Thinking about Pepper Spray

Why haven’t I carried pepper spray? Because I couldn’t find a suitable carry option.

But I’m working to change that.

I have long wanted to carry pepper spray. Why? Because it’s useful, and because sometimes it’s the better – only (?), right (?) – option.

For example, I’ve had more than enough times when 4-legged critters were more the issue, and spray would certainly be more appropriate for the situation. Just the other day I was crossing the street and a drunk homeless guy started yelling at me. I politely and firmly dened him, he didn’t like it, started cussing me out; should he have opted to escalate, pepper spray likely would have been an appropriate option.

But I haven’t carried any? Why? Because I can’t find an option that works for me.

I carry enough stuff on my belt. I really don’t have room for more stuff.

In my pocket?  The main worry I have is accidental discharge.

I looked at the Sabre Spitfire upon recommendation from Claude Werner, but that was just asking to go off in my pocket. Plus I didn’t like the discharge (distance/reach, spray pattern, etc.).

We do have a lot of Fox Labs products around the house. The Mrs. and Daughter have keychain sprays. We have some larger canisters for use and carry at other times (e.g. walking to the mailbox).

But the Fox Labs keychain model (or any of those types, as most keychain sprays are the same style) just never felt good in my pocket. Last week I was on vacation and the only things I was able to carry were my Spyderco Delicas and a Fox Labs keychain spray. The spray was in my pocket, and too many times the tab was flipped around. I kept fearing a discharge in my pocket.

That said, carrying the spray for a week finally made me get off my butt. The trip made me think a lot about sprays, including learning that yes you can bring pepper spray on an airplane in your checked luggage (there are limits and restrictions, but ultimately you can). So the whole trip I spent a lot of brain cycles thinking about spray. This is as opposed to “normal” where I think about it, struggle to come up with a suitable option, then put it back on the backburner until it comes up again; lather, rinse, repeat, remain unsatisfied.

Well, I’m hoping my luck will change.

I just purchased an ASP Key Defender. It looks like it will have a good chance of being something I could carry, that should have minimal chance of accidental discharge, and could be effective and useful. Plus it should be sturdy enough to be a striking implement too. Yes, I avoided this in the past because I just wasn’t sure about deployment under pressure. I’m still not, but I do hope to put it through some paces. The indications I’ve seen from people’s whose opinions I trust seem that the ASP Defender should be workable; not ideal, but workable.

The Palm Defender seems too small (capacity, distance, and size in the hand for striking). The Street Defender is probably going to be a little too big. Some videos of the Key Defender in action seem reasonable so…. it’s what I’m going to try. I picked up a couple refills of the OC spray, as well as a couple inert cans too.

We’ll see.


17 thoughts on “Thinking about Pepper Spray

  1. Remember what I have told you in the past about pepper spray, if you want to start carrying it then it’ll be worthwhile to see how you react to it, because that stuff gets every where.

  2. the palm defender listed on amazon says it’s about 4.5″ and only has 3 sprays per insert.

    i couldn’t find a length for the key defender but it claims 6 sprays. the amazon ‘pkg’ size reports 8.x”, but i don’t know if that’s the actual length. but if it’s any longer than 4.5″ it’s not going to fit into a ‘normal’ pocket. if it had a clip (you might be able to add one) you could put it in your back pocket on the opposite side of the knife you have clipped there. /guy

    • According to sales info, Palm is 4.5″. Key is 5.75″. Street is 6.5″.

      How many sprays per insert? Define “sprays”. I say that because watch this video:

      It’s a Key Defender “output” test. You can see there’s a lot more than 6 sprays, but only about 6-7 is what you’d call strong and worthwhile. IMHO that’s reasonable enough. Other keychain-style sprays are about comparable. And for sure, if I’d have to use the spray, I’d replace the canister as soon as I could. Only want to carry a full can.

      Could it be too long? Maybe. I tend to wear deep pockets, cargo pants, etc.. Plus as Pete referenced in another comment, Phil Wong shows another mode of carry where depth doesn’t matter.

      I didn’t like the Palm because of size and capacity, but who knows — it might wind up having to be. I did think Street was too long. Thus settling on Key. So, we’ll see once it gets here…. shipment got delayed because UPS.

      • considering your argument that a 380 mouse gun with 5-6 shots was more effective than a derringer with 2x 45/410 shots, i find this ironic you’re now arguing for the lower capacity weapon! [g]

        anyway, i ordered the palm model with a set of test and spare insert. maybe we can compare notes from the test capsule. /guy

        • I would still rather have a .380 with 5-6 shots. The form factor is roughly the same… tho in some regards you can get .380’s that are smaller than those Bond Arms.

          The form factor here is much different vs. a Mark 2 or 3 or 4 type spray canister.

          Frankly I would want the Street Defender, but I figured the Key would be a good place to start.

          When you get the Palm one yeah, let’s compare some notes.

  3. Interesting presentation on the Key Defender. Skip ahead to 3:30 if you are in a hurry. Phil Wong show you how to carry the longer version. And also some ways to extend its use.

      • Hey, I know that guy…

        Glad that video was of use! If you’re going to be carrying the KD in your pocket, the safety is very unlikely to disengage – way back before the turn of the century, when I first bought my own KD that was seen in the video, I posted about on, and one chap averred that he had experienced an OC AD in his pocket with a KD. Personally, I think he was “playing with it, and it went off,” but full and frank disclosure…

        • Yeah, just some dude making videos on the Internet. 😉

          I’m finding the safety is pretty difficult to disengage, which is both good and bad. Could it discharge accidentally? I certainly could see it. The safety has to have some level of ability to be disengaged, so something in the pocket COULD cause that and then you bend the right way and the button presses. I mean, it’s within the realm of possibility. But is this likely? I don’t think so, given the construction of it all. And even if it COULD happen, it’s far less likely than most keychain spray canister designs. I mean, I know Claude Werner loves that Sabre Spitfire (and I see the reasons why), but that design just feels like an AD waiting to happen in my pocket.

          As for the KD safety tho…

          I do find the safety a little difficult to disengage. Mostly because it’s so smooth. If you have the KD positioned “just right” in your hand, it pops open easily. But if there’s any bit of rotation, it could be pretty easy to fail to disengage. I read somewhere on the Internet a guy suggesting skateboard tape on the safety. So I did that and HUGE improvement. I can even disengage the safety from the hinge point (least mechanical advantage). Yeah so it makes the KD a hair bigger in the pocket, and puts some abrasive materials in the pocket — meh.

          You seem to be a happy adopter of the KD. Do you have any input into ‘gteague’s experiences, commented above?

  4. yeah, that one is way too big. if i was going to carry one that large i’d just clip my mace pepper gel magnum 3 to my belt with the very convenient clip. not to mention it holds as much as 20 of these. and if i want more stealthy, i have a half-dozen of the sabre ones not much larger than a chapstick tube. and 1/4 as expensive. /guy

    • That’s the thing tho. I’ve had a belt for… a long time. Nothing works FOR ME in that situation. I have enough stuff on my belt as it is, and I have situations where belt clips and other such things aren’t workable. Putting the keychain/tube ones into my pocket don’t work well because accidental discharge.

      So that’s why I’m giving this ASP Defender (series) a try.

      Who knows. It might have the same problems, it likely will present it’s own unique problems. There’s nothing settled (yet), it’s my exploration.

      I’m just glad there are options out there, because that enables people to find solutions that fit their situation — we’ve all got different parameters we have to operate within.

  5. well dude, this is about the most pathetic ‘defender’ since the squirt gun filled with bottled water.

    i just received my /test/ insert for the palm defender and i, er, inserted it into the device while following the instructions very closely. and i realized i hadn’t realized the spray came out the other end to the one at the safety end. of course i hadn’t yet taken off the protective tape and hadn’t noticed the lack of an outlet aperture.

    anyway, piece of cake to remove the /heat/ insert and install the /test/ insert and i again reviewed the instructions for activation of the spray.

    i moved to an area of the house where i had 12-15′ of bare floor, took off the safety, held the device at eye level pointing at eye level, and pushed the activator.

    i was extremely impressed and not favorably! this was like erectile dysfunction. a stream of liquid emerged, split into about 5 separate smaller streams,and fell limply to the floor about 5′ away from me at most. i suspect some of the liquid fell on my feet. the book had said to spray in 1/2 second bursts and that’s about how long it lasted. if it had been a person 5′ away from me, i estimate maybe a dozen drops would have hit his/her actual eyes as the other streams spread out and would have missed the head.

    so i figured, well, this was the first spray and now the pipes are cleared and it’ll do better for the other (at least two more) promised sprays. wrong. the next two sprays didn’t make it more than 18″ away from the device and basically just dribbled on my toes. and that was it–anticlimactic at best.

    so in the debriefing and troubleshooting mode (i always start with the premise that it’s me that’s done something wrong) i reviewed the instructions and couldn’t find any errors i’d made. then i wanted to check the expiration date of the insert and the instructions told me where to look–on the gold foil near the stem. not there. used my most powerful magnifying glass. not there. looked on a /heat/ insert too. not there.

    btw, the palm defender is exactly the right size for me–it’s nearly exactly the size of a one-cell 1000 lumen flashlight i have. and given the choice of which to deploy against an attacker, if it’s night time i know which one i’m using!

    so it’s a very sturdy aluminum tube and my new plan is to roll up 2-3 $20 bills and use them to bribe any attackers to go away. or maybe a spare battery for the flashlight.

    hope you have better luck. let us know.


    • Well, that’s certainly… depressing.

      My first thought would be: could it have been a bad cartridge? Always possible. The fact you couldn’t find the expiration makes me wonder if either it was expired OR if maybe they were fabbed wrong. But even if it was, it doesn’t instill confidence.

      Anyways, I’m giving things a little more time to get a little more under my belt with my Key Defender before I post. I’m evolving thoughts on it.

  6. i bought a single /test/ insert and a dual pack with a /test/ and a /heat/ insert, so i still have one /test/ insert left. but i’ll wait until i hear how you did with the key defender before i try again. i paid like $8 for that single /test/ insert and i had to scrub my hands with a very aggressive brush to get whatever lube they used in the liquid off.

    which leads me to think tactically and assume that if they use that some lube (which i guess would be sort of an expectorant aid) in the /heat/ inserts and you use this before you go for your handgun, you’re going to be out of luck as you’re not going to be able to grip it. with a da i guess you’d be ok as all you have to do is pull the trigger, but my hands were so slick i doubt i could have dealt with a safety, much less cocking a hammer. and i was careful to try to keep them out of the way when i tested.

    far as i’m concerned so far, not only a total waste of money, but actually unsafe if used. /guy

    • Well, even if you do test again, it’s well possible those inserts came from the same production lot — so if it’s a bad lot…. ?

      And how much do you think the “lube” getting all over you may have come from the fact you were using the shorter Palm Defender? i.e. because the exit hole was so much closer to your hand than would be with the Key or Street Defender. Still, good point to consider.

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