Recently I have found myself spending a decent amount of time in gun-prohibited areas. Whether it be a brewery or a school, I have had to swap my Glock 19 for my backup; a fixed-blade knife. The more I did this, the more thought I put into what the best non-firearm tool for self-defense would be. I needed something to supplement my knife with some much-needed standoff distance. The Pepper Gun from Mace is one of the better options I found.
The Pepper Gun takes disposable 28g pepper spray canisters so it can be used multiple times without having to replace the entire gun. Changing the canister is easy. Simply push the release lever on the left side forward and the cartridge housing will open. The canisters slide in and out easily.
The safety is located where the hammer would be on a revolver. Forward is safe. Back is fire. There is a bit of orange paint on the inside of the safety to indicate when it is in the fire position, but I just remember that the “hammer” must be cocked to fire.
The trigger is long and heavy but if you take note of the mechanism, you will understand why. When the trigger is pulled it pivots and hooks behind the spray canister pushing it forward into the nozzle on the front of the gun until the spray is released. Pulling the trigger a short distance also activates a small LED light on the front of the gun, but it is so dim it is hardly worth mentioning.
The main benefit I see in the Pepper Gun is its range. Mace claims that it can shoot up to 20 feet. Whenever I see “up to” in marketing, I immediately doubt the quoted number and question what typical performance looks like. Thankfully, Mace sent a couple of inert practice cartridges so I could test it for myself.
I taped up three sheets of paper to represent three assailants. This was to see if the Pepper Gun would have enough juice for multiple attackers. I then measured the max distance of 20 feet and took my shot. I found the trigger to be long and heavy. So, I felt that pinning the trigger to the rear and spraying from one target to the next would be a better strategy than trying to control precise spurts at each one.
20’ is definitely the max range. The stream broke up into droplets around 10’ and started to fall pretty quickly from there. By the time I realized that I needed to aim a couple of feet over the target I was out of spray. The three attackers would have still gotten a good taste but most of the liquid ended up on what would have been their torsos. I had one more practice cartridge so I scooted up two feet and tried again. This time the results were devastating. Knowing to adjust my elevation from the start I was able to soak two of the sheets and get a little on the third. This result was much more satisfying. Thankfully these Pepper Guns are sold with a training cartridge so the user will have a chance to get a feel for its performance before carrying it.
The toughest part of using the Pepper Gun is carrying it. The overall dimensions are definitely concealable but I have not been able to find a quality appendix inside the waistband (AWIB) holster for it. Because of this, I gave the Pepper Blaster to my wife to carry in her purse and I carry the Magnum 3 Pepper Gel. It has an 18’ advertised range and comes with a clip so I can easily carry it AIWB with my knife. I would still like to have the extra range of the Pepper Gun but the Magnum 3 seems to better fit my needs.
Overall, I think the Pepper Gun is a very useful tool for only $35. While I would rather have my G19, I understand that isn’t quite apples-to-apples; as far as non-lethal goes the Pepper Gun does a good job. Check out Mace’s website if you want more information on either of these products or if you want to pick up a Pepper Gun of your own.