#104: Private Investigator Weapons – What Weapons Are Being Used – Podcast #69

A viewer of one of my videos asked if I could discuss two topics.  The first topic he wanted me to discuss was surveillance vehicles.  Luck for me I already discussed the topic and anyone else interested in my thoughts on it can click here for that blog, podcast and video.

The second topic he wanted discussed was suggested firearms.  I am sure someone in the security or law enforcement field could answer this question much better than I so I want be answering that question.  As far as I am concerned, if a private investigator is going to carry a hand gun for whatever reason than any handgun would probably be fine as long as it is legal to do so and the gun is legit.

Private Investigator Question

But I have better questions I think should be answered or at least weighed in on.  Those questions are:

Photo From www.co.washington.or.us
Photo From www.co.washington.or.us

What is the reason you feel that you need to carry a firearm? 

Now, of course, you don’t really need to have a reason and you certainly don’t have to justify it to me.  I am hoping you ask yourself this question to determine the real reason you feel as though having a firearm on your person is needed.

For the younger soon to be private investigators I believe it is important to stress that having a firearm or any weapon for that matter is not a status thing.  It is a protection thing. It’s a “I’m all out of options” kind of thing.

What Type of Private Investigators Typically Carry a Handgun?

Private Investigators in the state of Washington are not supposed to carry a weapon as a private investigator unless licensed to do so.  There are additional requirements for a private investigator that is carrying a weapon.

For me, I do not carry a firearm while working as a private investigator. Most of my current work relates to insurance cases.  I do a lot of interviewing and field work that doesn’t require me to carry or feel the need to.  I don’t feel as though I am in a dangerous atmosphere when working a worker’s compensation surveillance or surveillance related to a disability. Most of these individuals are not dangerous.  And if any problems arise where I feel something bad could potentially happen I discontinue the surveillance and drive away.  In addition to companies, I do work for in the insurance industry forbid anyone doing work for them to have a weapon.

I do have friends in the industry that do carry handguns.

One reason an associate of mine carries a handgun is because he works a lot of domestic cases and surveillance which leaves many unknowns in his mind.  He carries just in case something goes wrong and he needs to protect himself.  He does not carry when working insurance files.

Another female associate I am friends with carries a firearm with her when she travels out of her immediate living area where she has to stay the night in a hotel.  She travels all over the state by herself at all hours and wanted something to help protect her no her long travels.

There is another investigator I remembered speaking to about a case he was working that went wrong.  No one attacked him but he had basically determined that he had been hired by a stalker and the stalker had been lying to him.  In the course of our conversation, he stated it was because of those types of unstable people in this industry he carried a gun.  This investigator did a variety of different work and I believe he probably did need a firearm for his own protection due to the types of files he was taking.

What Types of Weapons are Private Investigators Using?

Over the years I have come across many private Investigators who have had the various items in their vehicle while working as a private investigator.

Self Defense Options from Taser.com

Self Defense Options

  • Handguns
  • Knives
  • Stun Guns
  • Tasers
  • Pepper Spray
  • Weapons (Bats, Batons, Sticks)


Knives being carried are pretty common by the general public.  Private investigators are no different.  The knives I have seen being carried by private investigators are very modest knives that anyone would be carrying like a pocket knife.   I would not recommend a Bowie knife or anything over-sized that would not be legal by the general public.

I found an interesting site to help you determine what type of knife is legal to carry in your state (in the United States).  You can click on your state and determine if they knife you are carrying is legal. The website is called Knifeup.com 

Stun Guns

Flash Light Stun gunIt was about three years ago and I found myself working a surveillance with two investigators that I had come up in the investigation industry with. I hadn’t seen them in years and we were working a surveillance that was a bit sketchy. When I say sketchy I mean I felt there was a chance that the individual we working a surveillance on might attack us, because he knew we were there (whole other story I will discuss at another time).

Both investigators showed me their stun guns and indicated they carried it with them in their vehicles for protection.

It’s a non-lethal weapon that they felt would be appropriate to carry while working insurance investigations.  I personally agreed with them. I thought it was a great option for self-defense if it was needed (as a last resort).

With that being said I can tell you that the majority of insurance investigation companies (should you work for one) will have no tolerance for this type of weapon or any weapon in your vehicle.

Here is a link for some Stun Gun Laws to see what the laws are in your state.

Stun Gun Buyers Guide 

Here is another website with more information on laws related to Stun Guns.


I would encourage you to do further research as well as laws are always changing to make sure it is legal for you to use one in your state should you decide you need one.

Amazon.com sells a variety of different stun guns.


Photo from Taser.com
Photo from Taser.com

I don’t know anyone personally that uses a taser.  It appears that it is legal in more states within the United States then it is not.  Some states require a license to have one as well.

Here is a link to a website that seems to have done all the hard work in helping people determine what the laws are related to tasers and if it is legal in your state.

Taser Laws http://m.defenseproducts101.com/statestatutesummary_page2.html

I would encourage you to do further research as well as laws are always changing to make sure it is legal for you to use one in your state should you decide you need one.

Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray is a pretty common thing for people to have for their own personal protection.  Apparently, it is legal in all 50 states however restrictions on this vary from state to state.

Cabelas made a list for those looking to determine what the legal restrictions are in their state.  https://www.cabelas.com/assets/product_files/pdf/pepperspray_lawsregulation.pdf

Again, do additional research for your state to make sure the laws are up to date and nothing has changed.

Misc Weapons

Anything could become a potential weapon to protect yourself while you are working in the field.  A stick or bat in your vehicle might be all you need to get yourself out of a sticky situation.  I know that I would use my monopod to strike someone in a second if needed to protect myself.

Self Defense

I had an interesting conversation with a self-defense trainer who is a Sheriff Deputy in Washington state.  He stated that the majority of police officers that are hired nationwide have never been in a fight and their only training in regards to fighting and dealing with difficult situations is at the academy and any small amount of extra training their police department provides.  He stated because the officers don’t have any real-life experience with fighting or hostile situations they don’t know how to respond in the field correctly.

In the context of private investigations, I would recommend taking some self-defense courses, enrolling in karate or even wrestling.  I personally wrestled through high school and a year of Jr. College and was involved karate for 4 years.  Those experiences in wrestling and karate (and many real-life skirmishes) helped me to be confident and react properly (or what I felt was appropriate) to some very stressful situations over the years in this job.


I am going on 12 years in this industry and never have I had to use a weapon to defend myself.  I have been fortunate to see trouble coming and have been able to avoid situations that would endanger me.  Looking back at the times that where a weapon was probably warranted it probably would have been worse for me to have one then to not.

If you feel you need a weapon choose something that is right for you that you will feel comfortable using.  If a weapon requires additional training for you to use, then find a class to take so you will feel comfortable using that weapon if your life is in danger.

Always do things legally and be safe.

If you carry a weapon not mentioned in here please mention it in the comments so others can check it out.