Defeating the TASER in Combat

by Matt on June 14, 2010

Editor’s Note: This is a repost of a popular article I wrote during the first few months of this blog. Since our site has grown drastically, many of you may not have seen it when it was originally published.

I want to preface this article by acknowledging that I am uncomfortable in discussing the following tactics in an open forum, where potential criminals can access them. Realizing that criminals are already sharing their own tactics for defeating the Taser, I decided to go ahead and publish this article. I hope you find it helpful.

With Taser’s being sold to civilians and the potential of an officer having his Taser taken from him, it is only a matter of time before an officer is assaulted by a suspect with a Taser. Having taken a hit, I would feel completely justified in drawing my weapon and shooting a suspect threatening me with a Taser, but my first priority must be avoiding getting hit by the Taser while drawing my gun. Taser’s are extremely effective and can cause complete incapacitation, so what if anything can an officer do to fight back?

  1. A moving target is hard to hit. Moving straight towards or away from the threat gives the appearance that you are standing still and makes you relatively easy to hit. If you can move laterally from the threat, you will be much harder to hit.
  2. Know the effective range of the weapon. The law enforcement model, Taser X-26, has a maximum effective range of 25 feet and fires a 5-second cycle, while the civilian model, Taser C2, has a maximum effective range of 15 feet and fires a 30-second cycle. If you can position yourself outside the effective range of the weapon, you can avoid being hit.
  3. Full incapacitation versus localized pain. If you are ambushed by a suspect armed with a Taser at close range and you do not have time to move far enough back to avoid the reach of the weapon, remember that the smaller the spread of the two prongs, the fewer muscle groups are disrupted. As a last option, you can move quickly towards the threat to limit the spread of the prongs. You must be prepared to control the suspect’s Taser to prevent a drive stun, while you neutralize the threat.
  4. Face the threat. If you are hit, you need to concentrate on breaking the wires or removing a probe with your hand before you fall to the ground. You will have limited ability to move your arms, so focus on making a sweeping motion with your lower arm and rip the wires away from your body. This would be extremely hard to do if you are shot in the back by the probes. National Geographic has an excellent series called “Fight Science”. A recent episode featured former Navy Seal, Chris Caracci, attempting to defeat the Taser. Caracci had previously been exposed to the Taser, so he knew exactly what to expect. In this experiment, Caracci takes a few minutes to mentally prepare himself before taking the hit. In real life, you are going to be pumped full of adrenaline and you will not need to get psyched up. Watch the video here
  5. Ride the lightning in a training environment. If you have never taken a voluntary exposure with the Taser, then good luck. As you try to deal with this new sensation, your OODA loop is going to be violently disrupted. While having been exposed before is no guarantee of success, it does give you a better understanding of what to expect and can give you a slight edge. Surviving an ambush situation is all about playing the odds and setting them in your favor as much as possible. If you know what to expect, you will be better prepared mentally to deal with the situation.

Above all else, adopt a survival mindset. Know that you will not die and refuse to lose the engagement. Even if you are incapacitated by the Taser, be prepared to continue fighting as soon as you regain the physical ability to do it.

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RonBorsch June 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

SPARTAN COPS: Great article and a special thanks for the Chris Carracci TASER countermeasures video clip! Point #5 “Ride the lightning in a training environment” is especially good advice. Talk about “Rebooting Your OODA Loop”! I particularly agree with the winning MIND-SET and testing your mettle with occasional inoculations of voluntary exposure. The voluntary exposure drill should be with the design of defeating the TASER as taught in the video, not merely enduring it.

An analogy should be drawn here. To be a “Warrior-Protector, or Spartan Cop”, we have already recognized both the job related unintentional crossfire potential of our OC aerosols, and an offender disarming the OC from the officer, (or bringing his own OC). This recognition has resulted in progressive common training design requirements as an inoculation to successfully fight through the effects of an OC application.

For example, our post-grad academy OC certification has about a half dozen different DT motor skills including Officer down/Attacker up, several “Proof of Sight” instances and culminates with verbal command direction and an actual handcuffing.

While the unintentional crossfire or disarming of an officer’s TASER has not yet reached the level we see with OC, PRIOR PLANNING FOR PROPER PERFORMANCE should be considered in the strategy of TASER training design.

My only experience has been with enduring the TASER application and fighting through the effects. In the year 2000 when I was a much younger man of only 58 at a Riot training seminar in Sarnia Ontario Canada, the new M-26 TASER was introduced to the attendees. Several young volunteers, (Canadians and one Brit), did not seem to TRY to stay on their feet very well, flinging themselves on the mats so the instructor-operator would shut off the shock. No one else volunteered and the young officers seemed satisfied that this was a perfect tool.

I knew that there was nothing a graying, overweight, semi-retired American officer could say about trying harder to resist. I gave myself a simple goal of trying to stay on my feet, and stepped up to my own challenge. The short story is that I remained on my feet. While this was the worst pain I had ever experienced, because I did not have a facial change or utterance, the instructor turned the power off at about 4 seconds. The instructor concluded that the connection, (Duct taped onto a polo shirt like everyone else), must have been bad.

I was disappointed that I would have to do this again to convince them that the technology was not perfect. They fixed the connections any which way they wanted, and placed a training pistol on a standing heavy bag about 5 feet away. The challenge was to walk to it and get the gun. They lit me up again. I stepped to the bag. With my motor skills diminished to clumsyness, I knocked the bag over, but caught the pistol. As I turned it toward the instructor, he stopped the juice. The student applause this time meant they accepted my resistance.

In the years since, we have hosted about 4 TASER instructor classes, and I have volunteered for most of them. I have the TASER T-shirt for the X-26 5 second ride. The newer X-26 TASER hurts less than the M-26 but The X model works better. The legs of this senior citizen will not ambulate with the X-26 but my arms will, so that is additional validation from Chris Carracci’s video clip lesson. Caution: In all cases of a determined person, after the juice is stopped the recovery can be instantaneous as we saw.
SEALE Academy Bedford Ohio

SW June 24, 2010 at 10:12 am

Great info guys, as always. I included two links to video of a suspect being tazed by LAX PD a few days ago. It appears the suspect spins away from the tazer as it is being deployed. As tazers become more prevalent in society we will see them being used on Law Enforcement.

A similar progression happened many years ago with chemical irritants. Ron covered this above as well, and in better detail, but the first time I was exposed to OC was with my Sheriff’s Department. We were exposed and then walked around to experience the effects, now when we are exposed to OC, we are expected to confront one or multiple attackers and survive.

I wonder if the logical progression is to start teaching Law Enforcement how to fight through tazer exposure, like your article demonstrates? Keep up the good work and putting out quality products.

LAX Bomb Scare June 19, 2010 on you tube:

LA Times video:

DL July 12, 2010 at 10:10 am

That’s a good application for the XREP, 12-gauge, wireless TASER. If he does manage to try and grab the wire it has a trap that will complete the circuit from the impact site to the grabbing arm. Plus, it would give the LE officers a better standoff distance. They could easily shoot him from 3x the distance of a typical X26/25ft. cartridge. Not everyone in a PD could have one, but for tactical situations like this one you wouldn’t have to involve more than one officer at a dangerous distance to an unknown threat [bomb].

A better tactic for someone who practices avoiding a TASER hit is to hit him as soon as he turns and tries to run (requires a 2nd officer, but in this case there were several).

Buck September 28, 2010 at 9:35 am

Ronborsch, you might want to rethink repeated exposures to taser voltage. No long term study has ever been done on heart tissue post taser exposure 5, 10 or 20 years down the road. you could be permanently damaging your heart. One day people will realize how stupid these torture devices are when 10 years after a tazing, people will need a heart transplant.

Seth April 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm

After having been “hung up” as an electrician when accidentally shocked, I think I can guess about what a TASER is like. NO THANKS! I know and have known that ripping at least one wire or dart out in the only hope. It is common electrical theory at it’s most simple. There may be other tactics for defeating a TASER completely I do not wish to discuss. Our Sheriff is a loony SOB with an agenda, and I don’t need any issues with law enforcement. TASER has at least found a quasi-safe frequency, voltage, and current that just makes you stiffen and drop. People have had heart attacks, and even more numerous, are fall injuries. Having spent 45 years doing my best to avoid electrical shock, my advice would be “Maybe try it once, and make darn sure you have someone to catch your stupid a** so you don’t get hurt!”. In the right hands a TASER is a good alternative to a bullet, but our local law enforcement has had myriad issues with over use of force and outright allegations of torture and homicide. Unfortunately when the county who’s deputies commit these atrocities also runs the morgue the victim had certain body parts conveniently missing when an independent autopsy was ordered, so anything can be abused. As for avoiding a TASER or defeating one goes this is a good article. Repeated exposure to electrical shock is bad for more than just the heart. As for when I first got “hung up” or paralyzed by a simple 120/240 volt sub panel’s voltage I had to consciously make an effort to fall by unlocking my knees. Whew! I found a guy who was not so lucky dead on an identical voltage panel. It was guessed he had been there an hour or more. In my personal opinion, a trained person with a baton, tonfa, or nun-chuckau can disarm most assailants who wield a knife. The TASER can and will take care of the other 2%. These would be people high on drugs, or who have trained with knives. If they have the weapons I mentioned and they know how to use them the TASER may likely be swept aside, or pulled out by it’s wires. There are simply no easy fool proof answers.

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