As Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Walk softly but carry a big stick." Clubs have always signified brute force, but also as a powerful symbol of law enforcement. The expandable baton, also known similarly as a collapsible baton, telescopic baton, sap, truncheon, nightstick or blackjack, has evolved from the time in when British police officers in Victoria era London first began using billy clubs on their belts.
There are a few different brands of baton, but by far the most commonly known is the ASP baton made by Armament Systems and Procedures (ASP, Inc.). Expandable batons come in three different formats: friction-loc, lever-loc and disc-loc.
- Friction-loc – The most common type, friction-loc batons close through impact on a hard surface, such as concrete.
- Lever-loc – These batons close by holding each shaft firmly and twisting counter-clockwise.
- Disc-loc – This variation is the newest and by far the easiest, closing at the push of a button. The ASP Air Talon is a good example of this. Disc-loc batons are excellent in environments where access to a hard surface is not available (e.g. water, sand, etc.)
Expandable batons are placed higher on the “use of force continuum”, which law enforcement primarily uses for addressing varying threat levels based on a particular situation, than other less-than-lethal options such as pepper spray or TASER devices. While pepper spray and electronic control devices rely on involuntary closure of the eyes and contractions of the muscles, the purpose of the expandable baton is to gain compliance from a subject through pain. This is done by striking specific parts of the body, such as the arms and legs.
Overall, the expandable baton is an excellent less-than-lethal option for self-defense due to its portability, effectiveness and psychological impact on targets. However, it is important to understand that in most jurisdictions throughout the U.S. expandable batons are legal only in the hands of law enforcement. There are very few states that allow them for civilian use. Please check out the expandable baton laws section in order to gain further information for your particular area. Check with local law enforcement or an attorney if you are unsure.
WARNING: Expandable batons should be handled carefully as they are considered a “dangerous weapon” due to their ability to cause significant physical harm. NEVER aim for the head, groin area, or chest. Doing so could put you in legal jeopardy. Appropriate target points are joint areas such as the arms and legs. It is highly advised to receive expandable baton training before deciding to purchase for self-defense purposes.