What to Look for When Buying a Stun Gun: The Ultimate Guide

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Imagine walking home late at night and suddenly hearing footsteps behind you. Unsure of what to do, you walk faster then break into a sprint. But whoever is behind you is picking up the pace as well. You realize how helpful a stun gun would be in this situation, allowing you to fight off any potential attacker without exactly harming them.

But what exactly should you look for in a stun gun? First, you should be clear about what you’ll be using it for: is it to scare off a would-be attacker or to inflict enough pain to buy time to escape? You’ll then know how much voltage and electrical charge you’ll need. You should also make sure that it’s handy and portable, with the safety features you need.

If this is your first time to purchase a stun gun, no need to worry. Allow us to take you through everything you need to know about buying one.

But First, What Is a Stun Gun?

A stun gun is an electroshock weapon that can temporarily incapacitate a person by disrupting muscle functions using electric shock. While the muscle functions are superficial, a stun gun causes uncontrollable muscle tissue contractions, according to this study. The target is then immobilized and falls to the ground.  

Stun guns also leave you in a significant amount of pain. Unlike TASER devices that can temporarily paralyze your body, stun guns inflict a more localized pain where contact is made.

Stun guns are also called conducted energy weapons or conducted energy devices. Similar weapons are:

  • Stun batons
  • TASER devices
  • Electroshock belts

Most electroshock weapons are manufactured by TASER International, which is now known as AXON. In 2018, the company reported total sales of $253.1 million for its TASER segment. This figure represents an increase of 68.2 percent from the previous year’s sales. However, there are already several other – albeit smaller – manufacturers that have entered the scene.  The influx of these competitors in the market means that consumers now have a world of choices when it comes to buying the perfect stun gun for themselves. 

To give you an idea of how popular stun guns and other similar weapons are, TASER International claimed in 2009 that at least 16,200 law enforcement agencies in at least 40 countries use their devices. This number, however, includes TASER devices, not just stun guns.

TASER Devices vs. Stun Guns: What’s the Difference

The biggest difference between a TASER device and a stun gun is the distance at which you can use them. Stun guns are direct contact weapons, which means that the gun needs to touch the target. TASER devices, on the other hand, have an effective range of up to 15 feet. It shoots probes that deliver the electric shock.

The effective range means that you will have to aim the TASER device carefully. You don’t get to have a do-over if you miss. In this regard, people often find it easier to use stun guns because they don’t have to aim and miss.

What’s more, TASER devices are bulkier and bigger than stun guns, and they are more expensive, too.

Why Should You Buy a Stun Gun?

The most obvious reason for owning and buying a stun gun is to keep yourself safe. If an intruder comes close, you can use your stun gun to immobilize him or her. Once the stun gun comes in contact with the attacker, he or she will suffer a few seconds of intense pain, muscle spasms, and low blood sugar levels. It can even floor the attacker, giving you enough time to escape.

For those who love the outdoors, stun guns can serve another purpose: keep the wild animals away.  If you are faced with a bear or a moose, a good jolt from your stun gun may not paralyze the wild animal. However, according to this article, it’s quite effective in scaring them away.

If you have an aggressive animal attacking you, a stun gun or a TASER device will help neutralize them.  Bears that were shot by a TASER device would stop reacting aggressively and angrily, and would instead run away.

A rather unconventional use for stun guns while camping is starting a fire. So, for example, you forgot to pack a lighter or a matchbox for your camping trip, a stun gun can be used to ignite a bonfire.

Some people believe than stun guns are also handy when it comes to treating snakebites. But a review of literature has shown that this is simply not true.

What to Look for When Buying a Stun Gun

Now that you know about the practical uses of a stun gun, it is time for you to know how to choose the perfect product for your needs. Let’s start with the voltage and the charge.

Voltage and Delivered Charge

The first thing you should decide on when buying a stun gun is the voltage output. A stun gun’s voltage will tell you how effective it is at stopping an attacker.

A typical stun gun would have voltage ratings of 50,000 volts. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the Safety Technology MultiGuard Stun Gun, Alarm, and Flashlight.  This particular product delivers a jolt of up to 20 million volts, along with a super loud siren and a 120-lumen flashlight.

While a device that has 20 million volts or more might sound impressive, if not terrifying, you should also look at the delivered charge.  The delivered charge is measured in micro coulombs. Generally, a device that delivers a charge of one micro coulomb will inflict intolerable pain, according to this page

A product like the SABRE Stun Gun & LED Flashlight, which has a delivered charge of 1.16 micro coulombs, can cause intolerable pain and can knock out your attacker in no time. It also comes with a 300-lumen flashlight and a free training video that teaches you how to safely use this product.

Volts or Micro Coulombs: Which One Is More Reliable?

Stun guns, for the most part, deliver enough electricity that will affect a localized group of muscles. Their main purpose is to inflict pain, which can force an attacker to back off or let go of something. They are not like TASERS or other devices that have probes normally deployed, embedded, or attached to the skin. As such, probe devices have electrodes farther apart and can deliver electric current deeper into the body while exciting more muscles and tissues. 

A push-stun device delivers pain, but a probe device can interfere with the neuromuscular system, which incapacitates the person.

According to the National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, there are three levels of pain that stun guns can deliver.

  • Below 0.5 micro coulombs, stun guns can produce momentary discomfort on the subject.
  • At more than 0.5 micro coulombs, stun guns can inflict pain.
  • At 1.0 micro coulomb, subjects report intolerable pain.

Note, however, that the report used micro coulombs or the charge delivered by the stun gun and not its voltage. 

Volts vs. Micro Coulombs Explained

When you’re talking about stopping power, you should look at the micro coulombs.  Micro coulombs measure charge, or how much electricity is passed on to the body when you use your stun gun.  The higher the charge, the more it can cause pain on the subject.

However, voltage is still an important metric, as well as amps. Voltage is a unit of measurement that tells you about the electric potential of something. High voltages mean that the stun gun can deliver the electricity to its target.  A higher number means that there’s a bigger chance that the electricity is not stopped by skin and clothing. It doesn’t mean that the subject will be in more pain.

But here’s where it gets tricky: many manufacturers advertise the voltage, but not the charge, and there is a lot of misunderstanding that can happen because of this. According to a stun gun manufacturer, the voltage can be very misleading, and the confusion might put you in danger.  For example, users claim that the ViperTek VTS-979, with an advertised 300 million volts of power, will only cause momentary pain at 0.480 micro coulombs.

On the other hand, products like the Zap Gun Stun Gun deliver a much more painful charge when used on an attacker. Still, because it offers only 800,000 volts of electricity, it might have problems going through thicker articles of clothing.

As for some of the more powerful stun gun products out there, here are their claimed voltages and charges:

Guard Dog Hornet
6 million volts
1.635 micro coulombs
Guard Dog Inferno
6 million volts
1.560 micro coulombs
Guard Dog Diablo
4.5 million volts
1.139 micro coulombs
ZAP Stick
800,000 volts
1.043 micro coulombs
ViperTek VTS-195
230 million volts
1.193 micro coulombs
ViperTek VTS-880
60 million volts
1.050 micro coulombs
ViperTek VTS-989
230 million volts
0.987 micro coulombs
ViperTek VTS-881
70 million volts
0.270 micro coulombs
Guard Dog Hotline Cell
3.6 million volts
0.903 micro coulombs
Guard Dog Electra
3 million volts
0.345 micro coulombs
Streetwise Touchdown
7.5 million volts
0.707 micro coulombs
Streetwise Small Fry Blackout
8.8 million volts
0.187 micro coulombs
Monster Stun Gun 18000 BKP
18 million volts
0.376 micro coulombs
Monster Stun Gun 25000 PDP
25 million volts
0.250 micro coulombs

As you can see, there is a wide discrepancy between voltage and charge. Some stun guns have high voltage but low charge, while for others, it is the opposite.

Size and Portability

There are a lot of options when it comes to how bulky or handy your preferred stun gun is. Medium-sized and mini stun guns are very portable and are discreet, like the Red Scorpion 398 Mini Stun Gun, which delivers 39 billion volts of power. This product measures 1.5 by 0.75 by 3.75 inches, making it very easy to stash away in your purse or backpack.

Meanwhile, the Guard Dog Security Hornet offers the world’s smallest stun gun. You can use this product as a keychain. Don’t let the small size discourage you because the manufacturer promises 8.4 million volts of power packed into this tiny thing.

If you only plan to use your stun gun for home security and you don’t have plans to carry your stun gun around, then you can buy the larger products, which are normally called batons.  The O-MEGA STUN GUNS Star Warrior Stun Gun measures 18 inches long and is very powerful. This is the kind of product that you see in movies where the police keep rowdy prisoners in line. What’s more, the entire shaft is electrified, so your attacker cannot grab it from you.

Multipurpose or Concealed Stun Guns

Portability should be a top consideration for stun gun buyers, but if you don’t have much space inside your bag or purse, you might want to consider buying multi-purpose stun gun models. 

For instance, this product from Guard Dog Security combines a pepper spray, stun gun, and flashlight in one device. You no longer have to rummage through your bag when you need to protect yourself. Other products include a security siren with their stun gun.

Other stun guns are designed in such a way that it’s easy for you to conceal.  Products such as the StreetWise Security Pain Pen looks like an ordinary pen but packs up to 25 million volts of power. It even comes with a metal clip that keeps it in place.

Another clever stun gun is disguised as a walking stick. You can use it when you’re hiking, camping, or walking with its non-slip rubber grip. It delivers 950,000 volts of power. For the ladies, there are stun guns that look like a tube of lipstick. Products like the FIGHTSENSE Flashlight Lipstick Stun Gun make a perfect self-defense tool. It’s small but combines a stun gun and flashlight in one package.

Or you can check out the TERMINATOR SGCPMC Smart Cell Phone Stun Gun. This product looks like an iPhone but can immobilize would-be attackers in seconds with 980 million volts of power.

Features to Consider When Choosing a Stun Gun

Aside from the voltage, size, and how easy it is to conceal, there are features that you should also consider. These are the little details that can help you decide on one stun gun over another product.

First, you should look for a stun gun that has a disable pin feature.  A disable pin needs to be inserted before you use the stun gun. When it’s out, the stun gun will not fire. The Avenger Defense ADS-80P has such a feature, which keeps you safe from unintended shocks. This safety feature makes sense for a product that delivers a very painful 1.2 micro coulombs of electricity. The disable pin also doubles as a wrist strap.

Another feature to consider is choosing a stun gun that has personal alarms or siren. This will help you call other people’s attention and scare off a would-be robber or attacker. Furthermore, you should choose a product that runs on rechargeable batteries. The RBS Emporium Stun Gun has rechargeable batteries onboard, plus a very nifty battery level indicator. This way, you can be sure that your stun gun is fully charged, instead of it failing to work at the most crucial moments. It also incorporates a flashlight.

Can You Legally Own a Stun Gun?

Before choosing a stun gun, you should first find out if it’s legal to purchase or own one.  After all, a stun gun is considered a weapon. So, can you legally own a stun gun? For the most part, yes. Americans in most states can legally buy, possess, and own a stun gun. Civilians who are of legal age and have a clean criminal record can own a stun gun for self-defense.

However, different laws govern the possession and ownership of stun guns, so it’s best to check the rules.  In general, however, there are many territories where stun guns are legal, with a few exceptions:

States where it is illegal to possess or own a stun gun:

  • Hawaii
  • Rhode Island

States where you can possess or own a stun gun subject to some restrictions:

  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi 

Counties and cities where it is illegal to possess or own a stun gun:

  • Baltimore County, MD
  • Chicago, IL
  • Ocean City, MD
  • Ruston, WA

You may also be subjected to a background check before you’re able to buy a stun gun if you live in:

  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey

Furthermore, you will need to secure a permit to possess stun guns in the following states:

  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Puerto Rico
  • Wisconsin

Security guards are allowed to use a stun gun in almost all states, except for:

  • Hawaii
  • Rhode Island

On top of these, there are also restrictions on the sale of stun guns in some states.

StateRestrictions on sale
ArizonaYes (verify possession of valid gov’t ID)
ArkansasYes (no sales under 19)
CaliforniaYes (no sales under 19 and no felony convictions)
District of ColumbiaNone
IllinoisCustomer should be a FOID holderHas a waiting period
MassachusettsMust provide a copy of resident firearms licenseMassachusetts IDMust finish a basic firearms safety course
MichiganIdentify should be verified
MinnesotaThe buyer should be 19 years or older
New HampshireNone
New JerseyThe buyer should be 18 years or older
New MexicoNone
New YorkMust follow local laws on stun gun ownership
North CarolinaNone
North DakotaNone
Puerto RicoNone
Rhode IslandIllegal
South CarolinaNone
South DakotaNone
West VirginiaNone
WisconsinFor home use only

Using a Stun Gun: The Dangers You Should Know

One study shows that getting shocked by a stun gun or a TASER device can impair your brain momentarily.  The study involved more than 140 college students. The participants were tased, and the researchers found that they had trouble with verbal learning, concentrating, and remembering things. The subjects were also anxious and overwhelmed by the experience.

More seriously, however, is that TASER devices and stun guns have been known to cause death and grave injuries. This is especially true if the recipient has had repeated, continuous, or prolonged exposure to electric shock. These devices have been known to cause stress and exhaustion. It also carries significant risks to your breathing, heart function, bodily functions, and metabolism.

Some of the effects outlined in TASER’s safety document include:

  • Changes in blood chemistry
  • Changes in heart rhythm and pulse rate
  • Release of stress hormones and adrenaline
  • Acid and base imbalance
  • Physiological effects similar to the ones observed in people who have just had a fight or are fleeing from something

You should also avoid using stun guns on pregnant women, the elderly, sick people, and small children.

Taking It All Together: Some Tips When Buying a Stun Gun

So what have we learned so far? Stun guns are weapons that can help keep you safe when an unforeseen attacker – whether human or animal – accosts you. After ensuring that it’s legal to own, carry, and buy a stun gun in your state, county, or city, it’s only prudent to know how to choose the perfect stun gun for you.  And here’s how:

1. When buying stun guns, remember that, more often than not, these are not meant to immobilize your attacker. Stun guns can induce intolerable pain, which helps give you time to run away. At the very least, the pain will make your attacker decide that it’s not worth it and leave you alone.  

If you want to immobilize an attacker, you should buy a TASER device or any other device that sends out a probe that attaches and embeds itself into the subject’s skin. Because of the distance of the two electrodes, electricity travels between a larger area. It involves more muscles and tissues, which can cause your attacker to drop to the ground and be unable to move their muscles voluntarily.

2. You need to know both the voltage and the charge when choosing the best stun guns for your needs. Ask the manufacturer how much volts and micro coulombs their stun gun can deliver before making a decision.

There are stun guns that do minimal damage but have the sparks and sound that scare away a potential attacker or wild animal. With less than 0.5 micro coulombs of charge, you can use it to ward away menacing dogs or robbers. However, this type of stun gun should never be your last line of defense. You should have another stun gun or perhaps a pepper spray in your purse.

Then there are also the stronger stun guns that can cause intolerable pain to your attacker. If you want to distract a would-be robber or assaulter, then these types of stun guns, which deliver more than 1.0 micro coulomb, are your best bet.

3. Choose a stun gun that you can hold securely and comfortably in your hand. Size and portability are important if you want to carry your stun gun around. A smaller yet powerful stun gun can easily be concealed and hidden in your bag. It can even go into the inside pockets of your purse. But more importantly, you can hold an appropriately-sized stun gun securely in your hand, which makes it more difficult for an attacker to wrestle it away from you.

4. You might also want to consider using a multi-purpose stun gun that also includes a pepper spray, a loud siren, and other safety devices all in one package. These products will give you more protection without taking too much space in your bag or pocket.  These all-in-one stun guns will be especially beneficial if you inadvertently ran out of battery. A pepper spray doesn’t need battery juice to work.

5. Look for the little features that can help you decide one way or the other. A disable pin, for one, is a great feature to have. This little pin keeps you safe from accidental stun gun shocks. A battery level indicator is a good way to know when you need to charge your stun gun.

Choose the Best Stun Gun for Your Needs Today

The responsible ownership and quick-thinking use of stun guns can save your life. At the very least, it can buy you precious seconds to escape from a dangerous situation, or scare your attackers away. You must choose your stun gun well, and we have outlined here not only the steps to choose the best product for your needs but also why you need to follow these guidelines.

Related Posts: ViperTek VTS-989 – 53,000,000 Volt Heavy Duty Stun Gun Review


Shanna is the 2nd half of Top Outdoor Survival. Like Forest, she has a passion for guns and knives. They love to go on a survival trip at least once a year. They love to go camping, hiking, and traveling.

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