Welcome back! In the previous installment of this three-parts guide I discussed how to select the right stun gun shape for you (regular stun gun, mini stun gun, cell phone stun gun, or stun baton). It is the main goal for this second part of the stun gun article series to discuss how to choose the best voltage. Let’s get started!
Selecting the right voltage is one of the most confusing decisions people are faced with when buying stun guns. How high is too high a voltage? And conversely…How low is too low? Certainly, nobody wants to find themselves killing another human being, but they definitively don’t want to face an attacker with a low powered and ineffective non lethal weapon either.
“So how do I achieve the perfect balance between powerfulness and non lethality, in terms of voltage?”, most people ask. To understand the answer to that important question, first you need to understand the difference between “electric current (amperage)” and “voltage”. So…Are you ready to stroll down your school days memory lane? It will be interesting, I promise. So, let’s go!
If you remember your science classes, you will remember that an atom is the smallest portion into which an element can be divided and still retain its properties. It is composed of a positively charged nucleus surrounded by a system of electrons (negatively charged particles that orbits the nucleus of an atom). Many of those electrons are easily detachable from the rest of their atoms, and that allows them to travel from one place to another.
Consequently, an 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, so does the lethality of the current (by the way, the electric current is measured by a unit called ampere – so the higher the amperage, the higher the current, and thus, the greater the lethality).
Voltage, on the other hand, represents the strength with which the electric current is made to move from one place to another. In other words, voltage refers to the amount of push 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.
It wasn’t that hard to understand, was it? Now, let’s apply what we’ve just learned to some specific examples: A high electric current (high ampere) combined with a relatively low voltage can result in lethality. Graphically: (High Electric Current) + (Low Voltage) = (Lethality). That’s why you can get a serious jolt from a 12-volt automobile battery: despite its low voltage, it can deliver a very high electric current of a hundred amperes or more!
However, a low electric current (low ampere) combined with a high voltage is definitively not lethal. Graphically: (Low Electric Current) + (High Voltage) = (Non Lethality). That’s precisely 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 relatively low electric current. Despite the high voltage electrical discharge they provide, stun devices actually don’t have enough current (amperage) to kill someone in normal circumstances. To give you an idea, it would take approximately one amp (6 billion-billion electrons passing by, every second) to kill a person (it must be said, however, that at least 200 milliamps (2/10 of an ampere) can make the heart beat uncontrollably (fibrillate), and thus can be fatal). But stun guns only have 3-4 milliamps, which is far below 200 milliamps, and 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.
Which brings us back to our original question: “How do I achieve the perfect balance between powerfulness and non lethality, in terms of voltage?”. The correct answer is: Just get the highest voltage stun gun you can afford. It will only push a low (non lethal) current harder…and more effectively.
And why is that important? Again: because of the human body’s electrical resistance. “But what does electrical resistance mean specifically?”, you might ask. Well, it refers to the opposition that the human body presents to the flow of electricity. Because of 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 (by overcoming the body’s electrical resistance) will definitively increase the effectiveness of your lawful self defense strategy.
Getting the highest voltage stun gun you can get is also important because of additional factors that may affect the aggressor’s electric resistance. For instance, larger size persons require a stronger discharge than smaller individuals in order for your stun device to be effective. Likewise, if your attacker happens to be in a good physical condition, the required discharge might be higher as well. Because you must be ready to defend yourself no matter what your attacker’s physical characteristics are, as a general guideline we tend 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). But again, the best guideline you can follow is to get the highest voltage stun device you can afford. You won’t regret you did.
Well, that’s it for this second installment of the stun gun buyers guide! You are now ready to select the best stun gun for you, taking into account its voltage. On the next -and last- installment of this article series, I’ll talk about adding rechargeable stun guns and disable pins into your buyer’s equation. Also, we will wrap up all three articles by choosing what we believe are the best stun guns per category (regular stun gun, mini stun gun, cell phone stun gun, or stun baton), using the acquired knowledge (shape vs. voltage vs. rechargeable capacity and disable pins). Be sure not to miss it!