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PepperBall HotShot

PepperBall® Technologies has a decade-long history of producing non-lethal launchers and projectiles for law enforcement, and it is the largest supplier of PAVA-based projectiles. Since its inception, the company has sold more than 15 million projectiles and 16,500 launchers. PepperBall launchers and projectiles have proven highly effective with no reported serious injuries or fatalities during deployments in the field.

The HotShot™ is new from PepperBall and available to the general public. Don’t be put off by this availability—the HotShot has law enforcement applications. The University of Georgia Police Department recently made the HotShot its non-lethal weapon of choice, replacing the old pepper spray devices carried by its officers.
The HotShot is designed to overcome proximity issues with non-complying subjects. Applications for the HotShot include personal defense, suspect control / apprehension / extraction, confined space denial, dignitary protection and animal control.

The HotShot system consists of a reloadable launcher module and quick-reload disposable cartridges. Made of polymer and aluminum, the launcher module is rugged and lightweight, weighing only 3.4 ounces fully loaded. The only moving parts are the sliding safety latch and the ambidextrous trigger. The complete HotShot system (launcher and cartridge) is compact and easy to carry and conceal, measuring 6 inches by 1 inch by 1.8 inches. The launcher is equipped with a split ring for attachment of a wrist lanyard.

The HotShot will fit in most MK-IV-size OC holsters. PepperBall Technologies also offers a nylon clip-on holster for the HotShot that is convenient for plainclothes and off-duty officers.

Loading and reloading the HotShot takes only seconds. Two different cartridges are available: Red PAVA?(Hot Pepper) Cartridges and Blue Disposable Practice Cartridges. The Red Hot Pepper Self Defense Cartridge contains 5 grams of PAVA. The Practice Cartridge contains 5 grams of scented baby powder instead of PAVA. The agent is discharged by means of a pressurized CO2 canister contained within the cartridge. The cartridges have a three-year expiration date.

PepperBall uses PAVA (Pelargonic Acid Vanillylamide) as the chemical agent in all of its products. Also known as Capsaicin II or Nonivamide, PAVA is one of the two hottest capsaicinoids. The PepperBall HotShot employs a certified level of 5 percent PAVA in a proprietary combination of inert carriers and dispersion agents. The PAVA powder is faster acting and more effective than traditional pepper sprays.

The effects of the PepperBall PAVA formulation are similar to those of an OC fogger spray, only more pronounced. PAVA powder will irritate the eyes, nose and lungs, and may cause severe coughing and involuntary closure of the eyes. The effects will last up to 20 minutes after exposure.

The HotShot launches a visible PAVA barrier cloud up to 12 feet, depending on wind and weather conditions. According to the company, a single blast from the HotShot is equivalent to 20 PepperBall Rounds. The delivery of the agent in a cloud obviously increases the likelihood of cross contamination. The company recommends against employing the HotShot at distances less than an arm’s length away.

Eugene Nielsen provides investigative and tactical consulting services and is a former officer. He may be reached at

Published in Tactical Response, May/Jun 2010

Rating : 10.0

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