A guide to buying, carrying, and using a taser in South Africa

Tasers are a type of self-defence tool that uses electrical charges to disorientate and disable an assailant. These devices are legal to use in S.A, and provide you with a versatile tool that will help keep you and your family safe. Having a taser or stun gun on you when you’re walking through a dark parking lot or shopping gives you an important defence tool.

We use the word taser when referring to any self-defence tool that uses electrical charges. However, there are several essential differences between tasers and stun guns. When you’re shopping around for one of these devices, it’s vital to know the differences between stun guns and tasers.  If for no other reason, then to find which is more affordable.

What’s the difference between tasers and stun guns?

Taser is an acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”, it’s both a brand name and a specific product. They’re by necessity rather bulky and require a cartridge to work at a distance. Among other things, these cartridges contain two lengths of insulated wire attached to metal probes.

When you press the trigger, the charge reacts to the contents of the cartridge shooting the probes towards your attacker. An electrical charge is delivered to the part of your assailant closest to the probes.

Aside from the expense of this device, tasers may not be the best option for self defence. The cartridge is only effective if you hit your target with both probes. You won’t have time to load another cartridge before your attacker closes with you. Tasers can be used the same way as a stun gun as well, but by then they’re aware of the fact that you have it.

Stun guns are smaller and more comfortable to conceal. The device is all of a piece and doesn’t require extra parts to work. They can’t be used at a distance, but they pack a punch when used correctly. On the front end of this device are two or more metal prongs. By engaging the stun gun and then pressing it against your assailant, you will deliver a painful electrical charge meant to discourage them.

Stun guns don’t need to make contact with bare skin to be effective. You can use a stun gun repeatedly if your first shot doesn’t put your assailant down. Depending on the model you choose, it can come with features like a personal alarm and flashlight with strobe settings. Stun guns are affordable, durable, and easy to maintain.

Three qualities you should pay attention to when buying a stun gun:

  • Microcoulombs

The voltage of a device is not an indicator of how effective it is. Check the micro coulomb (uC) rating when comparing devices. This rating measures the electrical charge put out by a taser or stun gun and is responsible for the amount of pain they can cause.

  • Durability

Choose a stun gun that can survive rough handling. While rhinestones and funky logos make it a personalised accessory, you want a device that won’t become useless if it falls or gets knocked around.

  • Safety features

Stun guns and tasers include a safety mechanism to prevent accidental discharge. In most cases, a stun gun will require you to slide the switch into the ready position and give you a separate button to trigger the electrical charge. Some stun guns also have a hand strap that attaches to the device with a pin. If an attacker manages to pull the device away from you, the pin will disengage and render the device harmless.

How to properly carry a taser or stun gun

The first rule to carrying any self-defence tool is that you keep it within reach.  Stun guns do you no good if they’re in your bedside drawer when you’re out on a run. Whether you keep it clipped to your belt, in your pocket, or on a strap around your wrist, you need to be able to get to it quickly.

Keeping your stun gun in a holster that attaches to your belt is convenient. Make sure you can draw it quickly or carry it in your hand when you’re in a potentially dangerous situation.  When you run into trouble, struggling to get your stun gun out of the holster will only serve to aggravate your assailant and give them time to hurt you.

If you’re a woman and choose to carry your stun gun in your handbag, make sure to keep it in a separate compartment where it will be easy to take out. It can’t help you it’s at the bottom of the bag or underneath a pile of other items. Some stun guns are small and lightweight enough to be attached to a set of keys. And for all that it’s a compact device, the electrical charge it puts out still kicks like a mule.

What your stun gun will do to someone

Understand what effect your taser or stun gun will have before you use it. The theory and electrical knowledge behind the process are explained well on the SABRE site. Let’s focus on the physical effects stun guns will have on an attacker. I recommend all the Sabre stun guns as well as the Energizer tactile torch.

When the metal prongs come into contact with your attacker, it closes an electrical circuit. This just means that electric charge can then flow through your assailant. The charge flowing into them confuses the messages sent to the target’s brain and causes involuntary muscle movements. It also causes them “intolerable pain”. The length of time your target is exposed to the charge will also determine the effects.

Here’s a video that details the effects that a stun gun will have on the human brain and body:

How long should you hold a taser to an attacker?

The recommended amount of time to keep your attacker in contact with an electrical charge is three seconds. This is enough time to make their muscles tight and unresponsive.  It’s also enough time to disorientate them sufficiently that they won’t be coming after you while you run to safety. But, in a fight, 3 seconds can seem like forever. Fortunately, 1-2 seconds is sufficient to daze and hurt them enough to give you a chance to get to safety.

Which part of the body you should use a taser on

When using a stun gun, you need to target areas on your attacker that have large muscle groups. Areas like the thigh, belly, upper back are generally good targets. If it’s not possible, then aim for sensitive areas where there are a lot of nerve endings. These areas include under the chin, in the groin, or even under the nose. Stun guns can be used more than once so even if all you manage with your first strike is to make the assailant back away, you have won yourself some space.

How to train yourself to use a taser

Training is essential for using these devices effectively. The snap and sizzling sound made by tasers and stun guns can be frightening to you as well as the person attacking you. Sit outside, away from pets and family members, and press the trigger until you no longer flinch at the sound. You can’t afford to be scared of using the device.

Most good-quality products come with a free training video that will help you to learn about your new device. As with most self-defense tools knowing how to use them will make you more confident. Confident people don’t make easy targets for criminals who don’t want to get hurt or caught. For practical purposes, the training also prepares you to use force against another human being to save your life.

You should still invest in a self-defence class. Tasers, stun guns, pepper spray, and even personal alarms are used as a deterrent. Knowing how to defend yourself in a physical fight is just another tool in your box to help you stay safe.

Did you find this article helpful? Have you ever used a taser? Or have you ever experienced the pain of being tasered? Let us all know in the comments below!

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