I used to carry a Kimber Pepper Blaster II. It was a pocket carry too far. Despite the Blaster’s slim profile, I’ve don’t have enough real estate left in my pants; what with schlepping a spare ammo mag, knife, keys, sunglasses, wallet and phone. And, on occasion, a backup gun. Tactical pen. Flashlight. I also worried about having to decide whether a defensive situation called for a gun or pepper spray. And how I’d make the transition from spray to gun should the situation escalate. So . . . got a stun gun? Pepper spray? Whistle? Cudgel? Anything less lethal?

61 Responses to Question of the Day: Got Less Lethal? [VIDEO]

    • If I have to pull a stun gun or an ASP on somebody, there’s a great chance that person has acted in a manner that requires maximum resistance. That would be in the form of 147 grain jhp. Otherwise my less than lethal action is to deescalate or vacate.
      I would rather have an easier decision to make so the odds are, I make the correct one. Run or gun. Ain’t nobody got time that other BS.

      • Well said, sir. IMO, if the situation does not call for me to draw and potentially fire my weapon, it is a matter of negotiation until the authorities arrive, or to un-ass the AO. I am not a cop. If you scare me sufficiently I WILL shoot you and less-lethal becomes a question of how well I aim.

  1. If it warrants producing a weapin… it might as well be the most effective and immediate tool.

    One stop shopping… so to speak.

  2. If involved in a DGU I can see an overzealous prosecutor making a lot of fuss about why you didn’t use the less-lethal option or give it more time to work, etc. In fact we see this now with a lot of officer-involved shootings.

    Adding in nonlethal options does very much complicate the decision tree you go through. Before it was draw/run and then fire/don’t fire. Nonlethals add in at least two more layers, and those choices are no longer binary. As a non-professional defender, I think this is getting too complex to deal with in a true emergency situation.

  3. If you are in a situation where a stun gun would be legally and ethically justified, you are also in a situation where a gun is legally and ethically justified. That is to say, your safety/life is under immediate threat. That being the case, I don’t see the utility. If I can’t retreat or otherwise extricate myself from a situation, and my life is under threat, half-measures aren’t going to cut it.

    • Check your state laws, but the standard to use a less-lethal weapon against an assailant is almost universally *lower* than deadly force.

  4. An Irish Walking Stick from Cold Steel: got one for Father’s Day a few years ago – it’s been dropped, kicked, rolled over by a forklift, chewed on by horses and floated down the Guadalupe River and goes with me almost everywhere. I guess I’m trying to single-handedly bring back the fashion of a gentleman’s walking stick (even when he doesn’t NEED one). I get more positive comments and questions about it too. Love it.

  5. If the situation is not requiring of lethal force, it can be de-escalated. If it can’t be de-escalated, than you can disengage. If you can do neither of these things, than lethal force will be required.

    • I’m sorry, I don’t usually go “Grammar Nazi” but please, please, please lookup the difference between the words “then” and “than.” Please.

      • Just typing more rapidly THAN usual. What I would do is go read something that you have written recently and see if you can’t come up with a few grammar mistakes, a missing comma here or there, THEN you can get back to me. Until THEN, fight the good fight.

  6. Nope, why u ask?

    Well, most law professionals (lawyers, judges, etc..) see the use of a non lethal weapon much like as if you shot your attacker in the balls.
    Its an excessive use of violence or force.
    as in, you are purposely hurting your attacker more than they hurt you.

    I know, sounds dumb just typing it.

  7. I agree with the general sentiment of previous posters. My philosophy is don’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Either the situation is deadly or not. Unlike the police we have no duty to apprehend criminals. All we are concerned with is protecting ourselves and our own. We don’t go looking for confrontations. We avoid them. If the confrontation is “potentially” deadly then the business end of a firearm should be sufficient to de-escalate. If that doesn’t work, then deadly force is necessary and the weapon is already to bear on target.

    • What about the overly aggressive drunk who has you cornered in a parking lot – the guy is a big beef and looks like a brawler, but is apparently unarmed. A stun gun might be more appropriate in such a situation.

      • I guess he better let me out of that corner and leave me the hell alone. If the presentation of my .45 is not enough to convince him, then a few rounds of 230 gr JHP certainly will.

        • Someone who is intoxicated and P.O.’d at the world (or just a bully who likes to throw his weight around and happens to be a mean drunk) isn’t likely to have the same inhibitions or reactions as someone who is sober and in their right mind. I have known folks who were decent enough when sober but easily provoked when drunk because their inhibitions have been blunted. Such an individual might dare you to shoot them if you pull a gun to “de-escalate” the situation, and make a move FORCING you to “put up or shut up” – and leaving you open to prosecution for shooting an unarmed man. I would rather not use lethal force in such a situation, but putting a couple million volts through them to allow me to escape would be my first choice. Now, if the guy has a weapon that’s another thing altogether. For myself, I would rather have an extra layer in the escalation/de-escalation chain.

      • Drunk or not is irrelevant. If he is an immediate threat to your safety, and you can’t retreat, there’s no reason you should be messing around with half measures. Just because someone isn’t in full control of themselves doesn’t mean you have any less of a right to self-defense. If drawing a gun doesn’t send him packing, a stun gun or pepper spray isn’t likely to help the situation.

        • That a person is merely acting threatening in a vague way, or being loud and insulting and somewhat scary…isn’t grounds, in most states, to give the bastard a lead lunch.

          I almost always carry a 2 oz Fox brand fog/mist pepper spray and a bright (300-500 lumens) Surefire flashlight (2 x CR123). My adult son and I have both found these very useful, quiet, and effective. Used properly the flashlight gives you a big advantage if you have duke it out at night…and a headstart if you run.

          The fog/mist style pepper spray just works wonders if you want to back away or run: just spray behind you as the idiot comes after you. He’s breathing hard as he runs…and is inhaling hard. Toast.

          Shooting a person really is a last resort for many practical reasons, which is why even those of you who live in some tough neighborhoods haven’t been shooting a lot of people. Draw on them? Sure.

          Pepper and light are a great pair in the night or indoors….if used with a bit of training or thought.

        • There is no reason to use lethal force in this situation. Running from a drunk person isn’t that hard. Shooting a drunk person in a parking lot sure doesn’t sound like a situation where you had no options to avoid the encounter. I’d rather run than shoot someone who isn’t armed all day every day.

      • Or it might just really piss him off and exacerbate the situation. If someone is threatening bodily harm and fails to halt their activities at the muzzle of a firearm then that tells me he thinks he has a better than even chance at winning. Time to end the discussion.

        • I hope you won’t have to repeat that in front of jury, because the way you put it makes it hard to by sympathetic.

        • Years ago I had the belligerent drunk encounter, with 2 big drunks.
          Having no gun at the time, when the leader placed his hand on me I bent a piece of pipe to about a 45 degree angle around his head and offered to straighten said pipe back out around his stooge’s head. The stooge declined, gathered up the trash and left as I was calling the police. At their assault trial, the presiding judge stated without reservation that if I’d have had a gun, and shot them both dead, I would have been fully justified due to the fact that an inebriated person or persons would not necessarily know when to stop beating their victim.

  8. I work in a magical gun-free academic utopia — in fact, it’s a full-on “no weapons of any type” zone — so my EDC is a simple lockblade knife.

    My less-prepared and weapon-averse coworkers are glad that I always have this handy tool, which I’ve used to open packages and cut twine for them, among other useful things; if they saw me toting some TASER-type thing, they’d probably report me to the campus police.

  9. Michigan relatively recently changed the concealed carry law so that holders of CPL’s, with a little extra “training” (watching a video, in other words) can carry a stun gun. The catch? The way the law is written, you MUST buy a “Taser” brand stun gun from an authorized dealer, because the “Taser” shoots out little micro-stamped confetti when it is fired, which ID’s the device it was fired from and therefore who it belongs to. Those things cost as much as a handgun, and are big and bulky besides. Wish they’d change the law so that ANY law-abiding citizen can go out and buy any sort of stun gun they want, whether it shoots out electrified darts and wires or is touch-only, and who cares if it can be linked to its original buyer? Criminals can just mail-order them or buy them in a more lenient state anyway, so why restrict the law abiding folks? Oh, gee, that’s right – same should apply to buying and carrying defensive firearms – but doesn’t. Seems like there should be FEWER restrictions on less lethal devices, but God forbid our weapons laws should make any sense…

  10. Got a 4-cell mag-lite, but it is obviously most appropriately carried only after dark. I figure (a) having a flashlight to hand after dark is usually a good idea anyway and (b) it might come in handy fending off an initial attack while I’m drawing out my pocket pistol. Also, the way I carry it (hand near the light, tail-end protruding out from the thumb-side like a nightstick) lets the casual footpad see that I am not completely unarmed and am probably a little more trouble than it’s worth to bother with.

  11. Well it’s always preferable to have a less lethal option in defense situations. When it’s applicable, of course. But that said there’s not many options that I really find useful enough. Buttons and stun guns all require you to be in contact with an attacker and TAZORs have some the same legal problems as firearms on top of not of just not being suitable for most people. Pepper spray… well after catching wind blown spray from someone being an idiot with it I just don’t favor it. It rather makes it difficult to find something I’m comfortable with for primary defensive use.

    That said there’s a few Russian made less lethal pistols that shoot a rubber 10x28mm round. Those look interesting to me. I wonder if some enterprising gun maker might be able to do something like that with a normal pistol using a rubber sabot-ed round. Keep something like that in your handgun with the other magazines loaded with standard hollow-points.

    • There are pepper sprays that use pepper jet rather than fog. That solves the problem of wind taking it back into you, and it is also much more effective on the target. That is, if you aim right.

      • Some jets might be more wind resistant than others, but HALT! is a jet, and I know of somebody trying to HALT! a dog and nailing the bicyclist behind him with the wind deflection.

      • This stuff claimed to be the type that dispenses a jet of spray. Even then I still caught significant amount of it in my face from even without significant wind.

        Honestly no matter how much you try to improve pepper spray you till can’t make one that’s immune to wind gusts. No matter how you cut it sprays have too much of a chance of being blown back in your face.

      • OC/CS also has the drawback of being transfered by physical contact, if you hit a charging attacker with the spray and he then takes you to the ground or grapples.

      • Using pepper spray takes some good habits. The problem with the stream spray is that it is easy to miss…and even when you hit the stream of pepper does not move very quickly to other parts of the face, or up to the face.

        I much prefer a mist/fog type. It requires, though, that you be aware of the wind…so that you get yourself up-wind or across-wind. That isn’t so difficult. The real art with the mister is to move, jog, run, draw the perp closer, leaving a little cloud right where he’s running. It reliably incapacitates.

        As for blow-back: A little blow-back isn’t so bad as long as you gave the perp a major dose.

        Again, with dogs, with human perps, move away from them as you spray, moving if possible up-wind or across the wind.

  12. I carry a simple pepper spray on my key chain, that way I always have it. It’s great for all those times when I can’t legally carry my gun, such as school (collage student), or when I walk to the bar to drink.

    Stray dogs also, if one attacks my pets I’d rather not risk shooting my pets, animal fights move very fast! Washing their eyes out after sounds a whole lot better then barring them. Just how I do it.

  13. Forget about those expensive alternatives, like OC spray and rubber bullets (which seems like the comic inverse of metal condoms). Instead, carry a book, and when you’re attacked, throw it at the BG. This method is highly recommended by gungrabbers for incidents in schools.

  14. I own pepper spray but it is reserved for trips into occupied states or times when I absolutely cannot carry a gun. My flashlight can double as a less lethal if I don’t need to shoot him/her right that second.

  15. When I carry a gun, I always carry also a pepper spray. If you can find a place for the gun, you can find a place also for the spray. I have a tiny one with a clip which has also a small led light, which is mostly useful to find the right key in the night, but can serve also to aim. I also have a small one, just into the fist, that is on me when I have any larger pocket or back pack.

    Here in the Czech Republic, assailants armed with guns are extremely rare. Assailants armed with knives are also quite rare. Thugs that just want a wallet will choose a target that is too old or weak to resist, so they don’t really need a weapon in the first place. Thugs that just “want to have some fun” at someone’s expense, or someone’s pain, usually arrive at their decision to start something up without prior planning and are also unlikely to be armed. Given our extremely low homicide rates, prosecutors are quite heavy handed when it comes to use of lethal force in self-defence. Given that I am young and healthy male, I’d may be in a very tough spot explaining why I believed it necessary to use a deadly force against a single unarmed assailant, without prior attempt to use less than deadly force, which may mean questioning why I didn’t use physical force before resorting to use of gun. The standard here is that self defence may not be ‘manifestly disproportionate to the manner of attack’. So for me, the pepper spray is the option in which I exhaust the attempt to use less than deadly force before I arrive at the point where firearm is necessary, mainly before I want to avoid any physical contact with a possible assailant.

    Avoid, evade, de-escalate, escape are all the best things to do, but sometimes, especially when you live in a city, there are moments when none of these are really an option and yet use of deadly force may not be justified.

  16. Those of us in the slave states have room in our pockets for pepper spray, a knife and perhaps a tactical pen… even on some college campuses. A lot of places you can’t bring stun guns.

  17. My car? Although looking at statistics, it would appear that cars are far, far more lethal than firearms.

    BAN CARS!!!

    And I have my fists…but looking at the FBI crime stats, I see that fists/feet kill more people each year than scary black assault rifle murder-death-kill guns with the shoulder thing that goes up and thirty clip cartridge magazines.

    BAN FISTS!!!

    So, that leaves me with my rapier wit and my guns.

  18. All the security guards I ever knew wouldn’t be allowed to carry it. They weren’t even allowed to carry a mag lite.

  19. Well RF I always carry a Kimber Pepper Blaster with me-2nd nature. And I’ve never had a single comment unless I showed a friend(my neighbor thought it was a squirt gun(red one). One thing about a pepper gun is I wouldn’t hesitate to use it. And I ride a bike a LOT. Great for dogs. Gun and knife only sometimes. I also am financially challenged at the moment and have no wish to pay for a DGU. YMMV…

  20. I am not a lawyer (and I know there are plenty on here) – so I’ll ask what may be a dumb question:

    If I’m carrying both a firearm and a stun gun/baton/pepper spray don’t I run the risk of a prosecutor, or the othr side in a civil suit, making the argument that I could/should have use the less lethal option if I am in a situation where I have to shoot? Anyone know of any precedent?

  21. I carry a Pepper Blaster, but as other commenters have noted, it’s mostly for animals. I’ve had my share of encounters with aggressive dogs, and I’d much rather send one home covered in capsaicin than deal with the potential legal ramifications of shooting someone’s dog (or worse, missing and causing some kind of collateral damage). Especially if the dog is attacking my dog, I don’t want to send bullets into that, because there’s a real high likelihood of killing my own mutt.

  22. As someone who has actually used and supervised the use of less-lethal weapons, I have a few things to say.

    First, the legal standard to use a less-lethal weapon such as pepper spray against an adversary, be it human or animal, is almost universally less than a lethal weapon. So if a stray dog tangles with your dog, pepper spray might be just the ticket. Pepper spray may also work like a champ against the belligerent drunk, or the coyote that wanders into your yard. Is pepper spray / bear spray as awesome as many hippies advertise? Personally I don’t think so. It certainly didn’t work with 100% effectiveness against the bear chewing on the canoe vs. the whiney hiker. It’s limited by range and by weather. It doesn’t take me out of the fight because I’ve been sprayed and gassed multiple times.

    Let’s move to Tasers for a moment. Although typically holding only 1, 2, or three shots (C2, M26, X26, X2, X3, etc.), Tasers have an effective range of up to 35 feet. The typical civilian model (their words), the C2, is only 15 feet, and cartridges cost a whopping $25-30. Each. The C2 is designed to give a 5 – second “ride” of 50,000 volts (dropping to roughly 1,200 volts through the body, with very low amperage) followed by a 25 second reduced output designed to incapacitate without stopping breathing. They also work as a contact stun gun. I believe the X2 is still available for public purchase. It runs about $950, can shoot up to 35 feet, and holds two shots.

    So if you shoot, spray or otherwise employ a less lethal weapon properly, you will typically have less damage to the bad guy with less consequence. The police (typically detectives) and your local district attorney will likely be the ones reviewing your particular self defense case, should that even be warranted. Add to that the jury of public opinion, which may consist of some of the the most idiotic self aggrandizing liberal progressives to ever fog a mirror. Here’s a headline you don’t see for days on end: White Man Peppers Sprays Unarmed Black Man / White Cop Tazes Unarmed Black Man, Riots Continue.

    Should you be judged, the goal (albeit clearly imperfect) is to determine if the force used against an assailant was *reasonable.* That factors in your strength, training, size, ability and threat perceived against that of your assailant(s).

    Some practical examples of use of less lethals:

    Shooting a freeway transient with a Taser. He was trespassing in an encampment, causing sewage issues, refusing to leave and issuing verbal threats to highway workers attempting to clean the area. An axe handle was visible underneath a sheet he was sitting on. Although lethal force was not authorized, a Taser shot to the back allowed a safe and easy handcuffing. Turns out the axe handle had no axehead. Oh, well.

    An abandoned dog growling in the back of an alley while conducting hit and run follow up. Psshhhtt! A little spray and no more dog.

    Pepper spray to the face of a man accosting women at a car wash and trespassing on the property after he fled from me on foot.

    Peppers spray to dogs running on the freeway causing crashes. Sprayed from the window at 20 mph. Slows those puppies right down.

    Pepper spray to the face of a man walking on live lanes of the highway while high as a kite. Wash, rinse, and drive to jail.

    Pepper spray to a drunk driver who refused to get out of his car. Followed by a Taser drive stun. Followed by control holds.

    A creepy drunk guy who wants to follow a lovely lady to her car late at night. That may or may not rise to lethal force, but it would be a lot easier to explain a pepper spray or Tasering than just shooting the drunk horny bastard.

    Sometimes just displaying an ASP, OC spray or Taser can gain compliance and / or cause retreat. Again, those are law enforcement examples. OC spray should be a surprise thing because it can be defensed by protecting the mucous membranes, sunglasses, distance, etc. It’s tough to dodge Taser darts at ~ 175 FPS, and the laser looks intimidating. Usually.

    How about Dyspeptic’s suggestion of hitting rioters / looters with fire hoses?

    If your dog got loose and went after the mail man, would you rather it get sprayed or shot?

    I fully appreciate that many folks just want to tool up with knives and firearms. That’s my typical load out, too. However, I usually pass a Taser to the Mrs. when taking walks at night. We unfortunately live in CA and she doesn’t have a CCW. Sorry if most of my examples were from law enforcement. I’ve never sprayed or Tased anyone off-duty in a self defense situation (not counting parties, dares, and self defense classes). Personally I still think civilians are better off armed with less lethals than with just a cell phone. Hopefully less lethals can be a “gateway drug” to armed self defense, particularly when considering that they are typically highly inferior to firearms in many situations.

    • Excellent exposition Accur-too bad the po-leece in Chicago generally don’t bother with less than lethal. They need guys like you. BTW I see Garry “streetlight” McCarthy may be ousted as Chief of po-leece in Chiraq-that pesky gun violence. he he…

  23. Pepper spray since ’91. In my pocket every day. Don’t leave the bedroom without it.
    The vast majority of self defense events don’t require deadly force. I have no mastery of empty-hand fighting skills, so OC is my go to.

  24. If I can legally carry my gun, that’s what I have along with a spare mag, and a BUG with a spare mag. If it’s that dangerous a situation, my gun is my first go-to.

    I sometimes carry a knife as well.

    The only times I rely on less lethal is if I can’t legally carry a gun. Then, I carry a tactical pen and a phone case with a hidden blade (sold in the NRA store). I keep a Cheetah flashlight with built in stun gun in my car.

  25. Carry it on your thigh. No questions then. She is STUPID and I call her and any other moron that doesn’t understand the right to self defense.
    We NEED guns to protect ourselves from criminals in and out of the government. I deserve the right to protect myself and if you don’t like it tough $hit.
    The 2nd Amendment was put into the Constitution so the people could protect themselves from a corrupt government. That is why it says “shall not infringe” so we can have what the government has to prevent a Holocaust. I believe the people should have what the government has including machine guns. The only gun control law there should be is that criminals can’t have any firearms. No double standards put DC politicians on Obamacare and SS.Thanks for your support and vote.Pass the word. mrpresident2016.com

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