What Expandable Baton Size Should I Buy?

With rising crime rates across the country maintaining personal security has become a growing concern for citizens. An expandable baton, alternatively a collapsible baton, makes for a great self-defense tool.  Expandable batons are classified as less-than-lethal weapons and are favored by both military personnel and civilians for self-defense.

For an optimal self-defense tool that balances reach, power, and portability, the 21-inch expandable baton is widely considered the best choice. At 21”, the expandable baton offers enough striking range and force while remaining compact enough for everyday carry in a holster, belt, or backpack

Favored by military and civilians alike, the 21-inch baton hits the sweet spot for versatility in a less-than-lethal self-defense weapon as personal security becomes a growing priority.

What is the Length of the Best Expandable Baton?

While expandable batons are available in standard length sizes of 16” and 26”, the 21” expandable baton emerges as the top choice for most users. Offering an ideal mix of reach, striking force, and portability, 21 inches expandable baton” is longer than the 16-inch version but more compact than the 26-inch.

The 21” baton allows for powerful defensive strikes while remaining easy to wield and carry on a daily basis. Its versatility makes it a great option for civilians and professionals alike seeking a balanced self-defense tool.

Other standard lengths of retractable batons are 16 inches and 26 inches. A 16” baton is best for concealed carry and very lightweight, ideally for those prioritizing portability and discreet concealment. On the other hand, the 26” baton offers an extended reach, which can be advantageous in specific situations, though it is slightly heavier and less discreet.

Less common lengths for expandable batons are 12” and 30”. The 12 inch baton is highly compact but sacrifices reach and striking power, which limits its effectiveness in defensive situations.

On the contrary, the 30-inch baton is primarily used by law enforcement for crowd control purposes for breaking in through the doors. Batons of this length or longer tend to be excessively cumbersome and weighty for civilians, making them less practical for use or everyday use by civilians.

For most people, particularly those new to the world of retractable batons, smaller sizes around 16 to 21 inches are often preferred. These compact models are much easier to wield and maneuver, making them an excellent choice for beginners learning proper baton tactics. 

You may want to opt for a different length when you have gained enough practice, a 21-inch baton can improve defensive capacity while still maintaining a balanced and practical design. 

Historically, Batons are considered to be one of the oldest weapons to be carried by police. Several companies have earned a reputation for manufacturing high-quality expandable batons. 

For example, ASP (Armament Systems and Procedures) and Rapid Rotation Batons are among the oldest and most renowned manufacturers of modern police batons. 

Other well-known brands that produce exceptional expandable batons include Rothco, Monadnock, and Smith & Wesson. These companies have established themselves as industry leaders, consistently delivering durable, reliable, and effective products trusted by law enforcement professionals and civilians.

Best Expandable Batons List of Lengths Retracted and Expanded

NameRetracted LengthExpanded LengthConcealabilityWeight
Safety Tech Expandable Steel Keychain Baton5.5”12”High9 oz.
Monadnock Persuader6”High0.10 lbs.
ASP Agent Concealable Baton (A40)7.75”16”High13.2 oz.
ASP Talon Disc Loc Baton7.06”16”High16.3 oz.
Streetwise™ Expandable 19″ LED Stun Gun Baton 30M16.5”19”Moderate2.05 lbs.
Smith & Wesson Heat Treated Collapsible Baton (21″)8.5”21”Moderate13.2 oz.
Rothco Solid Steel Expandable Baton w/ Nylon Holster 21″8.31”21”Moderate1.15 lbs.
Smith & Wesson Heat Treated Collapsible Baton (24″)9”24”Moderate14.8 oz.
PR-24 Expandable Side-Handle (21”)14”24”Low2.2046 lbs
Smith & Wesson Heat Treated Collapsible Baton (26″)9.7”26”Moderate16 oz.
Police Force Tactical Expandable Solid Steel Baton 26”10”26”Moderate1.4 lbs.
Streetwise Expandable Solid Steel Baton BO Staff 5′11”31”Low3.51 lbs.

When Is A 16″ Baton A Good Choice

A 16″ expandable or collapsible baton can be an excellent self-defense tool for everyday carry. It has a compact size when collapsed making it easy to store discreetly in a bag, purse, or pocket, yet it can quickly extend to 16 inches for defensive use. 

Many jurisdictions allow the legal possession of batons for self-protection, making it a viable option when firearms or other weapons are prohibited.

A 16” collapsible baton is used as a compliance tool and alternative to lethal force by law enforcement and security professionals. The extended reach provides standoff capability to control combative subjects while minimizing injury risk. 

For private citizens, keeping a baton in your vehicle offers a force option for emergencies encountered on the road before help can arrive since these are small batons that are perfect for everyday carry.

While dedicated self-defense tools like pepper spray or firearms may be preferable in some cases, a quality 16″ expandable baton has advantages for certain environments. Its non-lethal nature reduces legal liability concerns compared to lethal weapons. Batons are also handy for roles involving searching, cell extractions, or working indoors where deploying larger impact tools may be dangerous.

Proper defensive tactics training is critical for responsibly using any impact weapon. Batons require skills in blocking, striking, and controlling techniques. With the right legal permissions and proficiency training, a 16″ expandable baton can make an effective part of your personal protection plan.

When Is A 21″ Baton A Good Choice

A 21″ baton, also a standard issue baton has distinct advantages to offer, over a 16” or 26” or 30” expandable baton in certain scenarios. With 21” in length this collapsible baton provides a superior reach and strike power. 

Its extended reach can be beneficial for self-defense at a longer range, allowing you to defend yourself while maintaining a safer distance from an attacker. The extra reach helps prevent an assailant from getting inside your defensive perimeter.

Many 21″ collapsible batons feature a reinforced polymer or metal tip designed for shattering automotive glass during vehicle extractions or emergency entries/exits. The weighted strike force also makes this baton effective for forcing open locked doors during warranted entries by law enforcement or in emergency scenarios.

While in open outdoor areas with more space, the longer reach becomes advantageous compared to shorter batons therefore the extended length batons are preferred in scenarios with fewer bystanders nearby where the wider swing arc is less likely to inadvertently strike unintended individuals.

Law enforcement and security personnel frequently use 21″ batons as a compliance tool when dealing with uncooperative or combative individuals. The length enhances their ability to establish reactionary gaps and issue strikes from a safer distance.

Proper training is essential on retention techniques, striking skills, and use of force legal guidelines before deploying any impact weapon. Understand that longer batons can be more difficult to retain and manipulate in tight quarters. Carefully evaluate your typical scenarios to determine if a 21″ extendable baton’s reach is ideal for your self-defense or professional needs compared to a more compact option.

When Is A 26″ Baton A Good Choice

A 26″ baton can be an effective tool for self-defense, law enforcement, and security personnel due to its length and versatility. A 26″ expanding baton for self-defense allows users to maintain a safer distance from an attacker or subject, providing an advantage in various situations. 

When swung, the longer length can generate more force, making it more effective in stopping a threat. Additionally, the baton can be used for a range of defensive techniques, including blocking, striking, and controlling an assailant.

The presence of a longer baton can also have an intimidating effect on potential aggressors, potentially deterring them from escalating a situation. In the context of law enforcement or security, a 26″ baton can be particularly useful for crowd control, allowing officers to push back individuals or manage crowds without resorting to more extreme measures. 

The choice of baton length should also be based on the individual’s physical abilities, the environment in which it will be used, and the specific requirements of the situation.

How to Choose the Right Expandable Baton?

Choosing the right telescopic baton requires considering several key factors beyond just training. We’ve compiled a list of these important factors below to help guide you through this selection process:

1. Baton Construction Material

While choosing a baton you may want to have options that are durable and long-lasting. Steel is known for its strength and durability, steel batons offer formidable impact power. They are heavier, which can be a drawback for some users. 

While some retractable batons feature Aluminum (e.g., 7075-T6). This aerospace-grade aluminum is lightweight but strong, making it ideal for those who prioritize ease of carry without sacrificing durability. It’s also resistant to corrosion.

While polycarbonate is a lighter alternative, polycarbonate batons are less intimidating and suitable for non-lethal defense. They’re ideal for users seeking a less aggressive option.

2. Handle Grip Material

Rubber offers excellent grip and comfort, reducing the chance of slippage during use. While foam makes for a comfortable, cushioned grip but may wear out faster than other materials.

Knurled metal gives users a secure grip even with wet hands but can be less comfortable during prolonged use.

3. Length

Riot Batons (26 inches or above): Preferred by law enforcement officers for controlling large crowds. These batons are heavy and can cause serious damage.

Full-size (21-26 inches or above): Preferred by law enforcement for maximum reach and impact. However, they require more training to wield effectively and may be cumbersome to carry.

Compact (12-16 inches): More convenient for everyday carry by civilians or off-duty officers. These are easier to conceal and handle but offer less reach and power.

4. Locking Mechanisms

The locking mechanism is a critical feature of a tactical expandable baton, determining both its ease of deployment and reliability in use. Different brands offer various mechanisms, each with its advantages and drawbacks:

Friction Lock

This is the most common type, where the baton is extended with a flick of the wrist and locked into place by friction. To close, you typically need to strike the tip against a hard surface. While simple and quick to deploy, friction locks can sometimes collapse under heavy impact.

Push Button

Some batons, like the ASP Talon, feature a push-button mechanism that allows for easy one-handed opening and closing. This type of lock is generally more reliable and less likely to collapse unexpectedly but can be more expensive.

Lever Lock

Batons like the Monadnock AutoLock have a lever mechanism that automatically locks the baton in place when extended. To close, you simply depress the lever. This provides a secure lock and easy closing but might require two hands to operate.

Twist Lock

Less common, twist-lock batons require you to twist the shaft to lock or unlock the sections. While this provides a very secure lock, it can be slower to deploy and close compared to other mechanisms.

Side Handle Locks

For side-handle batons (e.g., PR 24 Baton), the locking mechanism can involve a combination of friction and a release button, providing added control and versatility in handling.

How to Use Expandable Batons?

Expandable batons are not solely intended for causing injury or breaking bones. Law enforcement officers oftentimes use this less-than-lethal weapon to control and restrain unruly individuals, using strikes as a warning or means of inflicting temporary pain to de-escalate situations. In other cases, police may use the batons to stop the attacks.

In more extreme cases, where aggressors are significantly larger or under the influence of substances, immobilizing or incapacitating the subject may become necessary to prevent harm. Retractable baton self defense is a very effective option for personal protection if you know how to use it properly.

To achieve this, forceful strikes targeting the bones can be employed, to cause skull fractures, deep bruising, or in severe cases, broken bones. These strikes are made to inflict enough pain to stop the aggressor, preventing further injury while minimizing the risk of irreversible harm. 

It is important to exercise caution and restraint, as batons, while considered “less-than-lethal” weapons, can potentially cause lethal injuries under certain circumstances.

Read about the proper techniques of using a police baton in more detail here.

The head is a particularly sensitive area, and strikes to this region can result in serious injuries, including skull fractures, brain damage, seizures, strokes, or even death. Indiscriminate or reckless use, especially when there is no impending threat to one’s life, could have grave legal and ethical implications.

Situations When Expandable Batons Are Used

Expandable batons are used by law enforcement professionals and individuals for different purposes but a common theme is self-defense. Since police batons are classified as less than lethal force weapons they find their application in situations where use of force may be necessary. 


If employed properly, foldable batons help you avoid charges of the use of lethal force. Usually, a baton should be your top priority when there is a need for force. Here’s a list of situations where expandable baton makes for a great choice

  • Subduing an Armed Assailant
  • Breaking up a Fight
  • Fight off an Intruder
  • Defending Against a Street Robbery
  • Protecting Against Animal Attacks
  • Controlling a Riot or Large Crowd
  • Preventing a Carjacking
  • Self-Defense in a Home Invasion
  • Escaping from a Hostage Situation

Best Place to Buy ASP, Smith& Wesson, Rothco and Monadnock Expandable Batons

When it comes to effective self-defense gear, you want quality products from trusted brands – and STL Tactical Deals has you covered. As an authorized dealer of top names like ASP, Smith & Wesson, Rothco, and Monadnock, we offer an extensive selection of expandable batons to suit every need. 

With our huge in-stock inventory, you can get your hands on the perfect defensive baton without delays. From compact batons that conceal easily in your gear to extended models for maximum reach, we have premium options from the manufacturers you know and trust. 

Don’t settle for less when your safety is on the line – gear up with confidence at STL Tactical Deals.

Why do Law enforcement Use Batons?

Law enforcement agencies use batons as a versatile tool for maintaining order and ensuring public safety. Batons, also known as truncheons or nightsticks, have evolved from simple wooden clubs to include different designs such as straight batons, side-handle batons, and expandable batons. 

These tools are primarily used for self-defense, crowd control, and as a means of non-lethal force to subdue suspects. The modern baton is typically made from materials like wood, rubber, plastic, or metal, and its design is intended to maximize control and effectiveness while minimizing the risk of serious injury.

The use of batons or telescoping batons is governed by strict guidelines and training protocols to ensure that officers use them responsibly and effectively. In police training, the focus is on targeting large nerve clusters and muscle groups to temporarily incapacitate a subject without causing permanent harm. 

The goal is to impair the subject’s ability to continue aggressive actions, allowing officers to gain control of the situation. Despite the availability of other less-lethal options like Tasers and pepper spray, batons remain an essential part of law enforcement’s arsenal due to their reliability and versatility in various situations.

In addition to their practical applications, batons also serve as a visual deterrent and a symbol of authority. Their design and use have been refined over the years to balance the dual goals of effectiveness and safety. As law enforcement tactics and technologies continue to evolve, batons are likely to remain a vital tool for maintaining public order and safety.


Choosing the right expandable baton size is crucial for balancing effectiveness and manageability. While smaller batons offer easier concealment and larger ones provide greater reach, the 21-inch model strikes an ideal middle ground. Its combination of decent striking power and still-portable length makes it the most versatile option for civilians and professionals seeking a well-rounded self-defense tool.

Before purchasing, be sure to handle different sizes to find what feels most comfortable and confident in your grip. Do not forget to familiarize yourself with local regulations on ownership, carry, and use of expandable batons. Ultimately, the best expandable baton is one you can legally and confidently use when necessary.


What Are Expandable Batons Made of?

Expandable batons are typically made from durable materials such as 4140 high carbon steel, 7075 T6 aluminum, or heat-treated steel 4130 tubing. These materials ensure strength and durability for effective use.

How Effective Are Expandable Batons?

Expandable batons are highly effective self-defense devices. They can inflict serious damage on an aggressor, and some models even come with additional features like stun guns, flashlights, and windshield breakers for added functionality.

Do Expandable Batons Hurt?

Yes, when used with force, expandable batons can deliver a high-impact blow that may cause significant pain or even break bones.

Are Expandable Batons Legal?

The legality of expandable batons varies by jurisdiction. In some areas, they are legal, while in others, they may be prohibited. Read on the State-wise legality of expandable batons here. 

It is still advised to check the specific laws in your state or region.

Are Expandable Batons Good For Self-Defense?

Yes, expandable batons are considered effective tools for self-defense due to their ability to deliver a powerful impact while being easily concealable and portable.

Expandable Baton Vs Nightstick: Which Is Better?

The choice between an expandable baton and a nightstick depends on personal preference and specific needs. Expanding batons offer the advantage of being compact and easily carried, while nightsticks are typically longer and may provide greater reach.

Should I Choose a Hardened Baton or a Non-Hardened Baton?

A hardened baton is generally the better choice for self-defense. It is designed to deliver force effectively and is less likely to bend or break upon impact, ensuring reliability when you need it most.

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