A few weeks back I'm browsing Amazon and notice a stun-gun is mentioned in the Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed section. Being the ever curious, as well as self appointed Safety and Preparedness Officer of the home, I had to take a peek. I found myself staring at the VIPERTEK VTS-881. I read the reviews, and almost on a lark decided to add the item to my cart. At $13.98, I figured I'd get a smile out of Shira when I presented it to her.
Now, there's at least two obvious problems with stun guns. One, they have no range. From the picture on Amazon I can see two contacts that need to be pressed up against the bad guy (or gal)'s skin. That means that to use this sucker you need to already be in a heap of trouble. Nobody wants that. Pepper spray, on the other hand, at least gives you some stand off distance. (Of course I've bought pepper spray for the wife; my favorite being this guy; perfect to keep under the bed for bumps in the night).
The other problem with a stun gun is that it needs to be applied to the skin (or perhaps thin clothing). That means that not only does the bad guy need to be on top of you, but you need to be targeted as to how you use it. That's going to be tricky, if not impossible to do in a high stress situation.
But, like I said, for $14 bucks, I figured I couldn't go wrong.
A few days later the Vipertek shows up. I'm impressed right away with the build quality. For $14.00, I didn't expect much, and this feels like a sound device. Check out this size comparison:
As you can tell, it's a little narrower than a deck of cards and about the same size as compact LED flashlight. It's got a non-threatening shape as well.
The device itself couldn't be simpler to use. There's a slider switch that goes between off, flash-light and armed and a small button you can press to discharge it.
The flash light is a really nice touch, as it's quite bright and makes the device useful even if you don't find yourself in a dangerous situation.
The device has a slider switch that reveals two prongs that let you plug it into an outlet. It's ideal that you don't need to fiddle with cords or worry about losing a charger. It's all self contained.
I've yet to actually try to stun anyone with this. However, I've discharged it a number of times. Good golly, this sucker is powerful! Just the snap of the arcing electricity is enough to convince me that I don't want to mess with anyone carrying one of these.
Given all the above, I've had to re-think my attitude towards stun guns. While I'm the farthest thing from an expert on this topic, and I've got experience with exactly one device, I can tell that this guy has some key advantages:
- Given the shape, size and flashlight functionality, you can openly carry this in nearly any context. Walking down a dark alleyway, you could bust it out and never given any indication you're carrying a weapon.
- While it lacks the stand off distance of pepper spray, you're not going to run into issues with the wind blowing your weapon back in your face.
- Unlike pepper spray, it's much easier to train with. You can practice with it anywhere, and without worrying that your test conditions won't match the real thing.
- The aggressive arcing of the spark may in fact provide a deterrent, though that would be situation dependent
- Chances are the assailant isn't going to be expecting you to have a stun gun, so you may be able to use the element of surprise.
So, should you go to Amazon, buy one of these and walk around like you're bullet proof? Uh, no. I see a weapon like this as being a solid addition to training. For example, in Krav Maga we're always talking about making space to take further action. While I doubt getting 7,000,000 volts to your arm is going to knock a bad guy out, I bet it would work wonders for making that space to take further action.
And besides, for $14.00, it's hard to argue with this guy's value.
If you're looking for another self defense option, check out the Kubotan.