Kimber PepperBlaster II: A Review

March 15, 2013
I have to admit, I’ve become somewhat of a fan. The unit is light and compact enough that it can be conveniently carried by dropping it in a pocket (unless you wear your pants too snug for that). It drops easily into any purse or jacket pocket. It offers an effective option to your force response level for self-defense.

While I am a huge proponent of the 2nd Amendment and am strongly in favor of every law abiding adult being able to carry a handgun for self-defense, there are times, places and circumstances that don’t permit the carry of a handgun OR wherein lethal force simply isn’t justified.  For many of those places and times there is another option – and no, it’s not a knife, impact weapon, keychain flail weapon, etc.  It’s the Pepperblaster II from Kimber and, put simply, it’s a derringer-style OC (pepper spray) weapon that’s highly effective.

When I say “derringer style,” I use the term loosely.  I am referring to the fact that the Pepperblaster II has two barrels in an over/under configuration that it is shaped (roughly) like a handgun and that it’s a relatively compact unit.  I measure my unit at 4.5” long, 3” tall and 1” wide.  It only weighs a few ounces.

The unit fires an oleoresin capsicum based semi-liquid under pressure.  The 10% OC mix has been proven effective over the past couple of decades as we’ve seen it used in numerous OC (pepper spray) products from multiple manufacturers.  To measure how “hot” the OC mix is, however, we use something called Scoville Heat Units (SHUs).  To put “hot” in perspective, your typical jalapeno pepper measures at 2,500-8,000 SHUs.  Tabasco Sauce measures between 7,000-8,000 SHUs.  A Habanero Chile pepper typically measures between 100,000 and 350,000 SHUs.  Call me what you want, but I find the typical jalapeno pepper too spicy (although my family members love them).

The OC blend in the Pepperblaster II is rated at 4,000,000 SHUs.  That’s over ten times “hotter” than a habanero chile pepper.

The 4,000,000 SHU rating puts the Pepperblaster II just in the high end of commercially marketed OC products in the United States.  A common OC product will measure between 2,000,000 and 5,300,000 SHUs.  (Just for informational purposes, pure Oleoresin Capsaicin, the base product, measures between 15 million and 16 million SHUs.)

The OC blend in the Pepperblaster II is delivered/fired when the user pushes out the plastic safety tab that fills and blocks the trigger space.  It takes a conscious effort and a fair amount of pressure to press the plastic safety block out of the way before you can pull the trigger to fire the OC charge.  A blast of compressed gas forces the OC mix out, according to the Kimber website, at approximately 90 miles per hour with an effective range of thirteen feet.

WARNING: Right on the side of the Pepperblaster II is a label that warns against firing this device into the face of an attacker IF the attacker is closer than two feet.  Think about it: ANY liquid fired at that pressure and speed at such a close distance can cause permanent eye injuries.  This is a common concern with virtually every non-lethal compressed-gas fired weapon though.  You need enough space for safe deployment.  The other consideration is back-splatter.  You don’t want to be so close that anything splattering off your target might affect you.  Push that attacker away to AT LEAST arm’s length with one had while you hold the Pepperblaster II close to yourself with the other. Insure that minimum two foot gap between the weapon and the attacker’sface.

Yes, the attacker’s face is your primary target for this self-defense tool.  The OC mix will temporarily incapacitate him (or her) by causing an involuntary closing of the eyes, a burning sensation on the skin and lips, as well as on mucus membranes inside the nose and mouth if any gets into either cavity space.

As I mentioned earlier, this is an over/under “barrel” design.  Each fires a single shot of OC so you get two shots from the tool.  While that may seem unnecessarily redundant since the OC mix is so effective at disabling an attacker, accurate delivery isn’t always assured.  Imagine yourself in a fight, moving around, trying to get loose, create distance, hang on to your purse, etc. and in the midst of that you have to line up the tool accurately to deliver the shot of OC to the attacker’s face – which is also moving.  Two shots is good.  More would be better but there has to be a balance between the effectiveness and the size of the tool. Because of the compact size of the Pepperblaster II, which makes it so convenient to carry, two shots is what can be easily designed in.

The Pepperblaster II does have a set of sights although you’ll probably simply point it and pull the trigger when under severe duress.  There is also a lanyard loop in the base of the grip if you’d ever want to attach such.

With all of that knowledge gained prior to testing, I set about finding someone brave (or dumb) enough to let me expose them to this OC tool.  After several months I finally found  an OC weapon instructor who said, “Sure, I don’t care.”   So on a cool day (temperatures were in the high 50sF) we prepared the necessary decontamination area an set about the exposure testing.  To keep the test subject’s response and reactions in perspective, this man has previously been voluntarily exposed to several different blends and mixes of oleoresin capsaicin.  He knew what to expect and was prepared for 30 to 45 minutes of burning discomfort on his face.

Decontamination involves copious amounts of cool water applied to the affected areas.  The use of any type of salve, cream, ointment, etc. is not recommended and actually makes the decontamination time longer as it serves to seal the OC onto the skin, thereby preventing the easier removal of the irritant.

We chose a deployment distance of approximately eight feet.  Two feet is the minimum safe distance.  Thirteen feet is what Kimber publishes on their website with the implication that it’s the maximum distance.  Eight feet seemed a sensible middle distance.  There was very little breeze so wind was not a concern for effecting accuracy (although it IS something you should always try to take into consideration during actual defense use).

With my test subject’s mouth and eyes closed tight and while he was holding his breath, I lined up and fired the first shot.  My first observation was that you cannot aim the unit prior to pushing the plastic safety tab out of the way.  The safety tab has to be pushed out of the way – which requires sideways pressure from your trigger finger – and then you line up your sights for aiming purposes.  I pulled the trigger and there was the hiss/slap of the unit firing.  The OC blend impacted my test subject’s face with near total coverage of the exposed skin area.

I immediately safely stored the Pepperblaster II with its one remaining charge and led my test subject over to our decontamination area.  He did not open his eyes and held his breath until he had run water in his face for several seconds.  The intent was to minimize the amount of the OC product that he might inhale.  After a few seconds of rinse and with his eyes still closed tight, he tried to articulate the “burn experience” and compare it to his other OC exposures.  In short, he was impressed with the discomfort caused and commented on the impact of the OC blend that he felt.  It was a much more noticeable impact he said, than his previous exposures to OC spray, fog or foam products.  This OC blend was more like “a hot slap in the face.”

The warning label on the side of the unit says to seek medical attention if the symptoms persist or worsen after 45 minutes.  As a certified OC Instructor myself, I can tell you that the symptoms will not clear up in just 45 minutes.  In five or ten minutes the exposed person may be able to open their eyes and function rationally, but the burning sensation, redness and irritation can take well over an hour to clear up and requires fresh air after a good cool-water rinse of all exposed areas.

On the Kimber website the Pepperblaster II has an MSRP of $39.95.  It’s available in red or gray and there is an orange training unit available as well (slightly lower price of $35.99).  There are two carry accessories also available: a belt clip which essentially wraps around the tool lengthwise and has a hook for you belt or $8.49, and a carry pouch for $19.99.  I did my usual Google search to see if I could find one any cheaper and I was successful, but the price was not significantly different.  $33.99 was the lowest price I found and I saw some units priced as high as $50.65.

I have to admit, I’ve become somewhat of a fan.  The unit is light and compact enough that it can be conveniently carried by dropping it in a pocket (unless you wear your pants too snug for that).  It drops easily into any purse or jacket pocket.  It offers an effective option to your force response level for self-defense.  It’s non-lethal and isn’t expensive.  If you’re looking for such a self-defense option, I highly recommend you check it out.

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