It’s imperative that you consider various ways to protect yourself.

Walking around in fear or trying to avoid dangerous areas will never be the best solution for your survival. This is why acquiring the best tools should be an essential part of your defense against an attacker.

One of the ways to protect yourself is using non-lethal weapons. I want to provide you with a full understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of the weapons you need to have at your disposal so that you can best recognize the tools that make sense in any situation.

Defense Sprays


Defense sprays are chemical sprays that have the power to disable an assailant via irritant or inflammatory effect. You should know that on most sites, the sprays contain an extract of hot pepper plants for their effectiveness. Oleoresin Capsicum or OC is an inflammatory agent that has an immediate effect when sprayed into the eyes and face of an assaulter.

The heat from pepper plants is measured in Scoville Heat Units. Let’s take an example: Remember the last time you rubbed your eyes after touching a jalapeno pepper? Now, multiply that feeling by eight hundred times. A jalapeno pepper rates at about 2,400 Scoville Heat Units and the sprays reach a rate as high as 2 million units.

Spray range: several feet

Spray effect: 20-30 minutes to wear off

If you want to purchase a defense spray, ensure you choose a good brand like Mace. You don’t want to face an attacker and after spraying him to find out that the effect is not the one you imagined it would be. Also, remember to buy another one every six months.

Things to take into account

  • Several feet is a small distance.  An attacker can close that distance without being sprayed, and once he’s near you, there is a possibility that you will suffer some damage. Whether you get away unharmed or injured is a matter of odds.
  • Close range assaults make it difficult to spray the assailant without you getting sprayed yourself. Worst case scenarios show the victim hit to the point of blindness and the attacker unaffected, leaving the victim in a helpless situation.
  • There are people that have a natural resistance to defense sprays. One of the cases is when people are on drugs (which is an often dealt with case when it comes to criminals) and they don’t register pain fast enough to stop them from attacking you.
  • Don’t forget to check with the legal sources before purchasing a spray. The legal terms vary from state to state depending on the contents of the defense spray.
  • As it is with all weapons, a defense spray can be used against you. So treat it like a knife or a gun and commit to some practicing before using it.
Stun Guns


A stun gun is a device based on a pulsed electrical current to weaken an attacker. They are highly effective weapons at blocking an assailant, and the loud crunching noise that they make when you hit the “on” button will be very intimidating for the attacker. The best moment to use it is behind someone’s back (e.g. when intervening for someone else who has the complete attention of the attacker).

Things to take into account

  • Actual physical contact is required for you to use a stun gun. It has to touch the assailant’s body for it to exert the wanted effect. You will have very little time to make your move so it is best to have it in your hand from the reaction standpoint.
  • Many layers of clothing can weaken the effect of the stun gun. I advise you not to use this device in winter-time because it can prove to be highly ineffective.
  • As mentioned with pepper sprays, you need to treat a stun gun like any other weapon and practice drawing and using it.



Tasers are very similar to stun guns and work by firing a barbed dart into the attacker’s body from a distance. The dart is connected to the handheld unit by two wires that transfer the electrical impulses and disable the assailant.  The majorities of tasers have a fifteen-foot range and come in two designs:

  1. The first system is like an electric razor and costs less. It’s also easier to aim if you have never fired a pistol. It’s as simple to use as it is to change the channels on your TV with a remote control.
  2. The second design resembles a pistol, and works in much the same manner, but it is alike to the typical taser in all other respects.

Things to take into account

  • The main objective is to hit the target. You might have experience playing video games or changing TV channels, but hitting a moving target is not a piece of cake and every gun owner will confirm this.
  • You’ve got only one chance to succeed. Tasers fire one shot and if you miss, your attacker will probably be angry since you’ve just tried to shoot him. If failed, this attempt could get you killed.
  • Tasers require contact with the skin. So be aware of thicker clothing or moving that stops the barb from reaching the skin. It won’t work otherwise.
  • Like with any weapon, commit to practicing before trying to protect yourself from an aggressor with a taser.

Kubotans (pocket sticks)


A kubotan is a handheld device you normally attach to a keychain.  I would compare it to a baseball bat in a format easier to carry. A hit to the groin, face, neck, ribs has the potential to give you enough time to escape.

Things to take into account

  • A close-quarters combat is never easy to handle. Any errors might get you severely injured or even killed.
  • Its effectiveness is based on the hours of training you’re planning to engage in. You can’t just wield a stick and expect to get out of it injury-free.

Rubber Bullets


By purchasing a standard firearm or riot gear, rubber bullets are constructed to provide non-lethal force. They hurt like hell, especially when used from a short distance.

Things to take into account

  • You are undergoing the exact steps as any firearm purchaser since the gun is capable of firing regular ammunition as well.
  • There are still people who think firing a gun is easy. It’s not, especially when talking about street conditions. Conditions are unpredictable; you can find yourself facing an attacker on a dark rainy night where sudden movements are bound to happen. So do take some time to train properly for any situation.
  • As harsh as it might sound, you need to be prepared to kill another human being and accept all responsibility that will fall upon you. As you are shooting from a close range, rubber bullets can be lethal.

One last thing – if you are about to be attacked by a gang, then please reconsider using non-lethal defense. There are two elements that come with a gang’s actions: multiple people and a higher probability of more weapons that might even include firearms. Stay as far away from this situation as you possibly can.

I hope these tips will come to your aid if the circumstances ask for it, if not, remember that the best non-lethal action is not to find yourself in the middle of a violent event.

Did you ever have to deal with an aggressor? Share your experience in the comments section below.
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  1. Jason, as a whole your article is very good. I am a Police instructor/firearms Instructor as is my wife Mary Jane. We were the very first instructors in the use of pepper spray. We wrote the first lesson plan and were certified by Mr. Garner “Chip” Whitcomb himself. He introduced Capstun in 1977. I also teach self defense to security, police and individuals. A person does a great disservice to women when they recommend a stun gun for self defense as it only controls them for as long as the current is on. After that, they recover quickly and are usually very mad. I know a security guard who used a stun gun against my advice on a drunk during a bar fight. The drunk got up, grabbed a Cue Ball and threw it striking him in the forehead fracturing his skull. Fortunately, had a Punch II Burst canister and the fight was over. Even his assailant got sprayed and went to jail.
    Your display of the Punch II is the absolutely the best pepper spray on the market. The M-1 with the cone shaped mist and the M-3 and M5 bursts are the best of the best. The pepper spray needs to be a cone shaped mist to be effective. All the cases where the pepper spray did not work, they had a straight stream. The Pepper Mace foam is not that effective because of the straight stream and they do not inhale the mist which is essential to stop drunks, psychotics, drug abusers and animals.
    The problem with a Taser is it’s cost and most people miss with a Taser. It only controls them while the current is on. They recover in about 15 seconds. It is also expensive and trained police officers miss 40% of the time. I personally believe rubber bullets are a waste of money. I love the Kubotan as long as there is training. You hit it dead on about training. If people do not have any training, they should be great runners. I teach that the best defense is awareness. When any weapon including the gun comes into play running is best. But training changes everything. Good luck on getting the word out that people need training most of all.

    1. Hi Raymond. Thank you for your feedback and great details. I always welcome the valuable input of professionals such as yourself. I too consider that training is essential. Without training, even non-lethal weapons can become dangerous. Best of luck.

  2. Thanks for the info. I would like some advice on training if you can provide it. What are some of venues to practice with the items you mention? For example, one goes to the range to practice with guns and to training exercises or by viewing videos. But what is the most effective way to practice with pepper spray? You mention distances. How in practice how does one learn the best distance at which the spray should be used? How does one get instruction? Similarly, where can one practice using a taser or find training?

    I appreciate your pointing out pros and cons involving these defense mechanisms. I have pepper spray which has been advertsed as quite effecitve. However, due to your and Mr. Bull’s recommendations, I am going to purchase the ones illustrated here. As a novice, i am going tomake a suggestion which may or may not be viable. If in a situation where it is thought that use of pepper spray might be necessary, it might be a good idea to have eye protecting googles on until out of the dangerous environment. Some of them are quite attractive and look a lot like aviator eyeglasses. They could at least protect the eyes against blow back.

    1. Foxie, never spray pepper spray into the wind. I teach to back up after spraying to get away from the cloud. You may not have time to put on goggles and it tips people off that something is coming. Hold the canister behind your back. Shake it up before use. Quickly spray the bad guy in a figure eight pattern and back away. If he needs more, let him have another dose. You then need to run to a known safe area.

  3. first off, Pepper Spray. if it windy out , your not going to spray into the wind. I’m a Certified Firearms Instructor and teach self defense on my own time. 2 days a week. I carry my kbar folding knife and a kubaton pen. I have a large leo can of pepper spray never had to use it. good for 2-3 guys. I have a 11millon volt stungun flash light that you can carry on your belt. I never tuck my shirts in. I had to use it the guy went down like a rock. it says not to touch too head, so I gave it too him in the neck for 5 seconds until he was out cold. it strobes ,so its good to go at night. I also carry . that’s my last resort . thanks for this article, I can forward this to a few people I know that it can help.

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