Defeating the Taser in Combat

by Matt on March 2, 2009

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.