As one of the firm's most vocal critics here at the Fool, I've watched TASER International (NASDAQ:TASR) slog through some troubles. Some of them were unavoidable, but many were brought on by management itself. However, if you enumerate TASER's faults, planning for the future probably shouldn't make your list.

Today, the company released news that it had demonstrated a next generation stun munition, something called the eXtended Range Electro-Muscular Projectile, or XREP. The "non-lethal" shell is designed to be fired from a 12-gauge shotgun and was tested at ranges up to 30 meters. (As a reference point, that's three times farther than the longest range available to a TASER handheld, or about the same distance Vice President Dick Cheney was standing from his hunting partner during this weekend's shotgun mishap.)

The XREP is designed to help forces "clear facilities." It uses stun technology similar to that found in TASER's X26, but at greater range and without wires.

The press release cites tests performed by the Office of Naval Research, in which 35 human volunteers were exposed to the electrical discharge from the XREP. It doesn't say, however, that anyone was exposed to the discharge from a fired projectile, which may prove to be a more complex scenario. ("Non-lethal" rounds -- even theatrical blanks -- have a tendency to get deadlier the closer you get to the muzzle.)

Taser also noted that it won't be releasing specifications or visual images of the XREP until its expected 2007 product launch. That's kind of a drag for those of us who groove on technology, but it's understandable given the long journey that remains from research project to product.

That's why investors would do well not to read too much into this release. Without data regarding potential demand, pricing, and costs, investors will have a tough time judging whether or not the XREP will help their shares. (Those shares may be either languishing in the tank or floating quite nicely, depending on where they were purchased.)

But with so-called competitors such as Law Enforcement Associates (AMEX:AID) and SEC-beleaguered Stinger Systems making little, if any, headway in this market, TASER really is the only stun-gun game around. If you believe less-than-lethal systems and munitions are a growth industry, this is your daisy.

TASER International is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. If you like to invest in companies on the cutting edge, sign up today for a 30-day free trial subscription.

Seth Jayson would still rather be Tased than clubbed, sprayed, or police-dogged. He's also 100% sure he'd rather be on the receiving end of an XREP than hunt with Dick Cheney. At the time of publication, he had no positions in any company mentioned here. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.