Reflex Protect: Missoula-made spray offers non-lethal self-defense option

Axmen Firearms employee Ian Mena-Wieland uses the Reflex Remove decontaminant during a demonstration of the self-defense spray. (Mari Hall/Missoula Current)

A Missoula business is partnering with Axmen Firearms to offer a non-lethal self-defense spray as another safety option for homes, schools and hospitals.

The company, Reflex Protect, held a live demonstration of the product this week to show its effectiveness in close quarters.

Axmen Firearms now sells the spray in 2.5 ounce and 5 ounce bottles, along with the Reflex Remove solution developed by the University of Montana’s Blackstone Launchpad and Accelerate Montana. The solution neutralizes the gel in minutes after it’s sprayed at someone’s eyes or mouth.

Axmen Firearms is a good first step into the retail world, Reflex Protect CEO Joe Anderson said.

“There’s a lot of different ways we could go, and this is an interesting first step. We’re very excited to be working with them and to see what opportunities this new avenue opens up for both of our companies,” Anderson said in an interview with the Missoula Current.

The pistol-grip nozzle deploys a stream of jellied CS gas, which is safe to use in enclosed environments like hospitals, schools and offices, unlike bear or pepper spray. The company’s trademark gel is colorless, odorless and self-dissipating. The accurate spray stream can travel up to 20 feet, Anderson said.

Axmen Firearms owner Sarah Brucker was interested in selling an alternative self-defense product, and after some research, she contacted Anderson, even buying one for her mother-in-law.

“Gun-free zones exist, of course, but the challenge with that is we’re also taking away people’s ability to protect themselves, so when they’re in those situations, a lot of times there is nothing that they can do,” Brucker said. “It’s an amazing product that has very applicable uses that firearms can’t enter into yet.”

Firearms require more training to use safely, but training large groups of people to use the spray in schools or hospitals can be done in a day.

Since the company began selling its product last year, Anderson said more gun-free facilities are adopting it.

“As far as Montana school districts, we are in half a dozen so far, with about half a dozen more that have signed up but haven’t yet finalized the terms and how much they need. We expect quite a few more school districts to follow suit,” Anderson said.

The Montana School Board Association passed a draft policy that allows schools to adopt a product like Reflex Protect, which is also used by 10 medical facilities in Montana, Idaho and Washington. Six churches have also decided to adopt the spray in Montana.

“Since the incidents in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh last year, we’ve also seen houses of worship adopting our product and bars and restaurants, municipal buildings, corrections facilities and of course it’s always been available for home use,” Anderson said.

In Missoula County, the Hellgate School District has adopted the spray, and Mayor John Engen has expressed interest in the city of Missoula using the product as well.

Reflex Protect is also making its way to the East, with several mayors in Massachusetts looking for other options for self-defense, and the company is now working on smaller versions of the spray, which can be kept in a purse or pocket.

Reporter Mari Hall can be contacted via email at mari.hall@missoulacurrent.com.