An earlier article outlined the benefits of adding oleoresin capsicum (OC) pepper spray to your non-lethal defensive tool line-up. OC, the active ingredient in pepper spray, has a long track record of proven effectiveness and there are several affordable options to choose from. But the aerosol spray canisters used to deliver pepper spray do have their limitations.
One company that has worked successfully to extend the effective range of OC is PepperBall. In 2018, the company applied its experience in long-range military and law enforcement OC delivery systems to release the 5-shot LifeLite pepper ball launcher for civilian use. Inspired by recreational paintball guns, PepperBall LifeLite uses compressed CO2 gas canisters to fire 0.70" diameter ball-shaped capsules packed with a fine OC pepper-treated powder. When the capsules strike their intended target, or a hard surface near the target, they break open to release a cloud of debilitating dust that gets into the eyes, nose and throat of the assailant.
The Life Lite Mobile looks and operates much like an ordinary hand-held flashlight.
Although firearms and pepper sprays are limited to defensive applications, the LifeLite is a dual use device that can be put to work as a flashlight when the power goes out. When I tested the original LifeLite, the only critique I had was its relatively large size. I mentioned to the folks at PepperBall that I hoped they would offer something smaller that would be a better fit for backpacks, glove boxes or for walking the dog. Recently the company released a more compact model called the LifeLite Mobile. Here's a closer look at how it works, some of the changes to the features along with the performance test results.
The original 5-shot LifeLite (Left) compared to the 3-shot Mobile (Center) and 1-shot Compact (Right).
Instead of being shaped like a paintball gun or a pistol, the LifeLite Mobile looks and operates much like a hand-held flashlight. The metallic housing has a silver finish with black gripping surfaces. The front end of the launcher features two LEDs that provide 350 Lumens of white light and a laser sight, all of which are powered by three AAA batteries that are inserted into the grip. The business end also sports three ports. The top one has a thread cap which holds the 8-oz. CO2 gas canister in place. The bottom port is the spring loaded 'magazine' that holds up to three OC powder capsules. The central port is left uncovered to act as the launch tube. The back end of the grip is fitted with an adjustable wrist lanyard.
One of the things I appreciate about the LifeLite series is the thoughtful configuration of the controls. The company was very careful to make sure that customers won't fire the launcher when turning the light on and off or vice versa. The launching system and the flashlight operate separately of each other with distinctly different buttons and levers. This means the launcher will still fire if the batteries for the light and laser run out of power and that the flashlight will continue to shine after the launcher has been fired.
Two bright LED lights and a red laser sight aide in identifying the threat and aiming the launcher.
The flashlight is activated by a small round rubber button located on the right side of the housing. This button cycles the light through three settings, including constant on, a strobe light and an emergency S.O.S pattern strobe. The safety lever for the launcher is found on the left side of the light with the SAFE and FIRE positions clearly marked in red letters. In the SAFE position, the red lever blocks the trigger button so that the device will not fire. Pressing the lever forward into the FIRE position activates the red laser sight and frees the large, red textured trigger button located on top of the launcher. The Mobile arrives with the laser sighted in but it can be adjusted for height or windage if needed.
The Mobile is a handy companion to have for night time strolls.
The trigger button requires additional pressure in order to fire the first ball in the magazine because the first press also works to break the seal on the CO2 gas canister. After that, the Mobile can be fired two more times with a lighter press for each of the remaining shots. Replacing the CO2 gas canister and reloading three more of the inert practice pepper balls took about a minute and a half, so it’s not exactly a high speed operation.
The CO2 canisters provided with the Mobile contained enough pressure to fire up to six pepper balls at full power with some pressure left over. However, a LifeLite should not be stored with a used canister that has a broken seal because the gas will leak out relatively quickly. If the Mobile is fired, for practice or defense, the gas canister should be replaced with a new on along with the pepper balls.
The Mobile launcher ships with a set of gas canisters, inert practice rounds and live rounds.
To test the accuracy of the Mobile launcher, I opted to fire six shots at a Birchwood Casey 12x18" Dirty Bird target at the product's listed maximum effective range of 40-feet, which is just over 13 yards. Just for comparison, small pepper spray canisters have an effective range of around 3 to 6 yards. When we conduct accuracy testing for defensive handguns at the range, compact-size pistols (barrels between 3.5” and 4”) are fired at 15 yards while subcompact pistols (barrels shorter than 3.5”) are tested at 7 yards.
The Mobile launcher proved to be accurate at its listed maximum effective distance of 40 feet.
The Mobile can be comfortably fired one handed at shorter distances. But I wanted to stabilize it as much as possible for the 40-foot shots, so I held it two handed at waist level with the laser sight aimed at the target's orange bullseye. All six shots were solid center-of-mass hits with all of the capsules breaking and forming clouds of dust just like they were supposed to, even at the maximum distance.
The PepperBall LifeLite Mobile is a reliable, durable and accurate alternative to pepper spray with a much greater effective range and it’s a handy flashlight to boot. Unlike some pepper spray products, which must be sprayed directly into the eyes or face in order to be effective, PepperBall capsules produce effective clouds of OC powder that can stop the threat with a center-of-mass hit or a strike pretty much anywhere on the upper body. The Mobile can be staged with a defensive firearm as a back-up for home defense. It's also a good fit for hiking, camping or road trips in areas where carrying a handgun would be problematic. Just like other OC pepper sprays, make sure it's legal to own a LifeLite launcher where you live before you buy one. The PepperBall Mobile Kit is available for $199.99 with refill kits available for $39.99. For more information, visit shop.pepperball.com