SALT Self Defense Weapon: Between Pepper Spray and the Gun

By Stu Chisholm

SALT Self Defense Weapon
SALT Self Defense Weapon
Knowing Guns: The Ins & Outs of Firearms & Firearms Politics for the Uninitiated
Knowing Guns: The Ins & Outs of Firearms & Firearms Politics for the Uninitiated

Detroit, Michigan –-(Ammoland.com)- It’s become a cliché to say that Chicago is a dangerous town.

Despite its strict gun controls, Chicago has often ranked as one of the most violent cities in the U.S., and one such violent incident made a very big impression on neighbors Adam Kennedy and Andy McIntosh.

When a young man they knew was shot to death on their block in 2014, they began to ponder ways to keep themselves and their families safe, and still keep a gun in their home, yet avoid anyone having to die in the process.

We “gun guys” and gals know the classic dilemma when children are in the home; a child will ultimately get into just about everything, yet an unloaded and/or locked up firearm will be useless if an intruder breaks into your home in the middle of the night.  There are stopgap measures, such as rapid access safes, yet as I’ve written previously, a good many of them are useless in keeping kids out, and add a delay – a barrier – between you and your gun.

Up until now, the trade-off has been for the parent/gun owner to simply be diligent, keeping the defensive handgun always under their control during waking hours and trusting that their admonishments, safety lectures and instruction “sinks in” to their child’s head.

Yet Adam and Andy, had an even better idea: what if you could have instant access to your gun, yet if a curious child did find it, the result might hurt a little, but not be fatal, or even injurious over the long term?

This line of thinking was the genesis of the SALT pistol.

SAFER, NOT “SMART”

From their website: “SALT is a completely new idea in home protection that can both protect your family from an intruder as well as the fatal accidents that all too often accompany a traditional firearm in the home.”  Not only does this mean children, but the biggest bulk of “gun deaths” in the U.S.: suicides (over 60%, according to FBI statistics).

To make this idea a reality, the partners took the opposite path from the “smart gun” crowd, avoiding things like failure-prone electronics (and the batteries that accompany them), and instead combined two tried-and-true technologies: paintball guns and pepper spray.

The first part was easy: scaling down a paintball gun using a CO2 gas cylinder, this type of system has been in use for decades.  I played with a CO2 powered BB gun as a kid, and it was powerful enough to punch holes in the then new aluminum stop signs.  The SALT pistol is able to propel its munitions at more than 300 fps, giving it an effective range of 150-200 feet, far greater than any typical indoor intruder scenario will present.

The real power behind SALT is the tiny spherical “bullet”, which is basically a capsule that contains a military grade concoction of skin, eye and lung irritants.  In fact, according to the company’s website, “The chemical compounds in every SALT round exceeds the potency of those commonly used by the Department of Homeland Security and US military.”  In short, these babies pack a wallop!  “SALT’s chemical compounds are specially designed to hang in the air,” the website further proclaims, “where they are easily inhaled, [and] react with the moisture of the eyes or adhere to the oils present on skin.”  This property allows for a defensive, as well as offensive capability.  For instance, not only can you hit an intruder with a round that impacts with the force of a 50 mph fastball and leave him blinded and gasping for air, but you could also hit the doorframe or windowsill, providing a chemical barrier between you and the bad guy that even a loaded-up crackhead would balk at passing through.  In short, even a near miss can count!  Yet the chemicals have “been proven safe and effective by more than 5000 agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Military and the Federal Bureau of Prisons”.

The final two considerations, though, are something I see often as an NRA Certified Firearms Instructor: flinching due to noise and recoil, and the inability of some women and seniors to rack the slide of a traditional semi-auto firearm.  With the SALT pistol, these are of no concern.  The CO2 powered pellets have nowhere near the “kick” of, say, a 9mm JHP, and the gun can be fired without the need for any hearing protection.  Also, there is no slide to rack.  The compressed gas does all the work.

To create this radical new type of gun, and assure that they started off with an extremely reliable platform, Adam and Andy turned to the #1 maker of air guns in the world: Tippmann.  They then went to work on the rounds the gun would fire, carefully choosing the chemicals, their strengths and their combinations to incapacitate a person by specifically focusing the powder to negatively affect the eyes and lungs.  Among the active ingredients is oleoresin capsicum, naturally derived from ghost peppers and familiar to anyone who uses traditional pepper spray.  Lastly, there’s even a bit of picatinny rail for mounting lights or lasers on the pistol.

ANTI, PRO OR NEITHER?

As I look over their website, it seems obvious that the two men have a genuine passion about personal protection while placing a premium on keeping everyone safe, including innocent children and family members, and yes, even the hapless bad guy who might barge in uninvited.  In their FAQ section is the question: “Are you trying to take away the right to bear arms in this country”, to which they answer,

“No, we are not.  The mission of SALT is to keep the people you love safe.  If a traditional firearm is the best safety device for you and your family, then we support you.  But we also want to support the 2/3rds of American households who do not feel like a traditional firearm is the right choice for them.  So SALT was created to provide a new type of safety for those 76 million households left unprotected today.”

My only trepidation is a reference to an anti-gun study by Dr. Arthur Kellermann in their FAQ section under the question, “How dangerous is a traditional firearm anyway?”

SALT Ammo
SALT Ammo

I cannot decide if this is included in order to extoll the virtues of their safer gun (a.k.a. a marketing gimmick), or if this is something that they still believe, as I once did before checking into it.  (I have written to them about this.  I’ll post an update should a reply be forthcoming.)  Yet overall, their stated support of those who choose traditional firearms and rejection of the whole “smart gun” idea, as well as referring to their creation as a “gun”, rather than some pithy metaphor to appease the hoplophobic reader leads me to think that what you see is what you get.  Also good news: the SALT Pistol does not trip any “trigger laws” that will bar the sale of traditional firearms, which might account for the lack of any reaction on the part of the NRA and other gun rights groups.

So if you’re a parent, or have an unstable family member in your immediate household that makes having a readily accessible firearm difficult, perhaps the SALT Pistol could be a good option for you.

 

About the author:
Mobile DJ, business owner/entrepreneur and author Stu Chisholm was born in Detroit, Michigan. A columnist for the DJ industry trade magazine, Mobile Beat, Stu’s series on “DJ Security” contained a controversial segment on concealed carry and the use of guns. It was later included in, and expanded upon, in his book, “The Complete Disc Jockey,” published in 2008. Running a business and pursuing what he considers logical security measures, Stu obtained his CCW permit in the state of Michigan in the late ’90s and later became active in the gun rights movement. He joined the grass roots group MCRGO, the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners, helping to reform Michigan’s concealed carry law in 2001. Stu remains an active DJ, writer and activist, and is currently collaborating on an upcoming science-fiction book set in Detroit’s near future. He is married to cable television producer, Janette Chisholm and lives in Roseville, Michigan.

  • 21 thoughts on “SALT Self Defense Weapon: Between Pepper Spray and the Gun

    1. Wonder if they kept the same diameter as standard paintballs? The tacticool pistol they have is nice, but my speedball marker can do 30 balls a second on full auto mode.

    2. Nearly all boilerplate municipal codes cover these as a “firearm” because they propel a projectile through chemical and or mechanical means. I’ve never had fake guns in my home. They never serve the purposes we say they do. And a fake gun will still get you shit by the police or, more probably, someone who thinks you have a real gun. You want pepper spray, get pepper spray. Pepper and similar chemicals take time to take effect, good luck with using this thing

    3. While I don’t believe that this product is nearly as effective as a real firearm, I do see the potential of this product as a stepping stone for people who may be fearful of a real gun in the home but wanting something for defense. As such, this may be a preliminary product that help people become more comfortable with having a projectile device in the house leading to more “real gun” owners. How many of us started with BB guns? And before that Nerf or dart guns?
      My hope is that these devices will fill a void leading to more responsible gun ownership.

    4. Sorry but I have seen chemical weapons fail on the street and in the house, they seem especially prone to failure if the actor is coked up or tweaking. One actor we hosed with pepper twice on the street, and at the house he was still acting up and took a full LE can in the face from 1 foot away with no noticeable effect. It may work but when your life is on the line do you want may or will?

    5. One issue I see is that if the chemicals are designed to “hang in the air”, those same chemicals could impact the homeowner/parent. You would not be able to pass through an area where the chemicals were used without being impacted yourself. If you shot a wall to create an area where “a loaded-up crackhead would balk at passing through”, then you yourself wouldn’t be able to pass through and maybe prevent an escape.

      This is another tool for people to use as long as they understand how to use it and the issues involved with using it…just like a traditional firearm.

    6. Not a new concept . . . this is at least the third variation I’ve seen.

      It will sink without a trace just like the previous versions, since it doesn’t work any better.

    7. It will be viewed as a real gun. So one side uses lead and you have salt–hummmm? But it will season steaks at 200 feet-not a bad feature if you BBQ has a grease fire (flare up) problem.

    8. three hundred and fifty bucks, what are they nuts? I just purchased a mint condition
      9×18 makorov, with holster, lanyard, extra mag, for less money, and I know 100%
      without a doubt what it will do to an intruder, robber, rapist. I think these fellas have
      seen to many stories on the bug-a-salt pistol for shooting salt at flies, that might I
      say are only thirty bucks, and they decided to jump on the band wagon. For three
      and a half, get yourself a real pistol, and get rid of your false hope. The family you
      save, may be your own. If your on the fence about it, go to a gun range, talk to people,
      ask questions, take the nra pistol course, but don’t bet your life on a product that is
      making someone else wealthy, and possibly making you dead, from a bad choice.

    9. All of the CO2 powered rifles and pistols I have owned worked fine when the CO2 cartridge was initially activated, but ALL of them leaked out their gas charge over time.
      To be confident this pistol would work when needed, one would have to puncture the CO2 cylinder just before firing.
      How long would that take under duress or when being attacked?
      I believe this product presents a potential false sense of security.

    10. Have they tested this on their target demographics, children? Specifically, is it really safe especially if one of them is looking down its barrel when a shot is fired?

      As someone who had been exposed to OC plenty of times (as an LEO), have they bothered to see what kind of an effect it has on everyone when it is discharged inside the home, with windows closed and the A/C or Heat running? What about the homeowner’s ability to fend off a physical attack after they are exposed to the OC?

      It may have a niche, but it is in no way a replacement to the utility of the gun in self-defense. Instead of a replacement for the gun, it would be better off marketed as a supplement for use in the applicable range of the Force Continuum.

    11. Jim: SALT stands for Safer ALTernative; that’s NOT what it shoots. (The munitions are a combination of chemicals, mostly pepper.)
      Carlos: Those are good points. I will be getting a sample unit to test and plan on reporting on it here. I think the point is not whether it is perfectly safe in all situations, but that nobody is going to die whatever the outcome. Yet, as we know with TASERs, no non-lethal system is ever 100% non-lethal. If someone is frail and/or has diminished lung capacity, I’d hate to think what might happen. All in all, though, I see this as a gun for people who would otherwise never consider buying an actual firearm.

    12. I agree with the other posters who feel that this is just another tool in a use-of-force continuum. It’s effectiveness is only speculative at this time, but it could have some benefit over a baseball bat or a stun gun. It is not and cannot be used as a replacement for a lethal force weapon like a firearm or a knife. That said, during my time in law enforcement, I encountered several situations where pepper spray and batons were more intimidating than firearms. That is because the thugs know the rules of engagement better than we do, and know that LEO’s are reluctant to use lethal force. Pepper spray, on-the-other-hand can be used with far less discretion and the bad guys know it. A punk who will sit and taunt an officer to shoot him will run back into his hole the minute the CS or pepper spray comes out. This product is more of a professional’s tool than anything I would recommend to a novice. It should also be some other color than black, preferably yellow or blue. Novices should go with UDAP bear spray in the biggest can they can get, and keep a 12 gauge as back up in case that doesn’t stop the intruder. Bear spray is proven to be more effective than a gun on real predators — Grizzlies. One other comment… proper response to an intruder who is believed armed is to notify authorities while getting all friendlies away or to a safe place inside the bldg. Never, never, never attempt to “clear” a house by yourself. I am SWAT trained and I would be very reluctant to search a house for an armed intruder by myself, especially with friendlies inside. Fogging a hallway is a great way to seal off an area outside of a locked bedroom, even if it does get into the vents.

    13. My guess is that anyone who buys and then uses this thing thinking it will save a life, will ultimately WISH they had bought a REAL GUN!

    14. UPDATE: The SALT folks DID send me a sample! I plan on putting together a suitable series of tests to see just now effective (or not) this thing is. Stay tuned.

      P.S.
      To Dave: yes, CO2 cannisters DO leak over time, no matter how good the seal might be. The SALT pistol overcomes this obstacle by keeping the canister unpunctured until actually needed. This requires one trigger pull to puncture the cartridge and another to fire the pellet. So, basically, your first shot is a double-tap. Clever, yet worrisome at the same time. I will build this into my test.

      1. Make sure to note in your review what the caliber is. It would be great to know if it is .62 cal (standard paint ball), .50 cal (simi standard mini paint ball) or if it uses some proprietary ammo.

    15. I agree with a lot of folks about having a gun if you really want to feel more confident about saving your loved ones in a break in.
      I never had to worry about my children thinking guns were toys. As soon as the were big enough to chamber a round they were at the range with me learning what a gun can do to anything it hits when fired. I took away the curiosity they had about guns.
      Teaching my kids to shoot also kept them away from guns incase their friends pulled one out to show them what they had “found”. They knew that if they wanted to shoot I’d take them with a little notice, the closest place to shoot was an hour away. One way.
      I’ll stick with knowledge to protect my children against curiosity about guns, rather than take a chance on whatever someone might think will work. It’s a fact that guns work.
      It’s time my Grandchildren started to learn also and my Daughter and Son in Law are doing a great job already. Plus we get the added benefit of raising future gun owners in most case’s.

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