What Are The Best Non-Lethal Self Defense Options?
This is a question that can be debated on multiple fronts. My real purpose in this article is not to provide an answer as to which option is the best; because you will need to do some research and decide for yourself. But I would like to highlight a few options I am familiar with and some of the pros and cons of each of those options. Let me also say right from the start that my personal preference and highest recommendation is that every citizen should trained on and carries a concealed firearm when and where it is legal to do so. To me non-lethal or less than lethal (both are identical) options are only for those times when you cannot legally carry, or perhaps you are not yet trained or licensed in your state, or perhaps you have an ethical reason for doing so and you don’t believe in the use of firearms for whatever reason. Although non-lethal can be effective you should understand that using lethal force is proven to be the best and most efficient way of stopping an illegal attack that threatens your life. But if that option is not there, then by all means go with non-lethal options.
The Three Primary Categories Of Non-Lethal Weapons
In general there are three primary categories of small non-lethal weapons that could easily be carried on your body. They are Impact Weapons, Chemical Weapons, Electrical Discharge Weapons.
In this category falls any type of weapon that you will hit or strike the attacker with. This could be an expandable baton like police use. It might be a set of brass knuckles, or a lead filled leather slap jack, or perhaps small “Tire Kicking” club or anything similar. Or even a tactical self defense pen. Essentially anything to give your strike more effectiveness.
Pros and Cons of Impact weapons: They will typically greatly increase the ability of the user to impart damage on the attacker. The added leverage, mechanical advantage or penetration power can really put a hurting on someone. They can even be lethal if they are used “incorrectly” (most any non-lethal weapon could be lethal in certain circumstances). They are also very concealable and many are reasonably priced. Though you do typically get what you pay for so buyer beware. They are also quick to draw and to use with little notice. Cons. They are not as effective in very tight spaces when you have very little room to swing, punch, strike, etc. Also they can be taken away from you and used on you if you are not careful. Lastly, if you have not received training on how to use them properly and where the most effective strikes are, then you may not be imparting as much damage as you could be. So there is a small learning curve with impact weapons.
Chemical weapons are generally referred to as mace, or OC spray. These types of non-lethals are also common with police officers and if deployed correctly can be very effective as well. The primary consideration when using a non-lethal chemical weapon is that you must consider the wind direction prior to using it. If you fail to do so, you could end up getting a considerable amount of mace in your own face. Which would not be helpful at all!
Pros and Cons of Chemical Weapons: Probably the biggest advantage to mace or OC spray is that it provides you a little bit of stand off distance from your attacker. Notice I said a little bit. You can generally spray the person from around 12-15 feet away (this figure is variable with each brand and canister style, etc). Another great thing about mace and OC spray is that you can easily use it for multiple attackers very quickly. Also it is generally very effective on most people and even animals. Though you need to realize that some people can still continue to attack you after they have been sprayed, especially if they are in an altered mental state or on drugs. Cons. As mentioned earlier the wind can be a factor that makes use a little difficult or unconformable for you or those around you. Also it may not be advisable to use mace or OC spray in a tightly confined space such as a bus, or train or other public transportation because you could end up spraying all of the passengers causing a very big legal problem for yourself. Another downside is that the amount of the chemical in the canister is generally very little. So you will only get a few sprays out of it before it runs out. Make them count! Of course this increases with larger containers but most people don’t carry big bear spray bottles around in their pockets or packs! But if you live in an area where riots and roving gangs are common and you still had to go out into that madness, large bottles of bear spray may be a good option if you did not have access to a firearm. Or maybe even in addition to carrying a firearm.
Electrical Discharge Weapons
Stun guns or Tasers, boy are these fun! Well not if you are on the receiving end! These will put a hurting on even the biggest man quick! Stun guns are the handheld devices that have to be held against your attacker for a couple of seconds before it will incapacitate them. A Taser is a device that shoots out a couple of darts with electrical leads connected to them and allows you to shock the attacker from several feet away.
Pros and Cons or Stun Guns and Tasers. The biggest advantage to these two is that they are generally highly effective on the vast majority of people if they are fully charged and used in the proper manner. Very few people can withstand several seconds of a well charged taser or stun gun. The obvious advantage of a taser is that it helps provide you with some stand off distance. The downside of the taser is that depending on the model you have, you likely only get one or two shots in total. You also have to make sure that you actually hit the target. So some practice is required. Additionally, the effectiveness of tasers can be reduced by very heavy or thick clothing. If the probes don’t penetrate into the skin, you may not be giving the full shock or even any at all. Stun guns have an advantage over tasers in that they can be used many many times on a full charge. However, the obvious disadvantage is that you have to be close enough to be touching the person to use it. Which also means that it could easily get taken away from you.
Edged Weapons (Not a non-lethal but worth mentioning)
Personally I think everyone who is old enough to do so should always carry a tactical folding knife. Not only are they highly practical but they are also an excellent self defense weapon. It should also be stated that of course knives or any other edged or piercing weapon can certainly cause death and should only be used when you intend on causing death. So they are not a non-lethal. But for the purposes of this article they are an obvious alternative to a firearm so I decided to add them to the list. Knives and other edged weapons can be highly effective. Most people even criminals don’t want to get into a knife fight. Because they all know that there is no winner in a true knife on knife fight. The key to successfully using a knife in a non-lethal manner is to use it as a deterrent first. Tell the person and show the person that you have a knife and that you are willing to use it. In many cases that will be sufficient. However, if they decide to engage you in spite of the warning, you should be prepared to use it with lethality if it is needed. Trying to only wound an attacker is a very bad idea and could very well end up with you getting the knife taken away from you. Which ends up with you in a grave instead of the attacker.
Pros and Cons of Edged Weapons.
The obvious advantage is that (provided they are sharp) they can be used for endless strikes or slashes. They also inflict an incredible amount of physical and psychological pain. The down side is that you have to get very close and it could potentially be taken away from you as well. Heavy and thick clothing can also reduce the effectiveness of a blade. So your intended target (once left with no choice) should be the neck. The neck is generally always exposed, even when wearing heavy winter clothing. The neck is a highly vulnerable area for knife work and will be an effective target to end the threat against your life as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is highly advisable that if you are planning to carry an edged weapon for self defense that you should get some training on it and know how to use it and how to retain it during a struggle.
A Note on Hybrids, Sonic Weapons and Lights
Some people may also include Sonic weapons such as “Rape Whistles” Or Personal Safety Alarms or Marine Horns in the category of non-lethal self defense weapons. Although these can be highly annoying and they may well help attract attention to your situation, these are not cut out for saving your life in my opinion. Additionally, there are a wide variety of ultra bright easily concealable flashlights that can also be very disrupting, annoying and disorienting if shined directly in the face. These can be a somewhat effective deterrent to those that are not truly committed to attacking you. Many of these lights could also be used as an impact weapon. However, I do not believe that these are true self defense weapons. The one obvious exception to this would be the hybrid flashlights that have a stung gun built into them. These would be perfectly acceptable and effective. Though I have heard stories of people accidentally shocking themselves when carrying these lights/stun guns. Also it is worth noting that a good bright LED flashlight is a great thing to carry! I am certainly not saying that they are not a useful item to have. I always carry one everywhere I go. It is a good compliment to a non-lethal weapon or a concealed carry firearm for sure! I do highly recommend carrying a good and bright flashlight daily. Just don’t rely on it to save your life as a first line of defense.
My Overall Recommendations For Carrying Non-Lethal Weapons
As I have mentioned before I think having a concealed firearm is the best option and I cannot recommend it enough. If you chose to carry only carry non-lethal options I would recommend a combination of Mace or OC Spray and a stun gun. With a tactical Folding knife in one of your front hip pockets as a last resort. This way if you have to use them to ward off an attacker you can start with the Mace or OC Spray in your strong hand while the attacker is still off at a distance. Then if the Mace is ineffective you can have the stun gun in your weak hand and ready to go. Then if they are able to get a hold of you, you will be able to immediately hit them with the stun gun. The combination of the two is very likely to ward off even the most determined attacker. Then if the stun gun doesn’t work you will be able to drop the mace and deploy the knife from your pocket with your strong hand as a last resort.
What Are Your Favorite Non-Lethal Self Defense Tools? Let us know in the comments below!
Legal Notice: Please be sure to check your local and state laws because many of the devices discussed above are illegal in many states and local jurisdictions and or may also have certain age restrictions. You should also make sure to get professional training on the use of each item if at all possible.
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