO, DENNISON IA, CRAWFORD COUNTY IA, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND PHILADELPHIA.
NEVER TEST AND OR DISCHARGE A STUN GUN INTO THE AIR FOR MORE THAN 1 SECOND. DOING SO CAN HARM THE STUN GUN AND VOID ANY WARRANTY THE STUN GUN MIGHT HAVE.
ALWAYS KEEP STUN GUNS AWAY FROM CHILDREN.
NEVER USE STUN GUNS IN ROOMS WITH FLAMABLE GASES, AROUND GAS STATIONS OR ANYWHERE ELSE SPARKS CAN TRIGGER FIRES OR EXPLOSIONS.
NEVER TOUCH THE PROBES WHEN FIRING THE STUN GUN.