questionswhat is the best portable self-defense tool?

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whatever you carry, you should have plenty of practice with. the best self defense weapon is useless unless you are practiced and can deploy it quickly.

that said, your hands are probably the best weapon. mainly because you don't have to reach into a pocket/purse/bag to access them. if attacked, go for the weak points. the eyes are prime targets to gouge when you're close (e.g. if someone grabs you). the bridge of the nose is also a good place.

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pocket ninja. Hands Down!

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I know a couple of folks who carry a keychain that's heavy and would pack quite a wallop in a fight. Unfortunately, this also means their keys weigh a ton and they have to carry their keys in their hand to have it at the ready (which can be impractical).

Besides having practice with it, don't carry anything with which you're more likely to hurt yourself than an attacker. Also be aware of local laws regarding tasers, sprays, knives, etc. It's probably undesirable to end up as the perpetrator in the situation.

Personally, I think a good self-defense class is more empowering and useful than most tools. Know how to protect your body, and how to use it in an altercation.

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Self confidence and common sense. Followed, I think, by a nice screwdriver. Legal most places.

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While I think the concealment and accessibility of the black cat is simple, you do need to practice getting it on your fingers with your keys attached. I would stay away from mace and pepper spray because you will be affected also, whether it's a stream or spray. And unless you spray yourself, you will not know how to react or it's effects on you.

At the same time, remember whatever you have as a weapon to defend yourself can be taken and used against you. Like @moondrake said, common sense, don't put yourself in places that you need to worry about defending yourself.

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Sorry, I'll stick to my LCP.

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@moondrake: Common sense isn't so common these days.

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Depends on the most likely form of attack. If your biggest concern is air or armor attack you'd probably want a Stinger or Javelin. Otherwise a light machine gun might be your best general purpose portable defense weapon.

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CS/pepper spray and/or a kubaton. Kubatons require training, whereas sprays are just point and shoot.

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Consider distance. With any kind of striking weapon you have to be close enough to be able to strike your attacker. In a skirmish it may be difficult to get such a weapon near your intended target, like the face or eyes. Whereas pepper spray can be used from a greater distance, with any luck before the attacker is close enough to hit you.

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I've always been fond of trying to be smart and avoid situations where I would need a self defense tool. I try not to walk alone, especially a night. I try to be aware of my surroundings, keep my valuables out of sight, be nice to people so that they don't have a reason to attack me, etc. Also, I can run pretty fast if I need to.

It's not a guarantee that I won't get into a bad situation, but it does decrease the probability.

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@matt1976: Was trying to think of what that weapon was... Kubaton

There's this type of billy club (might have another name?) that has a piece of metal wrapped in leather... the rest of the handle is leather and it kind of flops around. You bonk someone on the head with that and down they go.

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@gt0163c: that's not an option for all people all the time. When I was freelance stage managing in Chicago, I would get home on the bus at all kinds of dark hours. Lived alone, had to get home. Walking in the dark from the bus stop to my house (about 1/2 a mile in pitch black) was the only option I had.

My boyfriend gave me one of these which I always carried in my hand while walking. Doubt I could have done much damage with it, but at the time it did give me the self-confidence and awareness to make sure I was always walking with my head held high, paying attention to my surroundings. Walking with your head down tends to make you look more like a target.

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These are pretty nice:

http://deals.woot.com/deals/details/e11e96a9-602b-46e3-9785-a4abe9ecf54c/asp-16-p16-clip-on-baton-black#0

(ASP security baton)

However
1) They aren't as easy to carry and conceal as pepper spray, or even a carry sized automatic.
2) The bad guy has to be very close for it to work (probably too close).
3) These can cause very permanent damage, especially if you strike in the head.
4) Lost of state restrictions. Get caught with this in CA and you are going to jail. Of course, if you have a baseball bat in your car and you aren't going to or coming from a game, you will go to jail too.

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@jertyrael: Are you talking about a "sap"? That's a very old fashioned tool, sort of a weaponized bean bag.
http://tinyurl.com/d3ecvev

@wilfbrim: I see people carrying something like that when walking their dogs. It may or not be legal here, but pit bulls are probably the second most common breed here and a lot of people carry "break sticks" (used to pry a dog's mouth open) when walking their dogs. Just about anything you can write off as a "break stick" is going to be socially acceptable in my community.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mevd_GETOKM

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In many states mace/pepper spray and tasers are illegal. I heard from a former truck driver that they'd bring the 20ft spray bee/wasp spray. That way it was 100% legal and you could fall back on the "It's the only thing I had available" line.

Oh, and the added benefit that it works on bees :D

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Make a fist with your keys sticking out between each finger. Seems like that would be as effective or more effective than the black cat finger thing.

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The leader of an outdoors group I belonged to suggested a plastic lemon juice container--the kinds that are shaped like a lemon and filled with the juice. . . you can squirt your attacker in the eyes and stop them long enough to get away.

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@samstag: Everyone knows a sub machine gun is far more adept for self-defense purposes. This is, of course, assuming that the attacker is just a small group of people. If you have an entire gang attack you (say 10 people or more), a light machine gun with a higher magazine capacity would be proper. I guess you are right, the questioner really didn't give us enough information to provide proper answers.

Also, an air attack seems highly unlikely. In my neighborhood, most attacks are ground attacks, although there were a couple of black helicopter incidents that were not reported on the local news...

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Common sense. Think about it, if you're physically attacked, your chances are very low of finding your "weapon" in your bag or keychain or wherever to do anything about it. And if you're not attacked, confronting a mugger and starting a fight is flat out dumb. Pepper spray is much more useful than any item intended to inflict a wound.

If you're interested in self defense, enroll at a dojo that focuses on practical self defense techniques. I learned a lot in just a few months at a dojo that alternated days of learning choreographed kata and learning "street defense". It was fun, informative, and practical.

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This really depends on where you live. If it's legal, mace or a stun gun would be a good bet.

But other than that, a small knife or even just your keys can be good. Especially if you have to face a small group of people. If it's more than just you against one guy, bailing is best if possible.

I may seem a bit paranoid, but my undergrad had a really high crime rate, usually in groups, so...

The best self-defense is honestly running, but anything that can be efficiently used against more than one person is the best. Practice is definitely necessary, and make sure you're actually willing/ able to use whatever you have. Having a knife on you is useless if you're unable to respond to an attacker

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@wnyx585am: A sub doesn't have enough range. I prefer to keep my attackers at a distance.

And I live a couple hundred yards from an airport, so in an emergency I'd want to be able to shoot missiles first and ask questions later.

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@samstag: You'll understand if we all stay a few hundred yards away from you. Also, I hope you don't live near my airport.

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@samstag: Good job. Now the TSA is going to kick your door down and stick their fingers in your hidey-hole. I recommend wearing a few pairs of pants for the next few days. At least then, you'll have a minute to mentally prepare for it.

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Trained rabid monkeys. My little Clyde has fended off more attackers than you can shake a stick at, which is also one of the ways he fends them off, by shaking a stick at them menacingly.

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I prefer a nice wooden stake. Pepper spray is so passé.

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I think an iPhone 4/4s without a case could be pretty useful

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Seconded! Stun gun. Nothing says get the hell back better than half million volts of crackling lightning on a stick!

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I personaly chose a 2oz. pepper spray paired with a 26" collapsible baton after reading this article : http://asecuredefense.com/blog/stun-guns-pepper-spray-collapsible-batons/
Here is the links where I got them from :
Pepper spray : http://asecuredefense.com/pepper-spray/pepper-spray-by-manufacture/fox-pepper-spray/fox-pepper-spray-2-oz-2-oc-5-3mm-uv-flip-top.html ( I got the cone fog)
Baton : http://asecuredefense.com/steel-batons.html