The Best Non-Lethal Home Defense Weapons
NOTE: The best kind of fight is one that you can avoid. Only use physical force if there are no other options.
We all assume that home invasions and break-ins will never happen to us. They’re always the subject of local nightly news stories, but never in our neighborhood. The truth is, as long as you live in a world inhabited by other humans, the possibility of a home invasion remains. If possible, de-escalation (a skill referred to as verbal judo by many in the industry) should be the preferred means of conflict resolution. However, if de-escalation fails to work, you need to be confident that you can end a fight in a way that’s favorable to you and your loved ones.
In this article, we’ll cover a variety of different tools that you can use for home defense as well as their strengths, weaknesses, and ideal environments. Before you make a purchasing decision, it’s essential to check and double-check state and local laws regarding the legality of ownership. After you make a decision, it’s important to train with your weapon and become proficient so as not to cause any unnecessary damage or harm to others.
OC Spray / Pepper Spray
Pepper Spray or OC spray is an excellent option for almost anyone to carry. Generally, the canisters are small and easily fit on a keychain or pocket. If you’re ever attacked or harassed, OC spray is easy to draw and deploy with an intuitive point-and-shoot system. For those who are cost-conscious, OC spray is cheap and there are very few laws that limit its sale and carriage.
The gas mainly affects the mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and mouth and causes such irritation that the would-be attacker is stopped in his or her tracks. One of the best things about OC spray is its lack of long-term health consequences, limiting personal liability if you have to use it. Many acts of defense end up in civil and criminal court. The attacker’s complete recovery insulates you from having to compensate them for long-term damage if the force was found illegitimate or excessive.
For all its upsides, OC spray does have some critical limitations. Depending on the canister, the effective range is no more than 12 feet, so you need to be close to your attacker to deploy it effectively. Second, if there is any wind, residue from the spray could easily be blown into your own face and incapacitate you instead of your attacker. Third, most canisters of OC spray hold only a small amount of spray. If you miss your target, you risk angering them and worsening the situation.
Many people opt to use striking objects such as bats, batons, and even flashlights. The main advantage of these objects is the ease with which they can be acquired. Anyone can go to a local sporting goods store or home improvement store and buy a baseball bat or other similar object. Striking objects also tend to be cheap since, conceivably, you could use a heavy stick from the backyard and pay $0. These weapons are not particularly difficult to use either–you see someone and you hit them. If they continue posing a threat, you hit them again. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
However, the disadvantages of these kinds of weapons are a little more nuanced. Striking objects are generally classified as Close Quarter Combat (CQB) weapons which means you must be close to your attacker to use them effectively. In a defense situation, you want to be as far away from the danger as possible. With striking objects, your maximum range is capped at about 6 feet, uncomfortably close to an imminent bodily threat.
We must also consider the minimum range of effectiveness. It’s extremely difficult to strike someone if they’re within grappling distance. Your arm acts as a lever and cannot deliver an effective blow if the threat comes within about 12 inches. Additionally, the striking object is only as dangerous as the person wielding it. An MLB player will be a much more significant threat than a 75-year old retiree.
Pepper Ball Pistols
A pepper ball pistol (or rifle) is a great option to increase the effective range of an irritant similar to OC spray. These pistols come in the familiar platform of a generic semi-automatic pistol and deliver .68 paintball-shaped capsules filled with OC powder. 6+1 or 12+1 magazines feed ammunition to the gun and also house the propellant. Unlike traditional firearms, these pistols use compressed Co2 to launch the pepper balls at approximately 325 FPS.
When fired, the pistol propels the pepper balls towards the target, where they break on impact and form a cloud of irritant around the attacker. The aerosolized OC gets into the eyes and airways of the would-be attacker and incapacitates them.
The advantage of this type of weapon is the added range over that of the OC spray. While many guns advertise an effective range of 150ft, the barrels are not rifled so accuracy diminishes as the distance increases. As a result, these guns are best used at a range of less than 15 yards which is more than enough for an indoor home-defense scenario.
The guns that fire these projectiles are classified as paintball markers, so regulation is minimal. There are age-related laws related to the legality of purchase, but otherwise, pepper ball pistols are legal to own (check local laws before purchase).
While these pistols are pricey compared to the former two options, they are somewhat less expensive than a bona fide firearm at about $300. The pepper balls cost another $35, and the C02 cartridges cost about $1 apiece. When all is said and done, you will be set up to protect your family with a high-quality tool for less than $350.
With all of its advantages, there are a few disadvantages. First, these weapons do require some accuracy, so it could be challenging to land a shot on target if you’re unfamiliar with how to shoot a gun or don’t have the inclination to train for accuracy. There are also some concerns with the effectiveness of the rounds; while any sane person would run from OC gas, someone who is hyped up on stimulants may not react to the irritant.
Overall, these guns are an excellent option to have for home defense. You can purchase Lone Wolf’s pepper ball pistol starter package to get everything in one package for the best price.
Stun guns are some of the most frequently used less-lethal weapons around. Stun guns can be disguised as any number of mundane objects like flashlights, lipstick containers, and even cell phones.
Stun guns work by delivering a high-volt low-amperage electric shock to the attacker’s body. The shock causes extremely rapid and uncoordinated muscle contractions which result in up to 30 minutes of disorientation to the attacker.
There are two main advantages to these types of weapons. First, they are highly effective at incapacitating a would-be attacker. When shocked, a person’s body becomes inundated with electric signals that take a considerable time to recover from. Second, these apparatuses are cheap, though relying on a dollar-store stun gun isn’t the best decision in a home-defense scenario. A low-tier stun gun will run about $20. However, you can purchase a high-quality stun gun for less than $100 without background checks.
The main downside of a stun gun is common to any CQB weapon–you must be close to your attacker to use it. The closer you are to your attacker, the easier it is for you to be attacked; no surprises there. However, if you have no other options, it is preferable to have a stun gun rather than nothing.
By far the best way to protect yourself is to put as much space between you and your attacker as possible. Unfortunately, CQB weapons require that you be close to your attacker–even if you have a force multiplier like a strike weapon or a stun gun, you could be outmatched if your attacker is significantly bigger and stronger.
While not everyone is affected equally by OC sprays and powders, most people will be taken out of the fight if they’re exposed to these chemicals. Because of the range, knock-down power, and ease of use, we believe that the best option for home defense is the pepper ball pistol. So, to keep your family safe in case of a home intrusion, check out the best choices of pepper ball pistols here and stay safe!