At first glance, the SamStun, $50, looks like a stocking-stuffing novelty.
It's a stun gun designed to look like a smart phone. Kind of. Well, at least my wife thought it was one when she saw it sitting on our kitchen counter.
That's what convinced me to ask stun-gun trainer Donald Gregory of USA Training Academy/USA Karate to let his team try it out. On me. More on that in a second.
First, Gregory's first impressions of the SamStun's smart phone disguise: "I like it," he said. "It's not something that's obvious it's a weapon."
That makes it ideal for a woman's weapon, said USA Karate instructor Kristina Beard. "It's less intimidating," she said. "It's lighter. It's not scary."
So that should mean it's not scary to a bad guy either, right?
Wrong. Way wrong.
The SamStun claims to pack six million volts of shock energy. Gregory and I both thought that's a bit of an exaggeration, especially when we considered its arc surface is much smaller than that of a standard stun gun.
"The effective stun gun is something that has high voltage and a good contact surface," he said. "This one's a lot smaller. Not that it won't work, it's just that you'll have a much smaller area (to make contact with an attacker)."
Now the only way to test the SamStun is to use it on somebody. I can't honorably ask someone else to take the hit, so I volunteered.
If it doesn't hurt, it doesn't work.
Trust me. The SamStun hurts.
Beard gave me a good shock near my hip (one of the body locations trainers teach you to stun). First, it stunned. Second, it burned. Third, it discouraged any thought I might have of another go at her.
"I mean, I had it on you for just a split second, and you were out of my personal space," she said. "For $50, yeah, definitely, I want this one."
Because the SamStun looks like a smart phone, we had concerns it might be more likely to be stolen or, even worse, yanked from its user during an attack and turned right back on the victim.
Its makers thought of that scenario.
The SamStun only works when its activator-pin bracelet is plugged into its charging port. Its user wraps the bracelet around her wrist, plugs it into the device, then turn off the safety.
If an attacker should rip it from a victim's hand, the bracelet will pull the pin out of it, deactivating the SamStun.
The SamStun is a WISE BUY, but, of course, nobody should just get online and buy this thing. The SamStun, like any other weapon, requires training: how to carry it, when to use it and where on the body to use it.
"You don't just use it anywhere on the person, and you need to know what circumstances do you use the weapon," Gregory said. "The appropriate time, the appropriate place and the appropriate situation."