ASP Key Defender – first impressions

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.


Spray Test

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.

Take a look at reader gteague’s comments on my first post:

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.

What Next?

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.


13 thoughts on “ASP Key Defender – first impressions

  1. I’ve been carrying the UDAP MI2 since April. It’s case/frame is exactly the same as the prior product I was carrying for several years. I’ve never had an accidental discharge. To discharge you’d have to have a force in one direction to lift the cap (or for a key to slip in the slot between the cap and activation button) and then a force at 90 degrees directly over the button. If a key got in there a downward or upward force on the exposed end of the key would rotate the key away from the button. I suppose somehow you could get an AD but I haven’t yet figured out how it would happen and suspect it would be very rare.

    Your post reminds me that I need to fire my inert canister. I found one from Mace that uses the same frame.

    • Hrm. Thanx. Good to know.

      I’m going to see this ASP Defender experiment through, but it’s very good to have a back-up plan (given I’m feeling I’m going to need it…..) 🙂

  2. Hi John! I bought one of these a couple weeks ago and love the design. You addressed one of my concerns about the safety. I am putting some skateboard tape on the safety right after I write this comment. Thanks for sharing the tip you read! This has been in my purse since I purchased it. My pepper spray has a dedicated front pocket with only one other item. It also has pretty animal print ribbon on the end that hangs out of my purse. Easy access without being obvious.

    I also tested a tube of the Inert spray. I got a cloud of the inert that went a distance of about 3 plus yards each time. It did get the spittles when it was almost empty, but I got 5 to 6 good bursts before that happened. I read there were only a 3 or 4 so I was happy for a couple extra bursts. After reading your post, I plan on buying a couple more inert testers to make sure. I didn’t test the heat.

    I have always hated the other pepper sprays due to the safety coming off in my purse, even though I dedicate a spot that only has the pepper spray and one other item that doesn’t get touched often. With other pepper sprays, I also worried I would not know the exact direction the spray would go in low light. There is no mistaking the direction with the design of the ASP Key Defender.

    • I’m glad that it worked for you. It seems you got the “advertised performance”. I’m wondering what my (and gteague’s) failures could be attributed to.


      You can see, there’s a lot of good things about the design. Good point about positive knowledge of the direction of fire.

      If you do any more testing, keep us updated with the results of your testing.

    • tina, there’s a saying that if you build something idiot proof, they’ll build a better idiot. and, never being one for modesty, i am that better idiot!

      the only pepper spray cannisters i’ve owned have all been the same: the nozzel is next to the safety on the same end. thus, up until i went to actually press the activator on the palm defender i thought the spray would come out of the end with the safety. luckily for me i noticed the nozzle hole in time.

      i haven’t yet commented on the safety although it was so hard to take off the first time i had to use the edge of a key, so that’s a totally valid complaint. the rubber (?) is smooth and slick and stiff. after i got it off the first time i worked it back and forth until it loosened up somewhat, but i don’t have any fingernails to pry it up with, so i totally distrust it. the reason i didn’t mention it is that the safety is the least bad thing about this device–the unreliability dooms it from the gitgo.

      far as i’m concerned, this device was a complete waste of money for any sort of ‘defense’ and as soon as i can find a way to re-purpose the tube itself it will cease to pretend to be such a device.

      i really can find no positive things to say about this device as long as we’re in the realm of self-defense. as far as a ‘cloud’, in the immortal words of cameron diaz’ boyfriend in ‘sex tape’: ‘no one understands the cloud’. and i’ve been unable to summon it and since the palm defender only has a rating of 3 ‘squirts’ (and i only got one), testing out an insert beforehand to make sure it works would pretty well leave you even worse off.


      • it’s fairly heavy and solid and i do have a good throwing arm. that’s as positive as i can get. [g]


        • oh, and it’s a symmetrical cylinder. how can the exit point be intuitive for someone using it for the first time? neither the activator or the disperser were what or where i would have guessed. but i don’t ding ’em for that since they do provide test inserts and they might have developed them for just this purpose–people buying them and putting them away until needed and then not being able to deploy them or deploying them in their own face.


          • If people aren’t going to test their equipment, or at least gain a cursory familiarization with it, before entrusting their lives to it… well, that’s their choice. I wouldn’t argue that’s a flaw of the product design.

      • @gteague – – Maybe this the KEYDefender is made for a woman’s hands!?! I found the safety easy to deploy from the first time I tried it. Getting it back into safety took a little maneuvering but once I figured it out, it hasn’t been a problem.

        @hsoi – – I will update on future tests. I have told several ladies about this in my License To Carry classes so I want to make sure it is a good product. I was glad to see your post on it due to that.

  3. did you manage to find date codes on your /test/ inserts? my defender has been relegated to small pest control around the house and yard and i pulled the sabre’s back out for any social defense.

    my <2″ bbl s&w is a 7-10′ gun at best. my derringer is a 3-5′ gun. i consider this spray effective at 1-2′ at maximum based on my tests although i do still have one test canister left to try.


    • Ah, forgot to check that. Those canisters got tossed in the trash.

      I have an inert one next to me here on my desk… and I see nothing.


      Wel, I ordered some more canisters from Amazon. We’ll see how it goes.

  4. Definitely keep us updated please! I need a new pepperspray, both cause the old one’s expired and because I’m now working an occasional shift that sees me walking to my car at 10:30pm in a deserted parking lot…..carrying the old one for now, but yah, expired……

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