Less Lethal Defensive Tools

Not all threats justify the use of lethal force. Often less-lethal force may be justified where lethal force may not. Also, due to the broken gun owner licensing system in places like Illinois, which create a wait of several months for new gun owners to purchase a firearm, sometimes less-lethal defensive tools are the ONLY legal and lawful options. Another area you may want to carry less-lethal defensive tools is when entering some gun-free zones.

This article is designed to give you a brief overview of some of the options for less-lethal defensive tools. Less lethal weapons are known by a variety of names including non-lethal, less than lethal, non-deadly, etc… The reality is these weapons are not intended and are less than likely to cause death. However, death may still occur, especially with electricity-based weapons or for someone with preexisting medical conditions.

Some types of less-lethal defensive tools include…

  • Impact weapons
  • Stun-guns and tasers
  • Pepper Spray
  • Flashlights

Impact weapons

Impact weapons are numerous and some even novel. One may immediately think of a club or possibly brass knuckles, however, more options exist. Monkey fists are balled up lengths of rope and they hurt when you get hit.  Another option is a stinger, which is a punching tool, which concentrates the force of a punch thus increasing the pain.

Stun-guns and tasers

Stun guns and tasers are both electrical devices designed to hurt or incapacitate an attacker. Stun guns are up close and personal contact weapons meaning you have to contact the attacker with the stun gun. Tasers are projectile weapons offering some range, which shoots two barbs into and electrify the attacker.  Because stun guns are contact weapons, the user is in a vulnerable position.  The taser will work if both barbs penetrate the attacker, but both barbs don’t always spread enough or always penetrate the attacker.

Pepper Spray

Pepper spray is a chemical agent made up of extracts from the pepper. How would you like to rub hot sauce all over your face and eyes? Not likely? Pepper spray has the same effect on an attacker.

Pepper spray is available in a stream, mist/spray, and foam types. The stream is likely the best because the mist type is more likely to affect the user as well as the attacker. In addition, when selecting a good quality pepper spray, do your research. They aren’t all the same. Some pepper spray is only mildly irritating, while others will have an immediate effect. A product such as Sabre 3 in 1 will cause pain, inflammation, and mark the attacker for later tracking and prosecution.


If you don’t think a flashlight can be a great defensive tool I encourage you to sit down, take a 400-lumen flashlight, and shine it directly in your eyes. Now imagine a 600 or 1,000 lumen light. Don’t do this if you have any medical conditions though. I would hate for this advice to cause a seizure in anyone.  A flashlight can be used as not only a ranged tool to blind and disorient an attacker but also as an impact weapon. With the right techniques, a good quality flashlight becomes a very effective less-lethal defensive tool. I personally carry the Surefire G2ZX Combat light which is 600 blinding lumen in a very compact package, however, there are more affordable alternatives.

The legality of some of these less-lethal defensive tools…

Laws vary state to state and indeed even sometimes municipality to municipality. In places such as Illinois, most weapons are regulated in one way or another. Let’s take a brief peek at the Illinois laws surrounding the above mentioned defensive tools, but please do research in much greater detail before making a purchase.

In regards to impact weapons, some impact weapons such as brass knuckles are illegal to purchase and possess. There are many manufacturers who will fashion similar performing items but design them to be key chains or bottle openers.  Beware that you are dancing a fine line and could be charged for these items. A flashlight could be a better impromptu impact weapon because it is easier to argue away the intended use of a flashlight than it would be a brass knuckle.

In regards to Stun guns and tasers, an Illinois Firearm Owner Identification card would be necessary to purchase and possess a stun gun. You can not carry a stun gun with the intent to use unlawfully. You can not carry in a place that sells alcohol, school, college, courthouse, and more restrictions.

In regards to pepper spray, it is legal for persons over the age of 18 within Illinois. However, there are some restrictions in places like Chicago where you can actually use it. For example, Chicago prohibits the use of pepper spray in enclosed areas with more than 20 people.

There are no restrictions on flashlights in Illinois or anywhere else that I am aware of. That is unless you “intend” to use the flashlight unlawfully.

Summary About Less Lethal Defensive Tools

In closing, it is important to remember that this article was written to be a brief introduction to the different less-lethal options. A person who is considering which option is best for them should perform additional research into each option, before making a decision. When making a decision ensure you know the practicality and legality before you buy. It is my sincere hope that nobody who has read this ever needs to deploy their defensive tools. However, I also hope that if you are left with no choice, that you do so swiftly and decisively so that you can safely escape harm.

Be armed. Be trained. Be Alpha.


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