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Pepperball TCP: Personal Defense Launcher Review

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We’ve written about a lot of self-defense on the Gritr Sports blog over the years, but seldom do we touch on less-lethal or even non-lethal self-defense techniques and tools. Aside from the occasional pepper spray or taser post, the majority of self-defense content seems anchored towards lethal self-defense. There is good reason for this. In the event of an attack, rarely do you want to give the attacker a chance to get back up. However, the reality is non-lethal self-defense tools can be just as important in an arsenal as a handgun. Today we’re going to look at one of the most popular non-lethal devices on the market, the Pepperball TCP (Tactical Combat Pistol) Non-Lethal Personal Defense Launcher.


The Pepperball TCP essentially looks and functions like a striker fired handgun with a few key exceptions. First and foremost, there is no slide or chamber to insert the Pepperball ammo. Instead everything is housed in the removable six round magazine. The magazine is loaded from the top, and you can use either practice rounds or the Pepperball defense rounds. Pepperball also produces rifled balls known as VXR Projectiles that offer better patterns than the round projectiles.

Alongside the six round magazine a small 8g CO2 cartridge is inserted to power the launcher. There is a traditional magazine release near the trigger, and oddly it is lefty dominant. (You’re welcome lefties!) The launcher also features a large finger safety above the trigger which is right dominant from the safe to fire position. In a change from normal handguns, the CO2 cartridge needs to be punctured or activated before the magazine is ready to shoot. From there you only have a limited amount of time before the CO2 cartridge loses power and needs to be replaced. This time limit is 24 hours. After that the shots will not fly as far as the 150 ft. advertised max distance, depending on your velocity settings, which we’ll get into during testing. The CO2 cartridge can be left un-staged if you’re not planning on using it right away.


  • Length – 8 inches.
  • Height – 6.5 inches.
  • Weight – 1.71 pounds.
  • Caliber – .68.
  • Action – Semi-auto.
  • Power source – 8g CO2 cartridge.
  • Magazine capacity – 6 rounds (two magazines included in the box).
  • Available in yellow, bronze and black colors.

Unboxing / Testing

The Pepperball TCP comes in a high quality snap plastic case. Actually when it arrived in a box, I thought no way the launcher is this big! Kudos to Pepperball for including a case like this with the launcher, it’s higher quality than most handgun cases I’ve seen, and most of those handguns were at much higher price points. The launcher, two removable magazines, a barrel cleaning tool, a small tube of lubricant, and an Allen wrench to adjust the launcher velocity. I was kind of disappointed the kit didn’t come with starter ammo, but hey handguns don’t either, right.


It is important to understand the Pepperball projectile types as well as their range and limitations before purchasing this project. A huge strength of the Pepperball Launcher system is the ability to fire 17, that’s right 17(!) different projectile types. Now there are only two shapes as we outlined above, round and the rifled VXR projectiles, but they come in several different materials suited to different uses.

The primary self-defense projectiles feature either CS or PAVA chemical irritants. These chemicals are also used in gasses to subdue suspects in police activities. CS and PAVA both have different effects, at least to my understanding of the compounds (I have not, thankfully had to test these in person like officers do). Generally CS is better for confined spaces and has a longer lasting effect than PAVA. On the other hand PAVA is generally more unpleasant than CS, and fewer people experience long term issues after exposure to PAVA. On the downside, PAVA doesn’t last as long as CS. If you’re not sure which to use, Pepperball offers a combination PAVA/CS projectile in both ball and VXR form.

In addition to CS and PAVA ammo, Pepperball TCP offers specialty and training ammo types. You’ll definitely want to stock up on some water-filled and inert projectiles to test out this launcher. There are also projectiles designed to break glass for entry and marker rounds that can be used to identify a suspect on the run. Generally these are more for law enforcement use, and I doubt civilian users will need them very often.

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