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Reaching for a gun is effective, but using one should be the very last resort. In fact, the best altercation is the one you never get into. Your first strategies should always be to avoid, deter, or de-escalate risky situations.
Always be aware of your surroundings, walk the extra block to avoid the dark side-street, take advantage of home security systems, or even a simple Ring doorbell. In short, be smart.
If all attempts to calm the situation fail, you may need to take action. The goal is to utilize the least violent action that is still effective, and the great news is that there are plenty of great alternatives that are non-lethal.
There are plenty of reasons you may not desire to get a gun or knife. Many people aren’t comfortable handling or owning guns and knives. Other times, living circumstances prevent you from owning a firearm. Perhaps you live in a country or city with strict gun laws, or maybe you rent where it is prohibited to own a gun or install a secure gun safe.
I also know of households where one partner does not want lethal weapons in the house when children are living under the roof. Finally, the simplest reason for not owning a gun is affordability. Firearms can be expensive to safely purchase, store, and practice with. The cost only increases if you opt for additional accessories like the best shotgun sight or a firearm suppressor.
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So no matter your situation, you want to be prepared with a non-lethal weapon for self-defense. What are the best options? Here are the top 5.
1. Self Defense Training
Hands down, the best non-lethal alternative for self-defense is knowledge, training, and practice in hand to hand combat. Whether it is martial arts, combat training, or some basic self-defense maneuvers, some rudimentary know-how is crucial and you can always use it as a fall-back.
You can’t forget your training in your other coat pocket or in your car’s glove box. Most other options for self-defense require an object or tool which can be lost or left behind. While this can’t often help you in every situation, it will always be available if you need it.
You can find low-cost training options at local community centers, gyms, and even free informational internet videos. As a bonus, if you practice regularly, it can help you get or stay in shape.
2. Tactical Pen or Flashlight
Having a tactical tool at your disposal can sometimes make the biggest difference. While you could use a “regular” pen or flashlight, generally a tactical version is more versatile, heavier duty, and designed for striking.
I put these in the same category because they are both nondescript items you typically have around, are compact enough to carry every day, and convenient for travel (including commercial air travel). They can also be relatively inexpensive. A simple Google search and you can find a decent version of either for under $15.
If you are looking for options, you can find reviews of the best tactical pens or the best tactical flashlights online. Keep in mind that without some knowledge of self-defense, these are just the same as a basic pen and flashlight. Combine one of these tools with your basic hand-to-hand self-defense though, and you can be downright dangerous.
3. Pepper Spray
Another item that is small and easy to use is pepper spray. The benefit of this tool is that little to no training is required. With your basic “mini” version coming in under $20, the only drawback is that some states have volume or age restrictions, and if you are flying commercially it must be in your checked luggage.
There are many different types of pepper spray to consider as well. Along with the basic “spray”, there are other forms of delivery including fogger, gel, and foam. There is even a pepper ball gun which gives a much longer range and is similar to paintball but instead of splatting the attacker with paint, it emits a cloud of pepper powder on impact.
4. TASER / Stun Gun
Similar to pepper spray, a stun gun is another short-range “point and squeeze” non-lethal alternative to live ammunition. They are easy to use and require minimal training, but they also come with some state-specific limitations. These can also be picked up for under $20 and come in a variety of sizes and forms.
5. Collapsible Baton/Whip
Ok, let’s face it: sometimes you just can’t beat a simple bludgeoning tool. Sure, you can use anything at hand from a baseball bat to a tennis racket, or a golf club, rolling pin, frying pan, etc., but having something that is designed specifically for self-defense can prevent injury to the user.
One of the best options is a collapsible baton or whip. These are compact, usually lightweight so anyone can use them, and really pack a punch. You can find a decent selection in the $25 range.
BONUS: A Dog
Studies have shown that owning a dog can deter theft and potential marauders. However, getting a canine companion is a lot of work and it rarely makes sense to get a dog for the sole purpose of self-defense.
That being said, if you already have a dog, investing in some basic training or more advanced defense commands can pay off. As a bonus, you build a closer connection with your better-behaved dog.
Unfortunately there may be times where you need to defend yourself and/or your loved ones. Thankfully there are some great non-lethal weapons that won’t break the bank. This enables you to invest in your safety and get multiple tools for various locations where you might need to grab them at a moment’s notice.
Even more rare is the circumstance where you would be forced to choose your life over that of another human being. In the end, reaching for your gun should be for target practice or hunting. For self-defense, it should be your very last resort.
Author Bio: Richard Douglas is a long-time shooter, outdoor enthusiast and technologist. He is the founder and editor of Scopes Field, and a columnist at The National Interest, Cheaper Than Dirt, Daily Caller, and other publications.
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