How Does a Stun Gun Work?

We tend to think of electricity as a harmful force to our bodies. If lightning strikes you or you stick your finger in an electrical outlet, the current can maim or even kill you. But in smaller doses, electricity is harmless. In fact, it is one of the most essential elements in your body. You need electricity to do just about anything. When you want to perform a simple task, for example, your brain sends electricity down a nerve cell, toward the muscles in your arm. The electrical signal tells the nerve cell to release a neurotransmitter, a communication chemical, to the muscle cells. This tells the muscles to contract or expand in just the right way to move your hands or legs. When you pick up an item, the sensitive nerve cells in your hand send an electrical message to the brain, telling you what the item feels like. When you have a meal, your mouth sends signals to your brain to tell you how it tastes. In this way, the different parts of your body use electricity to communicate with one another. This is actually a lot like a telephone system or the Internet. Specific patterns of electricity are transmitted over lines to deliver recognizable messages.

Disrupting the System

The basic idea of a stun gun is to disrupt this communication system. Stun guns generate a high-voltage, low-amperage electrical charge. In simple terms, this means that the charge has a lot of pressure behind it, but not that much intensity. When you press the stun gun against an attacker and hold the trigger, the charge passes into the attacker’s body. Since it has a fairly high voltage, the charge will pass through heavy clothing and skin. But at around 3 milliamps, the charge is not intense enough to damage the attacker’s body unless it is applied for extended periods of time. It does dump a lot of confusing information into the attacker’s nervous system, however. This causes a couple of things to happen:

The charge combines with the electrical signals from the attacker’s brain. This is like running an outside current into a phone line: The original signal is mixed in with random noise, making it very difficult to decipher any messages. When these lines of communication go down, the attacker has a very hard time telling his muscles to move, and he may become confused and unbalanced. He is partially paralyzed, temporarily. The current may be generated with a pulse frequency that mimics the body’s own electrical signals. In this case, the current will tell the attacker’s muscles to do a great deal of work in a short amount of time. But the signal doesn’t direct the work toward any particular movement. The work doesn’t do anything but deplete the attacker’s energy reserves, leaving him too weak to move (ideally). At its most basic, this is all there is to incapacitating a person with a stun gun — you apply electricity to a person’s muscles and nerves. And since there are muscles and nerves all over the body, it doesn’t particularly matter where you hit an attacker.

Standard Stun Gun

Conventional stun guns have a fairly simple design. They are about the size of a flashlight, and they work on ordinary 9-volt batteries. The batteries supply electricity to a circuit consisting of various electrical components. The circuitry includes multiple transformers, components that boost the voltage in the circuit, typically to between 100,000 and 500,000 volts, and reduce the amperage. It also includes an oscillator, a component that fluctuates current to produce a specific pulse pattern of electricity. This current charges a capacitor. The capacitor builds up a charge, and releases it to the electrodes, the “business end” of the circuit. In the circuitry of our strongest stun gun, it can produce close to 1,000,000 bone-jarring volts.

The electrodes are simply two plates of conducting metal positioned in the circuit with a gap between them. Since the electrodes are positioned along the circuit, they have a high voltage difference between them. If you fill this gap with a conductor (say, the attacker’s body), the electrical pulses will try to move from one electrode the other, dumping electricity into the attacker’s nervous system.

More Electrodes

These days, most stun-gun models have two pairs of electrodes: an inner pair and an outer pair. The outer pair, the charge electrodes, are spaced a good distance apart, so current will only flow if you insert an outside conductor. If the current can’t flow across these electrodes, it flows to the inner pair, the test electrodes. These electrodes are close enough that the electric current can leap between them. The moving current ionizes the air particles in the gap, producing a visible spark and crackling noise. This display is mainly intended as a deterrent: An attacker sees and hears the electricity and knows you’re armed. Some stun guns rely on the element of surprise, rather than warning. These models are disguised as umbrellas, flashlights or other everyday objects so you can catch an attacker off guard.These sorts of stun guns are popular with ordinary citizens because they are small, easy-to-use, and legal in most areas. Police and military forces, on the other hand, typically use more complex stun-gun designs, with larger ranges and specific applications.

How long does it take to immobilize someone with a Stun Gun?

As a general rule, a one-half second contact from a stun gun will repel and startle the attacker, giving some pain and muscle contraction. One to two seconds will cause muscle spasms and a dazed mental state. Over three seconds will cause loss of balance and muscle control, mental confusion and disorientation. However, don’t think about how many seconds you should hold the stun gun to your attacker. Think about it this way, you should hold your stun gun to the assailant until they drop and you can get away and call the police. Whether it is one second or six seconds, the whole process is very quick.

What is the difference between the lower and highter volt models?

All stun guns will render your assailant helpless using non-lethal voltage from the stun gun, but you might have to hold a 100,000 volt version a second or two longer than the 750,000 volt version. A stun gun is effective on many parts of the body, but give yourself the best chance to get the best of your attacker. Hold the stun gun on a body part that has a lot of surface area, such as the chest, abdomen, groin, kidneys, back, etc. An area such as the arm or leg may work fine, but these body parts do not allow you the same amount of surface area that you will need to contact for a few seconds.

What does a Stun Gun shock feel?

Imaging the feeling you get when you hit your funny bone. Multiply that a hundred times and extend it throughout your entire body. The inablility to function and feeling of helplessness combined with the sensation of millions of tiny needles going through your body provides certain inherent physical, mental and emotional trauma. Except in rare cases, stun guns prove to be very effective defense weapons with no lasting effects on the body.

Will the voltage pass from the assailant to the person holding the stun gun?

The electrical shock that emits from the stunning device will not pass from the person being stunned to the person doing the stunning. The effect is localized only in the affected area and does not pass through the body. Even if you or the attacker are wet or standing in water, you will not be shocked.

What type of battery works best in a stun gun?

Stun Guns are powered most commonly by 9-volt alkaline batteries. Some smaller models use more compact batteries.We recommend using only Energizer 9-volt Alkaline batteries. These batteries seem to work far better than other brands in the stun guns that we carry.

Will test-firing a stun gun damage the unit?

Test-firing your stun device is recommended to ensure battery life as well as practice using the stun gun. However, it is recommended not to test fire the unit more than a second or two. Firing the stun gun in the air for too long can damage the unit as it is not grounded. This does not apply when you are applying the unit to an assailant because the stun gun is then grounded out on the person being stunned.

How long will the battery in my stun gun last?

A new Energizer alkaline 9-volt battery will last for quite some time in your Stun Gun or Stun Baton. Unless the unit is discharged frequently, it is no different than a flashlight. However, it is recommended to test fire the unit occasionally to ensure that the batteries are still 100% functional.

Are stun guns legal to carry in my state or county?

Stun guns are legal in most states. However, before you order one, please make sure they are legal where you live.

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