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Why You Should Never Buy Cheap and Unbranded Expandable Baton
When in a defensive situation, I favour blunt weapons over knives. They offer greater stopping power, and non-lethal in most cases. That’s why my expandable baton never leaves my pocket whenever I go out. I mean unlike ordinary fixed length Billy clubs, it is concealable and it doubles as a Kubotan when retracted. I still carry a knife with me, but in most cases I’ll stick to my baton and pepper spray for defence.
But as it turns out not all batons are created equal.
Experience taught me to be careful when purchasing an expandable baton. My first baton was a real let down, and I have to scrap the thing and buy a new one. I never let go of my second one but it had problems as well. This led me to consider buying defensive weapons from trusted company, not from plea markets or stalls. And yes, my first two batons came from those places and who knows what quality control they have? In the end when investing for stuff that will save your life, consider quality and durability. A failed weapon in a fight will leave you as good as incapacitated, or worst.
What is an expandable baton?
Unlike a usual baton, which is basically a club used by police for subduing criminals, expandable batons could retract and expand. This was achieved through the use of a telescopic shaft that locks when expanded. For some people, a selfie stick might come to mind, but do note that batons does more than hold phones when taking pictures. It could be deployed with one hand. Yes, a forceful swing will extend the weapon and locks the segments to place. Depending on the design, collapsing the weapon might involve the user pushing the tip against any hard surface, or depressing a lock and manually collapsing the baton.
Locking mechanism for expandable batons also vary. They either use mechanical means to lock the telescopic segments or through the use of friction.
Things to consider in baton design
Based from the overview above, expandable batons have certain weaknesses. The toughest baton is as strong as its weakest segment. Yes, the locking telescopic segments in a baton could only withstand a certain degree of abuse, unlike fixed batons. That’s why legitimate weapons company like ASP and Smith and Wesson put so much effort on their locking design, whether it is mechanical or friction lock. Materials used in expandable batons could be steel or aluminium. Again material strength is also crucial as a low quality metal will fail when whacked against an object (or an assailant).
And these are where those cheap unbranded batons fail.
Counterfeit batons won’t lock tight
This is based from my personal experiences. My first baton came from a mall shop that sells self-defense gadgets. As it is now a total wreck no picture of it exists, yet just to give you an idea it is a compact 16 inch with a silvery finish. The thing looks impressive whether extended or collapsed and even comes with a green holster and a lanyard.
But then the lock begins to fail.
I never used the thing that much. In fact I never whacked it against anything just to see what it can do. But after opening and closing it a few times the lock loosened. It was a minor problem at first but overtime the baton is failing to keep its extended form. Then the time comes when I decided to hit something with it. After several swings at a water jug the thing is finished. I ended up with a handle and several pieces of metals on the floor.
My counterfeit baton failed to address a potential weak spot, the locking segments. Do note that my ill-fated weapon don’t use mechanical locks as the complex locking mechanism simply don’t exist in cheap batons. But even frictions locking batons from legitimate companies could withstand certain abuse without failing. Do note that my first baton retails at only six dollars.
Some counterfeit batons are too tight
I never looked at cheap batons the same way again after the first one. Yet I never learned, and bought another one from the same store. This one is heavier and a bit pricier, around ten dollars. Again I don’t have a picture of it because it got lost (or I just lost interest and left it to be forgotten). To be frank it is better than the first one; so much better in fact that I have difficulty retracting it. With a normal baton, all you need is a decent force to collapse the thing. With this, I basically need a rubber hammer just to loosen the segments. There are times that the thing got stuck and remained extended. Now what is the point of getting an expendable baton that doesn’t retract? Its ability to be collapsed and concealed is what gave this gadget an advantage over other personal weapons. I did managed to retract it, but I never dared to play with it again for the fear that it would get stuck or get loose in the end.
Like the first one, this baton has problems with the locking mechanism. And it’s a good thing that I lost it, because I was warned that cheap stuffs like that have another problem.
They could break and deform at unfortunate events
Who knows what material are they using? Genuine expandable batons use steel and aluminium. Some brands, like the Smith and Wesson use hardened steel. Quality stuffs don’t come cheap though and we could assume that flea market batons use substandard materials. Stories on how cheap batons broke or bent crowds the internet, and my first one is a tangible example. There is even a case where a friend’s baton shatters, with the pieces flying to the neighbour’s house!
Be wise when buying stuffs
Based from what I learned if you’re serious with self-defence, you need to invest a certain amount (most of the time that is). Cheap stuffs are not worth the cash and if you’re considering buying one, go for the established and proven brands. Some good examples are ASP, Monadnock and ESP. Whether mechanical or friction locks they won’t let you down. But do note that quality expandable batons range from 60 to more than a hundred dollars depending on the length and the design. Quality budget batons do exist though. Smith and Wesson heat treated batons could go as low as 20 dollars, even less depending on the length and design. They might be affordable, but they are no flea market junks. They could stand certain amount of abuse and won’t deform that easily. In my case I recently acquired a 16 inch Smith and Wesson and plan to buy an ASP one day. So far this budget baton never failed me.