Judging by the historic numbers of firearms and ammunition sales, Americans are frightened for their safety. But deadly force isn’t the only way to respond to a threat. Many people admit they don’t know if they could shoot someone or take a human life. I applaud those people for knowing their limitations. But they needn’t be defenseless. There are other self-defense weapons as viable options.

Self-defense weapons for home or personal defense should successfully do two things: keep the defender out of reach of the aggressor(s) and be deployable against multiple subjects. Here are some examples of less-lethal self-defense weapons that meet those criteria.

PepperBall TCP

PepperBall’s motto is “Protect Life Without Taking a Life.” The PepperBall Tactical Compact Pistol (TCP) is a civilian pistol-style launcher that is exactly the same as the original law enforcement model (also called TCP). It is the size of a large pistol and weighs 1.7 pounds. It comes with two six-round magazines. Additional original round or long-range VXR projectiles must be purchased separately. The refill packs contain practice and live projectiles. Practicing with inert rounds is a must.

I recently received a TCP for testing. With an 8-gram CO2 cartridge housed in the magazines, the TCP is a powerhouse. It is by far PepperBall’s most powerful civilian launcher, propelling round or conical VXR PepperBall projectiles up to 150 feet.

The PepperBall TCP is simple to operate. There are no moving parts other than the trigger, magazine release and index-finger-activated crossbolt safety. Unlike CO2-operated airsoft or BB pistols, there is no moving slide.

The easiest way to load the magazine is by pulling the follower spring down and locking it in place. Next, drop in six round PepperBalls and gently release the follower. Load a CO2 cartridge in the space at the rear of the magazine and turn the key-shaped screw handle until it holds the cartridge in place. (If you are not going to use the TCP right away — within 24 hours — don’t tighten it to the point the cartridge is punctured.) You can then insert the magazine, which automatically positions the PepperBall in the chamber.

A Few Tips

A polymer open-top holster is available for belt carry or safer storage. If you travel or live in low-risk areas, I recommend keeping the TCP with the magazine loaded and the CO2 cartridge not activated (punctured). All it takes is a couple of quick clockwise twists to puncture the cylinder. Once the CO2 cartridge has been punctured, take the safety off and pull the trigger to fire.

For travel, I recommend bringing extra CO2 cylinders and activating the cylinder at the start of the trip. This way it is ready to shoot. You can do the same with a spare magazine. Replace cylinders daily depending on the conditions at hand.

I test-fired the TCP in my backyard at a distance of 60 feet, using a large oak tree as the target, and loaded up with inert roundball talc rounds. The velocity and accuracy of PepperBalls launched by the TCP amazed me. The inert rounds clustered in a nice six-round group. And they hit hard! Aiming was easy with the three-dot factory sights. There is a rail available for attaching lights/lasers.

The TCP delivers a solid impact effect combined with a cloud of powerful PAVA pepper. In self-defense scenarios, target the mid-point of the body to deliver a gut punch combined with a cloud of pepper.

The TCP would have made a great supplement to the Taser when working as an officer and is currently my top non-firearm self-defense weapon pick. MSRP is $399.99.

PepperBall.com

Taser Professional Series

Being a Taser instructor since 2005, I have a lot of experience deploying the Taser on volunteer subjects. It is an effective defensive tool. Like PepperBall, Taser has really upgraded its line of civilian self-defense weapons. Many of the Tasers used by law enforcement are also available for citizen purchase, including the latest two-shot models. And the civilian micro-compact single-shot Taser Pulse ($399.99) is also still available.

The two-shot X2 was introduced to law enforcement not long ago. Unlike the Taser Pulse, which has a 30-second Safe Escape incapacitation time, the X2 uses the standard five-second law enforcement cycle. If the aggressor is becoming violent again, another five-second cycle can be sent down the lines. To fire a second shot, pull the trigger again. This can also incapacitate two subjects simultaneously. Range is approximately 15 feet, and price is $1,599.99.

The newest Taser for civilian use is the two-shot Taser 7CQ. The 7CQ (close quarters) uses a totally new probe system. The new system drives probes that deliver nearly twice the kinetic energy for better penetration of clothing. This is intended to eliminate the issue of “clothing disconnect,” which causes a failure to incapacitate.

The Taser CQ’s cartridge has a range of 12 feet, with an optimal probe spread for best energy delivery. Both the Taser X2 and 7CQ are significantly larger than the single-shot X26P. The Taser 7CQ is the most expensive Taser model at $1,799.99.

Additional live cartridges must be purchased for practice for the X2 and 7CQ. Training resources are available on the Taser site, and the company offers interest-free financing.

Taser.com

Full-Sized and EDC Fogger Pepper Sprays

OC sprays represent the best bargain in terms of less-lethal self-defense weapons. Until recently, I included a pocket-sized canister as part of my everyday carry gear. This carried enough spray to deal with two to four aggressors. With the upheaval from the past summer, I now keep crowd control OC systems in both cars. These can be very effective when dealing with large groups, with the ability to keep people up to 20 feet away.

My favorite company for OC products is Fox Labs. This major law enforcement supplier also sells products to civilians. For home or vehicle defense against multiple opponents, I recommend the Fox Labs Fog Spray Tactical Unit. It is 12 ounces of 2 percent OC.

A stream delivery model won’t contaminate a large area easily and relies on direct hits to the face. Fog delivery carries the particles on the breeze, making them easily inhalable. For pocket or purse carry, I recommend the Fox Five Point Three 1.5-ounce Medium Cone Fog Spray. The flip-top cap sprays in only one direction and prevents accidental discharges.

The 12-ounce Tactical Unit is priced at $58.99, while the Five Point Three EDC model is priced at $17.99. Training videos on Fox Labs’ website show how each product delivers its OC.

FoxLabs.com

Less lethal self-defense weapons are not only important for those unwilling to use a firearm for self-defense. They should also be a must for those who own firearms. Not every situation can — or should — be solved by a firearm. Pick a self-defense weapon that best suits your needs. Check local laws to make sure such devices are legal in the jurisdictions in which you live or to which you are traveling.

Learn More About Self-Defense:

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5 Self-Defense Products to Purchase
Biggest Mistake After Acting in Self-Defense