TASER X3 video hands-on: watch out, baddies

Like most rational human beings, we have a healthy fear of guns. We've never shot a man in Reno (just to watch him die), and we're even unlikely to tase a bro in Atlantic City, just to observe him become temporarily incapacitated. Still, the appeal of a "non-lethal" deterrent is understandable (and certainly preferable to the alternative variety), and TASER has made some big additions to its new TASER X3 triple-shot weapon -- things that serve to make it safer for parties on both sides of the barrel. Check out a video of us handling (and firing!) this beast after the break, along with a few tidbits we picked up from the TASER folks that should provide a small amount of comfort for the TASER-averse.

After talking it over with the company, it's clear they've put a lot of effort into making the X3 as safe as possible in the hands of officers or our ever-muggable-grandmas (civilians can purchase the X3, but are limited to a 15 foot range). Here were a few takeaways:

  • As stated in the video, a large majority of suspects give up once they see the TASER, see the red dots on them, or the device is "arced," and the X3 has been designed to give the officer a maximum amount of intimidation without needing to deploy a tase.

  • There's a sort of "guaranteed" delivery of 63 microcoulombs of energy to the subject, no matter if the target is shot three times, shot once, or if it takes multiple shots to complete a "circuit" with two concurrent darts. This will hopefully rectify earlier problems with faulty devices giving off too much electricity, and allay fears that three darts equals three times the tase. The shooter knows they're delivering the optimum charge to the target, for the optimum amount of time (there's a counter on the gun), and the target can't be given more than that optimum charge at any one time.

  • Systems track when the gun is turned on, when the officer "arcs" the gun to intimidate a suspect, when the gun is fired, and serial-numbered confetti ejects with the dart to trace a specific incidence to a specific officer.

  • The dart tips have been reworked so that the charge is most likely to be applied to the skin, greatly reducing the risk of the electricity passing through the heart.

  • The laser sights are very accurate, self-adjusting based on which cartridge is selected (there are different cartridge distances available).

No, we didn't get tased, and we wouldn't expect to enjoy it. Amnesty International reports that 351 people have died after being shocked by police TASERs. The electric shock provided by the TASER is potentially harmful if misapplied, and police officers have to abide by their own organization's policies to make sure this power isn't abused. We've covered numerous instances of those abuses (here and here, for starters) and don't expect the litigation or attempts to improve the regulation of TASERs to cease. Still, it's nice to see that TASER is continuing to improve the safety of its devices, and learning from its past mistakes. As for us, we plan to amend our scofflaw ways pronto.