The new battery pack and improved circuitry in the X26 also afforded Taser the opportunity to add a number of new features that law enforcement officers had been requesting since the introduction of the M26. For example, the readout panel on the back of the weapon now provides the user with critical information about battery life and other concerns.
“The X26 has a chip that takes a reading of the internal temperature of the Taser while it’s being activated,” says Tuttle. “It gives you a very, very accurate reading of the percentage of the battery life remaining.”
Another new feature on the X26 is a display that counts down the Taser’s charge from 5 seconds to 1 second and lets the user know how long the subject is incapacitated. The idea, according to Taser, was to give the user exact information on how long the target will be affected, so that he or she can direct support officers in to control the subject.
The X26 even has a feature that will allow the purchaser not to worry so much about paperwork. A chip inside the weapon clocks the warranty and displays the information at the push of a button. The standard warranty is one year, but extended warranties are available and can be programmed into the chip. Tuttle says the built-in warranty clock will be of most benefit to agencies that buy hundreds or even thousands of Tasers and must currently track down the original paperwork to file a warranty claim.
Another new feature of the X26 is that the user has a choice of illumination modes. With the M26 Taser, a laser sight was activated any time the user turned on the weapon. The X26 allows the user to turn off the laser. It also includes two very bright LED lights that can be turned on and off as needed. Each of the illumination modes is controlled by a small button on top of the weapon, and the setting is included in the information on the readout panel.
Side-by-side comparison of the M26 Advanced Taser (top) and the X26 Taser. A new battery pack and a complete redesign of the circuitry allowed engineers at Taser International to make the X26 60 percent smaller and lighter.
The reduction in the overall footprint of the Taser also allowed the company to reimagine the design of the weapon in terms of both ergonomics and aesthetics.
“It’s a much sexier looking product,” says Tuttle. “It doesn’t have that blunt Glock-like shape anymore. It’s much more streamlined and futuristic looking.”
Much of the 60-percent reduction in size and weight between the M26 and the X26 is gained from a smaller handle. The X26 has a very short, almost stubby handle that makes it feel really different in the hand. In fact, the handle is so short that Taser anticipates that some users may want a longer handle, so the company sells an optional cartridge holder that extends the handle and gives the user the ability to quickly reload for a second shot.
Officer Steve Ward of the Seattle Police Department says he doesn’t believe the smaller handle will be a disadvantage for Taser users. “Training will overcome any problem with it,” he says. “Plus, the biggest advantage is the size. I train officers with the M26, and the thing they all want to know is how to carry it because it is so large. There’s a lot more room on your belt when you carry the X26, it’s much less visually obtrusive, and it’s just going to be a lot easier for the officer to deploy.”
In addition to its streamlined shape and smaller size, the X26 has some nice touches of design flair, including a stainless steel insert on the handle with the X26 logo. The result is what Tuttle calls the “Ferarri of all Tasers.”
Of course, like a Ferarri, the X26 doesn’t just look good, it performs. And toward that end, the new design includes some functional aspects as well as just a great look. For example, the trigger on the M26 was essentially a switch covered with rubber so that it had to be activated with a pull instead of a squeeze. The X26 trigger is much more like that of a handgun.
Good to Go
All of this form and function doesn’t come cheap. At $799 per unit, the X26 is expected to sell for about $300 more per unit retail than an M26.
However, Tuttle says the difference in cost is actually a bit misleading. “The price for the X26 includes the Taser, the battery, and the holster,” he explains. “You open up that box, and you’re good to go.” Taser estimates that the cost of a holster and rechargeable batteries, which have to be purchased separately for an M26, raises the price of the weapon by $150 to $200.
Finding the right holsters has historically been a problem for Taser users. The M26, for example, is so much larger than a sidearm that it required officers to give a lot of thought to how to carry it.
Seattle PD’s Ward says officers have tried all sorts of different holsters and positions for the M26. “I’ve seen just about everything you can imagine all over the world. Agencies have used crossdraw holsters, fanny packs, thigh holsters, but now that Taser has reduced the size of the weapon and made the integrated holster part of the package deal, they’ve ended the confusion. That holster is going to be a big problem solver for a lot of agencies.”
But it may take some getting used to. The holster that comes with the X26 is more like what you might find holding a cellphone than a handgun. “It’s an exoskeleton-style holster,” explains Tuttle. “It will actually grab the X26 by means of plastic clips, but it also has a thumb break for retention.”
Taser makes the new holster, which Tuttle admits is a bit ultra-modern for a law enforcement weapon carrier. But he doesn’t foresee any problems with it and Seattle PD’s Ward agrees, adding that once officers train with the new holster they’ll come to love it.
Shooting the Moon
Another reason that Tuttle and Ward believe Taser users will readily embrace the new holster is because the smaller Taser and smaller holster mean less weight and more room on the user’s belt.
And according to Tuttle, on the belt is where the Taser belongs. “We have a mantra here, and that mantra is, ‘It goes on every officer’s belt.’ That’s our total drive. Everything at Taser International is geared toward making the Taser standard equipment and not a boutique weapon.”
Taser has found that the best way to put its product on officers’ belts is to listen to suggestions from the men and women who carry the weapon. “The cops really have a lot of great ideas,” says Tuttle. “They’re asking for the moon in a lot of cases. But I think we actually reached the moon with the X26.”