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VIDEO Review : Presidia Gel — Effective, Less Lethal CS Spray

I recently got my hands on a less lethal CS spray called Presidia Gel from Reflex Protect. If you use OC spray, consider checking out this new product from Reflex Protect.

Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) and 2-Chlorobenzylidene Malononitrile (CS) are popular, less lethal chemical agents used by military, law enforcement and civilians. Whether applied in spray, powder, or gas form, these chemicals are an effective tool for self defense, hinder combat operations of the enemy or gain the compliance of an uncooperative subject.

Stick around to the end of the article to see a video of Presidia Gel in use.

A Very Brief Explanation of Chemical Agents —

If you served in the military, you’re familiar with the gas chamber, a room filled with CS gas. CS, also called “tear gas” is effective because it irritates the eyes, skin and lungs. Typically, one deploys CS as a gas, but is also available as liquid and gel sprays.

Exposure to the gas causes disorientation, burning sensation of the skin, involuntary closure, burning and tearing of the eyes, and excessive mucous discharge. Police use CS gas (and other chemical agents) to disperse riots and in other applications.

Dispersing a chemical agent via gas is efficient in a crowd, but bad if you need to target an individual within the crowd. Gas also goes where the wind sends it, so the ones deploying must use protective gear.

In essence, Capsicum is the substance in peppers which gives our food a spicey kick. When it's extracted and distilled, it causes irritation when applied to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes. Exposure to OC won’t kill you, but will make for a bad day.

OC, or “pepper spray” is probably the most popular product used in civilian and law enforcement applications, but it also comes in powder and gel, and gas form.

My Experience Using Chemical Agents —

In the Marine Corps, I trained other Marines in their use of OC spray. As a trainer, I took several direct exposures and some indirect/secondary exposures to OC. After that, when I went to the police academy, I had another exposure. On the streets, I used OC and also exposed via other officers using OC and fighting with suspects who had OC all over them.

My personal experience with OC revealed OC is effective on most people, but not all the time. When it didn’t work, or took a long time to be effective, it complicated the issue because of cross-contamination. OC spray delivered via aerosol spread in the wind, and dispersed in the air. What this meant is that spraying OC indoors almost ensured everyone in the area would feel its effects in their lungs and eyes; and spraying OC outdoors required considerations on the wind direction.

Prior to me leaving law enforcement, I tried a gel-based OC spray. The gel addressed the wind and targeting considerations, as well as its diffusing into the air, making it less of a problem if deployed inside a building or vehicle. But the gel was relatively thick and the target could “scoop” it up and throw it back on the one spraying it.

 

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What Lead me to Trying Presidia Gel —

I lead our Church’s security team. I started looking for a less lethal option for the guys and came across the Presidia Gel from Reflex Protect.

Reflex Protect lists these as attributes that make Presidia Gel different and better than the competition:

  • EXTREME STOPPING POWER

Immediate involuntary eye closure and disorientation incapacitates a violent subject upon contact.

  • CLEAN UP

Shockingly effective Reflex Remove decontaminant neutralizes Presidia Gel and provides relief from chemical agent symptoms within 2 minutes, compared to 15 minutes for competing products. Clean up is easy and fast for both people and surfaces. LE in Ohio call it “pure gold.”

  • NEW PROPRIETARY FORMULA

The product is NOT pepper spray, but a target-specific, gel, and rapid-onset CS formulation.

  • STICKS TO TARGET

Sprays a tight stream of sticky gel up to 15 feet with zero blow-back. Officers can isolate a subject in a group affecting no one nearby. Subject can't throw it back at officers.

  • SAFE WITH NO CONTAMINATION

Non-atomizing and doesn’t displace oxygen. Can safely deploy in crowds, indoors, within cells, and in vehicles. Non-flammable formula, safe to use with Electronic Restraint Devices (ERD).

I was especially interested in the “rapid-onset” nature of the product. I also think that especially for a church security team application, the product's non-atomizing, “indoor-friendly” gel-stream as a major plus.

Using Presidia Gel and Reflex Remove —

Claims are one thing, so before trusting the product, I wanted to test it out personally. So I reached out to the company and got a 1.9oz unit for testing and evaluation.

I enlisted the help of my wife and 9-year-old daughter for the evaluation. No, I didn't spray them. My wife sprayed me while our daughter record it for you all.

The things I set out to evaluate are:

  • How quickly does it work?
  • Can someone fight during the exposure?
  • Does it atomize and diffuse in the air?
  • At what distance is it effective?
  • What does exposure to the agent feel like?
  • How does the decontamination process work, and how long does it take?
  • What are the residual effects of an exposure?

What Does Exposure to Presidia Gel Feel Like?

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We conducted the evaluation outside on an 80° sunny day with a slight breeze. I took a roughly 4-second, facial exposure from about 10 feet away. While she sprayed me, my eyes were closed, and I attempted to open them once the spray stopped.

For the first 1-3 seconds I felt nothing, pain level zero. Right around the 3 second mark, the pain went to a 10 and the skin around my face and neck felt like I had an extreme sun burn. This is when I tried opening my eyes.

When training with OC in the past, after the exposure, we would open our eyes and try to fight an attacker while using pads. In my personal experience, and running hundreds of others through the training, about 60-70% of the people could fight for half a minute or more before they couldn't keep their eyes open. OC spray had little effect on roughly 10-20%, and the rest crumbled and gave up within 30 seconds. After an OC exposure, I can typically fight for a minute or so before it becomes too painful to open my eyes and see. I attribute this to multiple exposures, and knowing what to expect. I think this differs from “building up a tolerance” as some describe it.

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With the Presidia Gel, I tried opening my eyes. I really did, but it was just impossible. In fact,when I stopped squeezing my eyes closed, I immediately felt the Presidia Gel creep into the corners of my eyes. My eyes began burning and watering and no matter how much I wanted to, I could not open my eyes. Each time I tried, it was like a dose of chemical hit my eyes, causing intensifying the sharp, burning pain.

There was no buildup of pain and effects from Presidia Gel. It seemed to go from zero to 10, with nothing in between.

I could feel some slight burning in my throat and lungs, although I didn't receive a direct exposure in my mouth or nose. The experience with Presidia Gel differs from CS in gas form, or even OC Spray in an aerosol. With those products, especially CS gas, I've felt like I literally cannot breathe. With Presidia Gel, my throat and lungs felt burned, but I never felt like my breathing was at risk. I also had some nasal mucous discharge, although not as much as a gas exposure.

How Well Does Reflex Remove Work?

After about 30 seconds, but what seemed like way longer, I asked for the Reflex Remove. This product is supposed to flush and remove the Presidia Gel for quicker recovery.

It is difficult to remove oleoresin capsicum from the skin, and because OC's oily property, decontamination takes time. With OC, it seems like the pain persists but diminishes as the liquid spray dries. But as soon as you add water for decon, or sweat, it flares up like another exposure. I've used decontamination liquids for OC spray, and while they work better than water alone, the burning doesn't really stop until you remove the oil.

Pouring the Reflex Remove directly on the skin didn't remove the burning immediately. Per instructions, after pouring the liquid onto the skin, I blotted with a paper towel. It took two or three applications (20 second or so) before I started feeling like the Reflex Remove began working. It took about 2 minutes of repeated flushing and blotting before I could open my eyes and begin flushing out the Presidia Gel.

At about 4 minutes, I could keep my eyes open, although they were extremely puffy, irritated, and continuing to water profusely. The nasal mucous discharge subsided about the 5-6 minute mark. While I didn't feel totally “normal,” I felt like I was good enough to drive safely. This is remarkably less time than the 30-45 minutes it typically takes with OC spray.

After the Exposure/Lingering Effects —

It is normal to feel a “secondary exposure” to OC spray when you take a shower, even after thoroughly washing it off. I've even felt a minor flare up the next day from OC that I didn't remove completely.

I definitely felt the secondary burn in the shower with the Presidia Gel. I had quite a bit of the chemical in my hairline and beard. As I washed, I could feel a brief burning sensation work its way down my back. I recommend using something like Dawn dish soap in the shower because works best at removing everything. Once I finished the shower, I had only a minor skin irritation on my forearms, and my eyes were puffy and irritated.

decontaminating with Reflex Remove after a CS exposure

I have never experienced it firsthand, but I have seen some people experience chemical burns on their skin and eyes from OC spray. I didn't experience any of this with the Presidia Gel.

I would estimate that I used about 90% of the 8oz. Reflex Remove bottle. I'm not sure if this is typical, it's just my experience.

Answering Initial Questions and Some Observations —

Let's circle back to the original questions I wanted to answer:

  • How quickly does it work?
    • 1-3 seconds
  • Can someone fight during the exposure?
    • I don't think so, even if they had a high pain tolerance. It seemed eye closure was immediate and involuntary.
  • Does it atomize and diffuse in the air?
    • No. It remains a stream to about 10 feet outdoors, probably further indoors.
  • At what distance is it effective?
    • Depends on the setting, but 10-15 feet is probably a good estimate.
  • What does exposure to the agent feel like?
    • Similar to OC, burning skin and eyes, “hot” feeling in throat and lungs.
  • How does the decontamination process work, and how long does it take?
    • Repeated flushing and blotting with clean paper towels. Started working within a minute and I felt like I was back to “normal” in about 6 minutes.
  • What are the residual effects of an exposure?
    • My eyes remained sensitive for the rest of the night and felt normal the next day. Skin felt irritated until I showered and was normal in about 30 minutes.

First, it really is impossible to collect Presidia Gel and throw it back at the person spraying it. While it is a gel, it isn't as thick as other gel chemical agents I've used in the past. It felt like water on my skin, not thick like gel. I think it dispersed well on my skin and didn't just stay in one spot.

In the video, the Presidia Gel didn't splash or spatter when it hit my face. This seems to substantiate that you can use Presidia Gel indoors and target one person without exposing another person, even if they are standing right next to the target.

If you can avoid it, try not to empty the cannister. Like most products under pressure, when the product runs out, the last bit sputters out. You can see this in the still photo below. It probably isn't a factor indoors, but if outdoors, there is a possibility that the tiny particles drift back onto your hand. This happened to my wife. She felt a minor irritation on her hand and a spot on her face that she rubbed before realizing. We applied the Reflex Remove, and it worked perfectly.

The exposure caught on video lasted roughly 4 seconds. We tested the 1.9oz canister out before recording, to see effective distance and how much the wind would affect the stream. The testing comprised three, 1-2 second bursts of spray. I estimate you can expect around 7-10 seconds of spray from the small cannister.

Is Presidia Gel Safe and Legal to Use?

No chemical agent is without risk. However, the form of CS in this product is delivered in a gel solution, which reduces the issues that come from CS gas exposure. Using Presidia Gel comes with the same legal considerations as any other use of force and is determined on the individual circumstance. There is nothing illegal about Presidia Gel.

Final Thoughts —

I am quite impressed with the Presidia Gel from Reflex Protect.

Not only do I recommend the product for individual self defense, I think it is the perfect solution for hospital workers or those employees that routinely deal with aggressive people. Presidia Gel is new to me, but it's been out for a few years and already some police departments are using it, as well as some hospital staff and church security teams. Plus Presidia Gel is safe to use around Electronic Restraint Devices, which is a consideration for law enforcement.

I'll mention that Reflex Protect doesn't have a product with a clip like the popular “palm-sized” OC sprays. These typically fit easily in a pocket or attach to a key chain, and are 1/2 oz in size. The 1.9 oz size I tested doesn't have a clip and listed on their site “duty belt.” While quite larger than the 1/2 oz size, I found the 1.9 oz size fit in my pants pocket without being uncomfortable or noticeable. It is certainly too big to clip on a key chain, but not too large to carry every day in a purse or pants pocket. That said, I think the 1.9 oz size is probably more ideal for security who don't wear a duty belt, but want more than a 2-second burst of product. I suspect Reflex Protect doesn't have a smaller “palm-size” product because they market more toward security and law enforcement etc than the civilian, concealed carrier.

If I were still working patrol, I would carry this instead of OC. Incidentally, after about 3 years of patrol, I stopped carrying OC spray because it was such a hassle. If I sprayed a suspect, the jail would usually reject them before a medical clearance. Because of how well the Reflex Remove worked, I think it is the best solution for anyone who needs to consider decon of the suspect and others. Plus, cross contamination is a big liability.

Presidia Gel has a 4-year shelf-life which is longer than the 2-years of most OC sprays.

I highly suggest considering adding a less lethal option to your overall self defense strategy and mindset.

I really like the effectiveness of the product and that's why we have Presidia Gel and Reflex Remove for our church security team.

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7 Responses to VIDEO Review : Presidia Gel — Effective, Less Lethal CS Spray

  1. Jeff Burke May 26, 2022 at 8:50 am #

    Good stuff – loved the video & review. I’m hoping to get the product pushed out to LE agencies, security agencies, church teams, and other entities that could benefit from it here in NM, at least for T&E, so I’ve been reviewing articles & videos like yours in order to get a solid foundation built. Like you, I’d leave my OC in my unit because it was too much of a pain to use (like, instead of the taser). I’m pretty sure that’s the same reason a large percentage of the rest of the heroes don’t care for it either. I appreciate updates to technology and tools, and nothing yet has concerned me otherwise that Presidia gel is an awesome fix on the less-lethal void. I confess, I have access to a trial pack of it that I haven’t gotten a chance to get exposed to yet, but it’ll be very soon! Thank you Brother & Semper Fi!

    • Matthew Maruster May 26, 2022 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks so much Jeff. I’m glad the review helped out! It definitely works 🙂 stay safe out there, Semper Fi!

  2. Ken Harrell May 27, 2022 at 9:47 am #

    I do not see a ‘civilian’ carry model with a pocket clip on their website, just Duty Belt models.

    • Matthew Maruster May 27, 2022 at 10:24 am #

      That is correct, and something I will add to the post. They don’t have a product that has a clip like the popular “palm-sized” OC sprays that fit easily in a pocket or attach to a key chain. Typically these are 1/2 oz in size. The 1.9 oz size I tested doesn’t have a clip and is listed on their site as “duty belt.” While quite larger than the 1/2 oz size, I found the 1.9 oz size fit in my pants pocket without being uncomfortable or noticeable. It certainly too big to clip on a keychain, but not too large to carry every day in a purse or pants pocket. I think the 1.9 oz size is probably more ideal for security who don’t wear a duty belt, but want more than a 2-second burst of product. Thanks for the thoughtful question!

  3. Jonas Grayson June 20, 2022 at 8:23 pm #

    Product purportedly will be available on Amazon “in a couple of weeks” for civilian purchase, but Reflex Remove will not be available for purchase by mere civilians. This, according to online customer support email reply that I received just today. Customer Support did not indicate if they would market a palm-sized version (~0.5oz) or not or if they have or will have an equivalent inert training product.

  4. Steven Berrones June 28, 2022 at 9:37 am #

    My work has issued us the Reflex Protect 5oz and holster.
    Is there a holster option that offers a better retention?

    • Matthew Maruster June 28, 2022 at 9:45 am #

      Unfortunately I am not aware of any other product. I know Bianchi makes a lot of duty gear. You may be able to find a pouch that works, but I think the handle system makes it difficult to find a universal pouch that will work. It looks like the Reflex Protect holster uses a velcro closure. You might look at replacing that with a pull-the-dot snap.

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