Lifelite TCP Pepper Ball Launcher, by Pat Cascio

Lethal force, less-lethal force, less-than-lethal force, non-lethal force…it can all be very confusing, and when it comes down to it, a jury will be the ones deciding your fate, in a court room, whenever you use any type of “force” to defend yourself or your loved ones. And, no matter what you might think of the amount of force you use, you could still be wrong. Not too many years ago, a Texas judge ruled that a man who was involved in a fight, used lethal force to kill another man. The “lethal” force used – it was his cowboy boots – you see, he stomped the other man to death. Ordinarily, you wouldn’t consider a pair of cowboy boots as a lethal weapon, or for that matter, a “weapon” at all. So, you see, it all boils down to what a judge and jury say, vis-a-vis the amount of force you might have used.

Some months back, I did an article on Lifelite’s pepper ball “flashlight” – for lack of a better term, and it was very impressive – it even had a laser for aiming it, still it wasn’t quite what some folks were looking for. It is a very popular item in many teacher’s desks – as a last resort to help defend against a school shooter – nice idea and many teachers are storing these “flashlights” locked in their desk drawer.

Now, Lifelite just came out with a pepper ball “gun” – and it does resemble a handgun – though any knowledgeable person would readily realize it isn’t a handgun – or at least they should. The TCP Launcher is quite unique if you ask me, first of all, it fits the hand nicely, and secondly, it has sights so you can aim it. And, it is a semi-auto “handgun” – it will fire 6 pepper balls or practice balls as fast as you can pull the trigger.

The TCP is advertised as a non-lethal solution to many problems–more on this later–but it is a darn good idea for anyone who doesn’t want to own firearms for self-defense. I believe this launcher would be great for home-defense, as well as on the streets. It is a bit big, but it can be carried in a holster than Lifelite sells – and it is a nice holster. Many security officers are not armed these days – some have nothing more than a pair of handcuffs and if they are lucky, a can of pepper spray, and it doesn’t always work, especially in the outdoors where the wind might be blowing – it can, and does get blown back into the face of the user – not a fun thing. Then we have pepper spray, that isn’t a spray, rather it comes out of the can in a stream something akin to Silly String – and it is a better option than the spray, plus it can be had with dye in it, to help ID an attacker who might have run away.

Some History

When I was doing plain clothes store security work, way back in the day, back in Chicago. We worked armed, and believe me, it was very comforting to have that handgun on my side on more than one occasion. A short story…while working a special detail at a store outlet over Christmas, there were 6 of us working plain clothes, and two off-duty Chicago police officer, working in security guard uniforms. We averaged more than 25 arrests per day on a slow day over the two week period, some days many more arrests were made. Everyone had gone to lunch except me, and I spotted a pro shoplifter, he had on a long overcoat with built-in booster pockets, and he folded up two suits and slipped them into the pockets.

We mostly worked from a platform, built off the ground in this outlet store – and it was several feet off the ground, with two-way mirrors. I could tell that this male shoplifter was tall and big, but I had no idea how tall he was, until I ran and met him leaving the store – he was huge! I was very much into the martial arts in those days, however I knew this man would give me a fight. I identified myself with my badge and asked him nicely to please turn around and return to the store so we could straighten out a few things. He told me “I’m going to walk all over you.” And he was big enough to do it, too. I simply drew my handgun and put it in his face and said “no sir, you are not…” and he said “okay” and we walked back into the store. Lethal force would probably have been justified, because of his size.

In case you didn’t know it, Wal-Mart has plain clothes security officers, and they are NOT armed – not armed with a handgun, pepper spray, or even a pair of handcuffs, and they are not allowed to pursue a shoplifter once they leave the Wal-Mart sidewalk and head towards their car in the parking lot, and if they walk on the sidewalk, if they get more than about 10-feet away from one of the plain clothes security officers, the security officer is not allowed to pursue them – stupid policies if you ask me. Before they had this policy, my oldest daughter, who is a 2nd degree Black Belt in karate, took down a shoplifter who was armed with a fixed blade knife – he drew it on her and another security officer…happy ending to it all, though. However, my daughter got a dressing down for taking on an armed person.

I would love to see security officers carrying the TCP pepper ball launcher armed with this “handgun”. It is better than trying to wrestle a suspect to the ground or fighting off someone armed with a knife, or more than one attacker.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the features of the TCP: As already mentioned, it is semi-auto, so you can fire off 6 rounds of pepper balls as fast as you can pull the trigger. It comes with two, 6-round magazines. And it can launch pepper balls or inert (powered filled) balls up to 150-feet with accuracy. And, these balls are traveling about 250 feet per second – they hit with authority. Unlike some paint ball guns, these will sure leave a serous welt if you are hit with one of these balls. It also uses regular round projectiles, as well as the more accurate VXR balls. It also uses either CO2 and N2 cartridges. In sub-freezing temps, the N2 cartridges are advisable. The gun only uses 8-gram gas cartridges, not the larger 12-gram.

TCP Pepperball LauncherBTW,  this shoots .68 caliber balls – the hole in the barrel is more than a little intimidating to someone on the receiving end. It was 1.71-lbs, so its not a burden to carry all day long in a holster, or even in a purse. There is a nice video on the web site, that explains and shows how easy it is to use the TCP. And, I’m here to tell you, this this is very accurate. My oldest daughter and myself were testing it, with some of the inert balls, and fired it at the door of our pump house and could easily get groups of a couple inches at more than 30 feet, without really trying.

Now, for the “interesting” part of my testing, I sure didn’t want to get hit with one of the pepper balls – no way, thank you! And, you don’t even have to directly hit an attacker – the pepper balls breaks upon impact, and it will spread out about 12-feet – so if you are a police officer, and someone is behind cover, or around a corner, you can send a pepper filled balls in that direction, and it will still have the effect of hitting the person directly. I had one lone volunteer, who would test to see how effective the pepper balls were and he stood several feet away from the impact area, and the pepper still got him – a quick rinse with clear water took care of things, but he was more than a little impressed with the effect of the pepper ball – that only impacted close to him. Just think how it would do if you hit someone in the chest?

TCP Pepperball LauncherNow, we have come full-circle on lethal force, less-than-lethal-force, and non-lethal force. Once again it comes down to how a judge will look at it. And, to be sure, any non-lethal force, can, under the right circumstances, become lethal. Just imagine hitting someone in the eye with one of these pepper balls or even a powder-filled ball – it could easily penetrate to the brain – killing them. So, in my humble opinion, and its just that, my opinion, there is no such thing as a 100% non-lethal method of force – everything has it’s consequences – so be advised.

The TCP sample I received had a dozen CO2 cartridges, and 150 practice (inert, talcum powder-filled) balls – but no pepper balls at all. Hmmm, and it took me more than three weeks to get some pepper balls. What you get in the TCP package is one yellow TCP launcher–they don’t use the word “gun”–two black 6-round magazines, one manual, spec sheet and a nice poly case. But there are no pepper balls, practice balls or CO2 cartridges. For the sum of $399, I would sure like to see a couple CO2 cartridges included, and half a dozen practice balls and half a dozen pepper balls. Hopefully, this is just a slight oversight on the behalf of Lifelite.

I really liked the TCP – a lot! It would be a great addition to anyone’s self-defense techniques and battery of “weapons” to help keep them safe. Check out their web site for more information.


  1. Interesting article and nice piece of equipment. But it might be something that will get the user killed if it doesn’t actually stop an infuriated bad guy. (I would want a real back-up piece). We’ll have to follow this item on news reports.

    As a side note, I thought it interesting how shoplifters were dealt with in the past. Today most store policies just let the shoplifter go without confrontation. Prior to becoming a police officer my son worked his way through college at Home Depot. He actually witnessed a guy wheeling a flat of tools to his car and called store security. By the time they got there the thief was at his loading his car and was “off-limits”. This type of policy may be the norm unless readers enlighten me.

    Also, my son’s police force was briefed last week that they should not confront nor arrest shoplifters that steal items under $25.00 because it was not in the ‘best interest of the government’.

    1. Far easier to simply raise prices on the people who pay for their merchandise.

      I worked as a security guard at a shut down paper plant once. The company that bought it ripped out anything of value, mostly copper and stainless steel.

      They discovered that one of the guards had stolen about $27,000 worth of stainless steel pipe over the preceding year (he took it down to the local recycler, which was his downfall).

      He was fired, but wasn’t prosecuted. Too much trouble… not worth paying the lawyers… the guy had made more than twice what his yearly salary was by selling the SS, and ended up getting another job anyway a week later. It made the rest of us feel like complete idiots for being honest.

      Who says crime doesn’t pay? Your government encourages it, and even private companies go along to get along.

    2. I did store security work at Sears in the 80s. There were few rules. We routinely tackled and handcuffed shoplifters. There was a rash of thefts from cars in the parking lot so we had a guy in the lot doing surveillance who got in a car chase! It wasn’t even a lot owned by the store. I don’t think any store allows anything like that now.

  2. Don’t supposed you did any informal practice to see what it would shoot like at longer ranges? Wondering what range you could shoot and still keep a 6″ group?

  3. Nice review. But, with 12 foot dispersion pattern it may affect you in the confines of a home when used during a home invasion. And, if used for home, it doesn’t need the 150 foot range. Finally, I would use the $399 for a bullet launcher that would STOP a home invader, as I would assume he/she was armed and intended to do me bodily harm.

  4. Great review as always. It is like bringing a knife to a gunfight, better than nothing, maybe. If I need to defend, I want the best available at my disposal. I am confident the perp did.

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