“Self-defense is not just a set of techniques; it’s a state of mind, and it begins with the belief that you are worth defending.”
— Rorion Gracie
For many, the idea of carrying a firearm is more than they are ready for when it comes to self-defense. I have no problem with this, because I do not wish to force something on someone who is not prepared to use it.
Making an Informed Decision
Luckily, there are self-defense alternatives to a firearm. That being said, becoming a martial arts expert or knife fighter at a skill level that moves the odds in your favor during a violent encounter takes considerable time.
In addition to those who are reluctant to carry a firearm, there are those who are not able to carry a firearm due to reasons that might be related to either legal troubles or restrictive laws in their community.
For most who opt for a less-lethal form of self-defense, it is likely due to either moral reasons (unwilling to take a life), religious or possibly the fear of a costly aftermath that could include both mental and financial costs.
While these are all good reasons, it should be noted that even “non-lethal” defense (more accurately called “less-lethal”) methods could cause death or serious bodily injury, depending on the assailant’s health or other circumstances.
Making a Choice
One of the most popular forms of non-lethal defense is the Taser, manufactured by a company called Axon. “Taser” has become a generic name for most stun devices.
Make no mistake: The Tasers made by Axon are the ones you most likely see strapped to police officers’ belts. While you can’t get an X2 or X26 for personal use, you can get one of this company’s Pulse and Bolt models.
Similar to an LE Taser
Providing similar defensive power trusted by law enforcement, the Taser Pulse is designed for civilian self-protection. It is lightweight, easy to wield and is an excellent choice as an alternative or addition to self-defense with a firearm. It fires two electrodes into an assailant up to 15 feet away. You can drop the Pulse once you fire it and escape while it continues to incapacitate for 30 seconds. You can also shorten the exposure by flipping the safety lever to “off.”
One of the nice features from Axon is that if you use your device in a self-defense situation and are unable to recover it, Axon will replace the device at no cost.
Less Like a Handgun
The Taser Bolt is similar to the Pulse without the look or outline of a handgun. It provides the same functions as the Pulse and uses a laser sighting system for accurate shot placement. It offers a 15-foot standoff (the same as the Pulse) that temporarily overrides an attacker’s central nervous system, limiting muscular control for 30 seconds and enabling the user to get away from the attack. In addition, the Bolt can be used in a contact stun after the Taser has been fire or without a cartridge installed.
How It Works
If you are not familiar with how the different forms of a Taser might work, it’s fairly simple.
The striking of the probes completes the electrical circuit, allowing a high-voltage, low-amperage current to pass from the Taser to the person. The results are uncontrollable muscle contractions that will result in instant loss of neuromuscular control and the failure of the person to perform any voluntary actions, which immobilizes them. It can also cause considerable pain.
The immobilization and pain associated with Tasers end as soon as it is deactivated. It is for this reason that you would either drop the Taser and run as it continues its cycle. The second option is that once it stops, if the threat is still real, activate a second charge.
Another issue that comes up in other products is the requirement to penetrate the skin. However, according to Axon representatives, the Pulse and Bolt do not require skin penetration. On all but the heaviest of outerwear, the probes can still transmit their charge up to 1 inch from the end of the probe—more than enough for even heavy winter clothes.
Don’t “Taze” Me, Bro!
Having been “tazed” during military training, I can attest that it is not something I would want to do often (or ever again)! While the effects were not lasting, they were quite painful during the action, so you get a healthy respect for the device.
While the Taser is considered “less-lethal,” it could still cause additional injuries as a by-product of using it. The assailant could incur additional injury from the fall or an infection from the contact site. Repeated or prolonged use on the assailant could also cause physiologic, metabolic or cardiac issues. Axon provides a warning card with the devices; it should be read and followed by the user.
Adjust Your Tactics
The tactics of using one of these devices is different than if you were using a handgun.
You will not have standoff distance beyond the 15-foot range of the projectiles, which means you do not have the additional range that a firearm might have. What you do get is the ability to defend yourself in a less-lethal manner and avoid the possible mental effects of having to kill an assailant.
While it might not be feasible for most people to carry both a Taser and a firearm, it is something to consider. Abraham Maslow once said, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
The same can go for your self-defense methods: If all you have is a gun, deadly force might be your only option. In fact, the Taser Pulse is definitely getting added to my kit!
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the September 2018 print issue of Gun World Magazine.