Fatalities and injuries have raised questions over the use of Taser stun guns, helping create a market opening for Stinger Systems Inc., which is beginning to ship guns it says are safer and more rugged.
Stinger designers recessed both the cartridge and the safety mechanism, greatly reducing the chance they can break during rough use—something the company says can happen with equipment from market leader Taser International. "Being second in the marketplace lets you learn from the other guy's mistakes," says Stinger CEO Robert Gruder.
Perhaps more important are differences in shooting range and stunning techniques. Stingers can fire four darts at distances up to 31 ft. That's more than the Taser's 27-ft standard, but less than an extended 35-ft cartridge. However, Gruder contends that Taser's dart pattern, which locates darts about 20 inches apart at 31 ft, will be more effective. He states that Stingers are safer because officers control the length of time electricity goes through the victim's body, releasing the trigger to stop the charge before the four sec maximum, which is less than Taser's five sec standard.
Not planning to give up market share easily, Taser filed lawsuits against Stinger for false advertising and unlawful patent marking.
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