Tasers or Handguns?

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Here at Firearms Talk we focus mainly (go-figure) on firearms. However, let us take a Segway into the world of Tasers. These less than lethal devices are popping up everywhere and the CCW has and will take notice of them moving forward.

What is a Taser?

- (graphic by Taser)

Tasers can deliver a 50,000-volt shock that temporarily paralyzes suspects. They fire a pair of probes that are connected to the device via wire leads that transmit a current into the target. The transmission pulses through the wires and into the body affecting the sensory and motor functions of the peripheral nervous system. They can also be used as a traditional stun gun at contact distances. While targeted mainly at law enforcement and military sales, they also market specialized civilian models for personal defense.

- X26C, very similar to the standard X-26 carried by LEOs around the world. Photo by Taser.

Taser refers to their products like the X26C and C2 as Electronic Control Device (ECD). The X26 runs about $999 and with a few changes are identical to the same X26 models used by police around the country. These are the same profile of a small handgun but with less weight. Length is 7.3-inches overall and width 3.2 inches with overall weight of 7.2-ounces.
The slightly more bulky 19-ounce 8.3"x6" M26C, which does not have as many bells and whistles (no LED lights, uses 8 AA batteries instead of a rechargeable digital power pack) runs about half as much.

- The C2, isnt it cute? Photo by Taser.

The C2 looks more like an old school Ever-ready pocket flashlight or a 1970s Star Trek phaser weapon. It retails for about $379. It is 6 inches long and weighs about 6 ounces. About the same size as a large-screen smartphone. To dismiss the appearance of being some form of weapon, they are available in several less threatening colors such as pink, blue, and silver.

When pricing Tasers be sure to shop around, many wholesalers offer these for about 10-20% off the prices listed on the parent company's website.

One of the changes is that the civilian versions have 30-second cycles as opposed to the 5-second cycles for law enforcement. Note that this is actually much more than a police model. The reason for this is that LEOs may have to tase someone several times to gain compliance whereas in a self-defense situation one long tase is better to break the engagement and depart the scene. Taser even supports this concept by currently offering any civilian user a free replacement Taser if they provide them a copy of a police report where the ECD has been used for self-defense and left behind. They state on their website, "No question - your life is worth more to us than the cost of a C2!"

- The C2 engagement profile. I love the figure of the C2 owner beating feet in the 3rd graphic while the attacker is left behind (with the C2!) Graphic by Taser

The Upside of Tasers

Tasers are small and discreet, with the most benign versions like the C2 being positively non-threatening looking.

They are effective in most scenarios. The incapacitation rate in volunteer studies with over 3,000 elite volunteers from SWAT teams, military Special Forces, and police agencies is over 99%. In over 2,000 actual field uses by law enforcement, the weapon has an incredible 95% success rate.

With the probes firing from 15-feet away, they keep you out of the immediate envelope of engagement with an assailant.

Tasers are not considered firearms and (other than in MA, RI, NY, NJ, MI, HI, IA, and District of Columbia) are generally legal to carry without a CCW license. If you live in an area where it is hard to get a CCW, have limited firearm experience or knowledge, or can't legally carry a firearm for whatever other reason, they are better than OC, an impact weapon, or a close-contact stun gun.

The Downside of Tasers

There are very few holster designed for concealed carry except for outside the waistband holsters. The X26C/M26C series of Tasers are too bulky to carry in anything other than a holster or large bag/pack.

Tasers have saved, according to Taser's literature, more than 90,000 lives. However, they have also been linked and blamed for hundreds of deaths across the country. It should be remembered that they are a 'less than lethal weapon' and their use can still bring about the termination of life in some circumstances.

There are occasions when they will not be effective. Remember that the barb will only penetrate 1-inch of clothing. If you live in a very cold area where dense sweaters, jackets and coats are worn for a significant part of the year, the Taser may be useless.

Price may be another deciding factor, as the costs of most Taser products ($300-$1000) is about the same or more than a good handgun in many cases. In addition, when dealing with multiple assailants, the handgun option is other than when using a dueling pistol is superior. If it costs as much as one, but is not as effective as one in a lethal force scenario, it is hard to justify carrying.

It may just be easier to carry a firearm in many cases, as well as being more reliable. However the Taser still is a option in some scenarios.

There is a balance in Tasers for civilian use. It may be that you carry one as an intermediate option between using your hands and using a firearm in a self-defense situation. It may be that you buy one for a family member not comfortable with a firearm. Again, it may be in an area where legally you could carry a Taser but not a firearm.

The tools are out there, it is up to you how to use them.

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June 12, 2012  •  02:09 PM
Great article, love all the pics.

FYI, in Florida, you do need a concealed weapon license to carry an actual taser, but not a stun gun.

Jon Gutmacher, the Florida attorney who literally wrote the book on firearms law in the state, carries both a taser and a firearm.
June 13, 2012  •  02:36 PM
I have only one drawback to using a taser. The bad guy is going to try it again as soon he gets out of jail. Save the state a few hundred thousand and use that $0.40 to $0.80 bullet. Not only do you save the state a bunch of money, but you get another lowlife off the streets.
June 22, 2012  •  10:32 PM
Tasers and Stun guns don't work on Everybody. and you may only get one chance.
Bullet will stop a man, and hopefully you have more in the weapon if it's needed to finish the job.
June 25, 2012  •  08:14 AM
While I like the idea of a less lethal alternative, there is one problem with a Taser I can't overlook. In order for the Taser to be useful the assailant must be within range.

>>>"With the probes firing from 15-feet away, they keep you out of the immediate envelope of engagement with an assailant."

Wrong. The Distance Is Your Friend rule taught to us states never let an assailant within 30 feet of you or you will probably get hurt. If the assailant gets within 10 feet you will definitely get hurt. The 15 foot range of the Taser will prevent most wrestling matches, but it is way too close for a man with any kind of weapon.