The firearms manufacturer Kimber has recognized the importance of including less lethal means of defense within their fine defensive handgun line. For several years they have been importing and marketing a line of Swiss-made pepper projection devices that are unique among the other projectors on the market.
Almost every Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) projection device on the market sends its pepper formulation downrange via aerosol power. Aerosol is an effective system of projection. Aerosol projector canisters, made by quality manufacturers such as MSI, are reliable and can be counted on for self-defense needs. And, they are affordable. However, aerosol systems suffer from two potential deficiencies: de-pressurization during storage or carry and pressure loss during extreme heat or cold conditions. The Pepper Blaster II solves both of these issues by using a “pyrotechnic” power drive that operates a piston when fired.
The pyrotechnic power drive is not under constant pressure like an aerosol projection device is. Pressure to drive the OC irritant liquid from the projector is generated by the pyrotechnic “explosion.” It sends the pepper liquid out at a speed of 90 mph (132 fps) for a maximum distance of 13 feet, where it splats against the suspect’s face in a large blob, driving the OC particles deep into the pores of the skin. The charges are fired with each pull of the trigger, top “barrel” first.
The original Pepper Blaster is still available from Kimber, and is a somewhat odd-shaped, palm-sized device that can be held in either direction—there is no up or down. The Pepper Blaster II upgrade turns the original into a device that is aimed and fired more like a handgun (through the addition of a front and rear sight and a handgun-styled grip extension). I find the Pepper Blaster II much easier to fire accurately.
The trigger is double-action, and requires conscious, but not unreasonable, effort to fire. Inside the trigger guard is a white “swing away trigger guard” tab. Although the swing away trigger guard appears to be a “remove before using” type safety guard, it isn’t. It is designed to be moved out of the way by the left or right index finger prior to firing by pushing straight in against it. Once you push in, the guard stays locked out of the way of the trigger operation. The guard can be snapped back into its original position, allowing the user to practice safety disengagement and trigger acquisition.
The directions for use with the Pepper Blaster II are quite thorough. The firing directions are written for liability reduction and state that while the Pepper Blaster II’s shots should be aimed directly at the face of an attacker, it should be done at a range between thirteen feet maximum to no closer than two feet minimum. The two-foot minimum is to avoid potential eye damage to the suspect. While I understand why Kimber says this, I want to temper their warning a bit with my opinion as a 26-year police defensive tactics instructor.
First, if your life is in danger—and I include a sexual assault as a life-endangering event—I don’t care if you’re holding a Pepper Blaster two INCHES from the eyes of the attacker—pull the trigger. I say this because I would instruct you to gouge a suspect’s eyes with your fingers as hard as you could if you had no Pepper Blaster or handgun available! Second, 13 feet is the MAXIMUM range of the pepper charges, and those charges are “running out of gas” at that distance. Eight feet is an ideal standoff and effectiveness distance that should still give a 90 mph speed of delivery.
The Kimber Pepper Blaster II carried well in my pants pocket and is impervious to accidental discharge. I have tested it live on police academy “volunteers” and can tell you it is quite effective. The two shots can be fired quickly, and they make a “pop” sound when discharged. The top barrel should fire first.
The Pepper Blaster II comes packaged in a re-useable tin container that does not require a jackhammer to get into. Kimber has a number of different options available for the Pepper Blaster system. Pepper Blasters and Pepper Blaster IIs are available for $39.95 each. The Pepper Blaster II is available in translucent red or gray colors, and a 3 pack of Pepper Blaster IIs is available for $79.95. An orange inert trainer can be purchased for $35.99 to get the feel for the system without contamination, and an optional belt pouch and carry clip are available as accessories. See the entire line at: www.kimberamerica.com.