There is an endless supply of self-defense products on the market claiming to stop attackers in their tracks. Companies and individuals promoting these products are pretty good at spreading misinformation and inflating the effectiveness of these devices. Below are the most common self-defense weapons and some of the pros and cons of each.
- Stun Guns (Not Recommended): Stun guns are not recommended. Stun guns are “contact” devices that require two prongs to be pressed against an assailant while the stun gun is being activated. The user must maintain contact against the aggressor for the stun gun to remain effective. Imagine trying to do this as a drugged up, violent aggressor who is bigger and stronger is assaulting you. Remember, distance is your friend. If you’re going to arm yourself with something in your hand, a better choice is something that is effective at longer ranges and up close.
- Tasers (Not Recommended): Tasers have little to no value for civilians. With tasers, you get one shot to fire barbed wires carrying an electric current into an aggressor. If you miss, there’s no re-loading or second chance. Furthermore, you need a second person to subdue the aggressor once he/she has been tased. Tasers are best suited for law enforcement which needs to subdue and restrain an aggressor in order to force compliance, However, tasers are not ideal for civilians who need to break contact and get away from a violent aggressor.
- Knives (Not Recommended): There is no debate that knives are devastating weapons up close. However, knives take skill and training to be used effectively. The chance of an unskilled person with a knife being disarmed and having the knife used against them is too great. Knives are contact weapons and can only be used once an attacker is up close and more than likely already doing grave bodily harm. For this reason I don’t recommend that an untrained person carry a knife for self-defense.
- Kubatons/Impact Weapons (Not Recommended): Purpose-built, dedicated impact weapons can be effective but are also limited in their use. Rather, I recommend you use a tactical flashlight with a strike bezel as your impact weapon. With a tactical flashlight, you have a highly effective impact weapon with the added benefits discussed below.
Tactical Flashlights (Recommended): A 500 lumen or greater, purpose-built tactical flashlight with a strike bezel is one of the most effective self-defense weapons you can carry. Flashlights can light dark areas from afar before you enter them, temporarily blind an aggressor and can be used as devastating impact weapons. Modern tactical flashlights are bright, compact, easy-to-carry and extremely reliable. Keep in mind that if you spend less than $40 on a purpose-built tactical flashlight, you have simply purchased a toy.
- Pepper Spray (Recommended): Pepper spray is an excellent tool to degrade an attacker and create an avenue of escape. Nothing works 100% of the time, but you can pretty much count on pepper spray working most of the time. Pepper spray is effective against those under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Pepper spray is affordable, easy-to-carry and requires minimal training.
- Firearms (Recommended): The best weapon for dealing with a lethal confrontation is a gun. Period. There will always be someone stronger, faster, more lethal and the possibility of multiple attackers. Yes, mindset, situational awareness and less-than lethal weapons are an important part of the equation. But when it comes to preventing death or grave bodily harm to yourself and loved ones, there is no substitute for a firearm and appropriate training.
I highly recommend that everyone carry a quality tactical flashlight with a minimum brightness of 500 lumens. In addition, it makes sense to carry pepper spray, as it’s very effective and has very little downside. If you are willing to get the proper training and become proficient in the use of a firearm for personal protection, a firearm is the best defense when lethal force is warranted.
Here’s what I carry and recommend:
Tactical Flashlight: Streamlight 88062 ProTax 2L-X 500 Lumen Flashlight Click Here to Purchase
Pepper Spray: Fox Labs Flip Top Cone Pepper Spray Click Here to Purchase
Firearms: I carry 9mm Glocks (models 19 and 26) exclusively. A detailed discussion of firearms is beyond the scope of this article. If you are interested in being a responsibly armed citizen, I recommend you visit your local shooting range and get the appropriate training before you purchase a firearm. You can usually rent a variety of firearms and get some experience to help you make an informed decision when getting a firearm for personal protection.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or post a question in our discussion forums.