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The Finer Points of Choosing the Right Non-Lethal Self-Defense Devices

Apr 10, 2008
Just like any consumer product in the market, each merchandise belongs to a particular brand and has its own size, configuration, and function. This is no different in the world of non-lethal self-defense hardware. I will only mention 3 categories of such weaponry plus the folding pocket knife since this specific tool can be applied in non-lethal ways.

The Kubotan, or mini-baton, comes in different shapes, sizes, colors, and perceived functions. The most prominent among these is the Kubotan keychain which measures about 5.5 inches in length and 0.75 inch in diameter. It has a keyring at one end and a tip at the other. It is composed of metal and is available in about 4 colors: black, blue, silver, and pink. What is practical about this tool is that it is readily available in your pocket; "don't leave home without it" without your set of keys. Additionally, it is legal to carry in most, if not all, states. The best keychain Kubotan to carry is the one that is painted black so it would appear almost invisible in your hand. Moreover, pick the one that has a pointed tip instead of a flat tip. The Kubotan is considered an impact weapon. Therefore, striking bone or tissue with a pointed tip generates more pressure with a given amount of force applied as compared to hitting with a flat tip.

Other Kubotans are disguised as writing instruments such as the "Sharkie" from Cold Steel. It writes just like a Sharpie but it is a longer and denser version made of high-impact polycarbonate. There are no metal parts in the Sharkie; so, there should be no hassle passing through a metal detector even if you carry it inside your front shirt pocket.

Pepper sprays, or the more accurate term, "defensive sprays," are readily available in all shapes, sizes, compositions, and types of release. They range in sizes from pocket, personal, to police models, from 3 to 5 inches in length, since we are limiting our parameters to personal carry. Of course, the smaller they are, the easier they are to conceal; although, the police model which has a length of 5 inches should not be hard to hide either. The best type of spray to consider is what most law enforcement personnel carry, the one with a flip-top cap. This design minimizes accidental discharges and is one of the easiest to operate. The bigger the content, the longer the spray time; consider this when you happen to spray at varying effective distances. It is crucial for you to spray directly into the eyes, nostrils, and mouth of the attacker where the mucus membranes are located, never just in the "facial area."

Generally, sprays squirt their material in spray or stream form. Pick the one that excretes a stream of liquid since this is less likely to disperse quicker in an enclosed space, thereby affecting you also, and less likely to bounce back in a headwind. Newer versions of pepper sprays emit foam or gel, hence the terms, pepper foam and pepper gel. Foam has the advantage of creeping between the eyeglasses and eyes of a perpetrator. Gel, on the other hand, has a tendency to stick more on the skin; so, the "perp" would have a harder time "shaking off" the gel on his or her face.

Defensive sprays are composed of a pepper solution, OC, with varying concentrations or a mixture of OC, tear gas, and UV (ultraviolet) dye. OC is a natural irritant that irritates and swells the mucus membranes while tear gas affects the respiratory system. The reaction to OC is faster than tear gas; that is why pepper sprays gained in popularity. Some people are almost immune to the effects of OC due to their high tolerance to peppers. So, pick the spray that has both OC and tear gas.

Stun guns too come in a plethora of sizes, shapes, and voltage potentials. As tiny as a pen or as massive as a magnum sized device; in the form of a pen, pager, cell phone, flashlight, baton, and expandable baton; ranging from 10,000 volts to almost 1 million volts. Carrying the stun gun concealed is the best method to surprise an attacker since it has to make contact for it to be effective. Concealment means size consideration; so, a pager size stun gun that emits close to a million volts would be most effective. Remember that the bigger the voltage, the more spectacular and louder the spark. This is advantageous as a deterrent against aggressive dogs. Their hearing is more sensitive to a broader band of sound frequencies; therefore, they are more in tune and fearful of the crackling sound of a discharging stun gun.

From personal experience, I was jogging along a rice field at 4 A.M. in 1999 in an Asian country when several dogs from farm houses began chasing me, barking loudly. Fortunately, I was carrying my Air Taser in a fanny pack. I took the cartridge off to act as a stun gun when I discharged it. Emitting 50,000 volts of crackling arc bouncing to and from the 2 electrodes, I was surprised to see the dogs being spooked all of a sudden, unable to further chase me.

Even though a stun gun can discharge as much as 1 million volts, the wattage is not large enough to kill since it only has a few milliamperes of current, much like static electricity. A stun device can, however, numb muscle groups after being zapped from at least 3 to 5 seconds. Therefore, have your stun gun make contact with the "perp's" major muscle groups such as the neck, shoulder, back, groin, and thigh areas.

Tasers, on the other hand, are a different breed of beasts than stun guns. The civilian versions have disposable cartridges that fire 2 probes up to 15 feet. However, the ideal distance between victim and perpetrator should be between 5 to 7 feet apart when discharged. Thus, the shooter is able to subdue the attacker remotely, a certain advantage especially when the bad guy is armed with a knife and/or a gun. Additionally, Tasers emit "T-waves" that overwhelms the human body's nervous system, rendering the whole body incapable of voluntary movement which lasts several minutes.

Current models in the market are the C2 and M18. The former resembles a slim TV remote control while the latter looks like an oversized Glock 17 semiautomatic pistol. In my opinion, most successful deployments of Tasers are when they are initially concealed from attackers, when they are surprised and unable to defend themselves. Undoubtedly, the obvious choice for carry is the C2 for its diminutive size.

Surprisingly, a folding pocket knife can be considered a non-lethal weapon as long as it can applied with skill in the hands of a martial artist trained in Escrima, Arnis, Kali, and Penkjat Silat. Limbs can be rendered totally useless by cutting, slashing, and puncturing into nerves, tendons, and muscles. Of course, arteries and internal organs must be avoided. A less bloody and messy way of controlling a "perp" would be to keep the knife folded and use it as an impact weapon, similar to a Kubotan. I carry a Cold Steel Voyager Tanto folding blade with a 5-inch plain edge off duty. Cold Steel is known for manufacturing knives that are sharp, durable, and reasonably priced. Also, I find the Voyager series folding knives lighter and more balanced between the handles and blades compared with another model folders called Recon 1 which have far heavier handles. One drawback, however, with Cold Steel's serrated edge is that it tends to snag, unlike Cutco kitchen knives that have functional serrations.

If you are going to purchase a folding knife for your own, I recommend choosing one with a Tanto designed tip, similar to the tip of a Samurai or Ninja sword, since they are the most durable. More so, test the edge whether it is plain or serrated, to determine how effectively the knife cuts. The more skilled you are in mastering your weapons, the more you control their lethality.

Never forget though that the most lethal weapon of all is your mind!
About the Author
A conservative American with a background in law enforcement, martial arts, engineering, and information systems. Non-lethal self-defense devices are available at www.striker701.com.

Peace, love, and harmony...through readiness!
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