Stun guns are one of the most effective, yet misunderstood self defense weapons in use today. A stun gun is a type of electronic weapon that delivers a powerful jolt of electricity that courses through the recipient’s body, causing them to suffer a loss of motor function which usually, though not always, results in them falling to the ground and being incapacitated for a period of time.
Stun guns are close contact weapons that require you hold them against the assailant’s body in order to deliver the shock. This is in contrast to tasers that fire tethered darts at the target. These darts take hold of the person’s skin and 50,000 volts of electricity is then dispensed through the tethering wire into the person’s body for 5 seconds.
There are a lot of state and local laws regulating or banning civilian use of tasers. Not so with stun guns. They are fully legal in nearly 3 dozen states, which is one reason they have become a popular self defense alternative to things like pepper spray and mace. Below are the best stun guns on the market for 2023.
1.TASER® STRIKELIGHT 2 RECHARGEABLE STUN GUN FLASHLIGHT
2. Vipertek VTS-989
Vipertek makes some of the most popular stun guns on the market. Their VTS-989 is a great example of why their products are increasingly sought out as an alternative to pepper spray and other self-defense deterrents. The VTS-989 is extremely user-friendly with its contoured handgrip and the intuitive location of the power button. Both of these things enable the user to deploy it quickly and effectively should circumstances require.
There’s a safety switch on the side opposite the power button that enables you to prevent accidental discharge while you’re going about your day. There’s also a powerful LED flashlight that can be used to find your way or to temporarily disorient an assailant. The great thing is that all the essential functions of the device can easily be accessed using one hand.
The ability to take a firm hold of the device helps prevent your assailant from taking it out of your hand while the aggressive electrodes at the business end of the device deliver the electric shock in no uncertain terms. The bottom line is that the Vipertek VTS-989 is easy to use, easy to control and packs an impressive punch. It costs a bit more than some other stun guns but it’s still a very affordable piece of 21st century self-defense tech you should have in your arsenal.
3. Police TW10-59 Stun Gun
The Police TW10-59 Stun Gun delivers 22,000 volts into any would be assailant. That is typically enough to send them to the floor long enough so that you can effect an escape. The Police brand doesn’t have anything to do with actual police departments and the brand does not have the market visibility that Vipertek enjoys. But this is an impressive piece of self-defense technology that we wouldn’t hesitate to carry ourselves.
The TW10-59 is a multifaceted device that not delivers an impressive electronic punch but also comes with a built-in LED flashlight and, best of all, a 120dB emergency siren that you can easily activate to scare someone off before they ever reach you. In addition, the handle has a non-slip rubber coating that enables you to get a nice firm grip.
The TW10-59 comes with a safety switch to prevent accidental discharge, and the company also provides a handy and durable belt-mounted holster so that the device is also close at hand in case you need it.
4. Sabre Self-Defense Kit with Sabre Pepper Spray and Stun Gun
Sabre thinks you shouldn’t take any chances when it comes to self defense and so they bundle their outstanding Stun Gun with 22 grams of their potent pepper spray. It’s a lethal 1-2 combination that brings to mind the old adage “if the thunder don’t get cha then the lightnin’ will”.
The Sabre Stun Gun produces 1.25 microcoulombs (µC) of electricity. According to the watchdog agency the National Institute of Justice 0.5 microcoulombs produces significant pain and 1.0 microcoulombs produces intolerable pain. That means the 1.25 μC in play here is going to deliver a hard lesson to your would be assailant.
The Sabre Stun Gun features anti-grab technology in the form of a metal strip that extends down the sides from the head of the gun. If by some miracle the would be assailant avoids being shocked and avoids the anti-grab bars just reach down to your belt or pocket, pull out the pepper spray and leave them in a teary little ball while you exit and call the cops.
Also included is a 120 lumen LED flashlight, a wrist strap and a convenient belt mounted holster.
5. Calfvic Heavy Duty Stun Gun
While we’re on the subject of stun guns that pack a punch we would be remiss if we didn’t tout the efficacy of the Calfvic Heavy Duty Stun Gun. When they say “heavy duty” they mean it. This compact piece of trouble delivers 1.600 μC to the body of your would-be assailant. Remember what we just said about .5 μC delivering significant pain and 1.0 μC producing intolerable pain. This is 60% above intolerable.
Depress the trigger and hold against your assailant for 2 or 3 seconds and their muscles will start to spasm, they’ll get dizzy and they’ll no doubt start screaming about how much it hurts. Hold it a couple of more seconds to make sure they’re incapacitated and then make your escape.
The Calfvic Heavy Duty Stun Gun also provides a bright LED flashlight (120 lumens) that you can use to light your way or blind an assailant. And there are anti-grab strips at the top that zap anyone who tries to take the gun out of your hand. This is an aggressive self-defense tool that will make sure you emerge unscathed from any assaults.
6. Vipertek VTS-979
The VTS-979 from Vipertek is for those ladies who want to look good while they’re reducing would-be attackers to quivering lumps of biomass. There are a lot of wacky claims out there about the device delivering billions of volts. You should feel free to ignore them outright. Actual voltage is about 22,000, which is still enough to make anyone regret they ever mistook you for an easy mark.
The handle is rubber coated, which ensures a stable grip. That’s important when you’re grappling with some aggressive weasel. There is also a 120 lumen LED flashlight you can use to blind any would-be attacker before you lay into them with the business end of the device. And Vipertek includes a reliable safety switch which must be turned off in order for the device to work. This helps prevent accidental discharges.
The pink color gives the VTS-979 a benign look. Kind of like a sunglass case or something similar. But this puppy is anything but benign. Hold it against an attacker for 3 or 4 seconds and they’ll either recoil in agony or slump to the ground, a quivering mess.
7. Vipertek VTS-880
Vipertek makes one more appearance on our list with their VTS-880. The VTS-880 delivers a robust 22,000 volts to the arm, torso or whatever other body part of the assailant you hold it against. That’s enough to make them question the error of their ways. But despite its impressive power the VTS-880 is an incredible value, costing only about half what their other models go for.
Why so cheap? Well, for starters you don’t get the nifty contoured handle you get with other, more expensive Vipertek models. Also, the LED flashlight included here is nothing to write home about. And there are no anti-grab strips that deliver a shock if your assailant tries to take hold of your stun gun. There’s also no wrist strap.
So what do you get? You get a dependable, compact stun gun that will knock an attacker on their butt and buy you time to escape. Just make sure you practice deploying it, so that if you ever have to you’ll be sure to get a nice solid grip.
8. Taser Pulse Self-Defense Tool
We thought we should throw in one taser just for good luck, and this is one of our favorites. This is a proper taser in that it fires 2 tethered darts up to 15 feet into the body of a would-be attacker. Police use this type of device because it enables them to fell a perp without having to get into a wrestling match with them.
The darts fly out of the device at 120 mph and are barbed so that they take root in the body of your assailant. That way you can deliver as much of a shock as you feel necessary to take them down so you can escape. In most cases though you won’t have to depress the trigger for more than a few seconds.
The device is very easy to aim and fire. As long as you hit them with both barbs and hold the trigger it will disable them for long enough that you can escape. An added bonus is that there is a related smartphone app that alerts the police the minute you activate the device. If there’s a downside to this otherwise outstanding piece of self-defense hardware it’s the price. It’s about 10 times as expensive as the stun guns on our list. Many, however, feel it’s worth it.
Is it Legal to Own a Stun Gun
It depends on the state you live in. In most states stun guns are perfectly legal, (while tasers are not). There are, however a few that place some degree of restrictions on stun guns, and a couple where they are simply illegal.
- In Indiana and Wisconsin you will need a license to carry a stun gun.
- In Alaska, Mississippi, Wyoming, Iowa, North Dakota, Michigan and Connecticut stuns guns are legal but only for adults with no felony convictions.
- In Illinois, Pennsylvania and Maryland stun guns are legal in some cities and towns and illegal in others. In Illinois, even in places where stun guns are legal you will still need a license to own and carry one.
- In Rhode Island, Michigan and Hawaii stun guns are outlawed. At the moment. We say that because Hawaii’s ban is set to expire in January of 2022 (1).
- In the 35 states not mentioned above it is legal to own and carry a stun gun without restrictions.
In states where there are restrictions, or where stun guns are outlawed entirely, penalties for carrying one vary.
- In Rhode Island for instance, where stun gun ownership is not allowed the penalty for being caught with one is as much as a $1,000 fine and a year in prison.
- In Wisconsin, where a license is required to carry any “electric weapon” possessing a stun gun without the appropriate license is a felony that may result in a $2,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
- And in Alaska, where you can own a stun gun as long as you have no felony convictions on your record using the stun gun in the commission of a crime will add to the severity of your punishment.
Bear in mind that both state and local laws are constantly changing. So if you intend to purchase a stun gun make sure it is still legal where you live.
Is a Stun Gun the Same as a Taser?
No, a stun gun is not the same as a taser. A stun gun is a close contact device that you apply directly to the body of your attacker while holding the trigger. This sends a painful shock through their body, hopefully deterring them from bothering you any more.
A taser, on the other hand, fires tethered darts at the assailant. These darts have barbs on them that hold the darts in place while an electric current is sent through the tether into the person, causing them to lose motor function and, in most cases, collapse. “Civilian” tasers will fire up to 15 feet. While those intended for law enforcement will fire up to 34 feet. The following video explains the fundamental differences.
Can a Stun Gun Kill a Person?
According to police statistics hundreds of people have died from stun guns (2). This data needs to be taken with a grain of salt, however, because many people use the terms “stun gun” and “taser” interchangeably, even though stun guns are different and considered less punishing than tasers.
That doesn’t mean no one has died from stun guns, just that many of the deaths attributed to them were actually deaths caused by tasers when the police officer applied the current for a prolonged period of time.
That said, some people may go into cardiac arrest if they are hit with any electric weapon, including a stun gun (3). That’s particularly true for people with pacemakers, as the current from the stun gun can interfere with the electronics of the pacemaker.
People with neurological conditions may also suffer severe negative consequences from being hit with a stun gun, (and especially a taser). Many of those who have died after being struck with electronic weapons have in fact suffered from various neurological conditions such as epilepsy. It is also possible for a stun gun to cause a seizure in a person who does not suffer from epilepsy (4).
In most cases, though applying a stun gun to a person will incapacitate them for anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. (Remember, these are not tasers, which can take people out for up to 15 minutes.) Keep in mind too that the effect is not always instantaneous. It might take several seconds for the effect to manifest.
Finally, people have been known to fall to the ground after being hit with a stun gun or taser and end up with significant bruises. Some will even break bones if they are unable to exercise any control over their fall. And while it is not common there are cases of some people falling after being tased, hitting their head and dying (5).
Will a Stun Gun Work Through Clothes?
The darts on a taser leave the device traveling at 120 mph. That’s fast enough to penetrate most types of clothing, including fairly heavy jackets. Stun guns on the other hand are applied by hand. In most cases they will be effective if the person is wearing a t-shirt, or a t-shirt with another shirt over it. But the stun gun will not be of much use if you try to apply it through a heavy jacket.
The video below gives you some pretty solid ideas about the most effective ways to use a stun gun in self defense.
Things to Consider When Buying a Stun Gun
Here are some of the things to keep in mind before you shell out your hard-earned for a stun gun.
Power – Most stun guns range in power from a few thousand volts to 20,000. Some manufacturers claim their stun guns produce millions of volts. This, however, is extremely unlikely and needs to be taken with a grain of salt. First of all millions of volts would kill you pretty quickly (6). Secondly, remember that the stun gun only needs to disable teeny tiny nerve cells so it does not need to be strong enough to light a city block. 20,000 volts should be more than enough to send an unmistakable message.
The law where you live – As we talked about earlier stun guns (as opposed to tasers) are fully legal for any adult to own in 35 states. The rest of the states either require a license, or they forbid anyone whose been convicted of a felony from owning one or they are legal in some parts of the state in question but not the whole state. It’s important that you know the law regarding stun guns where you live.
Safety features – The biggest risk when carrying a stun gun is accidental discharge. Therefore it’s important that the stun gun you choose has some built-in safety features such as a disable pin, a safety cap and an off button (believe it or not there are some cheap units that are always on). At the same time though you don’t want the safety features to get in the way of deploying the weapon if you need to. So before you venture into a parking garage at night, or turn down a dark street make sure the device is ready to go if need be.
Price – Price is not such a huge consideration because most stun guns are affordably priced. They’re simple technology that don’t require high end processors or other things that drive up costs. Most of the ones on our list fall into the $20 – $30 range.
The Bottom Line
Stun guns are not tasers that fire charged darts at people 15 feet away. A stun gun works on the same principle as the taser – delivering a significant jolt of electricity to disable an assailant – but is a close quarters weapon you need to hold against the body of your attacker.
The best stun guns will disable the most determined assailant in 3 – 4 seconds, maybe a little longer if the person is particularly large. This buys you the time you need to flee the scene and alert the police. Many also provide a deafening siren and a bright LED flashlight that help you disorient your attacker either before or while you are applying the charge.
Any of the stun guns on our list should provide you with the kind of peace of mind that enables you to venture out with confidence day or night.