There are four main differences between stun guns and tasers: branding, range, reusability, and price. TASERs are branded projectile weapons, while stun guns are more affordable that require close-range contact with an attacker.
Stun Gun vs. TASER: What’s the Difference?
Stun gun vs. TASER: Branding
TASER—in all caps—is a brand from Axon that helped popularize using electric shock weapons for self-defense. TASER's early popularity meant many people started using it as a generic term like dumpster became the de facto term for large trash bins.
In contrast, a stun gun is any electroshock weapon. This means that all TASER devices are stun guns—but not all stun guns are TASERs.
Stun gun vs. TASER: Range
Stun guns are close proximity devices that require you to be next to the person attacking you. They use a painful shock to discourage further contact.
On the other hand, a TASER uses projectile prongs that attach to a target further away—up to 15 feet. The two prongs spread out when a TASER gun fires, allowing them to land on different body parts. This helps the TASER send electricity across a larger area. Ironically, a TASER's shape is more like a traditional firearm than a generic stun gun is.
While a TASER device is just as painful as a normal stun gun, it's more effective at incapacitating muscle functions so an attacker can't move.
The projectile prongs on TASERs make them ubiquitous among law enforcement agencies with police TASER devices offering more range than consumer models—up to 35 feet.
Stun gun vs. TASER: Reusability
The projectile nature of a TASER renders its wires and propellant unusable after one or two shots, depending on the model. Swapping out the TASER cartridge is easy, but it gives you less options when deterring an attack and spare cartridges are expensive.
Most stun guns use a rechargeable battery and don't use projectiles. You can use them as long as the battery still has some juice.
Stun gun vs. TASER: Price
It's easy to find reliable stun guns, like the Vipertek VTS-989, for less than $25, while most of TASER's consumer-grade models, like the TASER Pulse+, cost $400 or more. TASERs are also more expensive to use—replacement cartridges cost about $20 to $23, depending on if you buy a 10-pack or a 2-pack. Likewise, replacement batteries cost between $10 and $25, depending on your model.
Stun gun vs. TASER: What should I buy?
Your budget is probably the biggest factor in buying a TASER or a stun gun, but both have strengths and weaknesses. Stun guns are more affordable and easier to reuse, while a TASER helps you keep your distance from violent attackers. Check out our review of the best stun guns to find the best fit for you and learn about stun gun laws.
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