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March 2014 How To Survive! - Personal Self-Defense Weapons

Posted in Features on February 20, 2014
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Brass knuckles are so yesterday. They’re yesterday pretty much because today they’re illegal to have in your possession in most states (they’re deemed a concealed weapon). Well, now what are we supposed to do when it comes to arming ourselves in order to survive a threat to our person if we can’t go all gangsta-style with brass knuckles? We started exploring the world of other personal/self-defense weapons and found the options to be about as diverse as engine performance parts—and sometimes even weird (really, a sword?). That left us no choice but to turn to security expert and “Security Sensei” Jordan Frankel of Global Security Experts ( and Ali Haskenkamp of Damsel in Defense ( to help us sort through what’s available. “As much as we would love to live our lives with sunshine and rainbows, there are bad people in the world,” Ali noted. “But you don’t have to be lethally protected to protect yourself.”

Stun Gun
Pro: Can be had for as cheap as $25. “We offer one that will go through clothing and even parkas,” Ali said. She also said that if someone is touching the door handle, you can put the gun to the handle and it will shock them right through the handle.

Con: You have to touch the intruder up close and personal and “that’s a scary, scary thing,” said Jordan. Therefore, it can also be taken away from you.

Stun Baton
Pro: Similar in concept to a stun gun. “I recommend a stun baton because it gives you distance when using it,” Jordan said. Similar looking to a cattle prod, it can be around 18 inches long, creating that distance. Ali told us her manager uses one and digs it because if someone is actually able to grab it, the sides of the baton will still offer stun capabilities. Another bonus? Good for when you’re on walks and need to keep crazed animals at bay.

Con: It’s bigger than most personal defense weapons.

Pro: You want distance? This can be shot from typically about 14 feet away.

Con: How’s your aim? You’ll need to be able to make contact, and it might be from a distance. And expect to go through certification to use one. Also, it’s a spendy product.

Pepper Spray
Pro: “You’re not looking to spray them then subdue them and handcuff them with zip-ties yourself—you’re just looking to get out of the situation that’s dangerous,” Jordan said. Ali’s company offers one that uses an identifying UV dye in it, so even if the perp showers, it’ll stay on the skin for up to 10 days. “Pepper spray is one of my favorites, just because it’s a universal, ‘Hey, don’t mess with me,’” she said.

Con: Check your local laws; it may be legal to posses, but not necessarily legal to use. Another downside: “When you spray on somebody, or wind up in a tousle with that person, it’s bound to get in your eyes and you’re bound to breathe it in, and now you might have the same problems seeing, breathing, and getting out of the room,” Jordan explained.

Defense Alarm
Pro: In the old days, a whistle did this job. Now, you can get an actual handheld alarm, even with a built-in flashlight. Any noisemakers will draw attention to you and therefore to the stalker/intruder/whatever and could scare him off, so even setting off your Jeep’s panic button will get the job done. Bonus: If you’re trapped or lost on a trail, it’s a way to signal for help. Double bonus: Ali said, “I love them for kids, because they can’t carry pepper spray to school.”

Con: A personal alarm makes more sense in public versus if someone broke into your bedroom because it’s possible no one outside of your house will hear it. But keep those Jeep keys at your bed—the panic button will likely still be within range.

Baseball Bat
Pro: Inexpensive, easy to store, and most of us already have one in the house.

Con: “You do have to be able to swing,” Ali pointed out. “I would rather have something that is going to give me time to get away rather than try to go into battle with them.”

Net Gun
Pro: This looks like a flashlight, but shoots a giant net. “It looks like something out of a Batman movie and is usually for capturing birds and animals. So if an intruder enters, you can shoot him; it covers him in net material and the more he moves, the more it tangles around him, and you can run past him. It’s a nonlethal weapon and great distraction,” Jordan said.

Con: It’s a couple hundred bucks.

Pro: It was originally a martial arts self-defense tool, it’s about 5 or 6 inches long, and although it’s somewhat pointed, it’s not stabby—“But you shove it into something like a wrist bone and it hurts,” explained Ali.

Con: The bad guy has to be right on you in order for this to be effective.

Pro: You probably already have one or more in your house/bag/Jeep. They are an inexpensive investment, easy to carry, and useful well beyond defense.

Con: But as a defense item? Jordan suggested, “You want this to be a very last resort. Unless you’re highly trained, it can be turned around and used on you, and we’re talking about a serious injury or being killed. Anytime you have close contact with a knife, it’s a bad situation.”

Take Down a Bad Guy With What?
“There are things in your house are already self-defense weapons—and you just don’t know it,” Jordan said. For example, what if you woke up in the middle of the night and someone was in your bedroom. He suggests keeping a mini fire extinguisher near or around your bedroom. Why? What does a fire extinguisher do when you shoot it off? It sprays a white thick fog, “And shoot it at an intruder, and you’ll have ample time to be able to run past him or out of the house.” Since it takes effort to swing the extinguisher itself around like a weapon, the spray “Has a long range, makes everything white and powdery to disorient the intruder, and it doesn’t have backflow, meaning it doesn’t come back at you like mace or pepper spray potentially could.”

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