Choosing A Self Defense Weapon
If you don’t have military or police background, and aren’t a big fan of that movie where people purposely hurt themselves, you probably have never seen a stun gun, taser, or pepper spray.
While I believe it’s always best for a citizen to learn practical and effective empty-hand self-defense methods first, in some cases you may not have access to an instructor. And in other cases, it may not be practical for you to take a self defense class, due to physical limitations.
If this describes you, then you probably want some sort of self defense weapon that you can use right now to protect yourself. I understand, so I’m not going to sit here and tell you that you shouldn’t buy something to use for that purpose – because it’s your RIGHT to defend yourself!
But, if you don’t really know what each device does, you may have a hard time deciding which product best fits your needs. So, here’s a brief run down of each product category and what their capabilities are…
Self Defense Weapons And Their Pros And Cons
Defense Sprays – (a.k.a., “Mace”, pepper spray, tear gas)
This is my number one recommendation for a simple self-defense tool that almost anyone can use effectively. If you’ve used an aerosol can, you can use a defense spray.
Defense sprays are chemical sprays that incapacitate an assailant by their irritant or inflammatory effect. The defense sprays that most sites offer mainly rely on an extract of hot pepper plants for their effectiveness. This extract is called Oleoresin Capsicum (OC). OC is an inflammatory agent that has an instantaneous effect when sprayed into the eyes and face of an assailant.
The heat from pepper extracts is measured in Scoville Heat Units. The typical jalapeno pepper rates at about 2,500 Scoville Heat Units, while the some of the sprays on this website rate at up to 2 million Scoville Heat Units. So, to get an idea of the effect of getting sprayed, just think about the last time you rubbed your eyes after handling a jalapeno pepper, and multiply that feeling by about eight hundred times!
Probably the best thing about Pepper Sprays is the fact that you can hit someone with a good spray from several feet away, and although it usually takes 20 to 30 minutes for the effect to wear off, there are no long-term ill effects from being sprayed.
If you do decide to purchase a defense spray, make sure you get a good, quality brand like Mace, and that you replace it every six months to ensure your spray will work when you need it.
Stun Guns –
A stun gun is a device that relies on a pulsed electrical current to incapacitate an assailant. They are highly effective at stopping an assailant in their tracks, and the loud crackling noise that they make when you hit the “on” switch can be very intimidating to a would be attacker.
As effective as they are, stun guns do require you to make actual physical contact with the assailant. The stun gun must be brought into contact with the assailant’s body to exert its effect.
Also, a stun gun (like any weapon) can be turned against you. In addition, thick clothing can sometimes lessen the effect of the stun gun on an assailant.
For these reasons, I recommend you choose a good defense spray over a stun gun as a first line of defense. But, at close range where there is no room to spray the assailant without risking spraying yourself, a stun gun could possibly allow you the chance to escape.
Tasers are basically stun guns that work at a distance. Tasers fire a barbed dart (ouch!) that penetrates the assailant’s skin. The dart is attached to the handheld unit by two wires that deliver the electrical impulse that disables the assailant.
Most have a fifteen-foot range and come in two designs. The first design looks a lot like the “phasers” that you have seen on Star Trek. This design costs less and is probably easier to aim if you have never fired a pistol. If you have ever used a remote control to change the channels on your TV, you can probably aim this type of taser.
The second taser design resembles a pistol, and operates in much the same manner, but is equivalent to the standard taser in all other respects.
There are two main drawbacks with tasers:
1. You have to hit your target.
2. You may only have one shot and one chance to do so.
Also, tasers tend to be expensive. The fact is, pepper sprays are easier to use, so when in doubt, just buy a can of pepper spray.
Other Self Defense Weapons –
Kubotans – A kubotan (also known as a “pocket stick”) is a handheld device that attaches to your keychain. The effectiveness of the kubotan in delivering short, powerful strikes to an assailant’s vital target areas is unquestionable… if you know what you’re doing with it. Get training in empty-handed self defense first if you plan to buy a kubotan for self defense.
Personal Alarms – Personal alarms are devices that emit an extremely loud and high-pitched “whistle” when activated. Some include hidden switches that can ensure only the owner can deactivate the unit.
They are mainly useful for drawing attention to you if you are attacked, because the loud noise they make can bring unwanted attention to an attacker. No criminal wants to get caught, so the last thing they want is attention. At 120 to 150 decibels, personal alarms definitely draw a lot of attention.
Having said that, my take on them is that they are close to useless for self defense. My advice is to just buy a good alarm system for your home, and carry pepper spray with you in an easily deployed place on your body (preferably, on a key ring that you carry with the Mace can in your hand, ready to go).
Knives and Firearms – Are they effective? Of course. But, if you decide to carry a knife or firearm for personal protection I strongly encourage you to research and become familiar with the laws of your state first.
If your research leads you to believe it is a legal option in your area, the next logical step would be to seek expert instruction in their usage before you start to carry one for self-defense.