Earlier this month I started thinking again about pepper spray. It’s been an issue of finding an option I can carry (given the totality of my circumstance), that also won’t have issues of accidental discharge — don’t need it going off in my pocket. Many “traditional” pocket/keychain sprays have too much likelihood of discharge, so I went looking for alternatives.
I settled on the ASP Key Defender
ASP has 3 “Defender” versions: Palm (small), Key (medium), Street (large). I settled on the Key as a place to start. Slightly bigger, more capacity, possible other uses (e.g. kubaton), but not too big to fit in a pocket.
I picked up a couple “fire” inserts but also a couple “test” inserts.
True First Impressions
It was a little larger than I expected, but not too big. It certainly fits inside my pants pockets just fine. Fits in my hands, all things generally fine.
It has a mechanical safety that prevents the button/plunger from being depressed. Deactivating the safety is pretty natural, but it’s a little hard to do — you really have to have the thing positioned “just right” in your hand. Basically, it’s hard to get purchase on it. In a way, that’s good because it should mean chances of accidental discharge in a pocket or bag is almost impossible. But it’s bad because when you need it, you may not be able to deactivate it.
The fix is simple: put some skateboard tape over it. I read it somewhere on the Internet (apologies to the guy that originally posted it: can’t find the post now to give credit). But that little modification was perfect. Even in a position of least mechanical advantage, like right at the hinge point of the safety, you can get it deactivated with that skateboard tape on there. A little grip is all you need.
Another suggestion that same posting had was to put a little bit of cotton inside the case to keep the brass button/plunger from rattling around. I tried this (and you need VERY little cotton), and while it does keep it from rattling it also keeps it from turning freely. With keys and other things attached, the ability for the button to freely rotate is useful. I wound up taking the cotton out; besides, the keys rattle enough so there’s really nothing gained from the noise abatement.
General feeling tho is positive. I’m very used to the position from flashlight work (neck index). It feels good in the hand (not too big, not too small, so it’s got good “fit”). No problems carrying it in my pockets or say the front pocket of my hoodie when walking in cooler weather. The construction is sturdy enough that using it say as a kubaton should be workable.
All in all, I was feeling good about the purchase.
Then it was time to do a spray test.
I put one of the inert test canisters in.
Went to spray.
And was sorely disappointed.
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.
My experience was fairly similar. 😦
My first thought was maybe something was blocked? I mean, it’s a little tube from the insert that then has to spray out the end cap hole… maybe it wasn’t lined up? I found if I moved the Defender around a little bit, pointed downwards, I could get a pretty good spray out of it.
When I did get a good cloud, it was a good cloud — something you’d expect from a pocket-sized spray. I wasn’t disappointed – when it worked.
But that’s the thing. When it worked.
Sometimes I got a cloud.
Sometimes I got spittle and drip.
The test can ran out quickly. I’m sure I was spraying a little longer than the quick bursts they recommend, mostly because I was dumbfounded and hopeful it would work. Keep spraying! Maybe it’s clogged! Maybe it’s something else… who knows.
I then put in a “heat” insert and tried that. I mean, maybe the test inserts just suck, right?
Same basic performance out of the heat insert too.
Well, this sucks.
I mean, when it works I’d be happy with it. But, the fact I can’t be sure if it’s going to work or not, that lack of confidence is not something I feel like entrusting my life to.
Well, I’m not going to give up on it yet.
Maybe there was something. I mean, it’s in my pocket, maybe some lint got in the nozzle and caused the problem? Fair enough, but on the same token that doesn’t help much either because lint will then happen, and geez… same problems.
I’m not sure what to make of it yet. I’m going to order a few more canisters and keep testing.