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Picking a selfie stick with an eye to defense - carbon fibre vs aluminium characteristics?

Martial Arts Asked by Andy Dent on December 12, 2021

I feel rather self-conscious asking this but, here goes…

I am picking a selfie stick for a forthcoming European holiday considering their potential use as a weapon (I know several sword and stick kung fu forms).

Without buying a few and testing their relative joint strength, assuming nested, extending tubes, what are the characteristics of carbon fibre vs aluminium tubing?

Is carbon fibre prone to breaking on impact as a general characteristic? (I have heard of bike frames “shattering”)? This answer suggests it is a bad idea.

Has anyone seen a serious evaluation of selfie sticks as weapons? (Yes I have seen the Russian videos, which seemed more about kubotan striking and joint-locking techniques).

Or, are they all such flimsy things that this is a completely silly idea?

6 Answers

This Quora answer on collapsible batons is actually good: https://www.quora.com/Are-police-batons-an-effective-weapon

Collapsible batons, such as those used by police are not effective weapons

The Quora answer suggest police are trained to think of them more as body-control tools as opposed to weapons. (Compare to earlier wood and even metal truncheons, aka "billy clubs" aka "fixed batons", which can break skulls. When riot police use collapsible batons, you'll see footage of them hitting rioters repeatedly in the skull, usually with little to no visual effect on the rioter.)

But the selfie stick is going to snap, even if it's fake "tactical", because the who fake "tactical" product marketing movement is mostly a scam, for people who engage in militia cosplay.

[Note: Carbon fiber is here meaningless because the selfie stick will snap at the connection points, regardless of the material. This is what distinguishes the selfie stick from the collapsible baton, which is made to withstand those forces. Even well tempered swords can snap because of the slightest flaws when meeting strong resistance.]

I'm also a Chinese practitioner who can use any object effectively as a weapon, but the only realistic use I'd see for something as flimsy as any selfie-stick is likely to be is whipping it at the attackers eyes.

Marcao's video link to Master Ken show use similar certain pommel strikes with sword, but the selfie stick lacks the weight of the sword, so the force generated will be more akin to a kubotan.

But you'd better have a followup to that, because it's only going to provide a little bit of temporary advantage, if any advantage at all, depending on the attacker.

Answered by DukeZhou on December 12, 2021

Why not using an expandable baton as selfie stock rather than using a selfie stick as an expandable baton ? It'll be heavier and less handy for a selfie use than a real selfie stick but that'll do the job for that AND for self defense.

Answered by Greg213 on December 12, 2021

I think I know what you are asking about. I recommend long range (10-feet plus) telescopic selfie stick. Aluminium, not fancy hi-tech materials. When folded down it amounts to 20-30 inches, and it feels sturdy enough for rough treatment.

Answered by Vitaly on December 12, 2021

As Slugster mentioned, selfie sticks are not, inherently, designed for close quarter combat. However, if you really want your stick to be effective in self-defence situations, there are a few factors to consider when choosing your "weapon" : techniques (length), materials, transportability and legality.

Techniques (length) :

From your question, it seems that you are familiar with a good selection of weapons. Since you seem to be more familiar with swords and sticks, my suggestion for you would be to pick a selfie stick that's around 2-3 feet long when retracted. This allows you to use most escrima or short sword techniques that you already know (it would be my personal pick for similar reasons, having learned the okinawan tonbo in the past).

However, some people might be more familiar with self-defence weapons such as the kubotan. In this case, consider getting a small telescopic stick that about 6-7 inches long when retracted. At this point, it's basically a kubotan, and you should be able to use any appropriate techniques with it.

Some companies also make very long selfie sticks, going up to 12-18 feet when extended. Once retracted, these sticks are usually about 6 feet long, which means that you could probably wield one like a staff or bo until it breaks.

Materials :

From what I can see, there are three main materials used in the fabrication of selfie sticks : fibreglass, aluminium and carbon fibre. Carbon fibre would be the hardest, but might shatter if the impact is significant enough since most selfie sticks are hollow and quite thin (because they don't have to hold significant weight). Aluminium will bend the most, and is likely to stay bent after any strong impact. Fibreglass is somewhat in between, but is probably closer to carbon fibre than aluminium in terms of resistance (will flex more than carbon fibre, akin to aluminium, but is more likely to shatter).

Some companies, like Youngblood, make fibreglass coated aluminium selfie sticks. We're talking about ~200-250$ selfie sticks here, but that combo is actually pretty kick ass. Just like concrete reinforced with rebar, the aluminium core will help the stick flex more instead of shattering, and the fibreglass exterior should be hard enough that it would take many serious strikes to permanently bend your impromptu weapon.

In any case, you should aim for a telescopic selfie stick. A selfie stick that is made of a single tube is mostly empty inside, and is thus a lot less resistant. If you use a telescopic stick and leave it retracted, the 2-3 sections, when nested one within the others, will make a surprisingly resistant stick. To be fair, it's really likely to break if you use it as a weapon. But if its 2-3 layers thick, you should have time to finish your fight before having to change weapon.

Transportability :

Even if you actually want to use it as a selfie stick, only put your phone on it if you're taking pictures. The phone itself is a target for thieves and, while I'd say your life is worth more than your phone, why even risk your phone if you don't have to? That being said, you'll want something that's easily carried, and inconspicuous enough that people will let you carry it wherever it is that you're going.

This is why the 6 feet long stick isn't really interesting, despite doubling as a really great impromptu staff. A palm-sized stick can be carried on your belt with a strap/clip or even inside your pockets, making it the most portable option. If you want more reach, however, my personal choice would be a 2 feet long stick that can extend to 4 or 6 feet. While it can't be carried inside a pocket anymore, it can still easily be strapped to the side of any backpack (or even carried inside it, though it makes retrieving it a chore in an emergency situation), or just carried in your hand without generating much suspicion.

Legality :

Depending on where you're going, laws can vary greatly where weapons are concerned. I can't speak for Europe, but I can give some example for Canada, since I happen to be familiar with the local weapon laws. As Sardathrion mentioned in a comment, some places, like Canada, actually consider intent to determine if something is a weapon or not. For instance, I could carry pretty much any kind of knife, as long as it's for a utilitarian purposes (skinning game, utility knife, box-cutter, etc.). The instant that I say it's for my protection, even if I never intend to use it offensively, its possession becomes illegal.

That being said, if I get mugged and happen to have a knife or a selfie stick on me, which I am carrying for legitimate purposes, I would not hesitate to use it in self-defence. Justifying minimal appropriate use of force to the cops might be a little harder for the knife than for the selfie stick, but if I can prove that I'm carrying this item for purposes others than self-defence, it should be legal as long as the danger I was facing warranted it. From the link provided by Sardathrion, the UK seems to also take the appropriateness of the force used by the defender into account in cases of self-defence, and it is likely that similar laws are in effect throughout the European Union.

If anyone asks, you're carrying your selfie stick to take cool & touristy selfies. And if you happen to use it in self-defence, do not exaggerate in your use of it as a weapon and do your best to keep the fight from escalating. Stop fighting as soon as you believe it is safe to do so for you, your loved ones, but also for your aggressor.

Answered by Dungarth on December 12, 2021

I'm a peaceful guy in his 50's, not a troublemaker.

if that's the case i would suggest using a walking cane or an umbrella, more likely to be more resistant than the selfie stick, and totally legal to carry.

Answered by Progs on December 12, 2021

This is not quite a complete answer as I've never bought a selfie stick for that purpose...

While selfie sticks can be used for self defense, they are not made for self defense. I would suggest that if you use your stick you will need to replace it after each "situation" because at the very least it will be bent or the telescoping joints will be sufficiently misaligned to be useless. Basically, selfie sticks are not designed to withstand sideways stresses.

I would suggest that aluminium selfie sticks will be prone to bending and snapping (like an older car or transistor radio aerial can be snapped), carbon fibre ones should be more resilient with regards to bending, but they won't be made from high quality carbon fibre so could still snap.

If you've got the money I would suggest you purchase a walking stick or nordic walking pole instead - they are quite innocuous and helpful, but also have more reach and are stronger than a selfie stick.

A comment on carbon fibre bike frames shattering: bike frames are quite tough, but they are manufactured to take stresses and forces in certain directions. If a frame shatters it is usually due to an unseen crack in the frame, or a massive amount of force applied in the wrong direction. You are far more likely to get a shattered carbon fibre wheel than a frame because the wheel is already under a large amount of stress when the extra force (pothole, stone) is suddenly applied.

Answered by slugster on December 12, 2021

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