What are my Nonlethal Personal Security Options

Nonlethal personal security

Nonlethal self-defense has become more and more popular recently. Obviously, we live in a world where, unfortunately, to be protected, we need to be aware and prepared. There simply are too many bad guys running around.

Many people have ethical issues with lethal self-protection methods. Others, because of state legal restrictions are simply not able to utilize any other method of self-defense.

Lifelite’s Pepperball flashlight is a new twist on tactical gear for nonlethal self-defense and maybe just the answer.

First, however, let’s review some limitations before we get into the nonlethal personal security options currently available.


With all the available options for nonlethal self-defense, there still are a number of limitations.

  • Range limitation – many require either actual contact or maybe up to 15 feet with most around 6 feet.
  • The number of attempts – some, like the taser is limited to two attempted shots, while others like the stun gun are maybe limited to one attempt.
  • Costs – some options, like pepper spray, are very inexpensive, others, like the taser, is relatively expensive.
  • Possibility of backfiring – many of these options have the potential to affect the person using the equipment.
  • The necessity of actually hitting the perpetrator – misses are not effective in most cases.
  • Legal restrictions – depending on where you live, almost any form of self-defense will be restricted or at least regulated.

Nonlethal options

Pepper Spray

Pepper Spray is probably the most available and inexpensive option for nonlethal self-defense like the Sabre Red Pepper Spray Keychain. Pepper spray is made up of an active ingredient called OC (Oleoresin Capsicum) and other inert ingredients and can be water or oil-based.

The newest defensive spray agent, Oleoresin Capsicum is a derivative of hot cayenne peppers. OC is an inflammatory agent, and unlike tear gas is effective even on those under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Instantaneous in its effect, pepper causes uncontrollable watering of the eyes, extreme burning of the eyes and nose, temporary blindness, nasal and sinus discharge, burning of the skin, and increase in blood pressure. These symptoms usually subside within 45-60 minutes.

Even California (Penal Code 12401 et al), believe it or not, has made pepper spray legal.

Of course:

  • the canisters must be less than 2.5 oz.
  • the user must be 18 years or older,
  • the user cannot be addicted to narcotic substances,
  • cannot have a convicted of a felony, and
  • must be used only for self-defense.

Pepper spray has a number of delivery methods which include steam, cone mist (similar to a hair spray aerosol can), foggers, foam, gel and pepper balls. The most commonly used method for civilian use is streams and pepper balls.

There are a few issues with pepper spray:

  • you have to be no more than approximately 6 feet away from your intended target
  • if the winds are blowing toward you, you will also get a dose of the pepper spray
  • if used indoors, like your home or your car, you may need professional help to clean up the mess since the residual effects will last for a long period of time.

All in all, not a particularly great solution. Pepper balls solve some of these issues and will be discussed below.

Tear Gas

Although Pepper Spray is a combination of natural chemicals, tear gas comes from man-made compounds. The two most commonly used tear gases are chloroacetophenone, or CN, and chlorobenzylidenemalononitrile, or CS. CN is the principal component of the aerosol agent Mace (which is a brand name) and is widely used in riot control. It affects chiefly the eyes.

The most common delivery method for tear gas are grenades which explode and release the compound into the air. Many items that claim to be tear gas are in reality pepper spray and true tear gas grenades are only legally available to military and police authorities.

Tear gas causes extreme burning of the nose, eyes, and throat, involuntary closing of the eyes, coughing, rise in blood pressure, mucous secretion, nausea and in many cases, vomiting. These symptoms usually subside within 30 minutes.

Stun Guns

Stun guns, like the Vipertek VTS989, are rechargeable battery devices with spiked electrodes that deliver a strong electrical shock. Unfortunately, you have to be right next to your intended target and you have to penetrate any clothing and actually touch the skin to be effective.

Touching an assailant will cause loss of balance, and muscle control, confusion, and disorientation which reportedly will bring the target to their knees and make them incapable of further aggressive activity. This, however, is directly from marketing literature and may be suspect.

There seem to be a number of states and locals which have legal limitations on the sale and possession of stun guns.

One supplier notes the following: Due to restrictions in some states, county and city laws we do not ship to the following locations: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Connecticut, New Jersey, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, District of Columbia, Annapolis, MD, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA, Baltimore County, MD, Crawford County, IA.

If you intend on purchasing a stun gun, you need to check any legal restrictions.


Another nonlethal self-defense mechanism is the stun gun like the Taser X2 Professional Series. Tasers actually shoot a connected electrode and the Taser X2, for example, has a range of 15 feet and comes with a backup taser.

Taser guns work in the same basic way as ordinary stun guns, except the two charged electrodes, aren’t permanently joined to the housing. Rather, they are positioned at the ends of long conductive wires attached to the gun’s electrical circuits. Pulling the trigger breaks open a compressed gas cartridge inside the gun which propels the electrodes towards the target.

Most police departments use Tasers as their preferred method of nonlethal self-defense. The tasers do give you more range than a stun gun but you still have the requirement to penetrate any clothing. The sharp electrodes and the velocity of the guns make this task much easier than for a stun gun.

As with stun guns, there are a number of different restriction and requirements which need to be understood before you consider purchasing.

Here’s a website with the various State requirements.

LifeLite’s PepperBall Self-Defense LED Flashlight

Although there is no perfect solution, the LifeLite PepperBall LED flashlight seems to address a number of the above limitations.

First of all, LifeLite combines an LED flashlight, at 350 lumens, with an integrated pepper ball launcher to offer covert protection in plain sight.

It still has some of the legal restrictions of other methods and currently is not sold in Alaska and California.

As far as capacity, LifeLite offers 5 rounds of the PepperBall projectiles which can shoot as far as 60 feet away.

Additionally, pinpoint accuracy is not necessary since a projectile hitting near a target will release the pepper spray and be effective.

The flashlight also has a laser guide light. Laser lights are an effective means to potentially disarm a problem situation, however, it must be remembered that even the best laser light is only visible in darker situations.

Also, the Lifelite PepperBall flashlight is currently around $216 on Amazon. It is not inexpensive. It has a number of really nice options like holsters and mounts.

Finally, the light weighs in at 1.75 pounds. It does have an optional nylon holster with a belt clip and can be carried in a purse or backpack but it is definitely not able to fit in your pocket. Maybe in the future, this will be redesigned to be smaller.


The best advice for life or property threatening situations is to avoid them altogether. That, however, is not always possible

For those who want personal security, and either can’t or don’t want to use lethal options, the PepperBall Sefl-Defense Flashlight has a lot of positives going for it. It’s large capacity, standoff distance and covert appearance make it a viable choice.

No, it’s not perfect, but it answers a lot of the drawbacks of other options.

You might want to also review my article on using tactical lights for personal safety.