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Taser's new six-shooter, of sorts

The Shockwave fires six electroshock projectiles simultaneously to cover more territory than a single-shot stun gun can.

Taser Shockwave
Taser Shockwave
Taser International

Where many of the devices from Taser International are a little like dueling pistols from the 18th century--basically, you get one shot to hit a target standing in front of you--the new Shockwave from Taser is more like a Claymore mine.

Unveiled Monday at the annual Taser Tactical Conference in Chicago, the Shockwave is described as an "area denial system," spraying its six projectiles all at once over a 22-degree arc. In addition, users can stack the Shockwave units vertically or side by side ("like Legos," the company says) to cover a larger area or "to allow for multiple salvo engagements." The units--designed for military use--can also be daisy-chained or mounted on vehicles.

The Shockwave fires XP Taser cartridges attached to a 25-foot wire to deliver its 5-second pulse of electricity (in Taser's parlance, the Neuro Muscular Incapacitation discharges). Like the Claymore (which sprays ball bearings), it's set off by a clacker-style controller.

Taser XREP
Taser XREP Taser International

The company also offered more details on Monday about its wireless XREP (or extended range electronic projectile), which can be fired from a 12-gauge shotgun. The half-ounce Taser XREPs have a range of 100 feet, and a battery in the projectile delivers the incapacitating charge for 20 seconds. Four barbed electrodes on the front end attach to the target, and on impact the chassis opens up to send six "cholla electrodes" out to penetrate clothing.

Twenty times per second, Taser says, microprocessor technology in the XREP Engine check for the best electrode connection. Grabbing at the projectile isn't likely to help the target; rather, it completes a new circuit that spreads the pulses over a larger area of the body.

For both products, Taser says it will have pilot deployments ready toward the end of this year and is aiming to have a full production release in 2008.