An expandable baton is a compact, telescoping pole that can be deployed in seconds in order to help you deter an adversary. When closed the expandable baton can be concealed by clipping it to your belt, or, in some cases, slipping it into your pocket or purse.
The best expandable batons are fashioned from high-quality materials including steel, aluminum and high-grade, impact-resistant plastic. They are legal in most, but not all, states and provide a non-lethal alternative to handguns. Below are the best expandable batons of 2022.
1. Smith & Wesson 16-Inch Heat Treated Collapsible Baton
Smith & Wesson know a thing or two about personal protection so it’s no big surprise that their 16-Inch Heat Treated Collapsible Baton should lead off our list. With a deployed length of 16 inches you’re able to keep an assailant at arm’s length and then some, while you simultaneously convince them of the error of their ways.
The non-slip rubber handle enables a solid grip in all conditions, and at less than 1 pound the baton is not going to weigh you down. The shaft is composed of 3 sections of steel alloy tubing that will not wither in the heat of battle. And the very affordable price makes it a good choice for average folks who just want to feel a bit safer walking the streets. Rugged belt sheath included.
2. ASP Talon Infinity Steel Baton
ASP are well-known in law enforcement and security circles for their impressive array of high-quality expandable batons. Our favorite is the Talon Infinity Steel Baton. This is a no-nonsense self defense instrument that’s light, tough, and dependable. It’s also small enough to be easily concealed, but large enough (21 inches) when deployed to make a statement.
The ASP Talon Infinity snaps open with authority and stays locked in place while in use. The rubber handle ensures a solid grip come rain, snow or shine. And the steel shaft will leave an unmistakable impression on the psyche of any would-be assailant. The Talon Infinity is a law-enforcement favorite and it’s easy to see why.
3. ASP Friction Loc Baton
As we said, ASP is known for their expandable batons. And their Friction Loc Baton is another fine example of what they do right. Like the Talon Infinity, the Friction Loc is 21 inches long when deployed, and is crafted from a combination of steel alloy and aircraft grade aluminum. When collapsed it’s a mere 7 1/2 inches in length, which greatly enhances its concealability.
We were impressed by how solid this baton felt to wield when fully extended. It’s rock solid from stem to stern and is sure to make its presence felt when swung with purpose. The rubber handle is not quite up to the standard of the S&W that took our top spot. But it’s not far behind. Overall, an outstanding value, even if it is relatively expensive.
4. Bud K Expandable Baton
Not everyone has a C-note to drop on an expandable baton. And in these uncertain financial times that is understandable. If you’re looking for a truly affordable self defense baton that’s well-made and should help deter losers from trying to steal your lunch money, the Bud K Expandable Baton is a common sense choice.
The Bud K doesn’t have the pedigree of S&W or ASP. But it is fashioned from high-grade materials, weighs less than a pound and is a full 26 inches long when deployed. No one is going to want to be in your wheelhouse when you have this in your hand. Unlike many of the more expensive batons it also comes with a convenient wrist strap which reduces the odds of losing the baton during a scuffle.
5. Monadnock 21-Inch AutoLock Baton
The Monadnock 21-Inch AutoLock Baton is a premium self defense item that opens in a jiffy every time and has a 3-piece hardened steel alloy shaft. No would-be assailant is going to enjoy feeling this puppy kiss his cheek. Especially when you consider that it weighs more than a pound. At 21 inches (when deployed) it also allows you to carve out some personal space.
Unlike many other expandable batons, the Monadnock 21-Inch AutoLock closes up with just the push of a button. That no doubt adds to the price, but it’s a nice feature to have. It also comes with a lifetime repair or replacement guarantee. If there’s a downside it’s the foam handle. Which wasn’t bad, but wasn’t the best we tested.
6. Schrade 21″ Expandable Friction Lock Baton
The Schrade 21-Inch Expandable Friction Lock Baton is a precision tool crafted to enable ease of use and optimal effectiveness. The baton opens with an aggressive flick of the wrist and locks in place so you can defend yourself with confidence. At 21 inches long when deployed it’s a formidable ally that doesn’t take any guff from aggressive swine.
The 3-piece steel shaft means business and will not flinch when called upon. The rubberized handle provides a very sure grip in all conditions. And the baton collapses back down by just giving the end a tap on a solid surface. Considering the customer-friendly price it’s an outstanding value.
7. Smith & Wesson 12-Inch Compact Pocket Baton
Sometimes you want your expandable baton to make a statement. And sometimes you want one that is so discreet you can carry it anywhere with impunity and always have it available, just in case. The S&W 12-Inch Compact Pocket Baton is a mere 4 3/8 inches when closed. That’s small enough to easily slip into the pocket of your cargo pants.
But the S&W 12-Inch also comes with a durable belt clip that can be used to fasten it to the inside pocket of a jacket or coat. The handle is knurled aluminum and provides a reasonably secure grip in most conditions. But the real draw here is concealability, and the surprising authority of the blows it’s capable of producing.
8. ASP 26-Inch Electroless Expandable Baton
The name of the ASP 26-Inch Electroless Baton can be a bit confusing. But it merely refers to the process used to plate the steel shaft. The electroless process produces a plating that is highly corrosion-resistant, which means you can carry this baton around in any weather conditions without worrying about it rusting on you.
This is a friction lock baton that snaps open quickly and locks into place with no muss or fuss. Once open it’s an impressive 26 inches long, which is enough to make most wannabe bad guys stop in their tracks and reconsider their life choices. It’s a bit heavier than other batons, but that just allows it to make an even more emphatic statement when you need it to.
What Is an Expandable Baton?
An expandable baton is a telescoping pole of moderate length that is deployed with the flick of a wrist and provides an effective non-lethal tool for warding off potential attacks. It can be very beneficial in a survival situation. When fully extended they typically range from 1 to about 2 feet in length, perhaps a bit more.
High-quality expandable batons are fashioned from steel, aluminum, impact resistant plastic and other durable materials. Most use a friction lock system that is initiated automatically upon opening or closing the device.
Expandable batons are commonly used by law enforcement, as well as professional security personnel. But they are becoming increasingly popular with average citizens who recognize the world for the sometimes dangerous place it is, and want to give themselves every advantage when it comes to emerging from a potential scuffle.
Why Should I Carry a Collapsible Baton?
In an increasingly uncertain world, carrying an expandable baton is a simple, affordable way to enhance your personal security profile. The following are just some of the reasons a person may want to carry an expandable baton.
An expandable baton enables you to put distance between yourself and your assailant. Maintaining distance between yourself and a perceived threat is basic self defense (1). After all, a person cannot grab or strike you if they cannot reach you. There are many ways to maintain distance between yourself and a potential assailant, and one of the most effective is the expandable baton. By expanding the baton and holding it out in front of you, you also expand the personal defense bubble around yourself. In effect, you can reach him and cause harm but he cannot reach you.
Expandable batons are easy to conceal. Some compact batons are small and light enough to slip easily into the back pocket of your pants, an inside jacket pocket, or a purse for that matter. Many come with holsters and others with handy belt clips that let you carry the baton on the outside or inside of your pants. Even some of the longer batons can be easily concealed underneath a mid-length jacket or coat.
Expandable batons provide non-lethal protection. An expandable baton is an effective non-lethal deterrent. And that’s important because many states prohibit the use of lethal force in self-defense (2). As such, the average person needs an alternative way to ward off attackers that does not include delivering a deadly shot. The expandable baton is just such an alternative. It allows you to gift your assailant with a hell of a headache, or a broken wrist, or perhaps knock out a couple of teeth, without sending them to an early grave.
An expandable baton does not require ammunition. Firearms are the ultimate equalizer but they aren’t much good without the right ammunition. Expandable batons are self-contained self defense tools whose effectiveness does not depend on anything other than your willingness to use them when the time comes.
An expandable baton can be deployed quickly and effectively. If you should feel yourself threatened the expandable baton can be deployed in a couple of seconds. Just remove it from the holster or, if you have a compact baton, pull it from your back pocket or the thigh pocket on your cargo pants. After that, give it an aggressive flick, and the baton expands immediately to its full length. Just like that you are ready to use it to defend yourself against physical threats.
Expandable batons require no specific training. Can you swing a stick? If the answer is yes then you can use an expandable baton. About the only thing you might have to practice is opening them in a hurry. But you can do that while you’re watching TV or waiting for your morning coffee to drip. Once you get proficient with extending the baton in a hurry your biggest concern will likely be how to best conceal it.
Expandable batons are legal to carry in most states. In a few states such as Hawaii, California and New York it is illegal to carry an expandable baton for the purposes of self defense, unless you are police officer or a private security officer with the right permit. However, in quite a number of states (including unexpected places such as Massachusetts) it is entirely legal to carry a baton (3).
What Makes a Good Expandable Baton?
An expandable baton is more than just a pointer or a unipod without the camera platform. It’s a high-quality self-defense item that can be the difference between becoming a victim and emerging from an altercation intact. Here are some of the things to consider when buying an expandable baton.
A high-quality grip – No matter what your preferred self defense tool it won’t be much good if you can’t keep a firm grip on it. When assaults happen events often become a blur, and keeping track of absolutely everything that’s going on is next to impossible. The grip of the baton should enable you to keep a firm hold without thinking about it. It should also be unaffected by adverse weather conditions. That means it should have an anti-slip surface. Ideally one that is rubber, rubberized (4), or made of foam.
Length – When it comes to expandable batons there are two lengths to consider. The length when the baton is extended and the length when it’s closed. The closed length will determine how easy it is for you to carry/conceal the baton. Concealment is important because you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. The extended length is important because the shorter the extended length the closer an assailant can get before you are able to mete out punishment. Closed length will affect extended length so you will need to balance the two considerations.
Ease of deployment – Most expandable batons are what is called ‘friction lock’ (5) batons. Whether closed or open these are held in place by an internal lock that relies on a simple pressure-sensitive mechanism. When walking around the friction produced is enough to keep the baton closed. When you snap the baton to open it you provide enough force to override that friction. Seconds count in an assault situation. Your baton should open quickly and effectively with a single snap.
Build quality – The baton is not going to do you much good if it fails to open, fails to close or is made of low quality materials that cause the baton to break during use. Steel, aluminum, or at the very least, black polypropylene (which is an extremely tough plastic) are the materials of choice. With steel being the optimal choice because of its strength and weight, which makes for a more impactful statement when it hits a would-be assailant.
Are Expandable Batons Legal?
This issue of self defense in America is an extremely complex one (6) with laws governing conduct during a confrontation varying from state to state. Because of this, different states have different laws governing what you can and cannot carry on your person for self defense purposes. For instance, some states put strict limits on how long a knife blade can be, while other states forbid folding knives with spring loaded openings (7).
Several states also have laws governing whether or not a person can carry an expandable baton. Some allow it. Some do not. And many are vague about whether carrying a baton is legal or illegal. In some cases, states may allow it while a city within that state may prohibit it. You will need to check local laws before venturing out with an expandable baton.
Is There a Downside to Expandable Batons?
Nothing is perfect and that applies to collapsible batons as much as it does to anything else. While batons can and do provide many people with a simple, dependable way to increase their personal security, they are not without their limitations and potential drawbacks. Those include:
They’re non-lethal – This is both a positive and a negative. On the positive side it appeals to those who don’t believe in using deadly force for self defense. On the negative side it means you may have to get in several convincing blows in order to ward off an attacker. And that is not always easy to do.
Unless, of course, they’re lethal – While it is unlikely you will kill someone by striking them with a baton, it is theoretically possible. A powerful blow to the head or throat with a steel baton could result in serious injury or even the death of an assailant. While that might not seem like anything to cry about, it could put you in some legal hot water (8).
Limited range – Unlike a gun or pepper spray the baton is a close contact weapon. Hopefully, whipping out the baton will act as a deterrent that keeps an assailant at bay. But it may not. In which case, you will be wielding it with the weasel right in your face. So while it’s an excellent self-defense tool, just remember the baton is not the best deterrent ever created.
Cost – While an expandable baton won’t set you back as much as a high-quality handgun and ammunition, some of them are not exactly cheap. It should not be surprising since the best ones are, after all, fashioned from high-quality materials and built to stand a lot of punishment. But the price is something to be aware of.
Practice – Handguns require plenty of training if you are to use them safely and effectively. But while expandable batons are not in the same league when it comes to training as handguns, woe unto you if you simply unbox the baton and clip it to your belt before heading out. It takes practice to learn the fastest and most effective way to deploy the baton in different circumstances. Not ‘training’ per se, but practice.
The Bottom Line
The expandable baton is a simple, effective way to significantly increase your ability to ward off potential assailants. Many can be easily concealed, are relatively light, and require nothing more than a bit of practice so that you can open them quickly and effectively if you need to.
Expandable batons can provide the ability to keep an assailant at bay long enough to effect an escape or call for help. If need be, they can deliver a powerful message to an assailant that they have picked on the wrong person.
In a majority of states it is legal to carry an expandable baton for self defense purposes. While in other states the law is murky on the subject. And in a few states they are illegal. So make sure you check with local ordinances before buying and carrying one.