The Extremely Practical Utility of the Humble Baton
Considered one of the oldest forms of self-defense that is still commonly used today, the baton has evolved considerably from its wooden-stick origins into a dazzling variety of various non-lethal weaponry.
Today the humble baton is one of the most common and practical forms of self-defense that is nearly unrivaled in its utility. From simplicity of design, reliability and effectiveness to cheap cost, few weapons today measure up in such a pragmatic way.
History of The Whoopin’ Stick
Baton, truncheon, club, through the ages sticks of various sorts have been used for both self-defense and warfare alike.
From cavemen to to African tribes, harden wooden poles, whether short or long, have served as a trusty “must have” for any intrepid explorer.
The earliest recorded usage of batons in an organized fashion was in London in the 1800’s with the issuance of the humble “billy club” a truncheon that served as police officers weapon of first resort.
Some of these early truncheon types used by police were ornately decorated and carved from solid pieces of hard wood. Longer truncheons exceeding 36 inches long are grouped into a baton sub-category called “riot batons” to be used in riot control.
With advances in chemical engineering wooden batons were eventually replaced by a wide variety of other materials including rubber, metal and acrylic.
Rubber batons in particular have gained popularity within law enforcement because they can both gather kinetic energy as the baton bends during the swinging motion and are not as damaging as their harder wooden and metal counter parts.
While many police forces have moved from wood to rubber and now to the more practical collapsible metal batons, some authorities still use wood and rubber variants.
In Russia police are still standard issued rubber batons, except in cold recesses of the country like Siberia where it is cold enough to shatter frozen rubber.
British police officers used wooden batons until well into the 1990’s before eventually upgrading to the collapsible metal variety. Public order officials though are still issued fixed (non-collapsable) acrylic batons.
New York police officers had two different variants of truncheon known as the day-stick and night-stick. The only difference being the night-stick was extra long, which apparently provided extra protection for night patrolmen.
Today the humble baton has evolved into both a wide variety of materials and shapes. From the “straightstick” favored by American police forces to the “side-handle baton” popular in Japan, many Eastern European countries and New Zealand.
The collapsible or extendable baton is now the most commonplace variant of the tool.
There are a few sub-variants of the traditional fixed length batons mentioned above.
These different baton types evolved in various parts of the world and were designed specifically for particular circumstance in which a fixed solid baton was deemed inappropriate. These include but are not limited to:
The sap, also commonly referred to as a slapper, flat sap, slap jack or beavertail sap, is a shorter leather covered club with a spring inside that creates for a bit of flexibility like in in a spring baton.
There are variants with and without metal in the end, making the effectiveness vary considerably.
The blackjack or “cosh” as it is called in the U.K is smaller than the average baton. The blackjack consists of a weighted end, wrapped in leather, with a coil spring or slightly flexible shaft and a lanyard or strap at the end.
The flexibility, similar to the sap, and the lanyard/strap at the end make it more a weapon of momentum and kinetic energy than outright striking/smashing.
They are still a dangerous weapon and have the ability to both be concealed as well as render a victim unconscious if struck on the head.
The stun baton is simply the marriage of a baton and a stun gun. These are more modern variants and will be covered in more detail later on in this guide.
The jitte is a Japanese Edo-period police weapon similar to a baton, cylindrical in shape of about 1-2ft in length. The jitte was used in Japan up until the early 2000’s.
Advantages and Disadvantages
Like all weapons it is important to compare and contrast the strengths and weaknesses of the weapon when deciding for what circumstances it is most practically suited.
Below we will break down some of the relative pros and cons of the baton as a self-defense weapon.
The following analysis is applied to the “standard” baton but can be adapted to suit the strengths and weaknesses of most common baton types of today (collapsible, fixed, spring, electric etc).
There are many pros for the humble baton, which is one of the reasons it is one of the most popular self defense weapons around the world. These include but are not limited to the following:
- Simplicity. The fewer things that can go wrong with a weapon the better and in its most basic form the baton is a nearly failure-resistant piece of weaponry.
- Affordability. Just like its simplicity and affordability helped make the AK-47 one of the most popular rifles in the world the affordability of even more complicated retractable metal batons make it a no-brainer for law enforcement even with tight budgetary constraints.
- Concealability. Perhaps not so much with the longer fixed units, but there are dozens of different retractable type batons that can be expanded with the flick of a wrist, which makes them easily concealable and deployed in a fraction of a second.
- Effectiveness. The head remains a humans most vulnerable area and a tool designed to target that part of the body can be undeniably ruthless in it’s potential destructive capacity.
- Legality. Unlike handguns or knives, batons are one of the most legally accepted forms of self-defense around the world, which makes the risk for legal repercussion for carrying such a tool relatively minimal (depending on location) compared to other weapons of a similar price.
- Training. As with almost all weapons, even the baton requires a slight learning curve. From being able to deploy the weapon quickly to being able to differentiate simple self-defense blows from potentially lethal blows, the user must go through a period of training to effectively wield the weapon.
- Proximity. Unlike guns, stun-guns or pepper spray, the baton is only effective in close-quarters combat. If an attacker is already within striking distance the defendant has already put themselves at considerable risk (not being able to flee or maintain a safe distance). Needless to say then, there is an element of bravery required to be effective with what is essentially a short stick.
Introduction to Variations
From the simple wooden club the baton has evolved to serve a wide variety of environment-specific and task-specific purposes.
Advances in building materials and construction methods mean there are now a dazzling, if not somewhat intimidating selection of tools available for public purchase. Below we review some of the most popular baton types, what they’re best used for and the top performing models for each category.
Perhaps the most common baton favored by police forces and private self-defense is the modern collapsable baton.
Originally solid wood and metal batons were preferable because the materials, usually cheap aluminum or steel, used in extendable batons weren’t as reliable.
Things have changed with new alloys which are now more commonly used that allow for both a smooth collapsible action while maintaining strength under use.
The ASP Baton
ASP stands for Armament Systems and Procedures, Incorporated. They are a weapons manufacturer that provides military-grade weaponry to police forces around the world and are the most famous manufacturer of the telescoping baton.
Originally a gun manufacturer ASP turned their attention to the handcuff and telescoping baton markets in the 70’s due to the popularity of their baton models which had gained a reputation for dependability amongst police officers in America.
Today they supply police forces in the U.S, U.K, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. They are so ubiquitous with policing they are simply referred to as “ASPs”.
The ASP comes in 3 different sizes, including the standard issue 16 inch, a 21 inch and riot-control specialized 26 inch variant.
They come in a variety of customized variants, with different materials and grip styles available, however the 4140 high carbon steel is the most popular type due to its rugged dependability.
The newer “Airweight” line is also increasing in popularity because of their light weight which is the result of the use of a light-weight alloy metal that combines both steel and aluminum.
The Airweight line seem to be favored for those who require a high degree of mobility or who have long periods of active duty.
The most popular ASP model today is the Talon line, which come in 60, 50 and 40cm variants.
All weight under 12 ounces and are street-proven by police forces around the world. Currently ASP batons are only available for purchase from ASP Inc’s official website.
Next to the ASP the Guardian would be the second most popular baton manufacturer, favored by private security forces and self-defense professionals alike.
Made of high quality steel, retractable to fit on a belt-mounted holder, and extendable to a full 26 inches this is one serious telescoping self-defense stick.
Sure, being made of solid steel makes it a bit more heavy than some other models, weighing in at 1.2 pounds, but it also means it is extremely durable, which equates to a dependability that is reassuring for any security professional.
The Atomic Bear Tactical Self Defense Pen
The Atomic Bear is less a professional police-grade weapon and more of a purely self-defense designed tool. With a retracted length of only 5.3 inches, and an extended length of 12.2 inches this is one of the shortest yet portable batons available today.
Atomic Bear also makes a self-defense specific tungsten steel tactical pen, which while no baton can be equally if not more destructive in close-quarters combat.
- LOOKING FOR A SERIOUS PEN? – The SWAT Pen by the Atomic Bear exhibits a simple and solid construction, great feeling in your hand, anti slip and great writing utensil. Has a remarkable grip that can deliver a devastating...
- EXTRAS YOU WON’T FIND ELSEWHERE – Comes with a practical heavy duty nylon belt sheath for your EDC comfort, includes a proprietary Atomic Bear tac pen self-defense online class, lifetime warranty, a spared black ink...
- A PEN THAT CAN TAKE A BEATING – Plain and simple design. Won’t be chewed up by your pittbull! Won’t break. Won’t rust. Made of sturdy military grade aluminum machined to perfection. You’ll love the feeling of weight and...
Built-in knurling on the grip and a pointed glass breaking tip on the handle in make the Atomic Bear an extremely pragmatic self-defense and rescue tool.
For easily stowing in a vehicle or hidden area in your home this is one of the smartest and affordable non-lethal defense solutions available today.
While most professionals have moved to telescoping style batons there is still a time and a place for a non-telescoping or “fixed” truncheon to do the heavy lifting that thinner and more fragile telescoping models just can’t manage.
The go-to for “getting sh*t taken care of” is the Brooklyn Crusher from Cold Steel. True to its name, the Brooklyn Crusher is pretty much a baseball bat that was designed for smashing pretty much everything except baseballs!
- Virtually unbreakable plastic; can increase average person's ability to defend him or herself
- Nearly indestructible baseball bat, made of durable polypropylene
With a standard baseball bat size of 29 inches long and made of polypropylene the only “tactical” element of this modern day truncheon is its black color.
There is also a “portable” version called the Brooklyn Shorty Mini bat in case you’re looking to be just slightly less conspicuous. Sure, a Louisville Slugger would work too, having been the “working class” baton of choice for decades.
Tactical batons are designed not just for self-defense but going on the offense in a wide variety of diverse and dangerous environments. These include hybrid-sticks incorporate other tactically critical components like flashlights and stun gun/electric shock functions.
Flashlight Hybrids: The Original 6D Maglite
The Maglite has been the go-to flashlight for police forces for years thanks to its dependability and powerful flash. Because of it’s solid construction and hefty D-cell battery laden weight, it also makes a great de facto bludgeon.
Maglites come in a wide variety of sizes but we feel the classic 6-cell D flashlight, that is the super long bad boy, makes the most tactically advantageous combination of night-time luminosity and bone crushing battering bludgeon.
- Superior quality craftsmanship with weather-resistant seals and anodized inside and out for improved corrosion resistance
- A premium drop resistant and water resistant flashlight renowned for its quality, durability and reliability
- Advanced lighting instrument made in America and built tough enough to last a lifetime with a spare lamp safely secured in the tail cap making it suitable for camping, climbing, fishing, hunting, etc.
Oh, and because of their simple yet reliable design Maglites are pretty cost effective when compared to even dedicated defense-oriented batons. Why over-complicate things right? Plus, a Maglite can be picked up discreetly at nearly every outdoor goods store, hardware store or Wal-Mart across America.
If you thought a baton with a built-in flash light was cool then you’re about to be blown away because the following tools incorporate both a flashlight AND a stun gun into the reliable enforcing form of a baton.
The StreetWise Mini Barbarian
The StreetWise Mini Barbarian may be small, but it packs a punch. In solid matte black this metal baton comes with a belt clip, solid grip and thick construction weighing in at over 2.6 pounds with batteries included.
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The real party piece though is the TST or Triple Stun Technology which creates a triple-point high contact stun area at the tip of the baton (where the light shines) which makes this a truly multi-function defense tool.
The baton itself is a powerful self defense weapon, however when taking into account the ability to blind an attacker with a powerful flashlight and tase them with a stun gun as well you simply have to marvel at the one-man band what is the taser baton.
Guard Dog Security
Guard Dog Security have been a favorite for private security companies across America for years. In their “Ultimate Defense Baton” they have engineered a true thing of beauty.
- SELF DEFENSE STUN BATON: With 7.5 million volts and an ear-crushing noise, this nightstick flashlight is a serious stun staff that will deter potential attackers or break glass in an emergency.
- 3-IN-1 FLASHLIGHT: Delivering a blinding 260 lumens of illumination, the stun flashlight has 3 settings – High for bright illumination, battery saving Low and emergency Strobe.
- METAL BATON: Engineered from aircraft grade type III aluminum, the metal baton stun gun has a durable rubberized grip handle and glow in the dark tail cap for instant self defense.
The whole unit is covered in a robust tactical grip which eliminates slipping, even when being grasped outside of the traditional “hand hold” grip zone. This is excellent as it means the weapon can be picked up from either end and still be effective as a self-defense tool.
In addition this unit incorporates a high power flashlight (300 lumens of white light) which provides visibility up to 500 yards, a end-cap glass breaker, and last but not least, a concealed stun gun in the tip of the unit.
The stun gun alone packs over 8 million volts of self-defense stopping power. The unit uses rechargeable batteries as well that can easily be swapped out for rotational or private patrol use.
Non-Lethal Spring Batons
While these may seem a bit anticlimactic, especially after reviewing the impressive shock/light hybrids above, the flexible, non-lethal self defense weapon is a great option for a light and portable self-defense solution for those on the go.
Non-lethal means the weapon can be deployed without the same damage-control calculations required with other potentially lethal devices.
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Additionally the whipping action generated by the flexible shaft can deliver significant pain even when used by weaker individuals.
The greatest advantage of non-lethal flexible batons is their light weight and ability to easily be concealed in everyday situations.
This is a smart option for commuters or those who already have more lethal forms of self defense but are still wanting a tamer first-resort option that won’t potentially result in deaths.
Best “Multipurpose” Self-Defense Baton?
Well, choosing the “best self-defense baton” is a bit like choosing “the best sports car”. There are so many options and so many models designed for very specific circumstances that reducing it down to one winner is a tough call indeed.
If we had to choose one device to use though we’d probably go with the traditional collapsible baton, preferably an ASP model if we could get our hands on one. If it’s good enough for the police then it’s good enough for us!
What do you think? Would you take an ASP as well or is there a model or company we missed here that deserves mentioning? Let us know in the comments below what you think and we’ll be happy to lend an ear!
Last update on 2020-02-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API