High sensitivity detection, identification and quantification of chemicals in a stand-off configuration is a highly sought after capability across the security and defense sector. Specific applications include assessing the presence of explosive related materials, poisonous or toxic chemical agents, and narcotics. Real world field deployment of an operational stand-off system is challenging due to stringent requirements: high detection sensitivity, stand-off ranges from centimeters to hundreds of meters, eye-safe invisible light, near real-time response and a wide chemical versatility encompassing both vapor and condensed phase chemicals. Additionally, field deployment requires a compact, rugged, power efficient, and cost-effective design. To address these demanding requirements, we have developed the concept of Active Coherent Laser Spectrometer (ACLaS), which can be also described as a middle infrared hyperspectral coherent lidar. Combined with robust spectral unmixing algorithms, inherited from retrievals of information from high-resolution spectral data generated by satellitebased spectrometers, ACLaS has been demonstrated to fulfil the above-mentioned needs. ACLaS prototypes have been so far developed using quantum cascade lasers (QCL) and interband cascade lasers (ICL) to exploit the fast frequency tuning capability of these solid state sources. Using distributed feedback (DFB) QCL, demonstration and performance analysis were carried out on narrow-band absorbing chemicals (N2O, H2O, H2O2, CH4, C2H2 and C2H6) at stand-off distances up to 50 m using realistic non cooperative targets such as wood, painted metal, and bricks. Using more widely tunable external cavity QCL, ACLaS has also been demonstrated on broadband absorbing chemicals (dichloroethane, HFC134a, ethylene glycol dinitrate and 4-nitroacetanilide solid) and on complex samples mixing narrow-band and broadband absorbers together in a realistic atmospheric background.