Stun Gun Primer
A stun gun is classified as a “non-lethal” weapon. Its purpose is to temporarily incapacitate, not to kill. Stun gun powers are listed in volts. The higher the voltage, the more powerful the stun gun is. It’s not the volts that are dangerous in electricity; it’s the amps.
What then is the perfect balance between powerfulness and non lethality, in terms of voltage? To answer that, one needs to understand what amps are versus volts. Amps (or amperage) means electric current. Volts are electric pressure.
Electric current is a flow of electrons traveling from one place to another. While a few flowing electrons equals low current, a great number of flowing electrons equals a high current. As the current increases, the lethality of electricity increases – so the higher the amperage, the higher the current, and thus, the greater the potential of being fried to death by that current.
Voltage represents the strength with which the electric current is “pushed” from one place to another. In other words, voltage refers to the amount of pressure that urges electrons to move. By itself, voltage cannot electrocute a person. Voltage depends on the intensity of the ampere (electric current) to do so.
So a high electric current (high ampere) and a relatively low voltage can result in lethality. (High Electric Current) + (Low Voltage) = (Lethality). That’s why a serious jolt is delivered from a 12-volt automobile battery: despite its low voltage, the battery is delivering a very high electric current of a hundred amperes or more!
On the other hand, a low electric current (low ampere) combined with a high voltage is definitively not lethal. (Low Electric Current) + (High Voltage) = (Non Lethality). That’s the design principle in the case of stun guns.
In order to overcome the electrical resistance of the assailant’s body, stun guns use high voltage to forcefully push a very low electric current. Despite the high voltage electrical discharge provided, stun devices actually don’t have enough current (amperage) to kill someone in normal circumstances. It only takes about one amp to kill a person. It only takes 200 milliamps (2/10 of an ampere) to make the heart beat uncontrollably (fibrillate). This alone can be fatal. Stun guns only pack a wholloping 3-4 milliamps, far below 200 milliamps and much farther below one amp. As a result, stun weapons are able to temporarily incapacitate an attacker for a few minutes without causing any lasting harm.
To answer our original question of how high a voltage is best: Just get the highest voltage stun gun you can afford. It will only push a low (non lethal) current harder…and more effectively.
Due to the human body’s electrical resistance, it will take a high voltage to force enough electrons through a person, in order to temporarily incapacitate him/her. While a low voltage may not be able to accomplish that task, a high voltage stun gun definitively increases the effectiveness of the stun gun.
Getting the highest voltage you can is important for other reasons. For instance, larger size persons require a stronger discharge than smaller individuals in order for your stun device to be effective. Likewise, if the attacker happens to be in a good physical condition, the required discharge might be higher as well. As a general guideline avoid stun weapons with less than 200,000 volts (TASER guns are the only exception, but they work on a completely different technology than stun guns). The best rule of thumb is to get the highest voltage stun device you can afford.
How is a Taser Different?
The only difference really is that a Taser can incompacitate the target from 20 feet away because the Taser fires two miniature steel harpoons connected to wires attached to the weapon which conduct the shock to the assailant. Other than that, the Taser operates on the same formula as the stun gun: high voltage, low amps. And the Taser cost four or five times more than a conventional stun gun. And every time you fire one, you’ve got to buy another harpoon cartridge before you can use it again. The new cartridges are not cheap, either.
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