When the best you can have is a pepper spray, you better settle for the best available: the Micro-Shot dispenser, manufactured in the U.S. by AceCo, is precision-machined and offers compact size, effective loads and intuitive use
Since our latest write-up about a similar article sparked some controversy among our readers, a brief introduction to our second review of pepper spray pistols may be necessary.
There are many jurisdictions around the globe where licenses for concealed carry of firearms are extremely difficult or outright impossible to attain for the average citizen; in several of those, on the other hand, pepper sprays are legal to carry and there is no specific provision banning the carry of objects that look like firearms.
On the other hands, in most of the world – and regardless of local laws and regulations – firearms are plentifully available to criminals through the black market.
Luckily, however, the vast majority of criminal gun use is of a very peculiar nature: criminals seem to have a penchant to use firearms for the most serious assault and robberies, or in intra-criminal violence (read: gang wars). This means that even in those places where criminals have the highest level of access to firearms, and with the significative exceptions of Countries such as Brazil, most of the casual street muggings are still carried on with edged and bladed weapons, blunt instruments, or other non-firearms.
We are by no means advocating the superiority of non-lethal self-defense means over firearms when those are available. But when they're not, and when the average citizen is forced to go for the second best to defend himself/herself, he or she might as well go for the best of the second best.
Pepper spray dispensers that look like firearms have a twofold advantage over standard spray cans.
First of all, their distinctive look gives the potential victim an edge over an attacker carrying a bladed, edged, or blunt weapon; as most assaults and muggings take place in the dark and/or in confined and scarcely lighted places, the attacker may mistake said self-defence tool for a real firearm and cease the aggression.
As studies found, the mere sight of a firearm in the hands of an intended victim is more often than not enough to cause attackers to flee – and indeed that's where most cases of defensive gun use begin and end.
Second, but not less important, an L-shaped object, like a pistol – or a pepper spray dispenser that's designed like one – is ergonomically superior to a pepper spray can or pepper spray pen, and thus easier to use.
Aligning those tools with the intended target and operating them involves natural movements, a natural eye-hand coordination, and requires the use of less muscles than – to say – the use of a standard spray can.
Twisting the palm or the wrist to direct the jet of a pepper spray can or pen towards its intended target is by no means a natural movement, and confusion can arise during the panic of an attack, causing the victim to miss the intended target or even spray himself/herself, giving the attacker an edge.
A pistol-shaped object, on the other hand, can be used in one way and one way only. Unmistakeable.
As for the main (if not the only) cons to the carry and use of this kind of tools – the fact that bystanders or law enforcement officials could mistake it for a firearm and react in an incorrect way – that's where the sensibility of the individual user has to step in: those self-defense tools are to be carried concealed, mainly because that's how they provide a true advantage.
And to be fair and honest: if you find yourself in a situation where you have to use one of those, that means that there is no cop around.
And that's where products like the Micro-Shot come to be. Manufactured in the United States by the AceCo Precision Manufacturing company – headquartered in Boise, ID – the Micro-Shot is a dispenser for one of the world's most common types of pepper spray canisters: the Sabre Red SRTBR-01, which is also known in Europe as the ASP "Key Defender" refill. The fact that it takes refills that are commercially available mostly in every Country where pepper spray is legal to own and carry makes the Micro-Shot a very desireable option in its category.
The AceCo Micro-Shot pepper spray dispenser is composed of two halves that are precision-machined out of 6061-T6 solid aluminum billet; the lower portion is hard-anodized black and features a squared trigger guard, a chromed trigger – which is the outer portion of the trigger element – and a perforated/lightened grip.
The upper portion is hollow to host the payload, and is available in blue, bright green, orange, purple, pink or red. A rib on the top portion dubs as a sighting plan.
According to the manufacturer, the Micro-Shot dispenser has been conceived to mimic the ergonomics and comfort of carry and use of one of America's most common and appreciated concealed carry pistols – the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield. As a matter of fact, it is only 12 cm / 4.85" long overall, 10,5 cm / 4.15" high, 2 cm / 0.86" wide, and weighs 340 grams (12 oz.) when loaded.
It is often a misconception to consider pepper spray as an ineffective "can of seasoning".
It is indeed true that the effectiveness of pepper spray is tied to many factors – ranging from individual sensitivity to the legal concentraton and levels of capsaicin and capsaicinoids contained in the spray according to local laws and regulations.
But generally speaking, pepper spray is effective. It is simple biology and chemistry, and individual low sensitivity to pepper spray is extremely rare. Pepper spray is based on an active principle called Oleoresin Capsicum, or OC for short, which is basically a Capsaicin-based oil extracted and then concentrated out of common pepper.
The mechanism of action of Capsaicin is such that it will affect any mammal; and it has been proved to be effective even against aggressors found to be under the influence of drugs that would make other chemical irritants (e.g. Mace or CS) and even Tasers uneffective.
When a pepper spray shot fails to incapacitate a target, most of times the causes of the failure can be traced back to a very limited number of factors that are either tied to the quality or age of the product, or to the user.
Pepper spray may fail if a low-quality or low-concentration product is chosen. A 10% compound is generally considered effective even on bears, so it will stop a human attacker – particularly if it has a high concentration of Capsaicin and other major capsaicinoids. Even Police-issue pepper spray will rarely have an OC concentration that exceeds 10%. The choice of known brands and high-strength pepper spray generally gets around the issue.
Pepper spray may fail if old: most canisters use a chemical propellant, which will expire in a couple of years after manufacturing, causing it to fizzle upon use. Canisters should thus be disposed of and replaced every two years.
Specially designed products like the Piexon "Guardian Angel" series, which use pyrotechnic charges or sealed air cartridges to propel an OC-based gel that is kept sealed until they're fired, are generally not affected by this issue.
Pepper spray can fail if it is not directed towards the intended target's mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and eyeballs. This means that the shot has to hit the attacker in the face.
Pepper spray can fail – or backfire! – if used upwind, and that is one of the major risks involved in the use of a standard spray can, which in the heat of the moment the user may find himself/herself handling the wrong way.
That is what products such as the AceCo Micro-Shot seek to avoid; of course even the Micro-Shot has to be inspected often, kept clean, and carried in a way that makes it easy to reach and fast to draw. Just like you would do with a pistol.
Once again, we need to stress: by no means we are asserting that pepper spray is a better or superior choice over a pistol when it comes to self-defense. But when and where carrying a firearm is not an option, one should exercise the highest level of judgement in the selection of an alternative.
Like we said before: if it has to be the second best, let it be the best of the second best.
The AceCo Micro-Shot pepper spray dispenser is of very simple use: sticking a finger behind the trigger and pressing it forward will allow the user to insert a pepper spray canister through the rear hole until it is fully engaged into the front dispensary hole, allowing the aluminum trigger device to visibly slide behind the rear of the canister.
Reverse operation will allow unloading once the canister is depleted and needs to be replaced.
The 4,5/5 kg (10-12lbs) trigger will allow the shooter to squeeze six to eight ½-second micro-bursts or a continuous spray towards the attacker, depending on the trigger motion. The cone-shaped mist delivery reaches typically up to 182 cm / 6 feet of effective range.
The short range is probably the only real downside of the design, but that's balanced by the high-grade of ergonomics which make it by far one of the most user-friendly pepper sprays available at a global level – particularly when it comes to women, young adults, and small-handed users at large.
The AceCo Micro-Shot pepper spray dispenser is compatible with a vast majority of subcompact pistol holsters. Its selling price point is set at $150.00 – a high price for its category, definitely the second downside of the design, but there is an impressive amount of engineering that has gone into this product, and the use of high quality material is backed by a lifetime warranty against breakage, which is something that other dispensers don't have.
The manufacturer advertises the Micro-Shot as "the last and only pepper spray dispenser you will buy" – and that may very well be true. AceCo ships the Micro-Shot globally. International users shall contact the company for further information.