Stun Gun vs. TASER: What’s the Difference?

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.

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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.

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TASER use by police officers

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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John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over nine years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

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