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Taser, Taser, Taser: The New X3

Some officers are trained to shout the TASER name three times prior to pulling the trigger on the company’s Electronic Control Device (ECD). This verbal warning is not to alert the resistant/violent subject that he is about to be hit with an electronic charge, but rather to make sure other officers on the scene are aware that a less-lethal ECD is about to be discharged. “TASER, TASER, TASER!” is exclaimed to make sure fellow officers don’t confuse the loud bang of the TASER’s cartridge with the firing of an actual firearm.

TASER International recently introduced the newest version of its less-lethal control tool that is used worldwide by law enforcement agencies. The new TASER X3 isn’t named after those three words repeated in rapid succession just before administering an ECD. The X3 is not a model that came after an X1 or an X2. The name is derived from its impressive ability to fire three charge-diffusion probe cartridges without reloading.

Improved Multiple Shot ECD

The previous M26 (full-size pistol style) and X26 (compact pistol style) ECDs from TASER International featured a single cartridge mounted to the ECD’s front. The single-shot capability of the M26 and X26 meant that if an officer fired and missed the intended subject or the probes’ wires became detached, a second follow-up shot was either not available or required fine motor skills to reload.

Side compression tabs needed to be squeezed with careful finger manipulation to remove the spent cartridge. The same motion was then repeated to remove a backup cartridge off the base of the TASER’s grip before finally securing it to the front of the ECD for a second shot.

Officers using a single-shot TASER without a backup cartridge could only resort to using the drive stun (contact) mode of the ECD to administer a second charge. Obviously, this required close proximity to the threat. It also meant that an escalation of use-of-force options up the continuum may have become necessary.

The new TASER X3 is a multi-shot ECD that is capable of deploying second and third cartridges immediately after the first. This is a significant improvement over previous models. If the charge diffusion probes were to miss their intended subject, or if the electronic leads were to become detached for any reason, a second or even third shot is immediately available with the X3.

There is no need for an officer to perform a complicated, two-handed operation to replace a spent cartridge with a fresh one. He just keeps the X3 on target and simply pulls the trigger again. The three separate cartridges are locked into place at the front of the X3 and are available to be fired in rapid succession.

Multiple Subjects

A police officer with a single-cartridge ECD may be at a disadvantage when confronted with two or more non-compliant, aggressive offenders. A single TASER X3 unit is capable of simultaneously administering its neuromuscular incapacitation pulse on up to three subjects at once. Extrapolating this common scenario into a more complicated incident, two officers with TASER X3s on their duty belts would have the ability to incapacitate up to six subjects so that assisting officers could restrain them with handcuffs.

The X3 can charge three separate subjects because it rotates its battery’s charge across all three cartridges at a rate of up to 45 times per second. The single battery is easily capable of 100 or more discharges, and an enhanced battery is available that is capable of 300 or more charges before it needs to be recharged. The battery has a triple-redundant locking system at the bottom of the device’s grip so it cannot be accidentally removed or easily detached during a scuffle. Various chargers are available including the Squad Charger, which can replenish up to eight batteries at a time.

Three people could be incapacitated with three separate sets of probes from the X3’s cartridges. If just one of the three subjects continued to be non-compliant, the cartridge leads could be broken away by the officer for the two compliant subjects, and the X3 could then transmit a secondary charge to only the single non-compliant subject. The other two would not receive the additional charge. That’s a rather impressive ability and a giant leap forward in law enforcement technology.

Dual Laser Sights, LED Flashlight and Warning Arc

Dual laser sights are automatically identified for use with either a short range (15-foot), standard (25-foot) or long-range (35-foot) cartridge. The X3 will adjust its top and bottom lasers and their point of aim to “paint” the intended target. The correct distance to indicate an aiming point for both the top and bottom probes will occur instantly.

A focused beam, white LED flashlight illuminates automatically from under the cartridge mount area when the TASER is turned on. This light automatically adjusts to the surrounding ambient light to provide additional target visibility in low light conditions. The flashlight is designed to illuminate a human-sized target within the operating range of the ECD.

Previous model TASERs could only display a visible warning arc when the front mounted cartridge was removed and the device was in the “drive stun” mode. Resistant subjects are more apt to comply with an officer’s verbal direction when it is backed up by laser painting and a warning display of the visible electronic arc.

It is one thing to verbally direct a non-compliant subject to “Drop the knife right now or you will be TASERed!” It is quite another to paint the subject with the red laser dots and then display the arc’s triple blue and purple lightning bursts with their accompanying “zzzraaaap-rap-rap” sound. The warning arc and drive stun capability can be utilized with all three cartridges installed, with cartridges missing, or even with the training cartridges that do not launch probes.

Ruggedly Built for Duty

The polymer X3 chassis and body are built to military specifications and can handle impacts and harsh environments like dust, water, snow and salt. The static-resistant electronic system is self cleaning and guards against accidental discharge, even by lightning. The X3 is available in an all-black version, which blends subtly with a uniform’s duty belt, or in the usual yellow/black color scheme that today’s criminals associate with TASERs. Just the presence of the bold yellow TASER on an officer’s person can be intimidating enough to calm some people down.

The X3 comes with a Magnesium Transporter ™ holster. It is designed to hold the X3 securely and reliably while also keeping size and weight to a minimum. The holster sports spring-loaded locking jaws, which the X3 snaps into. A downward press on the unlocking button releases the device in a fashion similar to security retention handgun holsters. A secondary strap with a snap can also be used for extra security. The entire holster is ambidextrous for offside duty belt carry by both left- and right-handed officers. A full protective cover is optional instead of the minimum cover.

Despite the larger width of the new X3 with its triple front-mounted cartridges, its overall dimensions are similar to a decked out and holstered X26 equipped with a spare cartridge carrier.

Each Smart Cartridge™ communicates with the fire control system within the X3. This information exchange lets the central information display inform the user which cartridge is in which bay, along with its deployment status. Each of the three bays has a spring-loaded, push-button latch located underneath the front of the X3, and swapping cartridges is easily accomplished.

Operation of the New X3

Once the X3 is drawn, the cam lock safety acts as the on/off lever. When rotated upward, the ambidextrous lever exposes a red dot indicating that the ECD is armed and activated. The lever can be programmed to automatically turn on the dual lasers and LED flashlight.

The rear user interface is easy to see and relays the information that officers need with just a quick glance. If 15-, 25- and 35-foot cartridges are mounted in the TASER’s front cartridge bays, a quick fingertip tap of the arc key button acts as a selector and highlights the selected cartridge with a surrounding square. This feature provides officers with the ability to accurately target a subject at various distances. Officers do not have to make a decision to aim the laser higher or lower depending upon the judged distance. The cartridge selection changes the laser’s point of aim all by itself.

The three different range cartridges come in colored protective covers to help differentiate their intended uses. Once installed in the ECD, the display tells the user what distance each one is intended for.

The selector switch button on the top rear of the X3 controls the menu options. The automatic flashlight can be turned off, the laser can be changed from just one to two (top and bottom) and between flashing and constant, the language can be switched, and distance measurement in feet can be recalibrated to meters. The choice between manual or semi-automatic modes is also available with this menu button.

When the trigger is pulled, the selected cartridge’s blast doors open and fire the Charge Diffusion™ probes. These probes optimize the pulse delivery, and the charge is diffused across the outermost layers of the target’s skin. This increases safety by reducing charge density deeper in the body. Confetti-like ID tags with bar-coded serialization, linked to the particular cartridge, are dispersed on the scene to deter misuse and provide enhanced accountability.

If the probes miss their target, the advantage of the X3 is apparent over single-use cartridges like the M26 and X26. During a confrontational situation when an adrenaline dump occurs, an officer’s fine motor skills are the first thing to become impaired. Using the tips of one’s fingers to depress the locking tabs on an M26 or X26 spent cartridge can be difficult. Fumbling to remove a second cartridge from the bottom grip and then replacing it at the front again is not easy, even under the best of conditions.

To fire a second cartridge (due to a miss or broken contact wire) in semi-automatic mode, a police officer just needs to pull the trigger again. The X3 will fire the next cartridge over. If a subject does not comply with verbal direction after being charged with the ECD, a second charge can be transmitted by pressing the arc switch.

In manual mode, a second cartridge is fired by manually tapping the arc switch to select another cartridge. A second charge through the same fired cartridge is actuated by pressing and holding the arc switch.

The X3’s rear user interface has a color display that features enhanced icons and a data display. Short- and long-range cartridges are identified, and the current selected cartridge is highlighted with a surrounding square. After a cartridge is fired, a human icon is displayed in place of the numbered distance of the fired cartridge. If this icon is green, the TASER’s connection to the subject is good. If the human icon is yellow, the connection is intermittent. If the icon is red, the connection has been broken. The user interface also displays the status of the unit’s battery and warns if that battery is low on power and needs to be recharged.

Automatic Record Maintenance

The TASER X3’s pulse calibration system monitors, calibrates and records voltage and charge for every pulse delivered. The X3 Trilogy System tracks the event log, pulse log and engineering log. It records safety on/off, trigger press, warning arcs, firmware updates and time updates. Tracking of use patterns, data downloads and maintenance can be maintained on a database for hundreds of ECDs.
When multiple charges are required to gain compliance, the arrest report/use-of-force report by the involved officers will document the occurrence. The event log will back up what took place. But when false claims are made by a subject that he was repeatedly charged by the TASER again and again when he was not, the log can prove otherwise. The record can show that a subject was incapacitated by only a single TASER discharge.

The X3’s event log can also be fully integrated with TASER’s digital network. This secure digital warehouse can automatically link closed-circuit television video, patrol car video, AXON officer’s view video, still camera photos and other digital data. The optional USB dataport download kit can be used to encrypt, organize and securely store information for retrieval.

Full Service from TASER International

TASER’s exhaustive engineering and medical research has resulted in its new Pulse Calibration System (PCS), which constantly monitors and calibrates the electrical output. The new X3 delivers a Precision Shaped Pulse™ that provides more constant effects on the target subject, which in turn gives improved safety characteristics.

The new X3’s triple deployment ability comes as a welcome improvement for law enforcement. The user-friendly controls are both ergonomic and intuitive, and the X3 is ruggedly built for years of law enforcement service.

TASER International provides training as well as technical, logistical and legal support for all of its products. The innovative features incorporated into the new TASER X3 prove that the company strives to keep moving the ball forward. TASER has listened to police department and individual officer feedback and incorporated it in the new X3, which improves an officer’s ability to control combative, aggressive and deadly subjects with less-lethal force.

The TASER X3 is an outstanding law enforcement tool that can help diffuse use-of-force incidents before officers go hands-on with dangerous subjects. The X3’s laser, warning arc or even just its simple presence may be enough to convince some violent subjects to submit to arrest without the need to deploy an ECD cartridge. Deployment of the TASER X3’s cartridge can also end certain deadly force incidents with an offender in handcuffs, rather than zipped up on a gurney.

Steve Tracy is a 22-year police veteran with 20 years of experience as a firearms instructor. He is also an instructor for tactical rifles, use-of-force, less-than-lethal force and scenario-based training. He can be reached at

Published in Tactical Response, May/Jun 2010

Rating : 10.0

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Posted on : Jul 18 at 7:47 PM By jnc36rcpd

While I dont think we need to train to the lowest common denominator, I believe that the X3 is way to complicated for standard issue. It might have some uses for a designated less-lethal operator on a tactical unit, but I dont see it replacing the X26, especially at the asking price.

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