Stun Gun vs Taser – What’s the Difference?

by Robert Fox

Many people use the terms stun gun and taser interchangeably. However, they are two different items.

If you are in the market to purchase one of these products, your first step is to understand the difference.

Once you know which is which, you can determine what product is right for you. So, here you have it, stun gun vs taser.

Stun Gun vs Taser - What's the Difference?
Stun Gun vs Taser - What's the Difference?

How Are They Similar?

 How Are They Similar?
How Are They Similar?

Stun guns and tasers are both nonlethal handheld weapons. Both weapons operate by sending high voltage shocks into the subject.

This shock messes with the nerves and muscles, thus causing the person that was shocked to lose control of their ability to move.

That is what causes a large adult male to crumble when he is tased. That is about where their similarities end.

How Are They Different?

A stun gun can only be used in close proximity to the attacker. You need to physically touch the stun gun to the person in order to use it successfully.

While it works successfully, it can be dangerous if the attacker has a knife, or is able to get the stun gun from your hands.

Monster SG-M18000BK-P Rechargeable Stun Gun With LED Flashlight
Monster SG-M18000BK-P Rechargeable Stun Gun With LED Flashlight

A taser, on the other hand, can be used up to 15 feet away from the attacker. When you fire a taser there are two metal probes that shoot from the taser and stick into the attacker.

If you have proper aim this allows you to stop the attacker before he or she is within reach of you. Tasers can also be used at close range.

Stun Gun vs Taser

Stun Gun Pros

  • They come in a range of sizes and colors.
  • Use causes attacker to immediately stop, losing temporary muscle control
  • The sound when fired in the air is enough to deter many attackers from even trying
  • Many are rechargeable so you don't need to buy batteries
  • More affordable than most tasers or other self-defense weapons
  • Can purchase without a felony background check
  • When in contact with the attacker you cannot be shocked as well, which is a common problem with the use of pepper spray

Stun Gun Cons

  • They can only be used in close range, which means you need to be close enough to touch the attacker

Taser Pros

  • Taser will work on target from 15 feet away
  • There are two probes that can work on someone through 2 inches of clothing
  • Some models have laser sighting
  • Will shock attacker for 30 seconds
  • Certain models include a backup stun gun option if you miss with the probes or if the attacker gets too close

Taser Cons

  • Need to buy replacement cartridges once the taser has been fired
  • In order for the taser to work both of the probes need to hit the target
  • More expensive than stun guns

How to Choose

Your first step when choosing stun gun vs taser is to check your state laws. Some states require a federal background check before purchasing a taser.

And, some states have laws regarding the carrying and use of nonlethal weapons.

What to Look for When Buying a Taser

  • Laser Sight - The obvious advantage of a laser sight is the ability to hit your target easier. A secondary advantage to the sight is that some attackers give up and take off if they see the red laser dot on them.
  • Style - If you are uncomfortable with a weapon shaped like a gun there are other models and styles on the market.
  • Duration - While tasers will shock up to 30 seconds, there are shorter options on the market.

What to Look for When Buying a Stun Gun

  • High voltage - Stun guns with 800,000 volts or more will show a bright "lightning" like bolt between the prongs when triggered in the air. The higher the voltage the faster the stun gun will work to temporarily disable an attacker.
  • Which style works the best for you. Try holding several different kinds to see what is comfortable for you to use. There are stun batons that can be used for people that aren't comfortable with an attacker getting close enough for a stun gun.
  • Additional Features - There are stun guns that come with a variety of features including: flashlights, alarm, disable pin so attacker cannot use the weapon on you if they get it out of your hands, and rechargeable batteries.

If you are looking for additional information in the stun gun vs taser debate, check out our reviews on some of the top non-lethal weapons on the market.

  1. Vipertek VTS-880 Rechargeable Mini Stun Gun Review
  2. How to Use a Kubotan Keychain Stick and Self-Defence Spike
  3. Using Improvised Weapons for Self Defense

About Robert Fox

Rob Fox is a former hydro worker who used to teach self defence in Miami for 10 years. He's currently enjoying his retirement, playing cribbage and golf with his buddies, locksmithing and home security in his spare time. Rob is an avid reader, and has even written a few books on the subject of self defence.

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